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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Northeastern advanced to the Dodge Holiday Classic final with a 3-1 win over Western Michigan on Friday at Marriucci Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. Steve Quailer scored the first goal of the game, Chris Donovan put in the game-winner and Wade MacLeod added an insurance goal for the Huskies. Sixth-ranked Northeastern improved to 12-3-2 overall with the victory while Western Michigan dropped to 3-12-4. The Huskies remained 8-2-1 in Hockey East. Northeastern will play either No. 4 Minnesota at 8 p.m. (Eastern) or Brown at 5 p.m. on Saturday in the championship game.
Northeastern got on the board first with a tick-tack-toe goal at 13:06 in the first period. Steve Silva passed the puck to Alex Tuckerman in the left circle and Tuckerman passed it between a pair of Western Michigan defenders to Quailer, who was open on the right side of the crease. Quailer put it past Bronco goaltender Riley Gill for his fifth goal of the season to put the Huskies up 1-0.
The teams traded scoring opportunities in the second period with Western Michigan outshooting Northeastern 11-9 in the frame. It wasn't until a flukey play at the tail end of the period that the Huskies were able to add to their lead. Donovan shot the puck in from the right circle and Gill made the initial save. He wasn't able to cover it up, however, and Ryan Ginand and Donovan kept poking at it until the puck was in the back of the net. Donovan got credit to the goal with assists from Ginand and Guzior. Western Michigan made it close on a Ryan Watson goal 4:40 into the third period. He shot the puck from the right circle and it went off Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen's pad and bounced up and over his glove to make the score 2-1. Greg Squires and Steve Silver got assists on the play.
Northeastern clamped down for most of the third period, outshooting Western Michigan 19-7 in the frame but Gill stood on his head to keep the Broncos in it. Northeastern was finally able to ice it with MacLeod's goal just after a power play ended at 18:58 in the third. Joe Vitale dug the puck out behind the net and Tyler McNeely grabbed it, passed it to an open MacLeod in the right circle and MacLeod roofed it over Gill's shoulder to make the final 3-1.
Thiessen made 23 saves for the Huskies while Gill stopped 37 shots. Both teams went scoreless on the power play. It was the 10th time this season that Northeastern's penalty kill was perfect.
The championship game against Brown or Minnesota will be broadcast live on 890 ESPN Boston. The Huskies will be going for their second Dodge Holiday Classic title after winning it with wins over Notre Dame and Minnesota during the 1997-98 season when it was known as the Mariucci Classic.