By Gordon Weigers, news staff
In the opening game of the Hockey East season, the Northeastern University (NU) men’s hockey team was dealt a 3-2 blow at the hands of the University of Vermont Catamounts (UVM) at Matthews Arena on Sunday. The Huskies are now 3-2-2 this year.
NU’s top line, which has been responsible for eight of the team’s 25 goals this season, had a new look on Sunday. With injuries to senior forward John Stevens and junior forward Nolan Stevens, head coach Jim Madigan was forced to create new formulas on his depth chart.
“John is week-to-week and we’re hopeful in a few weeks that he’s back playing,” Madigan said. “Nolan will be a little while. We will have more of an update on Nolan early this week.”
Freshman Matt Filipe and sophomore Lincoln Griffin joined senior Zach Aston-Reese on the first line and experienced the pressure that comes with skating in the top unit.
UVM had suspended team captains Brendan Bradley and Mario Puskarich and assistant captains Chris Muscoby and Anthony Petruzzelli for five games in response to their involvement in a hazing incident. After their win over Michigan Friday night, Vermont’s team leadership was restored. All four key players made their season debuts in their Sunday game against the Huskies.
NU sophomore forward Adam Gaudette was riding a three-game goal scoring streak heading into the tilt with UVM. He wasted little time in extending that streak, burying the game’s first goal only 45 seconds into the contest. After receiving a pass from junior Dylan Sikura, Gaudette steamed into the offensive zone, protecting the puck with his body as he busted down the left wing. He snapped a shot that beat UVM freshman goalie Stefanos Lekkas short-side, giving Northeastern the 1-0 lead. Though the early edge was big for the Huskies, Madigan was disappointed in his team’s discipline.
“We got off to a good start with the goal, but we took four bad penalties from our upperclassmen – for the most part our upperclassmen – it put us behind,” Madigan said. “We had to kill penalties and we couldn’t get our regular rotation going.”
UVM would erase the deficit on a goal by sophomore Craig Puffer four mintues later. Only one minute after the Puffer goal, Sikura took matters into his own hands, dangling his way to an exceptional go-ahead goal. The horn sounded on the first period with the Huskies leading 2-1.
Two different teams took the ice in the second period: A slower NU team and a hungrier UVM squad. Though Northeastern generated 11 shots in the penultimate period, they could not find the back of the net. Vermont dominated the pace of play, holding the Huskies in their own zone for much of the period. Freshman forward Matt Alvaro beat Ruck at the 9:03 mark of the stanza for the equalizer.
With just over five minutes left in the game, Puffer flew into the Northeastern zone and slipped the game-winning goal between the legs of Ruck, leading UVM to a 3-2 win.
The Hockey East season continues next weekend for the Huskies as they prepare for a two-game dogfight with No. 4 Boston University. The Terriers will visit Matthews Arena Friday night at 7 p.m. before the scene shifts to Agganis Arena for a 7 p.m. tilt on Saturday night.
Gordo’s goal of the week
At 6:05 of the first period, 1,568 jaws dropped to the Matthews Arena floor when Sikura scored to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead. Sikura scored on an absolutely stunning series of moves that will grace Husky highlight reels for years to come. After corralling the puck along the boards, Sikura dusted off his dancing shoes and went to work waltzing around the Vermont defense. His first victim was Travis Blanleil. “Sikky” began zipping across the high slot with his head up and Blanleil following him. He pulled off a wicked toe-drag to dodge the defender and gain the middle of the ice. Next, it was Derek Lodermeier’s turn to get dangled. Sikura used a quick head-fake and stutter-step to evade Lodermeier and make his way to the net. He stick-handled right in front of the net to get Lekkas down before pumping a shot top-corner. Check out the goal here.
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics