BOSTON — While scoring chances abounded, the Northeastern Huskies and Western Ontario Mustangs skated to a 2-2 tie Friday night.
The Huskies stormed out of the gates very physically in this exhibition matchup with the Mustangs of Western Ontario. While the pace of the game was fast, Northeastern managed to have the balance of the scoring opportunities early on.
Mustang netminder Mike D’Alessandro faced several opportunities from the new additions to the front line for the Huskies to start the first. Jason Guerriero had a breakaway opportunity early in the first and D’Alessandro stoned the rookie. A bright spot for Northeastern was 5-8 Guerriero’s unpredictability, especially when moving the puck up on offense.
Western had an opportunity to go up early, with Ryan Dudgeon in the box for a to many men on the ice penalty. The Husky penalty-killing unit did an adequate job of thwarting this scoring chance. The Western power-play line controlled the puck well but only managed only three shots on the first power play of the game.
Defense was a major component of the offseason acquisitions for the Huskies. With only four lettermen returning, Crowder added six freshmen to the defensive squad. Freshmen Jack Celata, Donnie Grover, Bryan Nathe and Tim Judy pulled together well for their collegiate debut. Judy showed strong hustle, while Nathe and Grover seemed to adapt to the college style of play very early on.
Head coach Bruce Crowder felt that will be vital to the team’s success this year.
“Guys like Donnie and Bryan did a real nice job tonight,” said Crowder. “Judy showed a lot of hustle and will be a great addition to this team. We only had four days of ice [time], so it is early to say how well they will fully adjust. They have a ton of talent and I look for all of these freshmen to be big contributors early on.”
Offensively for the Huskies, returning linemen Willie Levesque and Chris Lynch played physically in the first game of the new year. Lynch brings back his strong prowess in the faceoff circle and controlled the puck very well for the Huskies.
After the first period of play the teams remained scoreless. Both Huskies netminder Mike Gilhooly and Western’s Mike D’Alessandro stood strong despite several excellent scoring opportunities. Northeastern played a physical first period, hitting Western players with some jarring open-ice checks and strong pressure in the corners.
It was all Northeastern in the second period.
Northeastern got on the board first at 19:02 with a pretty drop pass at the top of the left faceoff circle by Guerriero to Trevor Reschney, who went top-shelf with a nifty wrist shot.
“Scotty [Selig] punched it out to me wide, dropped it for him and he shot on net,” said Guerriero, who attributed the play partly to “Trevor and I playing well together in practice.”
At 14:59 Northeastern added its second tally with a glove side wrist shot by sophomore Eric Ortlip unassisted. Ortlip found himself alone in the middle and was able to get off the wrister before the ensuing defense was able to get a hand on him.
Crowder stuck with an all-rookie penalty kill on Western’s first power play in the second. The penalty-killing unit was also small in size, containing both Guerriero and Jared Murk at the top of the circles.
At times during the second period, NU looked sloppy, especially when clearing the zone, Western players in the neutral zone were able to intercept several forced passes, though defensively NU was able to retreat in time to stop any scoring chances.
Starting the third period between the pipes for Northeastern was freshman Keni Gibson. Gilhooly exited stopping all 22 shots that he faced.
Said Crowder, “I feel the goaltending was excellent tonight. We have three guys that are pushing each other in practice, and it’s a coach’s dream to have three guys that you can put into a game and perform well.”
While on the power play, Western put its first goal on the board at 17:54. Matt Dzieduszycki managed to free himself from the Husky defense and squeak a soft goal between the legs of Gibson after a strong slot pass by defenseman Abe Herbst.
Much as in the second period, the Huskies had trouble clearing their defensive zone in the third. Lack of consistent passing forced the Huskies into several turnovers. When Northeastern was able to clear the zone, it did lead to several scoring chances that came up empty. For the better part of the night, Western was able to shut down the Huskies in the neutral zone.
Unfortunately for Northeastern, Brian Sullivan got caught on his own zone and was crunched against the boards by Abe Herbst. Sullivan skated off the ice in pain and did not return.
Said Crowder, “Sullivan left the game with a dislocated shoulder and we are uncertain as to how long he’ll be out. It’s a tough loss.”
Said Western coach Clarke Singer, “In the neutral zone we always send two guys in and felt we trapped the puck well. Northeastern was able to get a few nice chances, but we stuck to our plan of two on a neutral and one when they pushed the puck.”
Western capitalized on the Huskies’ lethargic defense when Dzieduszycki lit the lamp again, this time over Gibson’s left shoulder after maneuvering his way from the back to the front of the net.
Said Dzieduszycki, “I lost the draw but my winger was able to get me the puck as I was calling for it behind the net and I was able to spin around and put it in.”
That’s where the scoring would end, tied at two apiece.
During overtime the teams exchanged opportunities but were unable to put anything in the back of the net. Physical play was evident throughout the game and the penalty total of 76 minutes proved this.
“I could care less about the scoreboard,” said Crowder, “but I felt that we have a lot more positives than negatives to take away from this game.”
Also of note, junior Mike Ryan did not play due to mononucleosis. Said Crowder, “He won’t be making the trip to Alaska with us, but we hope to have him back by Mercyhurst.”
Next for Western Ontario will be the Hockey East preseason favorites, Providence College, in Schneider Arena. The Huskies will depart Wednesday for Anchorage, Alaska, where they will face the Alaska-Anchorage and the Denver in the Great Alaskan Shootout. The home opener for the Huskies will be Friday, October 19, against Mercyhurst.