BOSTON — Beanpot? What Beanpot?
The Northeastern Huskies (16-10-3, 9-7-2 HEA) made a statement on Friday night: one game at a time.
While the Monday championship game in the 50th annual Beapot was on their minds, beating Merrimack was at the forefront.
Mike Ryan scored at 14:43 of the second for the game-winning goal, as Northeastern defeated Merrimack (8-18-2, 3-13-2 HEA), 5-2, in front of 2203 at Matthews Arena.
Trevor Reschny notced two goals and Jim Fahey added three assists in the winning cause. Fahey also scored his 100th point, only the fifth Northeastern defenseman to do so. Tim Foster added a goal and an assist for Merrimack.
Northeastern scored at 3:17 of the first after Merrimack’s Nick Torretti was in the box for goaltender interference. Chris Lynch tipped in a pass by Jim Fahey from the point while on the power play.
While the pace of the opening period was quick, Merrimack had the balance on the attack. Merrimack would turned up the heat, firing 20 shots on net in the period to Northeastern’s 11.
“We came out flat in the first and Merrimack definitely took it to us,” said Northeastern coach Bruce Crowder. “I’m not sure if we had our heads somewhere else, but we knew that if we kept that up we would be in trouble. Keni Gibson was definitely the difference for us.”
“Untimely penalties,” said Merrimack assistant coach Mike Doneghey. “We took penalties at the wrong time and it really killed us tonight.”
When Northeastern goalie Gibson was asked what held Merrimack to only one goal on 20 shots, he said, “Tim Judy. He saved me on one chance and if it wasn’t for him they would have had a couple more.”
After a failed attempt by Northeastern to pinch the puck, Merrimack drove in on the 2-on-1 advantage and after a series of passes Torretti found Tim Foster in front of Gibson, who put home the wrister at 9:03.
Northeastern went on the advantage again at 10:18 with Matt Foy in the box for hitting after the whistle. Northeastern failed to convert on the chance with the only solid bid coming from a Lynch one-timer.
Immediately following the penalty, an errant pass found the stick of Foy all alone on Gibson. Gibson denied the bid as well as a flurry of chances by the Warriors.
“Keni has really been the guy for us this year,” said Crowder. “He has kept us in the game and has given us a chance to win time and time again.”
Merrimack got a chance on the power play at 13:47 with Mike Ryan in the box for interference, but the Warriors were unable to find the back of the net.
“Our power play,” said Doneghey, “hasn’t been there all year. They [Northeastern] did a great job of clogging the neutral zone and made it really tough to get anything set up. [Crowder] has got a great team down there. One of the hottest teams in the country and they are going to make some real noise.”
Scoring would end in the first with both teams tied at two.
What appeared to be a goal for Merrimack at the 16:00 mark was called a no goal by official Joe Ross. The light went on but the final ruling after play stopped was no goal. Play continued on for almost a minute before play way stopped.
“After Ross talked to the the goal judge, the goal judge said he thought it went in,” said Doneghey, “Ross felt that his body language indicated that it was a no goal. If we go up 2-1 at that point, who knows, maybe it’s a different game.”
At 9:02 Northeastern’s Trevor Reschny labeled the top left corner for his second goal of the season to put the Huskies ahead 2-1. The play developed after the speedy Brian Tudrick carried the puck the length of the ice and dished the puck out to an open Reschny for the tally.
Play got chippy at the 12:00 mark as Lynch picked up a double minor for slashing and Tim Foster of Merrimack the same.
At 14:43 Northeastern’s Fahey connected with Ryan after a series of shifty moves by Fahey. Fahey spilt the defense and setup Ryan in the slot for his 21st goal of the season. With the assist Fahey would reach the 100-point mark on his career, the 40th Husky to reach that mark.
Said Fahey, “Sure, it’s big. I think my parents were happier than I was though. Now that we’ve won, all I’m concerned with now is Monday’s game [at the Beanpot].”
Merrimack’s Anthony Aquino would bring Merrimack within one at 17:43 after he skated past all defenders, around the net and stuffed the puck home on Gibson’s weak side.
With one second remaining in the period, Northeastern was called for too many men on the ice, giving Merrimack the advantage to start the third.
At 7:09 Northeastern would make hard work pay off as Fahey would connect again, this time with Reschny making the score 4-2. The goal developed after the line of Tudrick, Reschny and Hayward pressured the zone and force a turnover.
Northeastern put the game away at 18:44 when Jon Awe found Eric Ortlip in front of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
For the Huskies it’s onto the Beanpot. Fahey said, “Monday is huge, it’s my last year and bringing it back to Huntington Ave is what we all want. I know I’ll do everything I can to get it back.”
Northeastern will face Boston University (18-7-2, 11-5-2 HEA) in the championship game of the Beanpot on Monday night at the FleetCenter at 8 p.m., while Merrimack will face Maine (16-8-5, 10-4-3 HEA) at home Saturday at 7.