Story by Emma Sullivan
BOSTON – It was a night for first goals of the year for the Northeastern Huskies as they cruised to a 5-0 defeat of the University of Maine Black Bears. The win Friday night at Matthews Arena was backstopped by Devon Levi as he continued to shine between the pipes. The win was Levi’s fourth shutout of both the season and his collegiate career, as the netminder turned away all 32 shots he faced. It was the Huskies first win against a Hockey East opponent this season.
The first period was dominated mainly by the Huskies offensively. An early power play chance for the home team came just 38 seconds in from off a roughing call on Black Bear Adam Dawe. After not being able to convert on the man advantage, the Huskies continued to keep the pressure on the Maine defense, until finally breaking through a little over seven minutes into regulation. Jack Hughes notches his third of the season with help both from brother Riley Hughes and Jeremie Bucheler.
Another power play opportunity came with a little over three minutes to play as Maine’s Matthew Fawcett headed to the box on a hooking call, however the Huskies power play continued struggling and the team was again unable to convert. The Black Bears had a few good looks at the Huskies net, but couldn’t sneak one by Levi before the clock wound down. The shots by the end of the first were greatly skewed in favor of the Huskies, 16 to 4.
The second period got off to more of a rocky start for Northeastern as Maine started out stronger than in the first. The Black Bears seemed to have much better control in the offensive zone but thanks to some great stops, including a sprawling save from Levi, the Huskies were able to escape the period unscathed. Matt Choupani, coming off of some strong looks in the first period, continued to apply pressure in the second but couldn’t find the back of the net. While unable to find the scorecard tonight, Choupani led the team in shots on goal with seven.
Captain Jordan Harris had himself a night, tallying three points, including his first goal of the season just over halfway through the period.
Harris assisted on the third goal of the game which was made possible after a brilliant play by Matt Demelis, as he passed it to himself off the boards, and beat the Maine defender to the puck with just over five minutes left to play. The goal was also Demelis’ first of the year.
“It’s good to see that, he had a couple of chances tonight but that was a big time goal he scored and he’s capable of doing that,” Keefe said of Demelis.
A bizarre moment occurred during the period when Maine believed that they had gotten a shot past Levi to score. However upon video review it was determined that the puck did not fully cross the goal line and no goal was awarded to the Black Bears. Before play was halted however, Levi was forced to play without a stick for an extended period of time as his was stuck in the corner. Almost three and a half minutes elapsed before a whistle. Levi managed to block the shots that he faced before the Huskies could clear the zone, allowing him to fetch his stick.
“Our league is so deep. Every single night no matter who you’re going to play, they’re going to come up hard and they’re going to give you a good game,” Harris said of a Maine team he called “hungry”.
The third period saw the Huskies take three penalties within the first ten minutes of play. An interference call was made on Sam Colangelo at 20:00 of period two which the Huskies were able to kill off. Two more followed off of a cross-checking call on Tyler Spott and a faceoff violation assessed to Ty Jackson. Riley Hughes on the penalty kill took advantage of a bizarre play by Black Bear’s goaltender Matthew Thiessen which saw Thiessen all the way out of the crease and over by the corner boards. Hughes easily shot the puck into the wide open cage, catching the corner by the post.
It was Hughes’ first goal of the season in addition to his assist from the first period.
“I thought Riley Hughes had a heck of a game tonight,” Keefe said. “I think he’s played really well and just hasn’t been rewarded with points right now. He earned that goal … Our bench was really excited for him.”
Colangelo capped the scoring off for the Huskies by also adding his own first goal of the year, just a minute after Hughes’. A fantastic cross ice pass from Harris allowed Colangelo to snipe the puck past Thiessen to bring the score up to 5-0.
After a poor performance Tuesday versus UConn, this was just the type of game Northeastern was looking to have. After the game, head coach Jerry Keefe said the message in practice in the past week was “checking for offense”.
“We needed to be harder to play against. We needed to come back harder,” Keefe said. “Defending better, I thought we did that tonight, and I thought it led to more offense. Again, credit to our guys. They weren’t happy with our game Tuesday night so they wanted to respond tonight.”
Northeastern outshot Maine 42-32, three days after being outscored 5-3 and outshot 41-31 against UConn. It was an overall solid offensive performance for a team that has at times struggled to create consistent o-zone pressure.
“The belief didn’t waver, which is good,” Harris said. “Sometimes after a loss, you can see some guys start to back away and start to question themselves or question the team but we stuck to it.”
The Huskies are right back at it with another game tomorrow against the Maine Black Bears in Matthews at 7 pm. Khalin Kapoor and Sam Kirshman will have the call.