Boston - Sophomore Joe Vitale scored with 49.9 seconds left in overtime to lift the Huskies to a 1-0 victory over Merrimack, NU's third overtime win of the season, on Friday night at Matthews Arena. Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen pitched a 23-save shutout, making four saves in overtime. Merrimack's Jim Healey posted 18 saves in the game.
Northeastern improved to 10-12-4 overall and 7-19-4 in Hockey East with the victory. The Huskies are 4-1-0 in their last five games and 6-2-2 in their last 10. Merrimack fell to 3-19-4 and 3-14-2 in Hockey East.
The game was back-and-forth the entire night, with both goalies coming up big. Merrimack outshot Northeastern, 9-2, in the second period but the game remained scoreless.
In the third period, Merrimack's Carmen Posteraro shot the puck behind Thiessen and off the post at 11:45. The light went on but referee Tim Benedetto waved the goal off and play continued.
Vitale played great the entire game and nearly set up the game-winner at the end of regulation. He took the puck up ice and went around a Merrimack defenseman and dropped a pass to Jimmy Russo in front. Russo couldn't get enough on the shot and Healey made the save at 18:45.
Thiessen made several great saves in the overtime period, including a glove-save on a shot from Pat Kimball. Thiessen, the Hockey East Co-Rookie of the Month for January, is 5-2-2 with a 1.28 goals against average and a .949 save percentage since New Year's.
The win gives the Huskies some momentum going into the first round of the 55th Annual Beanpot Tournament. The Huskies take on Boston University in the opener at 5 p.m. at the TD Banknorth Garden. The game will be televised on NESN and broadcast on 890 ESPN Boston and WRBB Radio, 104.9 FM.