By Bailey Putnam, deputy sports editor
After suffering a frustrating Thursday night loss to the University of Vermont (UVM), the Northeastern University (NU) men’s hockey team battled in Burlington to pick up its first point since the season-opener with a 3-3 tie on Saturday.
The Huskies (1-5-1) came agonizingly close to securing a victory on Saturday night, but a UVM goal with 2:01 left in regulation knotted the game and kept Northeastern out of the win column for the third straight week.
“[I’m] very disappointed that we gave them the point,” Head Coach Jim Madigan said in an interview with GoNU.com on Saturday night. “We had the game won with two minutes left and we couldn’t close it out… To give them that goal back, it was disappointing. We outplayed them, we outshot them… I thought over the two games, we were the better team.”
Northeastern outshot Vermont 54-46 over the course of the weekend, but the Huskies were plagued by the untimely goals they allowed – an ailment that has lingered since mid-October.
For the fifth game in a row, the Huskies found themselves down by at least two goals following the first period on Thursday. Freshman goaltender Ryan Ruck allowed a pair of Catamount tallies in the opening frame at Matthews Arena.
After a slew of missed opportunities in the scoreless second period, the Husky offense found its spark in the final 20 minutes of the game. Vermont sophomore defenseman Ori Abramson delivered a vicious hit to junior forward Dalen Hedges that earned him a five-minute, locked-in stay in the penalty box. The Huskies did not pass up on the extended power play opportunity.
Sophomore forward Dylan Sikura, who was an offensive bright spot for Northeastern all game, roofed an impressive short-side goal above the UVM goaltender’s shoulder two minutes into the man advantage, energizing the crowd and his teammates.
“He’s been very good all year long,” Madigan said of Sikura. “He’s moving his feet, he’s skilled and it was good for him to get on the board tonight because he’s had a lot of chances.”
Two minutes later, junior forward John Stevens followed suit when he rifled a shot blocker-side high from the slot to knot the game at 2-2.
With 6:14 left in regulation, the Catamounts delivered the final blow. Ruck took a shot off his shoulder that bounced straight up over his head, plopped into the crease behind him and trickled into the back of the net.
Redshirt junior Derick Roy took over goaltending duties for the second game of the home-and-home series, his first start in three games. Vermont welcomed him back to the ice by scoring 39 seconds into the game.
Northeastern responded near the midpoint of the period when sophomore forward Nolan Stevens potted a power-play goal.
Senior forward Kevin Roy drew a defender and sent the puck to the wide-open Stevens, who fired a shot past the gloved hand of the Catamount goaltender.
Vermont was quick on the draw again in the second period, scoring in the opening minute of the frame to reclaim a one-goal lead. The score remained 2-1 for the rest of the period.
The Huskies rallied toward the end of the game, notching a pair of goals to give them their first lead of the weekend.
The first goal came 2:15 into the frame off the stick of freshman forward Adam Gaudette. Gaudette took a pass from junior forward Zach Aston-Reese at the top of the crease and buried a one-timer, five-hole goal for his first collegiate tally.
NU took the lead with 13:09 remaining when junior defenseman Matt Benning scored his first of the year. Benning picked up a rebound and rifled the puck through traffic until it found its way into the back of the net.
The Huskies held on to the lead for 11 minutes, but the persistent Catamounts tied the game up with 2:01 to go, spoiling NU’s chances of coming out of the weekend with a much needed win.
“I’m disappointed that we’re walking away here without two points,” Madigan said after the game. “At the end of the day, points in this league are hard to come by.”
Despite the disappointment, the tie still provides a boost of confidence as the Huskies head into a tough weekend matchup with No. 11 Boston University (BU).
“There’s no doubt that [the point] gives you a little bit of juice,” Madigan said of the importance of the tie. “The fact that we’re playing BU should be enough incentive to get up, but it gives you a point on the board in Hockey East. [We are] 0-1-1, so you going into BU and you’re looking obviously to win and you’re looking to get above .500.”
This Huskies take on the BU Terriers on Friday at Agganis Arena and again on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena.
Photo by Brian Bae