ORONO, Maine — Maine forward Martin Kariya’s acrobatic goal at the 13:26 mark of the third period gave the Black Bears a 2-1 victory over Northeastern in game one of their Hockey East quarterfinal series on Thursday night at Alfond Arena.
“I thought we played extremely well,” said Maine coach Shawn Walsh. “We played solid defensively and Matt Yeats played very well in goal for us.”
The victory added another notch to an impressive Hockey East playoff home-ice record for the Black Bears: Maine is now 20-0 in conference playoff games played at the Alfond. The Black Bears improved their overall mark to 18-10-7 and set up the ability to clinch a spot in the Hockey East semifinals with a win Friday night.
The winning tally came when Kariya broke into the Husky zone two-on-one with Michael Schutte. Schutte fired a slapshot from the right circle that was kicked out by Northeastern goalie Mike Gilhooly (25 saves). Kariya swatted at the rebound while being knocked off his feet from a check by Northeastern defenseman Arik Engbrecht.
“I just shot it,” said Schutte. “I was hoping for a rebound at least.”
Schutte’s shot caught Gilhooly off-balance.
“It hit me up here,” said Gilhooly, pointing to the heel of his catching glove. “I couldn’t control it and before I could react, it was coming back at me.”
Northeastern’s Joe Mastronardi tied the contest at one with his eighth goal of the season at 15:30 of the third period.
Husky forward Eric Ortlip set up the play by picking off a Black Bear pass in the neutral zone and quickly feeding Mastronardi at the blue line. Mastronardi skated to the top of the right circle and his heavy wrist shot beat Maine goaltender Matt Yeats high.
“I don’t know what happened there,” said Yeats. “It hit my arm and slipped in the short side.”
Maine had taken a 1-0 lead into the first intermission when Matthias Trattnig completed a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play from Don Richardson and Chris Heisten with 15 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
As the clock wound down with the Black Bears on the power play, Richardson intercepted a Northeastern clearing attempt and found Heisten alone in front of Gilhooly. Heisten pushed a pass to Trattnig, positioned alone at the left post, and Trattnig’s wrist shot easily beat the sprawled netminder.
I was just looking for an open spot,” said Heisten. “Donny got me the puck and Matthias was all by himself.”
“I had no chance,” said Gilhooly. “I committed to the first guy [Heisten] and after that, he had the entire net.”
The play capped a fast and furious finishing flourish that had the Black Bears headed to the locker room with a 14-11 shots on goal margin.
The Huskies regained their stride in the second period, outshooting the Black Bears 9-2, but were unable to crack Yeats as he turned away shot after shot, including a blocker save on Willie Levesque and a pad stop in traffic off the stick of Mike Josefowicz.
Late in the middle period, Maine’s special teams came to rescue once again, killing off a 43-second Northeastern two-man advantage to maintain the one-goal lead heading into the final period.
“Thet was big,” said Husky coach Bruce Crowder. “They killed penalties very well tonight.
Crowder, although disappointed, noted that his team played well.
“We battled tonight,” said Crowder. “Mike played well and we were able to limit their chances, but they have some dangerous people out there. We just have to come back and win tomorrow night.