BOSTON, Mass. - The Northeastern men's hockey team suffered a 7-1 setback to No. 11 Maine at Matthews Arena on Saturday night. Junior Vinny Saponari tallied the lone goal for the Huskies as all three NU netminders saw time in the loss.
Saponari's goal was of the power play variety, occurring at 8:46 of the first period. Rookie Ludwig Karlsson and sophomore Braden Pimm recorded the assists on the marker.
Junior goaltender Chris Rawlings earned the start, but stopped just one shot on Maine's first four attempts while sophomore Clay Witt came in relief at 9:52 of the first frame. Witt turned away 14 shots on 17 Maine blasts while third-year netminder Bryan Mountain saw his first time since freshman year. The Bryn Mawr, Pa. native stopped all four shots he faced in the final 13:00 of action. Maine goaltender Dan Sullivan stopped 21 shots while Josh Seeley saw 4:25 time in relief, turning away one shot.
Maine outshot Northeastern, 26-23. The Black Bears capitalized on 2-of-7 chances on the power play while the Huskies went 1-for-6 with the extra man.
Just a 1:05 after the opening draw, Ryan Hegarty's boarding call put the Huskies on the power play. Northeastern tossed in a couple good looks in close on Sullivan, but the Black Bears crawled out of the early hole and recorded the first tally of the game shortly after.
Joey Diamond made an aggressive play in Maine's end and turned the puck up ice to Kyle Beattie. Beattie raced down the right side of the sheet with Adam Shemansky in pursuit to the left. Beattie made a quick deke at the blue line and shifted over to Shemansky for the one-timer goal in transition at 4:14 for the 1-0 lead.
Moments later, the Black Bears gained possession off a loose puck at the half boards and made it 2-0 at 5:26. Jon Swavely was the recipient of the turnover as he shifted up to Theo Andersson at the red line. Andersson took three strides and converted a wrist shot four feet within the blue line for the two-goal pad.
Northeastern converted on its second power play of the night after Jake Rutt went off for holding at 7:10 of the first period. With 25 seconds remaining in the window. Pimm worked the puck up to Karlsson at the top of the zone with Saponari alone to the right. Karlsson linked up with Saponari between the circles and the junior popped a perfect wrist shot over Sullivan's blocker to cut into Maine's deficit with the power play strike at 8:46.
Junior Steve Morra took a charge at 9:37 and Maine recouped its two-goal lead on the power play 15 seconds later. Matt Mangene got the puck in deep to Shemansky off the draw and Mark Anthoine created separation from the play and found open space. Shemansky quickly connected with Anthoine as he buried a wrister from the right circle for the 3-1 lead at 9:52 of the first period.
Following the Black Bears' third marker, NU head coach Jim Madigan made the switch to Witt for the duration of the contest.
The second period started much like the first as Mike Cornell took a tripping penalty 42 seconds into the frame. Before the Huskies could get their cycle going, Pimm was sat down for slashing at 1:04 to force the 4-on-4 situation. Neither special teams unit countered, but moments later, Maine padded its advantage to three goals at 3:25.
The Black Bears benefitted from a loose puck off the boards in UM's end and Mangene carted it into Huskies' ice. Mangene stormed down the right side and flung the puck over to Diamond on the doorstep. As Diamond was being hauled down, he was able to deflect the pass through Witt's pads to make it a 4-1 game.
After Northeastern killed off a Pimm boarding penalty (7:59), Maine settled into the Huskies side of the sheet. Witt made several stops, but Spencer Abbott finally broke through for Maine's fifth goal of the night at 18:39 of the second period. Brice O'Connor passed over to Rutt at the top of the left circle and Rutt triggered on net. Abbott set a nice screen and was successful on the redirection to make a 5-1 game.
Abbott popped in his second-straight tally at 2:39 to start the second period. Diamond won a battle along the boards in the neutral zone and flipped it over to Brian Flynn on the blue line. Flynn took the initial shot and the puck bounced off of Witt's pad to Abbott on the far post. Abbott shoved back the carom to extend the advantage out to 6-1.
Rookie Joseph Manno was cited for a high-stick at 5:53 and Diamond potted his second goal of the night with the extra man at 7:00 of the third period. Mangene got the puck into Abbott behind the net and Abbott redirected it out to Diamond in front for the one-timer and 7-1 cushion.
Northeastern was bestowed with a 5-on-3 situation for 1:44 after John Parker and Theo Andersson took penalties, respectively, at 8:48 and 9:05. The Huskies did not convert and the Black Bears claimed the 7-1 triumph.
The Huskies close out the regular season slate, as always, with cross-town rival Boston University next weekend with a home-and-home series. Northeastern makes its only trip of the season to Agganis Arena on Friday, March 2 before honoring NU's senior captain, Mike McLaughlin, in the final home game of the year on Saturday, March 3. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
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