By Eoghan Kelly, News Staff
The men’s hockey team is going home for the holidays with a sour taste in its mouth.
The Huskies came out on the losing end of a 2-0 decision Saturday night in a physical, defensive battle with the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and their last game until Dec. 29.
Northeastern has now dropped five of its last six games, falling to 5-9-1 (3-8-1 in Hockey East) and a tie for eighth place in conference standings.
“We haven’t been able to generate the offense we obviously need to win hockey games. Too many games like tonight where we’ve had chances and haven’t been able to bury the pick, and when you’re not scoring goals it’s a tough game to play,” head coach Jim Madigan said.
Lowell (5-7-1, 3-6-1 Hockey East) freshman forward Michael Colantone scored the game-winning goal with less than four minutes remaining in the second period, and freshman winger Ryan McGrath had a goal and an assist in the win.
Freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made only his third career start for the Riverhawks and made 25 saves to earn his second win and first-ever shutout. Senior goalie Chris Rawlings stopped 27 shots in the loss.
Both teams played it safe in the first period, only producing 11 total shots and limited scoring opportunities. Sophomore forward Adam Reid had Northeastern’s best opportunity when he snuck in alone midway through the period but couldn’t control the pass from senior winger Robbie Vrolyk.
Lowell junior defenseman Chad Ruhwedel rang a shot off the post late in the period, but the game remained goalless going into the first intermission.
The second period was more of the same but with increased physicality as the two sides traded crushing blows throughout the period.
The Riverhawks took advantage of Northeastern struggling to break the puck out late in the period by putting sustained offensive pressure on the Huskies and Rawlings. The pressure paid off when junior forward Derek Arnold found Colantone alone in the slot to put the Riverhawks on top.
McGrath made it 2-0 seven minutes into the third when he snuck a wrist shot under the blocker arm of Rawlings.
The Huskies neglected to finish scoring chances in the third period that could have brought them back into the game. Senior forward Vinny Saponari fanned on a backhand point-blank in the crease early in the period that would have made it 1-1, and Hellebuyck stoned freshman winger Kevin Roy with a shoulder save on a shot from the circle that would have brought the Huskies to within one.
Lowell has now won three consecutive games against Northeastern dating back to Jan. 20. The teams will meet twice more – Jan. 25 and 26, 2013 – this season.
The Huskies are off until they meet crosstown rival Harvard University in Cambridge on Dec. 29.
“Well I think the break obviously comes at a great time,” Madigan said. “Gives [the players] a time to get away from the rink for eight, nine days and come back with an added enthusiasm and ready to jump back into obviously two non conference games and then the league.”