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Men’s hockey advances to Hockey East semis after sweeping Maine

Primeau saves 33 of 34 in last home game of the season

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Men’s hockey advances to Hockey East semis after sweeping Maine

Senior winger Austin Plevy races into the offensive zone.

Senior winger Austin Plevy races into the offensive zone.

Samantha Barry

Senior winger Austin Plevy races into the offensive zone.

Samantha Barry

Samantha Barry

Senior winger Austin Plevy races into the offensive zone.

Mike Puzzanghera, sports editor

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Northeastern is heading back to TD Garden next weekend after the Huskies took down Maine Saturday, 2-1 at Matthews Arena in the Hockey East quarterfinals. The win wrapped up  the best-of-three series, sending them to the conference semi-final against the winner of the ongoing series between Boston College and Providence.

Following the trend started by Friday’s physical game, the two sides got into it early and often. NU’s (25-10-1) Austin Goldstein and Maine (15-17-4) forward Chase Pearson got into a scrum in front of the Maine bench, and Ryan Shea confronted two Maine players after Brendan Robbins took a shot on Cayden Primeau after the whistle had gone.

That physicality was evidenced in the penalty minutes — NU had three penalties for six minutes in the box, while Maine’s 7 penalties ended up totalling 22 minutes after Brady Keeper was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty.

Maine held Northeastern without a shot for over 13 minutes in the first period, dominating the early stages.

“We’ve talked and talked about having a better start and we did it again today and certainly didn’t have that start,” head coach Jim Madigan said.

Samantha Barry
Junior winger Grant Jozefek fends off Maine junior center Tim Doherty.

Biagio Lerario gave Northeastern the first goal with an oddity, sending the puck straight into the corner of the net. The puck ripped a hole in the net on its way through, leading the officials to call it no good on the ice. The goal was counted after the review however, and the Huskies had a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.

At the first break the Maine was outshooting Northeastern 12-3, but NU had the one-goal advantage. Primeau made all 12 saves, but got some help from his defense with five blocks, including three from Jordan Harris.

“We’ve talked about a lot of different approaches and none has worked for us,” Madigan said. “I think we’ve just got to simplify our starts and get pucks low and get it in the offensive zone.”

The second period started with a 5-on-3 for Northeastern with penalties to Eduards Tralmaks and Keeper at the end of the first. They capitalized brilliantly, with senior forward Brandon Hawkins lacing one from the left point past Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman at his near post after a pass from Jeremy Davies.

Maine got its second game misconduct penalty at less than a minute into the second when Emil Westerlund hit Liam Pecararo in the head. NU got a five-minute power play out of it but the Huskies could not find a third goal on the extended advantage.

Maine took advantage of NU’s penalties, scoring on their own 5-on-3. After Lerario and John Picking both picked up penalties, forward Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup hit a one-timer past Primeau after receiving a pass in the left circle.

By the end of the second Maine was up to 10 penalties for 39 minutes, thanks in large part to the two misconduct calls. Northeastern added two of their own in the period to bring their game total up to 5. Maine was holding onto their shot advantage with the margin at 22-12 after two.

The third period saw Primeau make 12 saves to hold Maine off. The Black Bears had three power-play opportunities in the third frame but could not find the crucial leveler, ending their season.

The Huskies finished the night with 26 blocks, one short of Friday’s total of 27. Jordan Harris had six of them while his D-partner Davies had five.

“Last night we had 27 blocks, which was a season-high. Tonight it was 26,” Madigan said. “We want to block shots, we want to sacrifice, that’s a huge thing and I think we’re still leaving a few out there.”

Northeastern will play the winner of the Boston College and Providence series at TD Garden Friday.

“Pleased with the win, it’s hard to win in this league, and that was a big quarterfinal series,” Madigan said. “They’re a very good team, they’re a hard team to play against. They’re big, physical, it’s not a great matchup for us but we found a way to win.”

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