Men’s hockey heads to holiday break after 3-0 win in Vermont

BURLINGTON – The Northeastern Huskies took down the Vermont Catamounts 3-0 on Tuesday at Gutterson Field House in Burlington, VT.  NU snapped Vermont’s winning streak at 5 games, and is now 4-0-2 in its last 6 games. The Huskies’ 10 wins overall eclipses last year’s mark of 9.

Northeastern controlled play in the first period breaking the Vermont forecheck effectively and creating sustained offensive pressure. The Huskies broke through on a John Stevens score, as he put home his own rebound, giving NU a 1-0 lead. The second period found much of the reverse, however, as three Vermont power play opportunities gave them a 13-7 edge in shots. Northeastern weathered the storm, and Kevin Roy put a rebound past Vermont goalie Mike Santaguida as the period wound down to extend the Husky lead to 2.

Vermont posted an even larger shot margin in the third period, outshooting the Huskies 22-7. Ultimately, it was not enough though. Mike McMurtry pounded home another Santaguida rebound early in the period to extend the NU lead to 3-0. The Huskies didn’t look back, and finished off the 3-0 win despite frequent, sustained offensive pressure from the Catamounts. It was an impressive effort on a night NU took 10 penalties – but the penalty kill was impressive and posted a perfect 8/8 effort.

Clay Witt stonewalled Vermont, posting a shutout on 44 saves. It was his second career shutout and continues his remarkable run over the past few weeks. Witt now sits third in the nation in save percentage at 0.945, behind only Connor Hellebuyck of UMass Lowell (0.947) and Raphael Girard of Harvard (0.948).

Kevin Roy racked up 3 points, including his 13th goal of the season and 2 assists. Roy now has 24 points on the season, tying him for second in Hockey East scoring with Ross Mauermann and Kevin Hayes. The three trail only Johnny Gaudreau, who has 28 points. Roy’s 13 goals ties him with Gaudreau for most in the conference and second most in the nation.

With the two road points and a point in the tie with Providence last week, the Huskies move into a tie with Maine for 4th place in the Hockey East standings. Perhaps more telling is that Northeastern has now won 10 games before January for the first time since the 2008-2009 season that culminated with a 2nd seed in the Hockey East Tournament and an NCAA berth. This Huskies team has a long way to go – especially if the past two springs are any indication – but it can be said with certainty that this team is a long ways off from the cellar-dwelling team that most expected.

Northeastern will return to action on December 29th and take on Air Force in the Ledyard National Bank Tournament. They will face either Dartmouth or Providence in the second game of the tournament the next day, before hosting the Minutemen of UMass Amherst back home in Boston on January 4th. The Huskies will return to league play on January 7th in Providence.