Men’s hockey upsets powerhouse

Men’s hockey upsets powerhouse

By Matt Nielsen

The Northeastern men’s hockey team (2-3-1) did something Saturday night it hadn’t done in more than a year when it beat No. 6 Michigan (4-2-0) by a score of 3-2 at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich.

It was the Huskies’ first win over a top-10 opponent since Feb. 26, 2005, when they beat then-No. 9 Boston University.

Saturday’s win came only 24 hours after NU took the very same Michigan team to overtime in a tough 4-3 win for the Wolverines, a perennial college hockey power, Friday night.

Michigan got the scoring started Saturday evening when sophomore defenseman Jack Johnson scored at 7:49 in the first period. Johnson’s goal was his fourth this season, and was assisted by senior forward T.J. Hensick and senior defenseman Matt Hunwick. Neither team scored again in the first.

Northeastern knotted the game at 1-1 early in the second period. Sophomore defenseman Andrew Linard, a Michigan native, intercepted a clearing pass five minutes into the second. Linard took a shot, which was deflected by Husky sophomore forward Dennis McCauley. The puck bounced to freshman forward Randy Guzior, who slipped it into the back of the net for his second goal of the season.

Just two minutes later, junior forward Jimmy Russo scored his first goal of the year on the power play, putting NU up 2-1. McCauley picked up his second assist of the day and freshman defenseman Jim Driscol earned his first career point as he was credited with an assist.

Halfway through the second period, Johnson, the Wolverines’ defenseman, was ejected from the game for fighting with NU sophomore forward Joe Vitale. Vitale crashed the net and leveled Michigan’s sophomore goaltender Billy Sauer, then Johnson took exception and went after Vitale from behind, knocking him to the ground and throwing jarring punches.

Sauer and Vitale were uninjured, but Johnson was immediately escorted off the ice. A result of his disqualification, will miss Michigan’s next game against rival Michigan State.

Hockey East Rookie of the Week, freshman forward Chad Costello picked up his first career goal 10 minutes into the third period, when senior forward Mike Morris got the puck to him in the slot, letting Costello score high on Sauer. Guzior also assisted the goal, which put the Huskies up 3-1.

With time winding down, Michigan scored again to keep the score close, at 3-2. At 16:33 in the third, junior forward Kevin Porter scored for the Wolverines after they won a face-off in the Northeastern zone. It was Porter’s fourth of the season, and Hensick picked up his eighth assist of the year, in just six games. Senior defenseman Jason Dest tallied his first assist of the season.

The Huskies held on to win 3-2, though Michigan was able to put considerable pressure on freshman goalie and Hockey East Co-Defensive Player of the Week, Brad Thiessen, in the closing minutes after they pulled their own goalie in favor of an extra attacker. Thiessen was brilliant again Saturday, stopping 45 of 47 shots faced, including all 20 during the second period, and finally earned his first win.

“[Thiessen] played unbelievably well,” McCauley. “He really kept us in the game.”

The Huskies continued a disturbing trend, however, committing 13 penalties during the match. The Huskies have committed more penalties than their opponent in all but one game this season. Luckily, the Husky penalty-killing unit has been up to the task, and killed all 12 Michigan power plays Saturday night.

“Everyone played well,” senior defenseman Steve Birnstill said. “We finally got the power play going, Thiessen played great, and the penalty-kill was unbelievable.”

Friday night’s game started off well for the Wolverines, who scored four minutes in. Senior forward David Rohlfs scored his fourth goal of the year while on the power play, with assists from Hensick and Porter. Ten minutes later the Huskies struck back when Birnstill scored a power play goal of his own. He was assisted on the goal by Morris and freshman forward Kyle Kraemer.

The second period began with another power play goal, this time by Wolverine Kevin Porter at 4:02. Three minutes later, the Husky bench took in a pleasant sight as Morris scored his first goal in more than a year after missing all of last season with injuries. With NU on a 5-on-3 power play, Birnstill got the puck to Costello, who cycled it over to Morris. Morris then beat Sauer to tie the contest at 2-2.

Less than two minutes later, Morris added a second goal to put the Huskies up 3-2. Kraemer and Costello each picked up their second assist of the game.

With time running out in the second, the Huskies failed to clear the puck out of their zone. With five seconds remaining, junior forward Chad Kolarik netted his eighth goal of the young season, knotting the game at 3-3. It was the only even-strength goal of the evening.

A scoreless third period spelled overtime for Northeastern and Michigan, whose last meeting before this weekend was the season opener of the 2004-05 season, when the unranked Huskies upset the No. 1 Wolverines, 4-2.

Vitale’s penalty at the end of the third period meant the Huskies would have to start overtime a man down. After foiling Michigan’s early overtime attempts, the Wolverines broke through at 1:01 with Porter’s second goal of the game, giving Michigan the 4-3 win.

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