By: Josh Brown
BOSTON- Winning the first game of the season, for every team, is a way to put last year behind you and start with a fresh slate.
For Northeastern, getting the first win off their back had a little extra purpose this time around.
After starting off the season 0-8-1 last year, it only took the Huskies one game to get that coveted first win, defeating Colgate (1-2) 2-1 Saturday night at Matthews Arena.
“It’s great to obviously start the season off with a real good win like that,” said Huskies coach Jim Madigan. “I like the way we played for the first game of the year. Certainly there are areas we’re going to have to get a lot better, but I thought we pressured the puck, I thought our puck pursuit was pretty good at times.”
“We might have lost a little patience offensively. Defensively I like what we did. We limited them to under 20 shots, and that’s a real good hockey club over there. They’ve got some real good offensive catalysts who can score goals, and are threats that we had to be careful of.”
Tied at one with under 10 minutes left to go in the game, sophomore Nolan Stevens collected a Colton Saucerman pass, skated up ice while simultaneously deking around three Colgate defenders, and eventually beat Charlie Finn five-hole in what ended up being the game-winner.
“It was kind of a broken play in our zone, and we regrouped and there was a lot of ice in front of us,” said Stevens. “I just got some speed and I had a lot of room so (Saucerman) passed it to me, a great pass, and the defenseman’s gap was close to me and I thought I could make a move and ended up getting by one guy and reacted to the next guy, luckily got by him and poked it in.”
Finn, who had seven and a half periods of shutout hockey in net against Northeastern dating back to last season, lost the streak midway through the second period, but ended the night with 41 saves. For the Huskies, Derick Roy faced a modest 17 shots, corralling 16 of them, on a night where Northeastern held a 43-17 advantage in the shot department.
After dominating the first period and spending much of the time in their offensive zone, the Huskies would get on the board first midway through the second.
With 7:51 left in the frame, Eric Williams fired a shot from the blue line that beat traffic and found the stick of John Stevens camped out in front of the net, ultimately getting by Finn as well for the lead.
Just two minutes later the Raiders knotted the score up at two courtesy of Tyson Spink.
After Willie Brooks put a shot on net that Roy was easily able to knock aside, Tylor Spink found his brother in the middle of the slot, who beat Roy low on his glove side.
Both squad’s came out reeling in the third period, pushing the tempo and playing five-on-five for the whole frame after they combined for 10 penalties (five each) throughout the first two periods, but saw no goals come as a result.
Despite numerous odd-man rushes in the first ten minutes of the final period, both Finn and Roy held strong in net, not allowing anything get by them.
With just over eight minutes to go, the Huskies got the winner from Stevens and were able to hang on for the win.
“It’s tough,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughan, “it’s opening night for them. I thought they had a lot more energy than we did for a lot of the game.”
“I think the shots were indicative of that. With that said, it’s tough on the road and I thought our goalie gave us a chance to win the game. We hung around and we thought we could put a little more pressure on them in the third, and we were doing that until they scored, and then they came at us pretty hard again.”
“It’s not easy, it never is, but they were better than us tonight and we’ve got to find a way to regroup and figure it out.”
For Madigan, the fifth year skipper was most happy with his team sticking to their “identity” for a full 60-minutes.
“I think we go into the game wanting to play to our identity and who we are as a hockey club,” said Madigan. “I liked the way we did do that.”
“We talked about that all week long; playing fast, playing with purpose, pressure the puck, pursue pucks, relentlessness to our game and we did do that, and because of that we were able to, in the offensive zone, control the down low and in the corners.”
“To win a 2-1 game…credit to the kids who stayed with it and found a way to win.”
This article can also be found on USCHO.