By Peyton Doyle
Northeastern (3–3–2) entered the back half of their weekend series with a sour taste in their mouth after giving up a late lead the night before and falling, 4–3, to UMass Amherst (8–3–1). The Huskies couldn’t avenge that loss Sunday night, as they allowed three first-period goals en route to a 5–3 defeat.
Early on, the Minutemen made the Huskies pay for laxness with the puck, with Jerry Harding scoring his first career goal soon after a Northeastern turnover just two minutes into the first.
Northeastern had a couple of opportunities to get their offense going with some early two-on-twos but were quickly shut down by a stout UMass defense. During an early stretch of four-on-four play Matt Kessel picked the pocket of Dylan Jackson and looked poised for a quality shot on goal before a Julian Kislin tackle set up a penalty shot for the Minutemen.
Northeastern couldn’t stay out of the penalty box in the first period; right after killing one off, they received a minor for too many men and were disadvantaged again. The Huskies struggled to get much offense going early as they were constantly forced unto their back paws by an unrelenting Minutemen attack.
When Northeastern got the man advantage, it could not capitalize. UMass goalie Matt Murray made an incredible glove save off of a rebound attempt from Aidan McDonough, coming all the way across the net to thwart it, halting the Husky power play, and recording the play of the game in the process.
Coming off a huge kill, UMass’s Zac Jones fired a shot from near the blue line, pinging it off the piping into the net, narrowly avoiding three Minutemen who screened Murphy.
Entering the second period with a 3–0 lead, UMass continued to bear down on the Northeastern defense. Two minutes into the period, Carson Gicewicz redirected a shot to net his team’s fourth goal of the game and his eighth of the season.
Two minutes later, senior captain Zach Solow got the Huskies on the board, knocking in a rebound off of a laser from Aidan McDonough.
Northeastern began to look more comfortable in the offensive zone following the Gicewicz goal, setting up sustained attacks on Murray.
“Solow’s goal gave us life,” Madigan said. “In the second and third period I thought we responded, and I think that the third period was our best period.”
Despite not registering another goal in the period, the Huskies showed some real fire following their score. The Minutemen played bend-but-don’t-break on defense for the remainder of the period, not getting many scoring chances but unwilling to give further momentum to Northeastern.
A tripping penalty three minutes into the third period by Minuteman Garrett Wait created another Husky power play. McDonough got revenge on Murray during the man advantage, catching him off-balance and netting his team’s second power-play goal of the evening. It was McDonough’s second multi-point effort of the season.
It seemed as though the Huskies wanted it more than the Minutemen in the second and third, who were playing in their third game in four days.
Northeastern locked down in the third, not giving up a single power-play goal. But Madigan pointed out that there is still much defensive work to be done..
“We defended harder in the second and third period but we have to do that for three periods,” he said. “We have to be heavy on pucks. We have to be heavier at our net front defending, defending earlier and defending harder. Mostly that’s our defensemen but it’s our forwards as well. Until we are ready to make a full commitment to blocking shots all the time and to defending harder at the net and be harder to play against, we are going to have fleeting success.”
With just under six minutes to play and after continued pressure from Northeastern, Dylan Jackson netted his first collegiate goal right in front of the net to pull his team within one.
Madigan pulled his goalie in the game’s final minutes, but Wait notched an empty net goal with 30 seconds remaining to put away the Huskies for good.
The Huskies and Minutemen remain third and first respectively in the Hockey East standings. Northeastern next game is on Friday.