The Northeastern men’s hockey team’s undefeated run to begin the season came to an end Sunday afternoon as they fell to the Providence Friars, 5–0, in Rhode Island.
After an impressive shootout win over the Friars at Matthews Arena on Saturday, Northeastern came out flat in the second game of the weekend. Jason O’Neill got the scoring going for Providence with just three minutes left in the first period. The Friars’ first goal was a tough one for the Huskies, as a scrum in front of the Northeastern net led to a deflection off the skate of Northeastern defensemen Jayden Struble.
Providence doubled their lead just minutes later, as prolific scorer Tyce Thompson coolly fired a shot into the top shelf off a feed from Davis Bunz. The goal, which game with two seconds left in the first period, was a back-breaking blow for Northeastern, as Providence went into the first intermission with all of the momentum.
The Friars did not look back, and expanded their advantage just 40 seconds into the second period. A nice finish from Parker Ford gave the Friars their second power-play goal and third overall.
Greg Printz and Craig Needham would add two more goals for Providence in the closing moments of the game. Printz’s goal came with an empty net, while Needham scored with 18 seconds remaining in the game, catching the Husky defenders off guard as they poured into the offensive zone.
It was a difficult game all around for Northeastern, as the forward group could not get anything going. The Huskies produced 28 shots on goal, but few were genuine opportunities in front of the Providence net. At times it felt like there was a Providence defender in front of every Northeastern shot. Northeastern will have many questions to ask of themselves.
While the smaller rink in Providence might have contributed to some of Northeastern’s offensive woes on Sunday, Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan made it clear that the team wasn’t looking for excuses.
“At the end of the day you have to go out and play hockey,” he said. “Our guys didn’t make enough plays chasing pucks and finding pockets of space in the offensive zone. It’s as simple as that.”
Northeastern’s biggest concern was their mistakes in even play and poor special teams. The Huskies committed five penalties, and Providence made good on two of the ensuing power plays. The special teams woes also affected NU on the offensive end, as the team failed to convert on all four power-play chances.
“Very seldom do we lose a special teams game,” Madigan said bluntly, “but we did so today.”
The one shining piece for the Huskies was goaltender Connor Murphy, who has made several important plays over the team’s first four games. Murphy’s best play of the day came in the first period, as the netminder pulled off an impressive post-to-post shift, preventing an easy backdoor opportunity for the Friars.
“I thought he played well tonight,” Madigan said of his veteran goaltender. “Little bit of bad luck with the first goal and he faced tough chances with them [Providence] on the power play throughout the game, but he’s be playing very well for us.”
Murphy has been key to Northeastern’s strong start to the season as a replacement for touted freshmen goalie Devon Levi, who is currently with Canada’s world juniors team.
Northeastern is scheduled to take on the Vermont in two games in Burlington next weekend. WRBB will have updates on the Huskies’ games against the Catamounts as the week progresses.