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Huskies sweep UVM, secure home ice in HEA quarterfinals

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Huskies sweep UVM, secure home ice in HEA quarterfinals

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By Calli Remillard, sports editor

Still buzzing from their first Beanpot win in 30 years, the Northeastern men’s ice hockey team swept the University of Vermont over the weekend, earning home ice in the Hockey East quarterfinals and a bye-week for the opening round.

The win puts the Huskies in line to finish anywhere from first to third in Hockey East play. Northeastern currently holds third place, behind Boston College and Providence College, and are only three points out of first place. But with third-year center Adam Gaudette and fourth-year winger Dylan Sikura topping the NCAA Division I scoring charts — at 51 and 45 points, respectively — things don’t look too bleak for the Red and Black.

“With one more week in the season, [we’re] trying to win Hockey East,” head coach Jim Madigan said. “We’re guaranteed top four [sic], with us still having the ability to control our destiny. If we get a little luck with Maine next weekend, we’re still in the hunt for the league championship.”

At Gutterson Field House Friday night in Burlington, Vermont, the Huskies faced off against the Catamounts in their first Hockey East contest following their Beanpot win. NU found the net first, with first-year Zach Solow scoring a shorthanded goal over the glove of UVM goaltender Stefanos Lekkas.

Solow’s early tally was followed by a power-play goal from Sikura just two minutes later, giving the visitors a two-goal edge over the Catamounts before the five minute mark in the first period.

Vermont was able to bury one past Primeau, with fourth-year Anthony Petruzzelli going top shelf for the team’s first point of the game at 8:13.

Halfway through the middle period, Gaudette notched his 32nd career power-play goal, a new school record. Sikura found the third-year center in the slot, his usual spot, where he fired a rocket right over Lekkas’ shoulder to extend the Huskies’ lead to two. Gaudette is currently second in the nation for power-play goals.

Both Gaudette and Sikura made the history books Friday night, becoming the ninth and tenth players at Northeastern to record 100 points over two seasons. Gaudette and Sikura, along with linemate and fourth-year captain Nolan Stevens, have garnered a lot of attention for their harmony on the ice and the threat it poses to opponents. Dubbed the “Big Three,” Northeastern’s top offensive line holds the top three spots for scoring in Hockey East standings.

“Our three kids [Gaudette, Sikura and Stevens], they really don’t care who they play against,” Madigan said in an interview with USCHO Live! Tuesday night. “They just go out and play the game… They’ve got confidence in their ability that, when they’re on the line, no matter who they’re playing, that they’re the best line out there. It’s not cockiness, it’s not arrogance, it’s just confidence because they know who each other are.”

Vermont made their comeback with a two-goal third period, the second of which came on a power-play off Petruzzelli’s stick. Petruzzelli’s goal tied the game with 29 seconds to go in regulation.

The teams transitioned into overtime, but it was cut short when second-year forward John Picking hammered one home from the slot to win the game for the Huskies.

“We had a big forecheck going with Picking’s line, and [Patrick] Schule and [Austin] Goldstein,” Madigan said. “I thought they were really good the whole night. Big goal for us, we needed this one… It’s good for them to get rewarded.”

Facing off again the next night, the Catamounts were the first to score. Second-year Matt O’Donnell gained control of a rebound off NU goaltender Cayden Primeau’s pads and sent the puck bar down through a screen for Vermont’s first and only goal of the game.

The second period was the turning point for the Huskies, who churned out three goals over the 20 minutes of play. Third-year Eric Williams notched the Huskies’ first point, taking a pass from Gaudette and sending the puck past Lekkas from the slot less than five minutes into the period.

Second-year Biagio Lerario followed up just two minutes later with a point of his own, putting the Red and Black up by one. Gaudette was third in line, scoring his 26th of the year from the slot with just over eight minutes to go in the frame.

The Huskies led 3-1 through most of the third period, until Gaudette potted his second of the game and third of the weekend on an empty net with 24 seconds on the clock.

“Four points is hard to come by in this league,” Madigan said, as he has all season long.

Sweeping the weekend with an overtime 4-3 victory and a 4-1 win was a big step for the Huskies. The team has completed a total of five weekend sweeps throughout this season’s conference play, and each sweep they have earned has been humbled by their enduring focus on the big picture: Hockey East Championships.

With one more week remaining in conference play, the Huskies face off against the University of New Hampshire in a home-and-home series beginning Friday night at Matthews Arena, which will also be the team’s Senior Night. The team will return to Huntington Avenue after Saturday night’s contest in Durham, New Hampshire, and begin preparing for the quarterfinals of the Hockey East tournament, set to take place March 9 at Matthews Arena.

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