AMHERST, Mass. — A pair of rookies played with the patience and tenacity of seasoned goalscorers, bolstering UMass to a 4-2 Hockey East victory over visiting Northeastern Saturday night.
The deed to the second period and the game belonged to the Minutemen as NU was outshot, outhustled and outscored in the deciding frame. UMass used an early power-play tally to knot the contest at two while a late marker by freshman Greg Mauldin gave the home squad a lead it would not relinquish.
Freshman forward Craig MacDonald undressed NU defenseman Ryan Sullivan at the left circle before firing a low shot on Mike Gilhooly. Mauldin rushed the net on the far side and jammed home the rebound at 19:06 to give UMass a 3-2 lead.
The Minutemen tied the game less than five minutes into the period on a tic-tac-toe power-play tally. Martin Miljko, a forward playing the point, moved the puck to Toni Soderholm, who threaded a cross-ice feed to Thomas Pock for a one-timer and the goal.
The Minutemen opened the game on fire with an early tally by MacDonald, but the Huskies soon silenced the home crowd with a pair of goals to take a slim advantage into the locker room.
“We just told them to keep playing,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “We want them to forget about the shifts of momentum.”
Defenseman Jim Fahey put NU on the board with a blistering snapshot from the slot that beat UMass goaltender Mike Johnson glove side. Fahey’s team-leading seventh goal of the season came on the power play at 12:12 of the first.
Just under three minutes later Mike Ryan fired home a cross-ice feed from Jason Guerriero to give the Huskies their only lead of the game at 2-1.
Northeastern’s top line of Ryan, Guerriero and Willie Levesque totaled five points, while the remaining nine forwards did not register a single point.
“[The remaining nine forwards] have played eight games and they only have a goal or an assist,” NU coach Bruce Crowder said. “Then they start to feel sorry for themselves, you can’t do that in this league.”
Johnson, who made 18 saves on the night, stopped a pair of point-blank chances in the final half of the game to preserve the one-goal lead.
Ryan Dudgeon was Johnson’s first victim with less than ten minutes left in the second, as he managed a weak backhander with UMass blueliner Samuli Jalkanen backchecking.
The second one-on-one stoning came almost six minutes into the third when forward Leon Hayward broke in on net. The senior tried to snap a shot low and against the grain, but Johnson kicked out the right pad for the save.
“If you had to pick a guy you want on a breakaway, Hayward wouldn’t be that guy,” Crowder said. “Especially when you look at his past statistics.”
Hayward scored one goal in 31 games last year.
Johnson’s counterpart in net, Gilhooly, made nine saves before being pulled after the second in favor of senior Jason Braun. Crowder’s reasoning was that his team needed an emotional boost after surrendering a pair of goals in the middle frame.
Tim Turner’s empty-net goal sealed the victory for the Minutemen, as they again move one game above .500 in conference play. Northeastern drops its second game of the weekend with the loss and is now 1-2-1 in Hockey East.