By: Dan McLoone
The goals came early and often for the Northeastern hockey team on Banner Night. Six different players scored as the Huskies (1-1-2) celebrated last season’s Hockey East Championship with a 7-3 victory over Bentley at Matthews Arena on Saturday night.
After a disappointing 1-1 tie at Bentley on Friday, the Huskies wasted no time getting their offense started following a short pre-game ceremony, as Zach Aston-Reese sent a puck towards goal that took a fortuitous bounce off of a Bentley stick and into the back of the net just 47 seconds into the first period.
“We wanted to have a good start tonight and we’ve been a little, in the last three games, not really getting out of the blocks really quick enough for us, and I thought tonight was obviously a really good start,” said head coach Jim Madigan. “We jumped on them early, kind of got a little bit of a good break on a bounce from Aston-Reese, but we did all the right things on the forecheck and it resulted in a goal, and then we got a couple of quick ones after that.”
John Stevens doubled the lead six minutes later, firing home a shot from the blue line to get the Northeastern power play going. A night after going just 1-13 on the man advantage, the Huskies netted three power play goals and dominated the puck for huge stretches of the game.
“We had a lot of chances up in Quinnipiac [and] we definitely didn’t capitalize,” said Dylan Sikura, who finished the night with four assists. “We had a couple last night. I think tonight we played really well and the shots that weren’t going in were going in tonight, so it’s nice for us to finally click.”
Northeastern made it a three goal lead 12 minutes into the period, as Adam Gaudette jumped a Bentley pass and sent a cross-ice pass to the crashing Lincoln Griffin, who tapped the puck home for his second goal of the season. Bentley cut into the lead with three minutes left in the period, as Alexey Solovyev netted his second goal of the weekend on the powerplay.
The Huskies seized the momentum right back in the second period, as Adam Gaudette tapped home a rebound on the power play just 38 seconds into the frame for a 4-1 lead. Freshman Ryan Shea netted his first collegiate goal just four minutes later, sending a powerful shot past the glove of Falcons goalie Jayson Argue.
Aston-Reese netted his second goal of the game less than two minutes later, blasting a one-timer from the faceoff dot into the net to hand NU a commanding 6-1 lead. The sixth goal was the end of the day for Argue, who was pulled after allowing six goals just one night after he made 34 saves on 35 shots. Freshman Aidan Pelino replaced him in net and made 13 saves on 14 shots through 30 minutes of action.
“The power play gave us a lot of momentum early in the game and that’s what you want with the power play and penalty killing,” said Madigan. “I was happy with how we responded on the power play today.”
Bentley did its best to start a comeback, as Jake Kauppila and Tyler Deresky both scored to cut the lead to 6-3 through two periods. Deresky scored his goal on a shorthanded breakaway, the second shorthanded goal that the Huskies allowed on the weekend.
Both teams played physically in the third period, and Matt Filipe got on the scoreboard halfway through the frame to make it 7-3. The freshman sent a puck from the slot through the legs of Pelino, which trickled over the goal line for his first goal as a Husky.
“There’s a lot of things for us to continue working on and getting better at, but it was a good start getting your first win for our team, and then on top of it getting some good contributions,” said Madigan. “…It was great to see the banner go up, it was a reflection to the young men who are on our team and who were on the team last year to be able to witness that.”
The Huskies finished the night 3-8 on the power play, taking advantage of another penalty-heavy game. Ryan Ruck made 15 saves in net, including a phenomenal one-on-one stop of Tanner Jago on a breakaway. Northeastern will return to the ice next weekend, as they host Arizona State on Friday and Saturday. Full coverage of both games will be provided by WRBB.
Josh Brown contributed to this article