The Northeastern men's hockey team flashed its flair for scoring with a 7-5 exhibition victory against St. Thomas (Fredericton, New Brunswick) in the first contest of the 2009-10 season at the newly refurbished Matthews Arena.
The Huskies spread the wealth around as seven different skaters scored, including two career firsts from rookies Drew Daniels and Robbie Vrolyk. A combination of 13 Northeastern forwards or defensemen registered at least one point in the game as junior forward Wade MacLeod directed NU with three points (1g - 2a). Senior Chris Donovan tallied the first goal for the Huskies and added an assist all in the first period. Junior Mike Hewkin contributed a pair of assists from the blueline while freshman Garrett Vermeersch aided on two goals in his first appearance for Northeastern.
Junior Mike Binnington earned the start between the pipes, surrendering three goals on seven shots. First-year netminder Chris Rawlings relieved Binnington later in the second period and stopped seven shots on nine attempts.
With the game deadlocked at 5-5 in the early moments of the third period, MacLeod received a pass from junior Steve Silva at the far left circle. MacLeod spun around once to create some room and rifled a shot at St. Thomas' goalie Ben MacFarlane. Junior captain Tyler McNeely got a piece of the puck in midair and redirected it to stand as the game-winning marker.
Northeastern's offense generated a great number of opportunities throughout the game as proved by its 46 shots to the Tommies' 16. MacFarlane made 39 stops in the game.
Even though the Huskies had St. Thomas pinned in its own zone for the first four minutes, the opponent drew first blood at 6:05 of the first period after Matt Eagles recovered the rebound from an initial Alex Labonte blast and put it through Binnington's pads for the 1-0 lead.
At 11:49 of the first stanza, Donovan evened the count, 1-1. Donovan took advantage of a good screen and put it by MacFarlane from the near right post on a dish from Hewkin. Vermeersch also received credit for the assist.
Labonte was whistled for an interference call about a minute later. Binnigton was sent to the bench, providing the Huskies' with the extra skater. MacLeod snared a beautiful look from Hewkin and chipped it in on the delayed penalty for the first lead of the game at the 12:49 mark. Senior defenseman Jim Driscoll extended the lead, 3-1, when Donovan placed a perfect pass on his stick from behind the cage at 16:37.
The Tommies only needed 28 seconds in the second frame to cut the lead in half after Matt Eagles sniped a shot from the right slot. Binnington made the initial stop, but the puck's momentum carried over the line to make it 3-2.
Daniels negated St. Thomas' efforts with a crisp wrister on the look from sophomore Mike McLaughlin at 3:25 of the third to take back the two-goal cushion, 4-2. Sophomore blueliner Drew Muench followed with a rip from the high post a few second later at 3:53 to push the advantage to three, 5-2. Rookie Chris Student notched his first collegiate point on the assist along with MacLeod.
St. Thomas clawed back with three consecutive tallies spanning from the 4:49 mark of the second to 1:44 of the third. Devan Praught made it a 5-3 affair on a give-and-go play with Maxim Chamberland while Labonte attacked at 11:00 with the game's first powerplay marker to bring the Tommies' with one, 5-4. Labonte found himself wide open in the center slot and buried it on a one-time pass from Wes Welcher.
Chamberland even the count, 5-5, at 1:44 of the third session in a four-on-four session. Sophomore Alex Tuckerman and Mike Reich were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after the whistle and on the first play, Chamberland beat Rawlings on the near side.
Following McNeely's game-winner, Vrolyk added some insurance at 14:07 of the third after Vermeersch dumped it in from the nearboards. Vrolyk touched the puck at the perfect angle and tapped it by MacFarlane for his first collegiate point to settle the scoring, 7-5.
Despite only one powerplay goal all night, the chances were not scant. The Tommies served 13 penalties for 29 minutes while the Huskies spent 20 minutes in the box on 10 calls.
Northeastern begins the regular season with a pair of road contests against Colorado College of the WCHA. The first game is on Fri., Oct. 9 at 9:07 p.m. while Saturday' contests is scheduled for 9:37 pm.