The Northeastern men's hockey team curbed a five-game winless streak and skated to a 4-2 triumph over 11th-ranked Maine on Friday night at Matthews Arena. The Huskies picked up their first win over the Black Bears in six tries with the last win coming at home on Nov. 14, 2009 (5-2).
First-year forward Adam Reid continued to provide the heroics, lighting the lamp at 18:46 of the third period to break a 2-2 tie. Junior Garrett Vermeersch scored his second power play tally of the season while classmates Justin Daniels and Vinny Saponari (empty net) accounted for NU's other markers in the victory.
Junior goaltender Chris Rawlings stopped numerous attempts in big moments for Northeastern, totaling 29 saves in his 12th victory of the season (12-12-5). Maine backstopper Dan Sullivan blocked 24 shots in his eighth setback (17-8-3) of the season.
Sophmore blue liner Anthony Bitetto (0-2-2) and J. Daniels (1-1-2) each registered a two points while third-year forward Steve Quailer returned from a six-game hiatus and assisted on Saponari's empty-net goal.
Maine possessed the puck early and often to start the game, throwing the disc through the zone to keep Rawlings on his toes, but the Huskies stormed back with a couple chances of their own.
Junior Alex Tuckerman induced a turnover on the forecheck and kicked the puck back to rookie Adam Reid between the circles. Reid triggered on Sullivan, but Maine's goaltender just got a piece of his shoulder pad on it to deflect the puck into the netting.
After offsetting Maine's tempo, Northeastern used its momentum as a jumpoff to net the first goal of the game on the power play. Andrew Cerretani was whistled for boarding at 9:43 and under a minute in, Vermeersch found a seam from within the blue line with a rip from up top. Junior Justin Daniels started the play below Sullivan's left up to sophomore Anthony Bitetto on the blue line. Bitetto made the easy pass to Vermeersch and the third-year forward lit the lamp at 10:25 for the early 1-0 advantage.
It took just 15 seconds for the Black Bears to knot it up at 1-1 to start the second period. Maine gained a faceoff to Rawlings' left and Joey Diamond cleanly won the draw out to Will O'Neill waiting on top of the left circle. O'Neill blasted the puck towards Rawlings, but Brian Flynn positioned his stick for the perfect deflection between the circles for the goal at 00:15.
Northeastern killed off a freshman Joseph Manno elbowing penalty at 6:07 and the Huskies gained a huge advantage after Mike Cornell endured a five-minute major for contact to the head against Tuckerman at 9:10.
Maine's penalty kill went on the offensive and took its first lead of the game 46 seconds after Cornell's penalty. Diamond crafted a couple dekes in front of Rawlings', but his attempt was swatted to the backboards. Diamond pursued his own shot, skated it out to the middle of the zone and sought out Spencer Abbott on the near post. Abbot made a quick cradle and beat Rawlings with the snap shot at 9:56 for the 2-1 lead on the short-handed goal.
The Huskies nearly capitalized towards the tail end of the power play after senior Mike McLaughlin's skate redirected an Adam Reid pass over the goal line, but after further review, the goal was disallowed.
The PP window came to a close, but J. Daniels tied the game up with a wicked wrister from the right dot at 14:30 of the second stanza. Sophomore Luke Eibler wrestled the puck from out behind Rawlings and paddled off the boards. Freshman Joseph Manno made a nifty play on the puck; touch passing it off to J. Daniels in stride. J. Daniels zoomed into the zone and lifted the puck over a sprawled out defenseman and roofed it to cinch it up, 2-2.
Matt Mangene took a hooking penalty with 6.2 seconds remaining in the second period to put the Huskies on the man advantage to start the third stanza. Northeastern had a couple chances, but Stu Higgins' ringer off the pipe after a turnover nearly accounted for Maine's second short-handed goal of the night.
Vermeersch made a heads-up play by stopping a Black Bear clearing attempt with nine minutes in regulation and nearly turned into a 3-2 lead. Vermeersch picked off a clear at the blue and deferred to junior Steve Quailer in the seam. Quailer broke off a quick backhand, but Sullivan was in position to turn it aside.
The ice continued to tilt downhill for Northeastern and the Huskies took the 3-2 lead with just moments to go in regulation. Manno pilfered the disc out of NU's end and raced through the neutral zone with a Black Bear in pursuit. Manno drew the slashing call on Mangene and came crashing down the ice, forcing the puck to bounce back out to the goalmouth. J. Daniels followed in but was taking down, but Reid was ready to pounce and the rookie put back to the carom to the right side of the net at 18:46.
Maine coach Tim Whitehead pulled Sullivan in the waning moments and Maine gained control, initiating a couple of shots. Bitetto made a big defensive stop and zipped it out to Quailer on the left side. Quailer had a shot on the empty net, but unselfishly deferred to Saponari alone at the blue line. Saponari sealed the victory with the empty-net goal at 19:45 to clinch the Huskies' 4-2 triumph.
Northeastern and Maine cap the season series tomorrow night at Matthews Arena. Game time is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.