By Josh Brown
Orono, ME. – Northeastern had more than one reason to celebrate on Friday night.
Not only did Nolan Stevens end a back-and-forth affair against Maine with a goal just 12 seconds into overtime, but the Huskies clinched home-ice advantage for the first round of the Hockey East playoffs as a result of the 5-4 victory.
After Northeastern won the faceoff to kick off overtime, Zach Aston-Reese sprinted straight to the net of Black Bear goalie Rob McGovern (30 saves). After the initial shot was stopped, Stevens flipped a rebound over the shoulder of the sophomore goalie to end the game before Red Gendron and company could even blink.
The win is Northeastern’s (16-12-5, 9-9-3) fifth in a row and ninth in the last eleven games. It also extends the Huskies’ win streak over Maine (10-19-4, 4-15-2) to five games, the longest since the 1984-1985 season.
Maine got off to a hot start, receiving goals from Mark Hamilton and Brendan Robbins on the squad’s first two shots on net. Facing a two-goal deficit heading into the locker room, Hobey Baker frontrunner Zach Aston-Reese got the Huskies within one at the 14:22 mark.
The second period belonged to Northeastern, who received solid goaltending from Ryan Ruck and goals via Adam Gaudette on the power play at 15:19 and Aston-Reese less than a minute later.
Despite falling behind after their hot start and a brief power outage in between periods, Maine, who is locked into the 11th seed in the Hockey East playoffs, did not roll over.
Blaine Byron beat Ruck (19 saves) just 47 seconds into the third period and Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Nolan Stevens scored his 10th of the season at 10:53. Unfortunately for the Black Bears, the two tallies were sandwiched on top of Gaudette’s second goal of the game at 1:18, and the teams found themselves knotted up at four after regulation.
Following the two-minute intermission between the third period and overtime, Stevens made sure Black Bear fans did not have to delay their trip home too long with the quick game-winner.
The Huskies will return back to Alfond Arena on Saturday night for the final game of the regular season. Josh Brown and Dan McLoone will have the call beginning at 6:45 p.m.
- John Stevens registered his 100th career point with an assist on Zach Aston-Reese’s 2nd-period goal. Along with Aston-Reese, it is the first time since 2010-11 that two Huskies reached the milestone in the same season.
- Adam Gaudette set a new Northeastern single-season record, logging his 15th power play goal of the season. He breaks the record of 14 previously set by Rob Isbister in 1984-85.
- Gaudette and Dylan Sikura both hit 50 points on the season with Northeastern’s 2nd goal of the game, joining Aston-Reese as the three Huskies at the half-century mark. It is just the 3rd time in program history that three skaters tallied 50+ points and the first time since 1975-76.
- With his three points on the evening, Aston-Reese moves into a tie for 9th place in single-season points (59). His two goals also brought him to a tie for 10th in single-season goals (29).
- Sikura’s three assists give him 33 on the year, good for 11th on the program’s single-season record list.