By: Dan McLoone
BOSTON – Try as they might, the UConn Huskies just cannot seem to solve the riddle that is Northeastern.
The highest-scoring power play in the nation showed up in a big way down the stretch for Northeastern (18-13-5), as the Huskies tallied four goals on the man advantage, including three goals during a five-minute major power play, to complete the series sweep of UConn (12-16-8) with a 6-2 win to open the Hockey East playoffs.
Brendan Collier got the scoring going just four minutes in, wristing home a shot from the slot for his second goal of the weekend. Zach Aston-Reese doubled the lead eight minutes into the second period, tapping home a puck to light the lamp for the 30th time on the year.
Graduate student Brian Morgan made it 2-1 at the 12:20 mark of the second period, but Adam Gaudette responded just 2:10 later with a power play tally to make it 3-1. The goal was
Gaudette’s 16th on the man advantage, extending the single-season program record that he had previously set last week against Maine.
Connecticut made it 3-2 with two minutes left in the second period courtesy of a Miles Gendron goal. UConn carried that momentum into the third period, creating numerous chances on Ryan Ruck, who held strong and finished the evening with 32 saves.
Down by just one goal with 9:25 to go in the game, UConn lost the momentum when Evan Richardson was handed a game misconduct for contact to the head on Garrett Cockerill. Northeastern capitalized on its ensuing five-minute power play, as John Stevens netted two goals in the span of two minutes to make it 5-2. Jeremy Davies added one more before UConn finished killing the penalty to blow the game open.
Play got chippy down the stretch as Jake Schechter and Brian Morgan were given 10-minute game misconducts for a getting in a post-whistle scrum, but Northeastern held on to earn a series sweep and move to 10-0 all-time against Hockey East’s other Huskies.
Northeastern advances to the Hockey East Quarterfinals next week, where they will travel to either Boston University or UMass Lowell depending on the results of Sunday’s game three between New Hampshire and Merrimack. Game one of the best-of-three series will be on Friday.