By Craig White
CANTON, NY – The Northeastern Huskies suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday night in upstate New York. This loss culminated a two-game series against St. Lawrence University. Heading in to Saturday’s tilt, the Huskies were 5-0, which was the first time they had reached that mark since the 1988-1989 season. A win for the Huskies on Friday night put Northeastern at 5-1 heading into Hockey East play.
Friday night’s victory was Northeastern’s first against St. Lawrence since 2002. The Huskies topped the Saints after falling down 2-0 just over five minutes into the second period. This was the first time in five games that the Huskies had trailed. At the beginning of the game, Northeastern struggled mightily to break the puck out of their defensive zone. The Huskies were completely out played up until they scored their first goal with only 4:55 left in that second frame. That goal came off the stick of Ryan Belonger who tipped it past goaltender Matt Weninger (3.13 GAA, .885 save percentage) directly off a faceoff. The Huskies got the tying goal, just two minutes later on the power play, from a pretty shot by Kevin Roy.
The star of the night was Clay Witt who stopped a total of 39 shots. He made several opportune saves including a mini breakaway and several 2-on-1 back door attempts by the Saints. In the third period, Northeastern was able to finally get some sustained fore-check and pop in the go-ahead goal off the stick of Mike McMurtry who found the puck on his stick in the slot with a lot of open net to shoot at. However, the Huskies undisciplined play continued to plague them as John Stevens took a slashing call to put the Huskies shorthanded just minutes later. Matt Carey made them pay with a rocket from the top of the right-hand circle that tied it back up at 3-3.
The stellar play from Clay Witt continued all night. From this point forward, it was all Huskies, except for in the faceoff circle where they only won 38% of draws. Overall, the energy was there when they came out of the locker room and it showed as they scored the final 3 goals of the game. These included the game-winner from Zach Aston Reese, the second of the night from Kevin Roy, and an empty netter from Braden Pimm, to give them the 6-3 victory. The captain, Josh Manson, finished the night at +4 and Dalen Hedges had two pretty passes on each of Roy’s goals.
The now No. 18 Huskies found themselves down again on Saturday night as Matt Carey buried one by Derick Roy halfway through the first period. The Huskies showed some resiliency again when Adam Reid banged a loose puck home in front of the net to tie it up just 21 seconds later. But, it was not Northeastern’s night; St. Lawrence’s Justin Baer scored just a minute and a half later and the Saints never trailed. They went 3-for-7 on the power play and came away with the 6-4 victory to split the series with the Huskies.
The Huskies were plagued with undisciplined play all night and took a total of 10 penalties for 39 minutes. This included another game misconduct for Cody Ferriero who had just made his return into the lineup after sitting two games for taking penalties. The series got physical at times with both teams getting under each other’s skins. Dalen Hedges had another good game for the Huskies and went +2 on the night. Tanner Pond also impressed all weekend registering his first point on Friday and throwing his weight around all over the ice.
The Huskies will need a good week of practice heading into a home-and-home with No. 8 Boston College this weekend. The competition for the Huskies has been getting progressively better and of course BC will continue to build upon this. It should also be interesting to note who will get the start in net both nights and see if one of the goaltenders snags the starting job. In order to be successful in the opening weekend of Hockey East play, the Huskies will need to be playing 5-on-5 and put together a solid 60-minute effort.