Men’s Hockey: Three sit out Beanpot shutout

Men’s Hockey: Three sit out Beanpot shutout

As the city of Boston neared rush hour Monday, fatigued, short-tempered Orange Line commuters were greeted with an unexpected group of fellow passengers.

The Northeastern men’s hockey team boarded, preparing itself for a pensive T ride – that is, how best to make something out of the usually-disregarded Beanpot Consolation Game against Harvard at the TD Banknorth Garden.

The ride – and any sort of pre-game pep talk – didn’t work. The Huskies, in front of a sparse, silent crowd, were taken down hard by the No. 20 Crimson, 5-0.

“We looked flat,” coach Greg Cronin said. “We took the train over here and I don’t know if we left our legs on the train or what. We looked flat, slow and sloppy.”

Cronin, who had witnessed his team defeat UMass Lowell 6-4 on Friday at Matthews Arena for NU’s second win of the season, felt, like most affiliated with the Huskies, that a momentum swing could have been in line for the Harvard matchup.

However, the statistics were nearly mind-boggling. With 9:15 left in the first frame, the Huskies (2-20-2) were being outshot 19-1. The Crimson (14-9-2) held a 1-0 lead on a junior forward Ryan Maki’s goal 3:35 into the period and NU’s underperforming play put a huge damper on the rest of the contest.

“I don’t have an explanation for the first period, it was just ugly,” Cronin said. “You’d think you’d have a little bit of momentum coming out of a six-goal game but we didn’t. We never really got into a rhythm offensively.”

The Huskies were playing without their leading point-getter (sophomore forward Jimmy Russo) due to an undisclosed injury, Cronin said. Goal-scoring freshman forward Ryan Ginand was out with a knee injury and defensive leader junior Steve Birnstill was out with a shoulder injury. The combined effects of these personnel losses led to a three-goal second period for the Crimson and a last-place ranking in the Beanpot for NU.

“We don’t score a lot of goals anyway and then you lose Russo, Ginand and Birnstill which are three of your top five power play guys,” Cronin said. “It did have me a little bit nervous from the beginning. Clearly, we didn’t score any goals. We didn’t really have anybody that went into those positions and gave us a push offensively.”

An overpowering Harvard defense shut down rush after rush and did its part to stymie any sort of spark NU was seeking from any of its forwards, including first-liner freshmen Rob Rassey and Joe Vitale and junior Bryan Esner.

Harvard got its second period goals from freshman forwards Steve Rolecek and Nick Coskren and sophomore Jon Pelle. Pelle added a second goal 11:33 into the final frame in a game that was already out of reach for the Huskies.

“This is a pretty determined group,” Harvard coach Ted Donato said. “We felt a bit frustrated after the first period because we had some power plays and would have liked to stretch the lead earlier than we did. I think it was one of those nights where we got a few bounces.”

On Friday, the mood at Matthews Arena was one of redemption and relief. Vitale scored two third-period goals to help NU thwart a comeback attempt from UMass Lowell as the Huskies held out for their second win of the year.

“Everybody’s pretty happy,” senior captain defenseman Chuck Tomes said. “It’s a big monkey off our backs. It was good to pull together as a team and to make sure that we could get a win at the end of it.”

It was an unusual sight for the 2,340 in attendance, as the Huskies produced four first period goals and produced a bit of rare offensive firepower. Junior defender Brian Deeth, Ginand, sophomore forward Josh Robertson and junior forward Ray Ortiz all scored for the Huskies in the opening frame.

The River Hawks got three of their own in the second as senior forwards Bobby Robins and Andrew Martin and junior forward Jeremy Hall all found their way to the net. Senior defender Matt Collar scored UML’s only other goal in the third period.

“We haven’t played with a ton of leads,” said NU assistant coach Brendan Walsh, who spoke on behalf of Cronin after the game. “Greg makes a lot of points. His main point tonight was ‘Guys, would you rather win 6-0 or 6-4?’ Everyone’s like, ‘6-0.’ He goes, ‘I don’t care; I’d rather win 6-4. This way you learned how to hold a lead.'”

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