Boston, MA- Hockey East has the deepest collection of competitive programs. Among the five nationally ranked schools, Providence and Northeastern staged possibly the most interesting season. The Friars edged the Huskies at Schneider Arena on Friday night. At Matthews Arena on Saturday, Northeastern earned a needed split and snapped a seven game winless streak with a thoroughly dominant offensive showing.
The opening period was brisk. It took under 30 minutes thanks to one seven minute long stretch of consecutive play between the first and second stop. Still, it felt mostly like a skating display and not a hockey game. That changed late when Jason O’Neill slipped a soft goal through Craig Pantano with 2:44 left. A mere 38 seconds later, Mike Kesselring potted his first collegiate goal and tied the game before intermission.
Period two saw Northeastern jump out fast. Grant Jozefek tipped a Jordan Harris pass through Michael Lackey 1:15 into the frame. Harris added his own goal on the power play 1:08 later. Matt Filipe backhanded a breakaway through Lackey to make the game 4-1 for the Huskies and chase the Friar goaltender with seven saves on eleven shots faced. Patrick Moynihan gave the Friars some life with a score to reduce the deficit, but their defense bedeviled the Friars again. Jeremie Bucheler fired a slap shot for his first collegiate goal and made the game 5-2 at intermission.
Vimal Sukumaran buoyed hope for the Friars with an early third period goal. Riley Hughes and Zach Solow also took penalties to give the Friar power play a chance. Yet, the power play went quietly into the chilly Boston night. Craig Pantano stopped all 11 shots in the third while Tyler Madden and Matt Filipe added empty net goals for a 7-3 NU win, their first over Providence since November 18th, 2016.
Providence drops to 6-4-2 (4-3-1 HEA). Nate Leaman was not happy after the game. “We got our butts kicked. That’s my opening statement. Hats off to Northeastern. They showed up and played. We didn’t show up for 40 minutes and we were chasing the game. Saturday night’s big boy hockey. Pretty big lesson for our freshmen and sophomores about what Saturday night in Hockey East is all about.”
Gabe Mollot-Hill stopped seven of eight shots in his first action of 2019.
National scoring leader Jack Dugan was held off the scoreboard for the first time in seven games.
Providence plays a home-and-home with Connecticut next weekend. Puck drops at the XL Center in Hartford on Friday and at Schneider Arena in Providence on Saturday at the same time: 7 pm ET.
Northeastern improves to 6-4-2(3-3-1 HEA). Jim Madigan was pleased with the turnaround. “I commend our guys for responding. Last night, I thought we weren’t physical. We let Providence dictate the game and the space and we didn’t respond. One of the things we said was ‘let’s punch them in the mouth before they punch us in the mouth.’ They’re a heavy team to play against. I thought our guys were dialed in from the get go and we stayed with it.”
Craig Pantano stopped 16 of 19 shots.
Northeastern faces Maine for two games at Matthews next weekend. Puck drops at 7 pm ET on both Friday and Saturday night.