AMHERST, Mass. — During a game in which most Massachusetts players struggled to find their offense, Greg Mauldin dominated, scoring a goal and adding two assists to lead the Minutemen to a 3-2 home victory over Northeastern.
“Mauldin was great tonight,” Husky coach Bruce Crowder said. “He figured in all of their goals. He’s just a great player.
With the game tied 2-2 UMass started the third period with 1:59 left on a two-man advantage, but failed to capitalize. Chris Capraro’s point-blank deflection off a Tim Turner feed marked the Minutemen’s only scoring chance.
“There was just a couple of missing pieces,” UMass coach Don Cahoon said. “We got the alignment we wanted. We forced a one-timer, we just didn’t explore all the opportunities we had. It wasn’t like we made a real mess of it.”
But Cahoon’s squad showed itself five on five by pressuring the Northeastern net and finally breaking through at 10:54 of the period.
Mauldin fed Jeff Lang at the point for a slapshot on net. NU goaltender Keni Gibson (27 saves) looked like he had it controlled but the puck squeezed through and broke the plane of the goal for a 3-2 lead.
“There was a bit of traffic to my right,” Gibson said. “I got it with my blocker but I guess I didn’t steer it far enough away. It was just one of those goals where the guy rushed hard to the net and got it past us.”
Lang’s third of the year proved to be the game winner in UMass’ 10th comeback win of the season.
Northeastern had a golden opportunity to tie the game just moments later when the puck found Tim Judy alone in the slot. The senior fired a one-timer that Gabe Winer parried.
“We had some great opportunities,” NU coach Bruce Crowder said. “I think the thing that hurt us was our inability to get the third goal.”
The save started a two-on-one the other way, but Gibson answered with a stop of a Stephen Werner (two points) wrist shot.
Trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes, UMass clearly raised its level of play to open the second period. It started with an energy shift from the fourth line.
Josh Hanson gained the zone, faked a shot, and dished a pass behind his back to a rushing Peter Alden. Alden had a clear lane to Gibson but fired a wrist shot over the net.
The Minutemen finally cracked the scoreboard at 4:47 when Mauldin made a strip at his own blue line and rushed in on a partial breakaway. Mauldin deked to his backhand but Gibson slid across to make the initial save. Werner stuffed in the rebound to cut the deficit in half.
It took UMass just three minutes to get the equalizer. Mauldin finished the job this time, taking a feed from Matt Anderson in the slot and lifting it under the crossbar.
The Minutemen had all the momentum, buzzing around the net for two shifts after the goal. But they’re drive was halted by a goaltender interference call on Mike Mullen.
UMass killed the power play without incident, but the play leveled for the remainder of the period with the teams trading opportunities.
Cahoon made some notable lineup changes to start the game, including breaking up the line of Mauldin, Anderson and Werner. But after falling behind the lines were restored to a more familiar setup.
“Most people look at the lines as just offensive productivity,” Cahoon said. “We thought we needed to reshape our lines a little bit. We were so stale in that first period that the first order of business was get people back together with people they’re comfortable with.”
Northeastern used a power play to get on the board early in the first period. Jason Guerriero turned the UMass defense around at the blue line before feeding Mike Ryan for a one-timer past Gabe Winer (17 saves). Eric Ortlip provided a screen on the play.
It took the Huskies under four minutes to get on the board again when Chuck Tomes registered his first career point.
Eric Ortlip bought himself some space with a quick pivot inside the blue line and fed a square pass to Tomes speeding through the zone. The freshman quickly slapped a shot past Winer’s stick for a 2-0 lead.
Northeastern dominated a period that was largely devoid of scoring chances. UMass had six shots, but they were mainly from the perimeter, while NU’s only two scoring chances resulted in goals.
“I thought we executed things pretty well in the first,” Crowder said. “I thought in the third period it could have gone either way. They just threw it on net from the point and got a good bounce. I doubt Don Cahoon X’s and O’s that one.”