By: Dan McLoone
MINNEAPOLIS- It doesn’t seem to matter who is in goal, as the Northeastern Huskies simply cannot seem to stop their opponents from scoring early goals. After an admirable showing in relief of Derick Roy last night, freshman goalie Ryan Ruck wasn’t as solid in his first career start, allowing three goals in the opening four minutes. Although the Huskies fought back, the deficit once again proved too big, as Minnesota finished the weekend off with a 4-3 win.
Hudson Fasching got the scoring going early for the Golden Gophers, giving Minnesota to a 1-0 lead just 59 seconds into the game. Michael Brodzinski made the score 2-0 just two minutes later, firing a shot from the blue line past Ruck. Only 17 seconds later, Leon Bristedt got a stick on a loose puck in front of the net and poked it past Ruck to stake the Gophers to an early 3-0 lead, the Huskies fourth straight game in which they trailed by that deficit. Northeastern got one right back 28 seconds later, as John Stevens sent home a puck in front of the net off of an assist from his brother Nolan.
“Obviously not the start that we were looking for,” said Huskies coach Jim Madigan. “We talked about getting off to a good start and trying to play with the lead and [we] fell behind 3-0 quickly there for six, seven minutes and we called a timeout [and] scored.”
“Then [we] gave them an opportunity late in the first period on a power play situation that…makes it 4-1. But from that point on I liked the way our team responded.They showed some resolve and resiliency in the second and third period.”
Ruck settled in after the early defensive slump, but gave up a power play goal to Fasching, his second goal of the night, with just under 1:30 left in the first period. Fasching was looking to send a centering pass into the middle, but his pass deflected off of Colton Saucerman and into the net to dig the Huskies a 4-1 hole going into the locker room. After giving up three goals on six shots to start the game, Ruck allowed just one more on his next 26 shots faced to give Northeastern a chance to come back.
“I thought Ryan Ruck was really good in net, he gave up four goals in that first period, obviously not his fault,” said Madigan “Then he just responded, stopped a penalty shot that was big at the time that gave us some momentum and gave us some life.”
However, a frustrated Husky squad once again was unable to climb out of an early hole. They looked sloppy defensively throughout the night, allowing numerous Gophers to skate free in front of the net and get open looks on Ruck.
“We didn’t protect him at all in front of the net for the first period, and then we did a better job in the second and third period with our net-front presence,” said Madigan.
The Huskies came out of the locker room looking to cut into the lead, and were able to do so despite not really controlling the pace of play in the second period. Sam Kurker cut the score to 4-2 just two minutes into the period, managing to send a shot from the right of the net off of Minnesota goalie Eric Schierhorn’s left skate and into the net. With just over seven minutes remaining, freshman Eric Williams scored his first career goal for the Huskies, sending a shot from just past the right faceoff circle through traffic and into the far corner of the net to trim the lead to one. The goal was Northeastern’s lone score on the power play in nine attempts on the weekend.
Minnesota had an opportunity to extend the lead later on in the second when Matt Benning took down Vinni Lettieri on a breakaway to give the Gophers a penalty shot. Lettieri tried to go five-hole on Ruck, but the netminder stood strong and blocked the attempt to preserve the 4-3 scoreline.
The two goals in the second period weren’t enough for Northeastern, as Minnesota packed it in on defense in the third. The Huskies had some great opportunities, most notably with just under a minute left to play as a loose puck in front of the net looked like it would be sent home. Schierhorn stood strong in goal for the Gophers, however, continuing his strong form from a shutout on Friday night.
“We just need everyone to be focused and dialed in from the get-go and we’re chasing games,” said Madigan. “We can’t chase games during the season. If you’re chasing games you’re just not going to win too many hockey games.”
Northeastern allowed 32 shots on the night while also committing seven penalties. The win brings Minnesota to 2-3 on the season, while the loss drops the Huskies to 1-4 heading into a Halloween weekend matchup against Vermont. The Thursday and Saturday night games can be heard on WRBB.
Josh Brown contributed to this article.