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ORONO, Maine — After a disappointing open to the weekend series with the Black Bears, the Huskies reminded everyone on Saturday that they are playing as well as any team in Hockey East down the home stretch. Friday night’s game certainly showed the Huskies why Maine has been so successful in their own building, but Saturday night’s 4-0 victory proved to be the bounceback game Northeastern needed and a statement win for a team that has gotten used to upsetting good teams in huge games over the last month.

With a scoring frenzy in the second period, potting three during the middle frame, Northeastern stormed to 4-0 victory — becoming the second team to beat the Black Bears at Alfond this season and the first to shut them out in their barn in over two years. The Huskies got contributions from all four lines, however, it was truly a stellar game for the first line, who cashed in two Alex Campbell goals.

The Huskies got the scoring going early at the 8:35 mark of the first period with a power play goal from their junior captain Justin Hryckowian, his ninth on the year, which proved to be the game winner. The Hryckowian goal was set up by some beautiful passing from Jack Williams and Cam Lund who each picked up assists, but it was the fore-hand back-hand move from Hryckowian that caught Boija off guard that lead to the goal. 

The first line had a big night, notching three of the four Husky goals, especially considering the struggles they had beating Albin Boija the night prior. Alex Campbell collected Northeastern’s second and third goals, the first coming on a beautiful individual effort to find space in front and snipe a wrister beyond Boija, and the second on a one-on-zero rush. 

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Here are the takeaways from Saturday night. Starting with the positives:

1. First Line Success.

The first line took charge and dominated Maine on Saturday. While Alex Campbell struggled to score on Friday despite numerous point-blank opportunities, Saturday for Campbell could not have been more different. Potting both the second and third goals of the game, his 17th and 18th of the year, Campbell was finally able to best Maine netminder Albin Boija. 

One criticism of Campbell from Friday was him utilizing the same shot when on a one-on-zero with Boija. But on Saturday, he did a great job of mixing in different shots for his first goal keeping Boija guessing, which eventually allowed him to finally beat Boija blocker side on the breakaway for his second goal. 

Both the Hryckowian brothers were buzzing on Saturday. Obviously, I already discussed Justin Hryckowian’s marvelous power play goal, but I would be remiss to not mention Dylan Hryckowian. Dylan was noticeable all weekend without finding the back of the net. What stood out the most about Dylan’s play was how he utilized his speed to dominate Maine defenders when forechecking. Though he only found the score sheet once with an assist on Saturday, Dylan looked amazing this weekend.

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2. Whitehead Bounced Back in a Big Way.

For Whitehead, Saturday was a distinct change from Friday, stopping all 40 of the shots he faced to recorded his third-career shutout, and second shutout in the past three games. 

Whitehead bouncing back from getting lit up on Friday night is extremely positive to see, especially considering he had to do it in one of the most hostile environments in college hockey.

3. The Forecheck Dominated.

With strong games from speedy forwards like Dylan Hryckowian and Billy Norcross, the Huskies were able to wreak havoc on Maine’s defenders, causing them to be slow in transition and turn the puck over repeatedly in their own end. While the Huskies have been pretty strong on the forecheck all season, over the last month, it has been especially key to their success, and that was again proven on Saturday.

4. Defense Played Well in Transition. 

On Friday, the Huskies defense struggled keeping up with Maine’s speedy forwards in transition. This led to many odd-man rush opportunities for the Black Bears, most of which they capitalized on. On Saturday, that was not the case at all. 

The D-core was effective all night in limiting Maine’s stars from getting to the net, and, unlike Friday, they were faced with very few fast break and odd-man rush opportunities, which they and Whitehead handled well. Being able to slow down elite players like the Nadeau brothers will be imperative for this D-core if the Huskies want to make a run in the Hockey East Playoffs. 

5. Production From Depth.

Freshman Billy Norcross was moved up to the third line on Saturday, which resulted in a great game for both himself and his linemates, Brett Edwards and Matt DeMelis.

Not only did the third line find the goal sheet with a Edwards goal at the 15:21 mark of the second period, but they were also very noticeable with their ice time. The line created constant sustained offensive pressure and generated many opportunities from effectively executing a hard-nosed forecheck. It seemed that the move of Norcross to play with Edwards and DeMelis was a good decision, he adds a bit of skill and speed to an otherwise more hard-nosed line.

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While it was one of the best wins of the season for the Huskies, there is one trend from Saturday they will need to fix down the stretch:

1. Too Many Penalties.

It was great to see a victory, and fortunately there is not much to nitpick. The chippiness of Friday’s game continued on Saturday with both teams bringing the physical play, which was relieving to see from the Huskies, but they certainly got a little carried away a few times. Northeastern took six penalties on Saturday, but, to their credit, they were able to kill off all six with ease. 

However, its rare that Northeastern will play a team with Maine’s caliber of offensive weapons and go six for six on the penalty kill, so they must clean it up. 

“Our guys have bought into [the penalty kill system] and I thought our plan going in was really good and we executed,” Northeastern coach Jerry Keefe said, while also crediting assistant coach Jason Guerriero.

Overall, a statement win is the best way to classify Saturday night’s game. Northeastern is hitting their stride at the time that means the most, and being fully healthy has really helped them turn this season around. While an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament is likely out of the picture, they continue to prove that they can compete with the best teams in the conference and the country. 

Moreover, it seems that since the middle of January, every time they lose a game they come out in the next game having made the necessary adjustments to address the mistakes from the game prior. The storm could be right for the Huskies to make a run and a 4-0 win at Orono is perfect evidence in support of that claim. 

Northeastern returns to action next Friday night, when they host UConn in the final regular season home game at Matthews Arena. WRBB will have live coverage of the action.