By Matt Neiser
ST. CLOUD, MN — In game two of a weekend set in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the No. 11 Northeastern men’s ice hockey team looked to sweep the No. 14 St. Cloud State Huskies after a 4–1 victory the night before. After jumping out to a 1–0 lead, Northeastern allowed two second-period goals and dropped the contest, 2–1, to split the two-game battle of the Huskies.
The theme of the season for Northeastern (4–1–1) has been slow starts, and tonight saw another one. St. Cloud (1–1–2) dominated play for much of the first period, compiling 11 shots on net to Northeastern’s six. The shot differential mattered not though, as Northeastern scored the lone goal of the first 20 minutes. After collecting a pass from junior Zach Solow on the power play, sophomore Tyler Madden spun away from a defenseman and shot from the left circle. The puck leaked by goaltender David Hrenak to make it 1–0 in favor of the away team.
Northeastern was much better to start the second period, moving the puck well and beginning to even out the shot total. Just under five minutes into the frame, St. Cloud cleared the puck down the ice to relieve pressure. It appeared icing would be called, as no one touched the puck and freshman Jayden Struble won the race down the ice. Yet, the officials thought otherwise and didn’t blow the play dead. With Northeastern switching off in anticipation of a whistle, St. Cloud forward Sam Hentges grabbed the puck and played it to a streaking Jack Poehling, who slotted it home to tie the game.
After the game, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan was none too pleased.
“They got their first goal on, basically, a bad call from the linesman,” he stated matter-of-factly. “We thought it was icing and it wasn’t. We didn’t get back fast enough, and they scored to make it 1–1 and gained some momentum from that.”
Later in the period, seconds after a potential Zach Solow goal was waved off by video review, St. Cloud raced down the ice and Hentges scored to give the home team a 2–1 lead. Northeastern pressed hard for an equalizer late in the game, but couldn’t find one.
Madden’s goal was his fifth in three games. After the Vancouver Canucks draftee went scoreless in the team’s first three games despite leading the team in shots, Madden broke the dry spell with two goals apiece against Holy Cross and St. Cloud before adding another tonight. With his assist on Madden’s goal, Solow (one goal, five assists) extended his point streak to six games.
Though he allowed two goals, Northeastern goaltender Craig Pantano was once again fantastic between the pipes. The Merrimack grad transfer saved 31 of 33 shots to keep his team within striking distance. Through six games, Pantano has anchored the defense with a 1.32 GAA and .947 save percentage.
It doesn’t get any easier for Northeastern, as they turn around and take on the No. 3/5 UMass Minutemen in a home-and-home next weekend. Game one is Friday, November 1 at Matthews Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m., with Matt Neiser and Jonathan Golbert on the call.