By Ryan Fallon
BOSTON – The Northeastern Huskies hockey team continued their strong start to the season this weekend, sweeping the Holy Cross Crusaders to move to 4-0-0. The Huskies took the first game 3-1 on Friday before winning Saturday 5-2. Northeastern is now 5-2-0 all time versus Holy Cross.
On Friday, it was a tale of two games for Northeastern. The first two periods saw the Huskies build a 2-0 lead thanks to transition play goals from Braden Pimm and Torin Snydeman. They outshot the Crusaders 18 to 5 in the first period and 13 to 11 in the second. They controlled the pace of the game and looked ready to cruise to an easy victory.
The third period was a different story for the Huskies. The penalty problems reared their ugly heads once again, as just seconds into the third period Dustin Darou went to the box for an elbowing penalty. Shortly after, Colton Saucerman was called on a tripping penalty and Holy Cross converted on the subsequent 5-on-3 power play. The Huskies responded, though, with Kevin Roy rifling a wrist shot past Ginn, reclaiming their two goal lead. Northeastern would have to kill off three more Holy Cross power plays and deal with the loss of Cody Ferriero, who was issued a game misconduct, before finally nailing down the win, 3-1.
Derick Roy played well in goal, bailing the Huskies out frequently down the stretch. Roy saved 26 of 27 shots on net. While Northeastern was unable to convert on five power play opportunities on Friday, the Huskies were moving the puck well and getting it to the net. Holy Cross goaltender Matt Ginn had a lot to do with the lack of success on the power play; Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said Ginn was “as good a goaltender as we’ll see.”
The Huskies found more success against Ginn on Saturday. Kevin Roy converted on Northeastern’s first power play opportunity of the game, nearly a minute and a half into the game. Mike Szmatula and Josh Manson would also score in the first period (Szmatula’s first NCAA goal), building a 3-0 Husky lead. Again, the Huskies would give Holy Cross a chance to get back into the game, as Jake Bolton potted one for the Crusaders thanks to a 5-on-3 power play. Holy Cross would draw within one, making the score 3-2 on a Sean Gustin score early in the second period. Northeastern, though, would open the lead up again on the power play, as John Stevens scored his first collegiate goal.
The third period represented an enormous reversal from the night before, as Northeastern committed zero penalties in the last twenty minutes and outshot Holy Cross 15-5. Braden Pimm scored a power play goal for the Huskies and they wouldn’t look back, finishing off the 5-2 victory in commanding fashion.
Clay Witt started in net Saturday for Northeastern and was very impressive. Witt saved 27 of 29 shots with a few tremendous saves on breakaway chances for Holy Cross. He was a big reason why the Huskies were able to pull away down the stretch.
After a three point weekend, Kevin Roy now sports a scoring line of five goals and four assists, through just four games. Braden Pimm has also had success, scoring a goal in every contest so far this season. Mike Szmatula has eight points, including seven assists, in the early going.
Northeastern is now 4-0-0 on the season, the first time the Huskies have found themselves here since the 1993-1994 season. Next weekend, the Huskies will take a step up in competition once again, as they travel to Canton, New York, for a pair of games against St. Lawrence. This will represent an important test for the team, as Hockey East play, beginning with Boston College, looms the following the weekend.