By Gordon Weigers, news staff
The Northeastern University (NU) men’s ice hockey team got back on track this week, picking up a 5-1 win against No. 9 Harvard University and a 2-2 tie with No. 11 University of Massachusetts-Lowell (UMass-Lowell).
Monday’s victory over Harvard came at TD Garden in the Beanpot consolation game. The Huskies pounced on the Crimson, scoring three goals in the first period. After conceding a goal in the second period, Northeastern did not look back and extended their lead to 5-1.
The Huskies enjoyed production from their hottest scoring line of late, dubbed the “7,8,9” line. Forwards Mike McMurtry, Adam Gaudette and Dylan Sikura all scored in the first period against Harvard and continued their remarkable play that has carried Northeastern to success in the second half of the season. Gaudette would add another goal in the third period for his first-career two-goal game.
Junior assistant captain and leading scorer Zach Aston-Reese picked up a goal and an assist in the third period against the Crimson. Aston-Reese’s 25 points this season mark a career-high for the junior. He also leads the team in shots on goal, as his 100th shot of the season found the back of the net with 13:45 left in the third period on Monday.
Northeastern’s penalty kill played a huge role in Monday’s win. Harvard came into the game with a power play unit scoring a nation-leading 29.5 percent of the time but was held to only one shot on goal on three odd-man attempts.
“I thought we played smart in that third period,” head coach Jim Madigan said. “It was a good win for us.”
Friday’s game with UMass-Lowell was a rematch from the teams’ last showdown in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Nov. 28, 2015. Sophomore defenseman Trevor Owens got Northeastern on the board in the first period, snapping home a shot off a feed from junior Brendan Collier. Trailing 2-1 in the third, the Huskies showed enough resilience to come back and tie the score with under 10 minutes left in the third period. McMurtry snapped home the game’s final goal that leveled the score at 2-2.
Freshman goalie Ryan Ruck was the backstop for Northeastern in both games last week, making 24 saves at Lowell and 19 saves against Harvard. After starting his collegiate career with a record of 0-9-2, Ruck now boasts a record of 8-10-4 and has earned seven wins since Jan. 1, which is tied for the most wins among freshman goalies in 2016. During that stretch, he has posted a goals-against-average of 1.68 and owns a save percentage of .933.
“He builds confidence for our team,” Madigan said.
Fans that made it out to the Beanpot consolation game noticed that the Huskies have been rocking some new threads on the ice. On both Friday night and Monday afternoon, the team returned to their roots with red uniforms that feature the same design that they wore in the 1980s. This is the same uniform that the Huskies wore during their Frozen Fenway game at Fenway Park in January 2014.
Next up for Northeastern is a weekend set with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass-Amherst) Minutemen. Game one will be played at UMass before the teams come to Matthews Arena for Saturday night’s contest at 7 p.m.
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.