BOSTON — Northeastern was fine with Saturday night not being a case of dj vu. So too, was Massachusetts-Lowell.
NU fell to host Boston College Friday night thanks to a last-minute, end-to-end rush by Dave Spina. With less than a minute to play in Saturday’s overtime against the visiting River Hawks, and with the score knotted 2-2, UML junior Danny O’Brien picked up the puck at center ice for a breakaway of his own.
“When I saw him come across the red line, I thought, ‘Oh, here we go,’” said Husky goalie Keni Gibson (32 saves). “I decided not to go with the poke check tonight, just follow him across. He ended up losing his balance when our guy put a little pressure on him.
“Little better ending than last night.”
The final score, a 2-2 draw, wasn’t a better result than Friday for the River Hawks (8-5-2, 0-5-2). It was, however, as good a Hockey East result as they’ve had all year. In seven conference games, UML has now earned just two points (a 3-3 tie with New Hampshire being the other).
“We were up in Hanover, New Hampshire,” coach Blaise MacDonald said of his club’s 4-3 victory over Dartmouth Friday. “It’s a tough trip we took last night against a good team — two hours back, we got home at quarter to 1 in the morning and I loved our aggression. I loved our energy. I loved our ability to really compete out there.”
Gibson’s play was equaled by his Lowell counterpart, freshman Peter Vetri, who stopped 34 shots in front of the ever-unfriendly Matthews Arena crowd of 2,086. In the process, Vetri extended his unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2).
“It was like the last one at bat was gonna get it done,” MacDonald said of the back-and-forth action. “I thought both goalies played well. Our guy (Peter Vetri) is a freshman. I was very impressed with him coming into a hostile environment and playing the way he did, making some big saves and making them look easy. I think both teams had opportunities to give themselves a little room but both goalies were equal to the task.”
Junior Elias Godoy gave Lowell a 1-0 lead 8:01 into the first period, firing a power-play slapshot from the point through a screen and under Gibson’s arm.
Northeastern (6-8-2, 3-4-1) answered twice before the first intermission.
At the 12:10 mark of the first period, NU freshman Jimmy Russo earned a breakaway from the blueline. The fourth-liner deked to fake a wrist shot before he flipped a backhand that trickled over Vetri for his first career point.
Three minutes later, during a Northeastern power play, senior defenseman Jon Awe quickly snapped a shot from the point that was tipped by junior Brian Swiniarski before finding its way past Vetri.
Godoy was credited with leveling the game halfway through the second period when he sent a pass into the crease that bounced off NU defenseman Steve Birnstill and over the line.
The goals were just the second and third of the year for Godoy and his first since a season-opening win over Niagara.
“He’s been playing pretty well but he plays with the game in front of him,” MacDonald said. “We’ve talked about him getting into the game more. I think he’s done that. He had a couple more chances to score and I think that’s gonna light him up for the second half (of the year).”
Northeastern’s reaction to the tying marker was, according to Crowder, the only problem with his team’s play last night.
“The only real disappointment was the way we played at the end of the second period after they tied it up. I thought we were a little, Woe is me kind of thing,” he said. “But the guys rebounded and I thought our third period was a tremendous effort.
“Not to be a broken record, but I like this team,” he added. “I like the chemistry. I like the way they play. Even though it hasn’t been great, only getting one point out of four this weekend, it’s still something hang our hat on a little bit and move on.”
Lowell doesn’t play again until December 30, when it hosts Niagara for a 7 p.m. tilt. Northeastern’s next contest will be in the Denver Cup against Colgate on January 1.