Hockey suffers sweep by UNH

BOSTON – The Northeastern Huskies had a rough go of it this past weekend, suffering a sweep at the hands of the University of New Hampshire.

On Friday, UNH picked up a 3-0 win over the Huskies. New Hampshire took a 1-0 lead just over four minutes into the first period, when Nick Sorkin put home his sixth goal of the season. Northeastern had a chance to tie it with roughly five and a half minutes gone in the second period, receiving a power play chance on a Jay Camper hitting-from-behind penalty. As has plagued the Huskies so far this season, though, their power play became a prime opportunity for the opposition. NU surrendered a short-handed breakaway to the Wildcats and Jeff Silengo converted on the score to push the UNH lead to 2-0. Northeastern was never able to recover, and Kyle Smith’s goal third period goal with twelve minutes to play ended any hope of a comeback.

Head coach Jim Madigan was not pleased with the effort from his team. “UNH just wanted it a lot more than us,” said Madigan. “I didn’t like the way we competed… other than our goaltender we didn’t get the effort we needed to win here tonight at the results showed.”

The Huskies saw some improvements on Saturday, but ultimately fell 4-1. Through the first half of the game the defense did an improved job of limiting UNH’s opportunities in the middle of the ice. Despite outshooting UNH in the first period 12-6, though, Northeastern could not find the back of the net and paid the price for it. The Wildcats converted almost immediately on their first power play of the night in the second period, when Nick Sorkin cleaned up a rebound of a Trevor van Riemsdyk shot from the point. NU was sluggish to respond, and allowed a second goal, this time courtesy of Casey Thrush, under a minute later.

Northeastern responded in the third period. Kevin Roy scored his ninth goal of the season on a power play just two and a half minutes into the third period, cutting the UNH lead in half. The Huskies looked primed to find a second goal and tie the contest at two as the Wildcats sent them to the power play twice more. NU couldn’t capitalize, though. UNH killed the first and the Huskies lost what remained of the second power play when they were called for a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.  UNH scored once again a minute and a half later, about halfway through the third period, pushing the lead to 3-1 and effectively ending NU’s comeback hopes. UNH’s Grayson Downing tacked on an extra power play goal with about two minutes to go.

Saturday’s improvement was not enough for NU, as they face some serious challenges going forward. The Huskies, who had a very successful power play early in the season, are now just 3 for 26 on the power play in Hockey East play. That is ominous for a team whose success is built on scoring goals. The penalty kill struggled as well – allowing three goals power play goals in four opportunities in one game is difficult to survive.

There were a couple of positives to take away from the weekend, though. For instance, the goaltending was good on both nights for the Huskies. Clay Witt was impressive once more on Friday night, stopping 36 of 39 shots faced. Madigan went out of his way to commend Witt’s performance, separating him from the rest of the team’s effort in the contest at Matthews. On Saturday night in Durham, Madigan decided to go with redshirt freshman Derick Roy, who started his first game since October 26th at St. Lawrence. Roy was solid, stopping 28 of 32 shots, but even that doesn’t tell the full story as three of the four goals scored were of the power play variety. Another positive for Northeastern was its disciplined play; the Huskies committed just seven penalties on the weekend and are gradually lowering their league-leading penalty minutes per game mark (18.0).

In need of a big weekend, Northeastern next takes on Merrimack, with a home-and-home set on tap Friday and Saturday. WRBB will have both games, out at Lawler Arena in North Andover on Friday night, and at Matthews Arena in Boston on Saturday.