By: Josh Brown
PROVIDENCE- After Wednesday night’s 5-1 shellacking by the Providence College Friars, Northeastern coach Jim Madigan called his team “soft” and assured that no one’s job in the lineup was safe. The Huskies took that message to heart, and proceeded to go into Providence Saturday afternoon and defeat the Friars 2-1 behind goals by Colton Saucerman and Zach Aston-Reese, along with a season-high 37 saves by Goaltender Clay Witt.
“I think it kind of grabbed our guys attention,” said Madigan, “because their’s a lot of pride in that locker room, and I don’t know as a hockey player their’s a worse word to be called than soft.”
“I’m really proud of the way our guys played this afternoon,” Madigan added. “Having not played a good second, third period against Providence (8-6-1, 6-4-0) in our building it was great to rebound here tonight.”
Despite both teams getting 10 shots on goal in the first period, no team was able to find the back of the net in a period where Witt and Friars Goaltender Jon Gillies displayed why they are two of the best at their position in the country, trading highlight reel saves in the process.
Much like Wednesday night’s game, Colton Saucerman put the Huskies (4-10-1, 3-6-1) up 1-0 just 2:46 into the second period on a power play goal.
Dalen Hedges took a shot off a Kevin Roy pass that was blocked by Gilles, but Saucerman was right in front of the net and was able to pick up the rebound and jam it home to give Northeastern first blood.
Throughout the middle of the second period the Friars had a couple good scoring opportunities on the power play and full strength, but in each and every case Witt stood tall for the Huskies keeping the lead in check.
At the 14:41 mark of the middle frame, Zach Aston-Reese put Northeastern up 2-0 after he one-timed a pass from Mike Szmatula into the back of the net, sending his team to the locker room with the momentum.
A scary moment for Northeastern occurred in the second period when Defenseman Mike Gunn was forced to leave the game after being hit into the boards hard by Brandon Tanev. Gunn would not return to the game.
“It doesn’t look good,” said Madigan, “It’s an upper-body injury. It doesn’t look good.”
With the Friars on the power play in the opening minutes of the third period, they sprayed Witt with shots from left and right, but the Floridian saved every one including a sprawling save across the goal line to keep his shutout in tact.
Witt would lose the shutout a few minutes later when Trevor Mingoia scored his third goal against the Huskies in two games, on a 4-on-3 power play. Mingoia deflected a Nick Saracino shot off his shoulder and past Witt for the goal.
That would be all the Friars would get though, as Witt would deny everything else that came his way as the game winded down.
“I thought we were really controlled and composed,” Madigan said, “and Clay made some real big saves when he had to. From my end our mentality was such a grind it away each and every shift.”
The Huskies will next be action when they west to take on the Umass-Amherst Minutemen on December 16. The game can be heard on WRBB.
Follow Josh Brown on Twitter @josh_brown31