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College Hockey:
Northeastern Comes Back To Tie North Dakota

— Northeastern goalie Keni Gibson was at times spectacular during Saturday night’s matchup with North Dakota. Unfortunately for the fourth-ranked Sioux, NU forward Brian Swiniarski’s play was opposite his goaltender — ugly. Hideous, even.

Swiniarski potted a pair of ugly goals in the third period as host Northeastern (2-3-1) erased a two-goal UND lead to earn a 3-3 tie.

Eight minutes into the third period, Swiniarski took a pass from senior captain Jason Guerriero on the power play and snapped a shot off UND goalie Philippe Lamoureux’s right shoulder that popped into the air and landed softly in the goal.

Eight minutes later, Husky defenseman Jon Awe (two assists) sent a high wrist shot from the point that handcuffed Lamoureux. The freshman netminder blocked the shot with his paddle, but the rebound bounced out to Swiniarski. The junior spun with a defender on his back and slung an attempt along the ice at the far right post to knot the score.

“After we had a couple quality chances and hit a couple posts in the third period we came out firing the puck,” Swiniarski said. “We had to eventually start getting shots on them because we weren’t testing the goalie enough in the first two periods.”

Northeastern coach Bruce Crowder has been pleading for his team to throw pucks at the net in recent weeks. Saturday night, it worked pretty well.

“It’s amazing, eh? It’s something I think as a staff we have to continue to harp on in practice because I think they just get in their own little zone and they wanna dipsy-doodle and wait for the open net goal or the tap in,” he said. “It just doesn’t happen. Everybody’s defense is too good. You’ve gotta get pucks to the net and you gotta get the goalie to make the saves. I’ve always said, good things happen when you get the puck to the net, for us it was excellent.”

After getting outshot 22-14 in the first two periods, Northeastern rebounded holding the Sioux (4-2-2) to just a single third-period shot while taking 12 themselves.

“Give Northeastern a lot of credit, I thought they came out and played very well in the third,” said Sioux coach Dave Hakstol. “I think they got a bounce of the puck on their second goal and that really got life into their bench. I thought we played very well in the first two periods of the hockey game. Really, we were fine right up until the five or six minute mark when we took a couple penalties. That was the turning point to the third period.”

“It was kind of a tale of two games, really,” Crowder said. “The first period was pretty even; the second period they were all over us. The third period was just the opposite. We came out of it well in the third period. We were just concerned as coaches, we were looking at the guys between the second and third to see who was going to step up and take a little pride in what was going on. To their credit the team did that.”

That said, Northeastern wouldn’t have benefited from Swiniarski’s sloppy play had Gibson (25 saves) not made a number of sprawling, rolling and often times out-of-control stops in the first two periods.

Halfway through the second period, with UND up 3-1, Gibson combined all three. Rastislav Spirko fed freshman Travis Zajac with a pass near the Northeastern crease. Gibson sprawled on the ice, rolled onto his back and kicked Zajac’s shot safely into the corner.

“I thought we had opportunities in the second period when it was 3-1,” Hakstol said. “I thought we missed some opportunities that might’ve been able to have us take it to a three-goal lead. Obviously, that was a big turning point in the game — not being able to do that.

“[Gibson] made some game changing saves and kept it at 3-1.”

Zajac scored twice in the opening frame as the Sioux held a 2-0 edge at first intermission. On the first, Zajac attempted to feed Brady Murray on a two-on-one, but when a Northeastern defender blocked his pass, the freshman from Winnipeg, Manitboa simply buried the puck past Gibson. Then, with two minutes left in the frame, Zajac deflected a point shot from senior Colby Genoway at the left post for a powerplay tally.

Five minutes into the second period, Northeastern senior Jared Mudryk grabbed a loose puck next to his own bench, carried it into the offensive zone and rifled a slap shot over Lamoureux’s glove.

Three minutes later, Rory McMahon capitalized on a sustained offensive rush for UND, giving the Sioux its second two-goal lead of the game moments after a Sioux powerplay.

North Dakota hosts Colorado College both Friday and Saturday, while Northeastern’s next game is home against Connecticut on Friday.

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