By Gordon Weigers, news correspondent
The Northeastern men’s ice hockey team produced 10 goals over two games this weekend against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats en route to their first two Hockey East victories of the season.
With Friday’s 4-2 win at Matthews Arena and Saturday’s 6-2 victory at the Whittemore Center in Durham, N.H., the Huskies now own seven conference points and have moved from 12th place to 11th place in Hockey East. The 10 goals for Northeastern were the most they have scored in a weekend series this season.
Sophomore forward Dylan Sikura scored two goals in his return to the lineup on Friday night, and added another tally at UNH on Saturday. Sikura is one part of a productive offensive line that also features senior Mike McMurtry and freshman Adam Gaudette. The unit combined for 10 points in two games this weekend.
McMurtry has stepped into his role as a leader this season and has put up an impressive 14 points the last nine games. He credits his success to the camaraderie he has built with his linemates of late, helping make the “7, 8, 9 Line” one of the more dangerous units in Hockey East.
“Since we’ve been together it’s been kind of that natural chemistry,” McMurtry said. “When you get that you get pretty excited and you just build on it shift to shift.”
Saturday’s win was a big night for junior forward Sam Kurker as he posted a season-high four points on two goals and two assists. Kurker opened the scoring by jamming a rebound in behind Wildcats goalie Danny Tirone.
Later the second period, freshmen forwards Adam Gaudette and Lincoln Griffin added goals to break the game open for the Huskies.
Just under 14 minutes after his first goal, Kurker struck again on the breakaway, sneaking a backhand shot under the crossbar to make it a 4-1 NU lead.
Huskies fans have waited for fan favorite Mike Jamieson’s first goal as a Husky since his freshman year, and the wait is finally over. With Northeastern on top 5-2 in the third period on Saturday, the junior deflected a point shot from Colton Saucerman inside the post for his first career goal. Northeastern’s bench erupted.
Freshman goalie Ryan Ruck earned the start in both games against UNH and allowed only two goals in each. Ruck now rides a four-game win streak and is unbeaten in his last six starts.
“I think Ryan has done a real good job the last six or seven games,” head coach Jim Madigan said. “He’s been in a real good zone.”
Northeastern’s defense came up huge this weekend by shutting down two of the top scorers in the nation. Sophomore Andrew Poturalski (38 points) and junior Tyler Kelleher (35 points) sit in first place and third place in the national scoring race. Poturalski and Kelleher were held to a combined three points over two games.
“They’re really clever and they work off each other really well,” Madigan said of Poturalski and Kelleher. “I’m happy with the way we kind of kept them to the outside, and that’s what you want to do: keep them to the perimeter.”
The Huskies look forward to a home-and-home set with the Merrimack Warriors this weekend before gearing up for the Beanpot semifinal at TD Garden against crosstown foe Boston University.
Gordo’s goal of the week:
This edition of goal of the week is courtesy of Sam Kurker. During his brilliant four-point performance on Saturday, Kurker buried one of the prettier goals we’ve seen from a Husky this season.
Kurker was part of Northeastern’s penalty killing unit during a kill in the final five minutes of the second period. After New Hampshire tried to work the puck to the front of the Huskies’ net, sophomore Garret Cockerill slapped the puck out of harm’s way and into the neutral zone. Kurker chased down the loose puck, winning a close footrace with the closing Wildcat defender. He corralled the puck, cradled the puck once and flipped it to his backhand. He released the puck quickly to beat Tirone top-shelf and increase the Northeastern lead to 4-1.
Photo by Justine Newman.