By Josh Brown
BOSTON – As they say, beating a team for a ninth time in a row is the toughest thing to do in sports. It did not pose too much of a challenge for Northeastern on Friday night, though.
The Huskies of up north began their defense of the Lamoriello Trophy with a 3-1 win over Connecticut, leaving them one game away from a berth in the Hockey East Quarterfinals.
While much praise has been levied to Northeastern’s offense this season, it was the goaltending of Ryan Ruck that propelled Jim Madigan and company to victory. The sophomore stopped 30 of the 31 shots he saw on the night.
Garret Cockerill gave Northeastern a 1-0 lead just 10:36 into the first period, ripping a shot from the high slot that sailed past UConn net-minder Adam Huska (26 saves). The goal was Northeastern’s nation-leading 51st on the power play this season.
Midway through the second period, Brendan Collier extended the NU lead to 2-0, tipping in a loose puck in front of the net for his fourth of the season.
While both teams had a plethora of opportunities in the third period, neither team could light the lamp until Connecticut made it a one goal game with 1:21 left courtesy of a tally from Benjamin Freeman in 6-on-4 play.
Northeastern would answer just 38 seconds later when Nolan Stevens raced in front of a pack of UConn defenders and slotted home an empty-net goal to seal the deal. Connecticut threatened with what appeared to be a goal with 24 seconds left, but Tage Thompson was called for offsides.
Northeastern will look to punch their ticket to the Hockey East Quarterfinals on Saturday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m., with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:45.