The Northeastern men's hockey team started off the 2012-13 slate with a 4-3 exhibition setback against St. Francis Xavier on Sunday afternoon at Matthews Arena. Despite the score, the Huskies' veteran leadership mixed well with NU's new youth and offered a glimpse into the future.
Sophomore Josh Manson tallied his first goal in a Huskies' sweater midway through the first frame and assistant captain Ludwig Karlsson and veteran Garrett Vermeersch picked up where they left off last season, scoring NU's other two goals. Karlsson joined captain Vinny Saponari as Sunday's multi-point scorers. The Powder Springs, Ga., assisted on both Manson and Karlsson's goals. Newcomers Kevin Roy and Colton Saucerman made their way onto the scoring sheet with an assist each as did sophomore Adam Reid.
All three Northeastern netminders played in Sunday's exhibition with senior Chris Rawlings getting the start. Rawlings stopped five-of-six shots. Rookie Derick Roy started the second period and made 11 shots while surrendering two goals. Fourth-year backstopper Bryan Mountain stopped six-of-seven X-Men attempts.
Both Northeastern and St. FX converted on one-of-three power play opportunities. Karlsson tallied the Huskies' goal with the extra skater at 10:21 of the first period. The Huskies outshot the X-Men, 40-26.
Northeastern's offense offered the first two grade-A chances of the contest three minutes into the game. Sophomore Cody Ferriero set up junior Braden Pimm in between the circles with a backhanded drop pass, but St. FX goaltender Drew Owsley was in position to make the stop. Pimm and K. Roy crafted a nice give and go, leaving K. Roy all alone on the far post, but Owsley cut off the angle on Roy's wrist shot.
The Huskies persistent pressure paid off at 7:23 of the first period when Manson converted in transition for the 1-0 Huskies lead. Reid triggered the play by jarring the puck lose at NU's blue line and shuffling it up to Saponari in the neutral zone. Saponari flung down the left side and made a patient pass to Manson streaking through the middle. In stride, Manson cradled the puck and zipped it top shelf for the first strike of the day.
Michael Kirkpatrick's elbowing penalty at 8:36 allowed Northeastern to double the lead with a Karlsson power play tally for a 2-0 lead. The Huskies power play cycled at the top of the zone before Saucerman connected with K. Roy on the near post. K. Roy discovered Karlsson in between the circles and the freshman finessed the disc through St. FX's penalty killing unit with a perfect one-timer play. Karlsson beat Owsley with a quick snap shot to take advantage of the extra man.
The X-Men responded with a power play goal at 12:28 of the first stanza after a sophomore Dan Cornell holding penalty at 11:22. St. FX ran its cycle and Bronson Maschmeyer ripped a shot from Jason Bast at the top of the zone. The puck ran through traffic and Spencer McAvoy had his stick in perfect position to tip it through Rawlings' legs to cut the deficit, 2-1.
The Huskies wasted no time recouping a two-goal lead 35 seconds into the second frame. After. St. FX won the opening draw to initiate the second stanza, Karlsson started the scoring play by clearing the puck out to Saponari in the neutral zone. Saponari skated in on Owsley but deferred to Vermeersch on the right dot. Vermeersch picked his spot and beat Owsley low at 00:35 for a 3-1 Huskies' edge.
Mometum shifted in favor of St. Francis a few moments later when the X-Men tied it up, 3-3, on a pair of even-strength goals just over a minute apart at 4:21 and 5:25.
Brad Cuzner was the beneficiary of a scrum in front on D. Roy. D. Roy started the second period for Northeastern and made a couple big stops before Cuzner's tally out front closed the gap, 3-2, at 4:21. Cory MacIntosh tied it up at 5:25 off a rifle from the top of the right circle. Steven Kuhn won the draw and dished back to RD Chisholm just beyond the blue line. Chisholm made the short pass to MacIntosh for the blast in front of a screened D. Roy to knot it up, 3-3.
At 9:01, senior Steve Morra and Cole Grbavac both took seats for hitting after the whistle to create a 4-on-4 situation in the middle of the third period. The X-Men took advantage of the open territory on took their first lead of the contest at 10:23.
St. Francis Xavier generated the scoring play behind Mountain in the near corner. MacIntosh beat his defenseman in a tussle with help from Ted Stephens. Stephens chipped the puck in front of the goalmouth and Josh Day capitalized on an open right side of the net and made it a 4-3 game in favor of St. FX.
Both teams had chances in the last 10 minutes of the game, but the X-Men hung on to its one-goal lead for the win.
Northeastern and Merrimack open the Hockey East schedule on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at Matthews Arena. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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