Men’s Hockey: Huskies lose Hockey East ground with tie, loss to Vermont

Men’s Hockey: Huskies lose Hockey East ground with tie, loss to Vermont

By Matt Nielsen

The men’s hockey team (6-11-4, 3-8-4 Hockey East) extended its unbeaten streak to four games Saturday night against No. 18 Vermont (12-8-2, 6-4-2 HE) before the Catamounts broke it the next evening at Matthews Arena.

Vermont started the scoring Friday night when sophomore forward Dean Strong tallied his 12th goal of the season at 15:04 in the first period. Freshman forward Colin Vock worked the puck around the back of the Northeastern net and fed Strong in front. Strong shot the puck and deposited his own rebound into the net to put the Catamounts up 1-0.

With just nine seconds to go in the period, freshman forward Viktor Stalberg scored his fourth goal of the season to put Vermont up 2-0.

“I think that in any sport, if one team scores right before the end of a period, they’re going to go into the locker room with a lot of momentum,” said head coach Greg Cronin. “You can’t give up a goal with less than a minute left in the period.”

Nevertheless, the Huskies came out strong in the second period. Seven minutes in, while on a power play, freshman forward Randy Guzior scored for the fourth time this season, assisted by freshman defenseman Jim Driscoll and sophomore forward Dennis McCauley.

The Huskies tied the game less than a minute into the third period. Northeastern began the period short-handed, with senior forward Bryan Esner in the penalty box for high-sticking. As the penalty came to an end, Esner raced out of the box and stole the puck. Esner’s shot rebounded directly to junior forward Jimmy Russo, who beat Vermont’s junior goalie Joe Fallon to knot the contest at 2-2. Neither team was able to gain the advantage after Russo’s goal, and the game ended in a tie, even after a five-minute overtime period.

“We played well for stretches,” said Vermont head coach Kevin Sneddon. “I thought Northeastern outworked us in our own zone. We made a couple of big mistakes and they capitalized on them. I have to give their forwards credit.”

Freshman goaltender Brad Thiessen made 25 saves on 27 shots faced after being named Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts last weekend against BC and BU (40 saves, 42 shots faced).

The tie extended the Huskies’ unbeaten streak to four games, their longest since Oct. 23 to Nov. 14, 2004, when they put together a five-game streak (4-0-1). This season’s streak began Dec. 30, with a 7-2 win over Holy Cross, and continued last weekend with a 3-2 victory against No. 7 Boston College and a 0-0 tie at No. 13 Boston University.

After playing quality hockey for the past few weeks, the Huskies came out flat Saturday. The game remained scoreless throughout the first period and most of the second until Vermont got on the board late.

With less than a minute remaining, junior forward Torrey Mitchell scored his seventh goal of the year on a rebounded shot by freshman forward Brayden Irwin. It would be all the Catamounts needed.

At 16:04 in the third period freshman forward Jonathan Higgins scored his first collegiate goal, with assists by forwards Jay Antcil and Reese Wisnowski. In the 19th minute, the Huskies pulled Thiessen from the net in favor of an extra attacker, and Mitchell beat them again to make the final score 3-0.

Fallon stopped all 23 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of the season.

“It should have been a 0-0 game going into the third period; instead it’s 1-0, and they are a team thats really difficult to come back on when they have the lead,” Cronin said. “It’s a cardinal sin. The power plays we did have, we didn’t convert. We had two shots hit the pipe dead on, and you think to yourself, ‘One of those has to bounce in.’ We had poor decision making.”

The Huskies are back in action this weekend in a home-and-home series with UMass-Lowell. Northeastern travels to Lowell for Friday night’s game before hosting the River Hawks at Matthews Arena Saturday at 7 p.m.

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