Huskies drop two after comeback win

Huskies drop two after comeback win
Fourth-year forward Dylan Sikura skates past two UConn defenders during Tuesday's loss. Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics

Northeastern men’s ice hockey made a 2-1 comeback against the University of Vermont at Matthews Arena Friday night, followed by a home game loss against local rivals Boston College on Saturday.

The game against UVM was off to a quick start, with NU taking seven shots on goal in the first ten minutes of play. First-year goaltender Cayden Primeau steered aside five from UVM during the scoreless first period.

Returning to the ice for the second frame, UVM netted the first goal of the game just over a minute in, scored by first-year forward Alex Esposito.

About halfway through the second period, Primeau was pulled from the net in favor of an extra man on the ice, but the Huskies were unable to score during the play or the ensuing Husky power play.

Just under two minutes to play in the period, the Huskies got another advantage when the Catamounts were called on a high sticking minor. Second-year defenseman Ryan Shea put up two shots against UVM second-year goaltender Stefanos Lekkas, but one was deflected while the other chipped off the goalpost. The Huskies were unlucky on the power play, and the period ended with UVM ahead by one.

Both competitors were hungry to score as the third period began, playing a lot of back and forth across the neutral zone. Fourth-year defenseman Garret Cockerill fired a shot from just outside the faceoff circle, going bar down before the puck strayed out of the net. The play was reviewed and deemed no goal by officials, despite protests from fans in the DogHouse.

The Catamounts offense came down hard on Primeau, who consistently steered away pucks throughout the game. A UVM breakaway nearly halfway through the third left Primeau to face off against three rushing offenders, but Cockerill rushed back, diving just in time to poke the puck out of Catamount possession.

With 8:10 left in the game, second-year forward Matt Filipe gave the Huskies their first point of the game, tying the score at one.

“We weren’t able to capitalize early in those first two periods and you can get frustrated, and I like the way we, particularly in that third period, we stuck with it,” head coach Jim Madigan said. “We’re going to have to keep working, grinding it out, which we did.”

The Huskies, with a newfound vengeance, fired shot after shot at Lekkas but remained unlucky in pulling ahead until the final two minutes, when second-year defenseman Jeremy Davies found the back of the net off a pass from fourth-year forward Dylan Sikura. Davies scored his second goal of the year to give the Huskies the point they needed to pull ahead.

The final two minutes of play resembled a Northeastern power play kill, with the hosts trying hold on to their lead while fending off a six-man attacking team as UVM opted to pull Lekkas in favor of the extra man.

The Huskies held onto their 2-1 lead and kept the Catamounts at bay, securing their seventh straight home game win in Hockey East play, dating back to last season.

“It was great to get the win,” Madigan said. “The value of each win is two points, and whether you get them early in the year or the end of the year doesn’t matter, you just have to get them.”

Primeau made 20 saves in Friday night’s game, 10 of which came during the third period alone.

“I knew that I was going to have to be sharp the last two minutes because they’re trying to get a goal to tie it up, so they’re just throwing everything at the net,” Primeau said.

The Huskies were back at it on Saturday night, hosting Boston College at Matthews Arena.

The game was fast paced and intense right from the puck drop, with both teams hungry for a point. The two teams battled for puck possession throughout the first period, most play taking place in the neutral zone.

“[Boston College] carried the play in the first period,” Madigan said. “They’re a fast team and they push you beyond your comfort level, and after the first period I thought we got a little more adjusted to their pace.”

Halfway through the frame, an Eagles breakaway left Primeau alone to face a BC attacker one-on-one, but a quick glove save put a stop to the visitors’ advances.

BC second-year defensemen Jesper Mattila took advantage of a rebound with less than one minute remaining in the first period, giving the Eagles the lead.

The Red and Black hit the ice during the second period and, mirroring the previous night’s performance, were eager to get on the board. Sikura, Gaudette, Shea and Davies had multiple good looks throughout the second period, but remained unsuccessful as the frame progressed.

The Huskies riddled BC second-year goaltender Joe Woll with pucks throughout the third period, but were unable to find the back of the net during numerous breakaways and pile-ups in the crease.

A minor for slashing on Filipe left Northeastern shorthanded going into the final ten minutes of play in the game, during which the Eagles took advantage and scored their second goal of the game. A third goal followed just seconds later, BC second-year forward Ron Greco tucking one just under Primeau leaving the Huskies trailing by three.

A minor for unsportsmanlike conduct landed Sikura and BC first-year forward Aapeli Rasanen in the penalty box, making the ice a four-on-four territory. BC netted their third goal of the period just 35 seconds after their last point, giving them a four point lead.

Northeastern finally got on the board with 3:19 left in the game. Second-year forward John Picking scored his first collegiate goal, finding the perfect angle around Woll for the point.

The late point for the Huskies showed a glimmer of a comeback, but it wasn’t enough to ward off the Eagles, who were 4-1 at the final buzzer.

“They deserved to win, they were the better team from start to finish,” Madigan said.

The Huskies were on the road this Tuesday, traveling to Hartford to take on the University of Connecticut.

Third-year goaltender Ryan Ruck saw his first start in four games, following a concussion sustained during a game against Boston University on Nov. 4.

UConn hit the ice hard, striking twice within two minutes halfway through the first period and adding a third goal just before the first buzzer.

“We had a real poor start,” Madigan said. “It’s hard in this league to come back from a three goal deficit.”

Primeau replaced Ruck at the start of the second period. The Red and Black were unlucky finding the back of the net, but not for lack of trying — NU outshot UConn 27-18 during 60 minutes of play.

Multiple attempts finally proved successful with 2:48 to go in the middle frame when Sikura got the Huskies on the board with his seventh goal of the season.

Gaudette’s assist on Sikura’s goal earned him his 100th career point, making him the 52nd player in team history, and the 22nd player to do so in three seasons or less. Sikura also earned himself a spot on this list this season, scoring his 100th point Oct. 20.

Just over five minutes into the final 20 minutes of play, UConn struck again for their fourth goal of the game.

A rough start proved to be a rough night for the Huskies, but their penalty kill was overall successful in killing three of the four UConn power plays, including a 17-second overlap which gave the hosts a two man advantage.

“I thought we limited their opportunities in the second and third period, but we just couldn’t get enough goals by them,” Madigan said.

The 4-1 loss makes NU 10-1 all-time against UConn.

Following a pair of tough losses, the Red and Black are looking to turn the page this weekend, hosting Merrimack in a weekend series at Matthews Arena, set to begin on Friday night at 7 p.m.

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