BOSTON — Northeastern goalie Keni Gibson will have fond — if not odd — memories of his 100th career game in the Husky net.
Providence wishes it could be so lucky.
Host Northeastern (8-11-3, 4-6-2 Hockey East) scored three times in as many minutes in the second period to blow past the Friars in front of 2,310 fans at Matthews Arena. In the process of the 6-0 Husky victory, Gibson recorded his first shutout of the season and seventh of his career, furthering his own school record.
Although the senior netminder credited his team with the blanking, saying it was more theirs than his, he wasn’t about to let all the credit slip away.
Two minutes into the second period, just before things fell apart for Providence (6-13-3, 2-9-3), Friar senior center Chris Chaput collected a pass and walked unabated on Gibson. His snappy wrist shot, though, was bettered by a fully-extended glove save from the NU netminder (21 saves).
All Chaput could do was hang his head back and wonder, ‘Why me?’
“I’ll take that as an assist or something — I could use some points,” Gibson said with a devilish smile.
Friars coach Paul Pooley wasn’t quite as amused.
“We had some good chances,” he said. “Chris had a nice shot and we had some chances earlier in the second. Even in the first period we had some good chances but he made some saves and I think that was the difference. He gave them momentum a little bit and shut us down.”
Nor was Pooley amused when Northeastern freshman Josh Robertson put the Huskies up 2-0 with 14:28 left in the second period, starting off the three-minute span in which NU tallied three goals.
Need proof of Pooley’s ire? With 10:11 left in the second, after Robertson found defenseman Tim Judy for a nifty two-on-one tip-in, the Providence bench boss pulled starting goalie David Cacciola (10 saves) in favor of freshman Tyler Sims (14 saves).
“Tonight was the first time we didn’t have great goaltending for the game and I feel bad for those guys because they’ve worked hard,” Pooley said. “Northeastern did some good things tonight. They shot the puck on goal and good things happen when you shoot the puck.”
Robertson’s goal, in which he spun from the left boards and sent a seemingly soft wrist shot that snuck through Cacciola was similar to sophomore defenseman Chuck Tomes’ first-period score, in which the senior goalie was screened and couldn’t see the puck slide by.
The next goal was something else entirely.
Less than a minute after Robertson’s marker, junior forward Brian Swiniarski hit senior winger Jared Mudryk from behind the net to put NU up, 3-0. The 5-6 forward’s spectacular one-timer from the right post slammed off Cacciola before crossing the line.
Halfway through the frame, Judy joined Robertson for a two-on-one. The senior, not generally known as a goal scorer, nicked his teammate’s pass to Cacciola’s right for a 4-0 edge.
But that was hardly the strangest sight of the night.
With :30 left in the second period, and Northeastern on the power play, PC earned a two-on-one rush. Strangely, the “one” was Mudryk, who was playing the point on the power play. Even more odd: the senior executed a perfect diving poke-check to knock the puck off sophomore Bill McCreary’s stick and avert the danger.
“Muddy and I were joking the other day about him being on the point on the power play, and he said maybe he should be a defenseman now,” Gibson said. “After that (play), I thought it was Tim Judy. I looked up and saw ’9′ and thought, ‘What’s going on? He got that pass, I’ve gotta credit him one for that.”
Northeastern coach Bruce Crowder was waiting for a game like this to come.
“We were due for a night like this where we maybe had some things go our way,” he said. “We’ve played very good hockey since the break and haven’t had the record to show it. But I’ve got no complaints of the way this team has been playing, the way they’ve committed themselves to get better each time we practice and then not getting frustrated based on a couple of ties or one-goal losses.
“I think it was a tremendous team effort tonight, getting three goals out of the fourth line,” he added. “That’s a very good night.”
In the third period, fourth-line freshman Carter Lee — who had been benched since Nov. 23 — scored his first collegiate goal.
And his second.
Five minutes into the third, the 6-2, 195-pound freshman rushed down the right wing and laced a wrist shot over Sims’ right shoulder.
With a minute left in the game, he picked up a loose puck in the Providence zone and filed a pinpoint wrist shot to Sims’ right.
“He’s a young man that we’re really trying to get to work harder,” Crowder said. “He’s got an NHL shot, there’s no doubt about it. We talked to him a couple weeks ago and asked him what the best thing about his game was, and he said it was his shot. I said, ‘Yeah, but there’s no designated shooters in hockey, so you gotta go get it and you gotta battle and compete.’
“I think those are the things that, when you’re not playing, fills your gut and starts to simmer. He made the most of the opportunity. He can shoot the puck. Our goalies aren’t too excited about him coming down and shooting in practice, but there’s a lot more to this game than shooting and I think he’s starting to figure that out.”
NU travels to Boston College Friday night before hosting Merrimack Saturday. PC’s next game is Saturday, on the road against Brown. All three games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.