Men’s Hockey: Northeastern beats, ties Providence

Men’s Hockey: Northeastern beats, ties Providence

By Matt Nielsen

The men’s hockey team (12-14-5, 8-11-5 Hockey East) inched closer to the postseason this weekend, picking up three points in the Hockey East conference with a win and a tie in a home-and-home series with the Providence College Friars (7-20-3, 6-14-3 HE).

The Huskies remain in seventh place with three games left, six points ahead of Providence and UMass-Lowell, who are tied for the eighth and final Hockey East playoff spot.

It was all Northeastern Friday night at Matthews Arena, as the Huskies dominated the contest from start to finish.

The game began with a series of penalties that left NU down four men to three. However, the Huskies’ penalty-killing unit responded as usual. Three minutes in, senior forward Bryan Esner intercepted the puck at center ice, skated right on top of Friar goaltender Tyler Sims and beat him for his fifth goal of the season. Northeastern’s penalty-kill is second in the Hockey East in both percentage (89.2) and short-handed goals scored (seven).

“It was the key point in the game,” said Providence head coach Tim Army. “We had a four-on-three and it was the worst-case scenario, we gave up a goal. It takes the wind out of your sails.”

With the first period winding down and the Huskies on the power play, senior defenseman Steve Birnstill took a shot from the blue line. Although Sims stopped the shot, the rebound was up for grabs, and with only two-tenths of a second remaining, sophomore forward Ryan Ginand scored to put the Huskies up 2-0.

Halfway through the second period, NU struck again. With a man-advantage, freshman forward Kyle Kraemer took possession of the puck in Providence ice. Kramer deked a defenseman, streaked up toward the new Friar goalie Chris Mannix (playing only his second game of the season in relief of Sims) and fed senior forward Joe Santilli, who beat Mannix for his second goal of the year.

“That was one of the best passes I’ve ever had given to me,” Santilli said. “I could take those all day.”

The Friars threatened to score at the end of the second, putting up a barrage of shots from up close. Freshman goaltender Brad Thiessen stopped every one.

“I told [Thiessen] afterward, ‘You just gave this team a lot of confidence’,”said head coach Greg Cronin. “We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off. I thought Thiessen was the best player on the ice.”

The Huskies would allow nothing in the third, winning 3-0.

Thiessen stopped 37 shots for his fourth shutout of the season.

The teams traveled to Providence for the second half of the weekend series Saturday night at Schneider Arena, and the first two periods were carbon copies of the previous night’s game.

Midway through the first period with the Huskies on the power play, Ginand and Kraemer cycled the puck well, eventually finding Birnstill in the middle. He beat Sims to give Northeastern a 1-0 lead.

The Husky penalty-kill unit, specifically Esner, struck again for a short-handed goal early in the second period. Esner knocked the puck down at center ice and took it deep into Friar ice. Once on top of Sims, Esner faked a shot, sending Sims flailing. Esner then beat Sims on the backhand for his second short-handed goal of the weekend.

Ginand scored Northeastern’s first even-strength goal of the weekend at 16:33 in the second, with assists from Esner and junior forward Jimmy Russo. It was Ginand’s fifth goal of the year.

Up 3-0, NU was approaching its third weekend sweep of the season. However, the Friars had thoughts of the last meeting between the two teams at Schneider Arena, Nov. 14, 2006, when the Huskies opened up a 2-0 lead on the Friars before falling to 4-3 in overtime.

At 2:17 in the third period, Providence defenseman Cody Wild scored his fourth goal of the year to make it a 3-1 game. After failing to score on a 5-on-3 power play, the Huskies allowed another goal at 12:02, this time to forward Bryan Horan.

With their lead trimmed to one goal, NU attempted to hang on, but the Friars kept taking it to them, out-shooting Northeastern 22-2 in the period. With less than five minutes remaining, Providence netted the game-tying goal. Friar forward Chase Watson took a shot from deep, which Thiessen saved. The rebound went to forward Kyle Laughlin, who beat Thiessen to knot the score at 3-3.

The Huskies managed to escape the third period, and neither team could get anything going in overtime, ending the game in a 3-3 tie.

Thiessen stopped 45 of 48 shots faced, and 82 of 85 for the weekend.

“They took a lot of shots from all over the place, but that’s what you want as a goalie,” Thiessen said. “You like to feel the rubber all the way through the game and not have any moments where you’re just sitting around.”

The Huskies are back in action Friday night at UMass-Amherst, before returning home for Sunday’s game against the Minutemen at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena.

Leave a Reply