By Rae Deer and Mike Puzzanghera
BOSTON – The Transfer’s Tear continued on Saturday night as Jakov Novak put up two more goals to end this past weekend’s series against the University of New Hampshire on a high. Novak hit the back of the net twice in the second period to power the Northeastern Huskies to their second 4-1 win over UNH in as many days.
“Proud of the effort,” NU head coach Jerry Keefe said. “To sweep against a good UNH team, that’s big for our group. We’re starting to win [in] different ways.”
When the game began, the Northeastern men’s hockey team were a bit slow to start. Despite not falling behind to the Wildcats in goals, the shot totals spoke a different story. Northeastern had only five shots on goal that entire period compared to UNH’s 14. Nearly eleven minutes into the game however, the Huskies went on their first power play of the night and shifted things into gear. Only 20 seconds in, captain Jordan Harris found the birthday boy Aidan McDonough in the faceoff circle, aka his prime spot.
After that, the Huskies held their own for the rest of the period, even through three consecutive penalties that they killed in the end of the first and start of the second.
Entering the second on the kill was no issue for them, as they came out looking much stronger and played arguably one of their best periods so far this season. This period saw a lot of graduate transfer Jakov Novak. His first on the night came as Jack Hughes found him right in front of the net with a fancy backhanded pass and he put one up and over UNH goaltender Mike Robinson.
“Just building that confidence layer by layer, brick by brick,” Novak said. “The first eight games, I wasn’t really getting rewarded in those ways, and now I’m getting rewarded for doing the little things like that. Can’t stress that enough, just keep doing those things, and overall performance will follow.”
A little over ten minutes later, extra skater Alex Mella found Marco Bozzo behind the Wildcats’ goal and a pretty pass found Novak once again in a perfect spot to bury his second of the night and fourth goal on the weekend. It also marked the first points of the season for both Mella and Bozzo.
“I think when the first one went in, probably a huge weight lifted from his shoulders,” Keefe said of Novak. “He was playing hard before, he was playing well before, they just weren’t going in. Probably putting a little bit of pressure on himself to score. Once you get one, when you’re a goalscorer, usually, you’re streaky. That’s what goalscorers do.”
UNH eventually pulled one back in the third. After a penalty against Jayden Struble (his second of three in the game), UNH struggled to get great looks on the power play. But right after it expired, Eric MacAdams tossed a shot on net from the blue line that Devon Levi saved, but spilled the rebound out to the slot. Liam Devlin crashed in and sent another shot on frame, but Levi again made the save. The third time was the charm, though, for the Wildcats, as Devlin reacted quickly to his own rebound and buried the puck past Levi short-side.
However, just over two minutes later, the Huskies put the game away, with a good bit of fortune. As UNH was attempting to clear their zone, Harris held the puck at the blue line and tossed it back in. He put it on frame, and as Robinson made the blocker save, he batted it straight into the air. The puck fell behind an unaware Robinson and over the goal line, reestablishing the three-goal cushion and putting the game to bed.
“I practice it usually every day after practice,” Harris said jokingly after the game. “I honestly didn’t even see where it went myself, and I look down and it’s in the net … I’ve been trying to shoot it more, and you never know what can happen. A rebound, or a lucky bounce.”
The Harris long-range goal comes just over a week after Struble fired in his own goal from distance against Maine, beating the goaltender from the red line.
“We were joking about it on the bench, ‘why’s everyone scoring from the blue line or the red line?’” Harris said. “Last night, Strubes, he’d go to dump it and rip it on net. Maybe [it’s] a team thing now.”
Northeastern, who struggled for a stretch against BC, Colorado College, and UConn just a few weeks ago, has now rattled off four straight Hockey East wins, outscoring opponents 16-4 in that span.
“When we get hot, and when we all get hot at the right time, we’re going to be a real dangerous team,” Keefe said. “It’s good to see everyone starting to contribute on the scoresheet.”
The Huskies get one day off, then hit the ice again for a Monday meeting with Beanpot rival Harvard at Matthews Arena. WRBB will call that game, with Khalin Kapoor, Daisy Roberts, and Matty Wasserman, on the mic with coverage beginning at 6:45.