BOSTON — Joe Santilli went off for two goals and goalie Keni Gibson stopped 41 Black Bear shots as the Northeastern Huskies defeated Maine, 4-2, on Friday night at Matthews Arena before 2,849 fans.
It was NU’s Hockey East opener and it picked up two league points. Last season, the Huskies got off to a slow start and didn’t get their second Hockey East point until they beat Boston College Jan. 3. NU improved to 4-3-1 overall as Maine dropped to 6-6-0 and 2-3-0 in Hockey East.
“To start off Hockey East like that, it doesn’t get any better,” said Santilli. “They’re an excellent team and they’ll get better.”
Mike Morris dominated the first period with a goal and an assist. In the 16th minute, he fired two shots in a row at Maine goalie Jimmy Howard and Joe Santilli tipped in the second for a goal at 16:16.
Two minutes later, Morris stole the puck from a Maine defender and got the puck past Howard to make it 2-0 in favor of NU at 18:33. Both of the teams came up empty on power-plays in the first.
The Huskies kept their momentum going as the second period began. Steve Sanders scored an unassisted goal at 2:41. He took a shot that Howard stopped, but Howard didn’t clear it and the goal slid in. It was Sanders’ first goal of the season.
Santilli scored his second goal of the game when he took a pass from Morris and got a shot past Howard at 4:28 in the second. Maine head coach Tim Whitehead then pulled Howard in favor of backup Matt Lundin.
After Gibson stopped five shots to help kill a Maine power-play, the Black Bears got on the board. Maine junior Derek Damon notched his seventh goal of the season when he rocketed a shot from the far right past Gibson at 8:46 in the second. The Keni Gibson show wasn’t over, however, as he went on to make five saves during another successful penalty-kill and totalled 17 saves in the second period.
“The game got off to a slow start but after 10 minutes they came back at us,” said Gibson. “I got to see the first few shots and when you see the first few it’s a little easier to make the saves.”
Maine kept the pressure on in the third period, outshooting the Huskies 15-6. Greg Moore potted Maine’s second goal 6:08 into the final set with assists from Billy Ryan and Damon.
Lundin stopped all 10 Husky shots that he faced after he entered the game. The Huskies allowed one goal on six Maine power-plays and came up empty on four power-plays of their own.
The Huskies last defeated Maine Jan. 11, 2002 when NU prevailed, 2-1, in overtime.