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BOSTON - Northeastern's power play unit erupted for three goals in a 5-0 shutout of Providence on Saturday night at Matthews Arena to give the Huskies their first home victory of the season on Homecoming weekend at Northeastern University.
Sophomore Chris Rawlings earned his fourth-career shutout (first of the season) via 29 saves, marking the first time NU has blanked a squad since a 2-0 victory at Massachusetts on Feb. 12, 2010. The North Delta, B.C native is now tied with Marc Robitaille (1996-98) for third all-time in career shutouts in Northeastern history.
The Huskies received power play goals from senior Steve Silva and rookies Anthony Bitetto and Braden Pimm, marking the first time NU has potted three power play goals since topping #18 Massachusetts on Feb. 13, 2010. The Huskies have shut out an opponent by five goals or more on four occasions under head coach Greg Cronin's tenure. Including tonight, NU beat Dartmouth (7-0 - Jan. 2, 2010), Maine (5-0, Oct. 24, 2008) and Union (5-0, Oct. 21, 2006). Tonight's blanking marks the 14th occasion a Cronin-led team has shut out another squad.
Along with converting on 60 percent of their power play chances (3-for-5), the Huskies' penalty-killing unit smothered PC's five extra-man opportunities. Northeastern also held the slight edge in shots, 30-29.
A myriad of firsts graced the scoring sheet against PC, including Pimm's and Bitetto's first-career goals, senior Mike Hewkin's first-career two-point performance (two assists) and second-year forward Steve Morra's first-career point.
Northeastern rattled off the first couple of offensive chances, with the first coming on an open look high in the slot from rookie Jamie Oleksiak around the 6:30 of the first stanza. Sophomore Steve Quailer followed suit a minute later by nearly stuffing home a wraparound attempt, but PC's Alex Beaudry (25 saves) was able to regain position and snuff out the play.
After Providence killed off Tim Schaller's interference call at 10:21, the Huskies maintained their offensive presence and drew first blood off of Providence's broken play.
Sophomore Garrett Vermeersch induced the turnover in Northeastern's zone and passed up to freshman Rob Dongara in the neutral zone. Dongara lost the puck on the near boards, but Vermeersch regained possession, kicked it over to Dongara who then connected with a flanking Wade MacLeod in the slot. MacLeod ripped the wide-open wrister through the slot over Beaudry's glove at 14:43 for the 1-0 lead.
An Ian O'Connor slashing penalty at the 19:31 mark of the second period allowed Northeastern to come out of the gate fresh in the second period with an extra skater. Senior Steve Silva took advantage just 31 seconds in off a rebound from MacLeod and Tyler McNeely. Bitetto carried the puck past the blue and slid it through to MacLeod in the seam. MacLeod took the original shot, but Beaudry couldn't corral it. McNeely and Silva chipped away at it in the crease and the puck eventually leaked out to Silva on the left post who then roofed it at 00:31 to double the lead, 2-0.
Northeastern squashed a couple Providence power plays to keep the Friars' momentum at bay, killing off Qualier's boarding call at 7:47 and freshman Luke Eibler's hold at 10:48.
After killing off the pair, the Huskies turned up the heat on their own power play to pump in a couple more. Aaron Jamnick was cited for hitting from behind at 5:50 and the Huskies capitalized at 7:02 on a stroke from Bitetto. MacLeod and rookie Brodie Reid controlled the cycle at the top of the zone and once the puck came to Bitetto, the Island Park, N.Y. native had a clear path to the back of the net. Bitetto broke off a wrist shot from atop the left circle to light the lamp at 7:02 of the third.
Derek Army's hitting from behind penalty at 7:53 was regarded as a five-minute major and the Huskies jumped at the chance. Hewkin controlled the puck at the top of the right zone and shifted the puck down to Morra on the near boards. Morra popped it down to Pimm on the goal line extended and the rookie tossed the puck towards the goalmouth. Pimm bounced it off a Friars' skate and the puck pinballed past Beaudry to gain his first-career goal at 10:21 and give NU the 4-0 buffer.
Northeastern netted its last goal in transition as Hewkin cleared the puck out to sophomore Drew Daniels at the blue line. D. Daniels bilked his pursuer and created a two-on-one with freshman Jamie Oleksiak. D. Daniels motored down the left side and timed his pass perfectly to get Beadury out of position. Oleksiak accepted the cross-ice feed 12 feet in front of the net and closed out the Huskies' scoring for the night, 5-0, at 16:15.
Northeastern returns to the road over the holidays to take on Vermont for the first time this season at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Friday, Nov. 26.
Be sure to replay tonight's shut out victory over Providence on GoNU.TV.