BOSTON — On the night that folklore marks as the scariest of the year, nightmares continued for the Northeastern Huskies.
Despite dominating Massachusetts-Lowell for the better part of two periods, the Huskies relinquished a 2-1 lead midway through the game, allowing the River Hawks to score the game’s final four goals to lose 5-2 at Matthews Arena in front of a sparse Halloween crowd of 1,118.
“That’s four out of five games we’ve played where we’ve outshot the other team,” said Northeastern head coach Bruce Crowder of his team that put 33 shots on goal to Lowell’s 19. “That part of it can be frustrating.”
On the other side of the coin, Lowell head coach Blaise MacDonald felt fortunate to escape with his club’s first Hockey East win, particularly given the circumstance of the night for the team.
The Lowell bus became logjammed in Boston rush-hour traffic, taking two hours and 35 minutes to get to Northeastern’s campus. The result was a slow-starting Lowell club.
“We had bus legs at the start of the first period,” said MacDonald, relived to get his first Hockey East win after losing the first eight league contests a season ago. “Northeastern played inspired, gritty hockey and we couldn’t come close to matching their energy level and emotion.”
What saved the River Hawks was goaltender Chris Davidson. The junior stopped 18 shots in the first period and 31 in the game to pick up his second win of the year — all that despite the fact that he had trouble in the opening period controlling his rebounds
“It was hard for [Davidson] because he didn’t have his normal pre-game routine,” said MacDonald, again referencing the traffic problems. “We got off the bus, started getting dressed and were out on the ice within 25 minutes. Because of that, you start off a little jumpy and can’t go through a routine and for hockey players that is critical.”
On the other side of the ice, the game marked the first career start for NU netminder Adam Geragosian (14 saves). Son of Boston University goaltending coach and Lowell alum Mike Geragosian, the rookie looked shaky from the outset and struggled through a night in which he didn’t see a lot of rubber.
“It was a big start for him, but I think there were some [goals] that he’d like to have back,” said Crowder of his rookie tender’s performance. “You come out in the first period, dominate them and Davidson makes some big saves and you come out 1-1. [Goaltending] is definitely an area we have to get better.”
Despite the late arrival, the River Hawks wasted no time jumping on the scoreboard. Geragosian, appearing a bit nervous, wandered from the net and set the puck for his defense only to have Lowell’s Danny O’Brien jump on the loose puck and bank a shot off the goalie’s skate and into the net 37 seconds into the game for a 1-0 Lowell lead.
From there though, the frame belonged to the Huskies, outshooting Lowell, 19-4. Northeastern only squeaked one past Davidson when Brian Swiniarski poked a rebound of a Steve Birnstill shot in to even the score at 2:06.
It was in the first period that Davidson seemed to have the most problems controlling his rebounds, dodging a bullet with only one NU goal.
That changed in the opening minute of the second.
On the power play, Tim Judy’s shot from the right point again resulted in a juicy rebound that Jason Guerriero pushed past Davidson to give the Huskies their first lead of the game at 2-1. That, though, was the end of the Husky scoring.
Midway through the second, the River Hawks appeared to gain their legs, and with that, evened the game.
After applying pressure in the NU zone, winger Mark Pandolfo picked up a loose puck along the goal line to Geragosian’s right. He fired a low shot that Bobby Robins, parked in front of the net, deflected through the five-hole for a 2-1 Lowell lead at 11:51.
The Huskies appeared as if they would answer off the ensuing faceoff when Yale Lewis was left alone in front of the Lowell net. With Davidson appearing dead-to-rights, the netminder somehow flashed his glove to rob Lewis and keep the score even.
As the period drew to a close, Lowell jumped back on top. With the forwards applying pressure down low, junior defenseman Peter Tormey pinched from the left point and one-timed a pass from Robins over the right shoulder of Geragosian at 18:58 to give the River Hawks a 3-2 lead through two.
As the final buzzer for the second period rang, referee Scott Hansen’s arm rose to whistle Northeastern’s Guerriero for goaltender interference, a power play that Lowell would convert to a goal in the opening minute of the third. Almost identical to Lowell’s second goal, Andrew Martin fired a shot from below the right faceoff circle, this time deflecting off an NU defender and into the net for a 4-2 River Hawk lead.
Any hope of an NU comeback was dashed midway through the third when rookie Pat Noonan was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind and burying Lowell’s Josh Notini into the boards in back of the Lowell net.
The River Hawks scored once on the ensuing power play when Bobby McCabe picked up his first career goal, one-timing a pass from Ben Walter. The assist was the second of the night for Walter who continues on a torrid scoring pace with 11 points in six games. Lowell’s power play converted twice in seven chances, while NU finished 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
The win brings Lowell’s record back to .500 at 2-2-2 (1-1-0 Hockey East). Northeastern remains winless at 0-4-1 (0-2-1 Hockey East). The two teams will complete the home-and-home series Saturday night at Lowell.