BOSTON — Forget Jack Parker and those pesky Boston University Terriers.
Northeastern, which lost an intense 4-3 overtime affair with the aforementioned crosstown rival on Friday night, can do just that thanks to a three-goal third period that spotted the Huntington Hounds a 5-2 victory over Atlantic Hockey guest Holy Cross Saturday.
“It leaves a sour taste in your mouth, you don’t want to leave a weekend with a loss,” said Husky center Jason Guerriero (two assists). “We would’ve liked to have had that win last night, but we didn’t and we bounced back today. [Holy Cross] is a great hockey team, and they played some of the best defense of anyone we’ve played so far. We’ll take any win; this is college hockey and every day is a battle. We’ll take the win, we’re happy, and we’ll go into next week.”
Husky coach Bruce Crowder was pleased with his team’s mental attitude after absorbing a stinging loss.
“There was a lot of toughness here tonight,” he said. “Obviously our last two games being Hockey East opponents and losing a tough one last night, we had to come in here tonight and play a very good team in a non-league game.
“That was a real gut-check win tonight,” he added. “It’s so tough to get wins in college hockey, no matter who you are playing. I was very impressed with them. Their defensive-zone coverage was probably as good as any we’ve played all year. They didn’t give us a lot of room. We persevered and kept at it, though. For us, it’s a win and it’s something we didn’t have a lot of earlier on, but we’re starting to put something together just in time for the rat race of Hockey East.”
The teams skated to an even first period, with each team scoring twice. Holy Cross sophomore Blair Bartlett opened scoring six minutes into the contest when he sent a wrist shot to the right of NU netminder Keni Gibson (20 saves).
Two minutes later, Husky freshman Yale Lewis blew a slapshot from the left wing past Crusader goalie Tony Quesada (24 saves) for his third tally of the season.
At the 12:42 mark of the first, HC junior Andrew McKay corralled a loose puck and wheeled around the net before snapping a wrist shot past Gibson to give the visitors their second lead of the game.
However, Northeastern capitalized on a penalty — the first of the game — with just two minutes to play before intermission to knot the score again. Guerriero fed assistant captain Eric Ortlip at the left side of the goal, where the senior sent home his team-leading eighth goal of the year.
Despite four power plays (three for Northeastern) in the second period, the middle frame yielded just seven combined shots. In contrast, the teams peppered each other with 27 in the final 20 minutes of play.
Sophomore Steve Sanders buried the eventual winning goal seven minutes into the third, smacking a backdoor pass from Guerriero at the left post past Quesada. Sanders, who scored his first career goal against Vermont after being moved to the top line with Guerriero and sophomore Mike Morris, has four goals and two assists in his last seven games.
Holy Cross coach Paul Pearl was pleased with his group’s effort, despite falling short in the end.
“It was a good game. It could’ve gone either way,” he said. “You want to get to the third period tied or within a goal on the road, and we did. Unfortunately they just made a couple of plays there at the end, and we didn’t.
“They’re very good down low cycling the puck and we did a good job not getting picked and getting the puck out,” he added. “It was too bad, the way they got the third goal. Their guy just all the sudden was open on the back post and that hadn’t happened all night. You’ve got to do it for 60 minutes. They kept pressuring and pressuring and I guess we did it for 48.”
With five minutes to go, freshman Ray Ortiz buried the rebound of a Lewis deflection into a gaping HC net to give NU insurance. The power-play assist gave Lewis the team lead in helpers among freshmen. A 6-2, 210-pound bruiser from Carbondale, Colo., Lewis’ value to the team has been remarkable.
“I think he been a real find,” Crowder said. “He’s a kid that we brought in here late. He’s a big body and he has a quick release. I think he surprised the kid on the first goal, and in front of the net on the power play he used his size to get the puck to Ortiz for the open net. He protects the puck extremely well, he might not the prettiest skater but he’s finding ways to get it done.
“He brings something to the table that we haven’t had here in awhile.” Sophomore Brian Swiniarksi joined Ortlip and Guerriero for the team lead in goals (eight) when he scored on an empty net from the red line with 21 seconds left.
Northeastern will face Providence in a key home-and-home series next weekend, while Holy Cross is on the road next Saturday to play Quinnipiac.