BOSTON, Mass. - New Hampshire scored the first two goals of the game and Northeastern could not catch up as the Huskies lost, 6-3, to the ninth-ranked Wildcats on Saturday night at Matthews Arena.
Senior Tyler McNeely scored his 100th-career point and became the 46th member of Northeastern hockey history to join the club. The Burnaby, B.C. native assisted on Wade MacLeod's third period power play goal to become part of the elusive membership.
The Wildcats built a 5-1 buffer in third period, but Northeastern did not give up easily, crawling within two late in the third. Coach Sebastien Laplante elected to pull rookie netminder Clay Witt near the two-minute mark and a Stevie Moses backhander at 18:32 severed all hopes of a come back.
Rookies Luke Eibler and Cody Ferriero along with MacLeod scored goals for Northeastern while sophomore goaltender Chris Rawlings took the loss after making 26 saves on 31 shots. Witt came in relief at 14:09 of the third and stopped all six shots he faced. UNH's Matt DiGirolamo made 33 saves on 36 shots.
Northeastern offered up the first jolt of the contest on a quick back pass from Steve Silva to Justin Daniels in front of the net. J. Daniels immediately swept it towards DiGirolamo, but did not get enough wood on it to penetrate the goal line.
Over the course of the next 10 minutes, the Wildcats possessed the tempo and fired off a cluster of good chances on Rawlings but could not convert. Momentum swung in the Huskies favor past the midway point, but DiGirolamo turned back all attempts.
Mike Borisenok's hooking call yielded the first man-advantage of the game at 16:48. The Huskies crafted two strong looks, but neither struck paydirt.
Just as it looked like both clubs would head to the locker room scoreless, a late faceoff in Northeastern's zone led to the Wildcats first strike of the game at 19:31. As quick as the puck dropped from the linesman, Phil DeSimone won the draw and swept it out to Mike Sislo on the wing. As the play unfolded so quickly, Sislo one-timed the draw in between the circles and defied Rawlings for the 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Northeastern gained a power play out of the chute to start the second on a Blake Kessel trip at 1:07. The Huskies nearly even out the score after J. Daniels ripped a shot off the pipe from the right dot, but the duration of the chance remained scoreless.
Rookie Braden Pimm was assessed a tripping call at 7:34 and New Hampshire pounced on the momentum it generated from the play 20 seconds later. Stevie Moses corralled his own rebound as he cut across the crease and was able to paddle the puck underneath a sprawled out Rawlings for the 2-0 edge at 9:53.
Northeastern answered just under two minutes later on a goal that mirrored UNH's first tally. Silva won a faceoff on the far dot all the way back to Eibler who was inches within the blue line. Eibler was in perfect position to tee up a laser and smoked it by DiGirolamo at 11:38 to cut UNH's lead in half, 2-1.
A 4-on-4 situation presented itself and Paul Thompson recouped UNH's two-goal lead in transition at 13:17. Sislo triggered the play by shooing the puck out to Matt Camapanale in the neutral zone. Campanale softly deferred to Thompson on the blue line as the senior was able to beat his defender and score on Rawlings with a wrist shot off the right pipe to go up, 3-1.
As the second period drew to a close, both Silva and Eibler took respective tripping and slashing calls at 18:40 and the 'Cats came out ready to take advantage of the 40 seconds of 5-on-3 to start the third.
With five seconds remaining with the two-man advantage, Thompson blasted his second goal of the night on a cross-zone pass from Blake Kessel at 00:35. Kostolansky generated the scoring play with a pass atop NU's zone over to Kessel on the right circle. Kessel detected Thompson in the corner for the one-timer snipe and UNH padded its buffer, 4-1.
The Wildcats made it a four-goal lead with a Mike Borisenok tally at 5:51, 5-1. Kevin Goumas and Moses started in close on Rawlings and Borisenok cleaned up the loose carom.
Despite a four-goal deficit staring the Huskies in the face, NU battled back and registered a pair of goals to try and pull off the upset.
Sophomore Drew Daniels wrangled the puck out of NU's corner to rookie Jamie Oleksiak on the far boards. Oleksiak pitchforked it out to Ferriero on the blue line and the rookie canvassed the ice and potted the coast-to-coast goal at 12:06. Ferriero crossed up the opposition and beat DiGirolamo with a backhander that eked underneath his left pad to get the score to 5-2.
Two seconds after Goumas sat for tripping at 13:21, Northeastern buried another goal of the faceoff at 13:21. McNeely was awarded his 100th point by winning the draw out to his right where MacLeod zipped the puck up high on DiGirolamo for the power play marker and inch with two, 5-3.
With 2:30 remaining on the clock, Steve Quailer nearly nudged it to within one after dispatching a vicious backhander, but the puck was greeted by iron and Moses put away an empty-netter with the backhand at 18:32 to solidify the 6-3 UNH win.
Northeastern skates into its final regular season series with archrival Boston University next weekend. The Huskies return to Matthews Arena for Senior Night on Friday, March 4 for a 7 p.m. puck drop against the Terriers. Northeastern closes out the regular season at Agganis Arena on Saturday, March 5 at 7 p.m.
Game Notes - Tyler McNeely became the 46th Husky in Northeastern history to score 100 career points. The Burnaby, B.C. native registered 43 goals and 57 assists in 136 career games.
- Wade MacLeod has scored power play goals in consecutive games. The tally stands as his ninth PPG of the season and 23rd of his career.
- Cody Ferriero scored his first goal since the season opener at Providence on Oct. 8, 2010. The Essex, Mass. native actually scored Northeastern's first goal of the season.
- Drew Daniels registered his second-career two-game point streak with a goal in Friday's game at UNH and an assists on Cody Ferriero's tally on Saturday.
- Northeastern has locked itself in as the sixth seed for the 2011 Hockey East Tournament.