After a pair of dominate wins against Connecticut last week, it was hard to imagine Northeastern could offer a repeat performance up at Alfond Arena this weekend.
For a while it looked like the Huskies would do just that, up 5-1 through two periods. The Black Bears would claw their way back scoring three third period goals, but Northeastern would hang on for a 6-4 win.
The win is Northeastern’s (15-11-4, 10-7-2) seventh in a row, and ups their unbeaten streak to nine games.
“I liked our start to the game,” said Huskies coach Jim Madigan. “In this league to get two points is critical at this stage of the season so we’re happy with the two points.”
The Huskies continue to get balanced scoring from all four lines, with freshman Dylan Sikura leading the way with two goals Friday night.
In net it was Clay Witt (24 saves) against Black Bears(12-18-3, 7-10-2) sophomore Matt Morris, who was pulled for Sean Romeo in the first period.
After putting up five first period goals in their series against UConn, Northeastern got right back to work in the opening frame opening up a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes.
After not scoring on the Huskies red hot power play last Saturday, Northeastern made sure to do so just 1:50 into the game courtesy of Colton Saucerman.
Matt Benning took a shot from the blue line that created a juicy rebound in front of the net. Saucerman, who was parked out in front was able to get a stick on it and jam it home for the early lead.
Just 52 seconds later the Huskies would get another one, this time from Brendan Collier.
Trevor Owens broke out into the offensive zone and found a streaking Collier who was able to beat Morris over the shoulder.
Northeastern would keep piling on offensively, while the defense in front of Witt stepped up to the task, getting in passing and shooting lanes all period long.
At 10:41 in the first John Stevens threw a pass to Sikura who was able to skate in the slot and bury it home to make it 3-0 Northeastern. Six minutes later Zach Aston-Reese found a puck on his stick all alone in the crease that he was able to connect with to give Northeastern a 4-0 lead heading into the locker room.
Maine would cut the lead to three 7:36 into the second period, thanks to a Blaine Byron pass from behind the net that connected with Connor Leen for a one-timer to make it 4-1.
The Huskies would answer with under two minutes to go in the period when Mike Szmatula barreled into the slot and beat Romeo five-hole to regain a four goal lead for Northeastern.
Maine and Northeastern would trade goals to begin the third period, first by Ben Hutton of the Black Bears, then by Dylan Sikura of the Huskies, making the score 6-2 with 13:01 left to go.
Sikura’s goal, which came just 36 seconds after Hutton’s, was set up once again from his line-mate John Stevens.
“I thought we responded well after they scored,” Madigan said. “I just don’t like the way we were giving up the scoring opportunities and the goals.”
“When he (Sikura) gets the time and space around the net you see what he can do,” Madigan continued. “What he’s done is he’s starting to round out his game defensively.”
Cedric Lacroix would jam a rebound home after being left all alone in the crease to make it 6-3 with still 6:57 to go in the contest.
After a ferocious offensive onslaught continued, Maine would score again with the goalie pulled and just 1:23 remaining.
Lacroix put a hard shot on net that hit the knee of Witt and floated back into the slot. Brian Morgan was there and put it home to pull the Black Bears within two.
Unfortunately for Red Gendron’s squad it was too little too late, and the Huskies were able to come away with a 6-4 win.
“In the third period we let it go a little bit,” Madigan said. “We just didn’t play to our identity and we got sloppy.”
“We’ll have to be better defending at the net tomorrow.”
The two teams will meet again at Alfond Arena Saturday night at 7:00. Ryan Fallon and Josh Brown will be on the call with pre-game beginning at 6:45.