Senior forward Joe Cucci picks up hat trick and assist for the Warriors

Senior forward Joe Cucci had a hat trick and an assist for the Warriors

BOSTON, Mass. - The Northeastern men's hockey team was dealt a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss against #12 Merrimack on Friday night at Matthews Arena.

Merrimack's Joe Cucci headlined the affair with a hat trick while the teams combined for a staggering 108 penalty minutes. Both Northeastern and Merrimack lit the lamp twice with the extra skater. The Huskies went 2-7 while the Warriors attacked on 2-of-6 opportunities.

Seniors Tyler McNeely and Steve Silva along with sophomore Drew Daniels acted as NU's goal scorers while Jeff Veleca accounted for MC's other goal.

Sophomore goaltender Chris Rawlings made 35 stops and slipped to 7-9-6 on the season while Merrimack's Joe Cannata turned away 23 shots. The Warriors outnumbers Northeastern in total shots, 39-26, including a 15-5 advantage in the second frame.

The Huskies found themselves with an extra skater for a majority of the first period, picking up five power plays in the first stanza.

Northeastern grabbed an early 5-on-3 for nearly two full minutes after Karl Stollery (3:03) and Kyle Bigos (3:07) were sent away for cross-checking and elbowing, respectively. The Huskies peppered Merrimack's net, but Cannata was in position to thwart NU's big advantage and keep Northeastern off the board early.

Merrimack took back-to-back penalties a few exchanges later, yielding the Huskies first tally of the evening. Northeastern did not convert on its first power play, but after Chris Barton was assessed a hooking call at 10:31, the Huskies capitalized in transition at 11:50 for the 1-0 lead. Senior Wade MacLeod carried the puck out of NU's zone and poked it over to Anthony Bitetto in between the circles. Bitetto cradled it, fired it towards the target and McNeely was able to nip the puck through Cannata's five-hole for the power play goal.

The Warriors finally got their chance at a 5-on-3, earning 44 seconds of a two-man advantage after rookies Braden Pimm (1:19) and Luke Eibler (2:36) went off, but Northeastern's three-man nucleus smothered MC's attack.

The Huskies returned to full strength and took a faceoff in their own zone. Pimm won the faceoff out to D. Daniels behind the net. D. Daniels wheeled around and connected with sophomore Steve Quailer at MC's blue line. Quailer raced past his defender, carried it below Cannata's left side and kicked it back to a streaking D. Daniels in front of the crease. D. Daniels swept the puck past Cannata with the one-timer to take a 2-0 lead at 4:47 of the second.

Under a minute later, the Warriors discovered the back of the net at 5:45 on a one-timer transition play. Barton cleared the puck out of Merrimack's zone out to Cucci in the neutral zone. Velleca broke away from his man and set up shop on Rawlings' blocker side. Cucci zipped it through the zone towards the far post and Velleca redirected it past Rawlings to cut MC's deficit, 2-1.

Merrimack knotted the game up on a power play goal at 2:29 of the third, taking advantage of Pimm's hooking call at 1:48. Barton fired a shot from between the circles, but the puck caromed off a Northeastern shin guard out to Cucci on the near side. Cucci quickly gathered the disc and rifled it through Rawlings' blocker from six feet out to make it a 2-2 affair.

Northeastern edged ahead on Silva's power play strike moments later at 3:24 of the third. Ryan Flanigan was flagged for elbowing at 2:54 and Northeastern's cycle connected for the 3-2 lead. Rookie Brodie Reid triggered the play with a pass over to McNeely on the left dot from atop the blue line. McNeely's initial shot was stopped, but Silva cleaned up the rebound with a pinpoint backhand over Cannata's blocker for NU's second power play goal of the night.

Bitetto took a cross-checking penalty at 9:07, giving way to the third-straight power play tally of the third stanza. Mike Collins' pass down to Barton on the far post set up a crisp one-timer play over to Cucci at 9:36. Barton carved a pass through the Huskies' defense to set up Cucci's second power play marker of the period.

The game was not settled in regulation and the Warriors claimed victory with just 29 seconds left in the contest. After the Huskies made a late charge, Merrimack turned it back down the ice and capitalized on a loose puck in the slot. Cucci zeroed in on it and ripped it off Rawlings' shoulder and into the top-left corner to solidify the hat trick and game, 4-3.

As the first Monday in February strikes, the Huskies will next skate against Harvard in the first round of the 59th annual Beanpot Tournament at the TD Garden in Boston on Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. The following Monday, Northeastern will meet up with either Boston University of Boston College on Valentine's Day.

Game Notes

- Wade MacLeod is now the 25th-most prolific scorer in Northeastern hockey history. The Coquitlam, B.C. native has tallied 52 goals and 66 assists in 136 career games for a total of 118 points, surpassing David Poile (1967-70) and Jim Averill (1981-85). MacLeod lurks three points behind Dave Buda (1985-89) to move into a tie for 24th place. Buda tallied 63 goals and 58 assists for 121 points in 147 contests.

- Tyler McNeely (2-2-4) and Wade MacLeod (3-3-6) are both riding four-game point streaks while Steve Silva is on a two-gamer (1-2-3).

- Tyler McNeely recorded his fifth multi-point game of the season and 19th of his career. The Burnaby, B.C. native is eight points shy of scoring 100 points for his career (40-52-92).

- Northeastern's first line of forwards, consisting of Tyler McNeely, Steve Silva and Wade MacLeod, have now scored 62 points on the season. They have totaled 27 goals and 35 assists.

- Steve Silva netted his third power play goal of the season and seventh of his career

- Drew Daniels scored his first goal of the season. It was also his first tally as a defenseman at Northeastern. It was his first goal in 27 games. The last time the Suffern, N.Y. native scored was against New Hampshire on Feb. 26, 2010.

- Tonight marked sophomore Drew Ellement's 50th-career game.

- Eight different Huskies scored points in tonight's game

- The last time the Huskies surrendered was when Brian Gibbons netted a set at Conte Forum on Feb. 21, 2010