Chris Donovan scored the game-winner, goalie Brad Thiessen made 25 saves, and four other Huskies scored as Northeastern beat Rensselaer, 5-1, in the consolation game of the 58th RPI Holiday Tournament on Saturday at Houston Field House in Troy, N.Y. Ryan Ginand scored for the fourth-straight game, Rob Rassey, Tyler McNeely and Steve Quailer also scored for the Huskies.
Northeastern improved to 10-3-2 overall with the win and remains 7-2-1 in Hockey East. Rensselaer dropped to 2-10-1 and remains 1-4-0 in ECAC Hockey with the loss. Mercyhurst beat Princeton, 6-4, in the final earlier in the day to win the tournament title.
The game started with some back-and-forth action for the first five minutes before the Huskies established a rhythm and got on the scoreboard. Defenseman Mike Hewkin blocked a shot in the Huskies' zone and passed it to Dennis McCauley in the neutral zone. McCauley took it in and made a great centering pass to Rassey in front, and Rassey potted his third goal of the season at 13:23 in the first period.
Northeastern was able to add to its lead on a power play later in the first. RPI forward Patrick Cullen took a pair of penalties for high sticking and slashing at 16:30, setting the Huskies up with four minutes of power play time. It only took Donovan 26 seconds to make it count when he shot the puck from behind the net that banked off RPI goalie Allen York and into the goal at 16:56. Alex Tuckerman had won a faceoff ahead to Quailer, who sent the puck behind the net for Donovan.
Northeastern was able to add to the lead in the second, dominating most of the period and running its shot lead to 29-14 after two periods. The Huskies started off down a man, with Kyle Kraemer in the penalty box from a holding call at 19:03 in the first period. On the penalty kill, Rassey stole the puck in the neutral zone and Ginand took it in all alone and fired it on York, who made the initial save but the puck bounced past and into the net at 0:38, making it 3-0. It was the fourth game in a row Ginand scored and the first short-handed goal of his career.
McNeely made it 4-0 Huskies when he took the puck in on an odd-man rush. From the left side, he faked a centering pass and backhanded a shot across York and into the top right corner of the net at 13:00. The play started in the NU zone when Jim Driscoll worked the puck loose and Wade MacLeod passed it ahead to McNeely.
RPI was able to get on the board at 16:10 in the second period with a short-handed tally. Chase Polacek was in the penalty box for hitting from behind and RPI was able to steal the puck at the blueline. In the NU zone, Matt Angers-Goulet took the puck in on a breakaway. Thiessen charged him but couldn't get the puck loose, and Angers-Goulet was able to score on the open net.
The Huskies didn't lose any momentum after the RPI goal, however, and kept the pressure on in the final minutes of the second period. With just a few seconds left on the clock, Steve Silva won a faceoff in the RPI zone and the puck went to Quailer in front, and Quailer backhanded it in to make it 5-1 with less than a second left on the clock in the second period.
Northeastern worked hard in the third period to keep it scoreless. McCauley took two minutes for slashing at 9:54 and Alex Tuckerman was whistled for contact to the head-roughing at 10:54, setting up a minute of five-on-three for RPI. At 11:12 in the five-on-three, defenseman Louis Liotti was called for a five-minute major for hitting from behind and given a game-misconduct. Those combined penalties kept Northeastern down a man for most of the final 10 minutes of the game. In addition, RPI pulled York, making it six-on-three at one point.
NU held RPI to 0-for-7 on the power play, marking the ninth time this season NU's penalty kill has been perfect. The Huskies became the third 10-win team this season behind Air Force (13-0-0) and Notre Dame (10-3-1).
Northeastern plays its final game before the holiday break next Friday when it hosts Maine at 7 p.m. Northeastern swept a weekend series against the Black Bears, taking a 5-0 win on Oct. 24 and a 2-1 win Oct. 25 at Alfond Arena. The game will be broadcast on 890 ESPN Boston and WRBB Radio and will have live web video on GoNU.TV.