Junior Chris Rawlings stops 38 shiots for Huskies

Junior goaltender Chris Rawlings made 38 saves for the Huskies

The Northeastern men's hockey team battled back from a 1-7-2 start to the 2011-12 campaign with a 3-2 triumph against No. 18 UMass Lowell on Saturday night at Matthews Arena to send the Huskies home for the holidays with a .500 record for the first half (7-7-2).

The Huskies won their sixth-consecutive game for the first time since NU rattled off six in a row from Dec. 6, 1997 to Jan. 3, 1998 under Bruce Crowder. Four of Northeastern's victories during that stretch have come against ranked opponents (Michigan, Notre Dame (2), UMass Lowell).

Sophomore Anthony Bitetto tipped in his first-career game-winning goal while junior Steve Quailer extended his point streak to seven games with an empty netter to clinch victory. Rookie Adam Reid got things going for the Huskies with his second-career tally early in the second period.

Junior Chris Rawlings continues his astute play between the pipes, turning aside 38 shots to extend his winning streak to a career best six games. The North Delta, B.C. native has not surrendered more than two goals within that span.

The Huskies were outshot for the 15th time this season as the River Hawks attempted 40 shots to Northeastern's 32.

UMass Lowell took the first couple tries on net before sophomore Zak Stone nearly slipped two shots by Carr on the doorstep near the 3:30 mark of the first period.

Junior Garrett Vermeersch and Malcolm Lyles took respective seats for slashing and embellishment at 5:28 to create some extra room. The Huskies dominated the 4-on-4 scenario with a grade-A take by third-year defenseman Drew Ellement, but Carr withstood the barrage to keep it scoreless.

Northeastern nearly attacked the back of the next in a 3-on-2 transition at 12:30 of the first when rookie Ludwig Karlsson busted off a wrister from the left point. The puck kicked out to Carr's left and junior Vinny Saponari was in position to bury the carom, but a River Hawk defenseman held him before he could pounce.

With about five minutes remaining in the first, Carr made a huge glove save off the draw from junior Robbie Vrolyk. Momentum switch to the River Hawks' side and David Vallorani offered one last charge from coast-to-coast, but Rawlings denied him on the door step to keep it 0-0 after the first period.

The Huskies came out firing on all cylinders to initiate the second stanza, started by a one-time blast from the lumber of rookie Josh Manson two minutes in. Northeastern kept the puck in UML's zone and it eventually found its way behind Carr at 3:01.

Carr tried to clear the puck out from behind the net, but Cornell chipped it back in from the far boards back down to Stone behind the cage. The disc made its way over to Reid and the rookie attempted a soft shot behind the net. The puck bounced off of a River Hawk and into the back of the net at 3:01 of the second stanza to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

Sophomore Anthony Bitetto took a hitting after the whistle infraction at 7:39, but the Huskies' penalty kill banded together and yielded just a handful of shots from around the perimeter. Following the kill, neutral zone play ensued before UMass Lowell tied it up with a Scott Wilson snipe at 13:02.

The River Hawks were awarded a faceoff in NU territory to Rawlings' right. Stephen Buco cleanly won the draw out to Wilson between the circles and UML's rookie went bar down off the one-timer past Rawlings' blocker to sew it up, 1-1.

The Huskies power play unit was given a chance to take the lead in the waning moments of the middle session after Jake Suter went off for boarding at 17:37. UMass Lowell's penalty-killing effort did a good job of keeping Northeastern pinched along the boards. Junior Drew Daniels set sophomore Cody Ferriero with an ample one-timer just as the penalty expired, but Carr sought the rubber out through traffic to force a deadlocked third period, 1-1.

Much like the beginning of the second stanza, the Huskies charged out of the gates to start the third full steam ahead. Ferriero had two gaping chances, including a breakaway a minute and a half in. Ferriero stripped UMass Lowell at the red line and charged Carr, but Carr stood his ground and denied the breakaway bid.

Ferriero made up for it on the ensuing exchange at 4:25 on a one-timer rifle off the left dot from Bitetto. Bitetto lifted the puck off of UMass Lowell in the neutral zone and carted it into River Hawk territory. Bitetto linked up Ferriero across the zone and Ferriero smacked it past Carr to regain the one-goal advantage, 2-1.

At 14:33 of the third period, first-year blue liner Josh Manson took a hooking call deep in NU's ice. UML head coach Norm Bazin called for a timeout at 15:52 and opted to pull Carr for the two-man advantage. Quailer had other ideas, intercepting a pass at the top of Northeastern's zone and sailing down the width of the sheet into the back of the unguarded net for the two-goal pad, 3-1, at 16:03.

Sophomore Luke Eibler's boarding infraction at 18:29 let UMass Lowell creep within a goal at 18:37 on a blast from Derek Arnold. Chad Ruhwedel deferred to David Vallorani on the far boards and zipped it across the circles over to Arnold for the one-time blast, 3-2.

UMass Lowell maintained possession in Northeastern's zone to close out regulation, but could not force it into overtime as the Huskies won their sixth-consecutive decision, 3-2.

Northeastern will take a three-week hiatus before traveling to Minneapolis, Minn. to take part in the Mariucci Classic hosted by the University of Minnesota on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 30-31. The Huskies first-round opponent will be against Princeton on Friday at 3 p.m. (CST). Northeastern will take on the winner/loser of the other side of the bracket on Saturday, facing either Niagara or Minnesota. Game time will either be at 3 p.m. (CST) or 6 p.m. (CST).

Game Notes

- The last time Northeastern won six-consecutive games was under Bruce Crowder during the 1997-98 season when the Huskies rattled off six in a row from Dec. 6, 1997 to Jan. 3, 1998.

- Within that stretch, Northeastern has outscored its opponents by a total of 27-9. The Huskies have knocked off four ranked opponents during their current winning streak.

- Northeastern is broaching history as the Huskies have strung together their fourth sixth-game winning streak. The Huskies have only put together one seven-game winning spell. Northeastern's longest winning streak in program history is 12 games. NU started the 1980-81 season winning its first 12 contests from Nov. 25, 1980 to Jan. 20, 1981.

- Northeastern has won five-consecutive games against UMass Lowell. The streak stands as the longest against any other foe from Hockey East.

- Adam Reid tallied his second-career goal against UMass Lowell while both Zak Stone and Dan Cornell registered their second-career assists on the scoring play.

- Anthony Bitetto tipped in a blast from Cody Ferriero, marking his first-career game-winning goal. The Island Park, N.Y. native is riding a career best four-game winning streak heading into the holiday break.

- Steve Quailer has scored 12 points in his last seven outings, accounting for five goals and seven assists. The Arvada, Colo. native has strung together a seven-game point streak. That mark is the longest of any Husky on the current roster for their careers. Alex Tuckerman assembled a six-game winning spell in his rookie campaign.

- The top line of Steve Quailer - Braden Pimm - Cody Ferriero has been on fire in the last eight games. The trio added a goal (Quailer) and an assist (Ferriero) to its production on Saturday night against UML and have registered 14 goals and 13 assists (27 points) with a combined plus/minus of +26.