AMHERST, Mass. — After Friday night’s game, Northeastern coach Bruce Crowder used boxing terminology to describe his team’s performance.
“Our guys just didn’t answer the bell tonight,” Crowder said.
If it was a boxing match, then terms like “rope-a-dope” would be applicable, because the Huskies and Massachusetts battled to a scoreless tie entering the final period.
That, however, was where the game changed, as the Minutemen struck two blows to beat the Huskies 2-1 in front of 3,831 at the Mullins Center.
Kevin Jarman and Stephen Werner scored for the Minutemen, and Jason Guerriero put the Huskies on the board, but it was with a last-second slap shot that came too late to pull the visitors back into contention.
UMass improved to 13-20-2 overall, and 6-15-2 in Hockey East, which puts it in a tie for seventh place with Providence. The Minutemen won two of three games against the Friars this season, giving UMass the first tiebreaker in playoff seeding decisions.
Northeastern fell to 14-6-5 overall, and 9-10-4 in the conference. The Huskies are locked in at sixth place in the standings, three points behind fifth-place UMass-Lowell, and eight points ahead of Providence and the Minutemen.
Though both teams had several opportunities to break the tie in the first period, neither capitalized, and both squads meandered through a second period that also saw no scoring, on even fewer chances.
Jarman, however, shifted the game into gear 1:39 into the third period. Trailing James Solon into the offensive zone, Jarman pounced on a rebound off of Solon’s shot and slipped it past Northeastern’s Adam Geragosian to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Werner struck next for UMass, with 7:16 remaining. On a similar play to Jarman’s, Werner stationed himself near Geragosian’s net, and when Zech Klann’s shot trickled out into the low slot, Werner was there to capitalize.
“As the game went along, (Northeastern) stepped it up a little and we stepped it up a little, and we got 40 shots on them,” said UMass coach Don Cahoon, whose squad has taken 40 shots just three times this year, twice in losses. “I thought we moved the puck well in the offensive zone, and we did get the puck in there. The offense did better things tonight than they have in the past.”
UMass held on to the 2-0 lead for nearly the whole rest of the period, until Guerriero spoiled Gabe Winer’s clean sheet. Taking a feed from Tim Judy with an extra attacker on the ice, Guerriero fired a slap shot that beat UMass’ Gabe Winer as the buzzer sounded to end the game. The puck crossed the goal line an instant before the final tenth of a second ticked off, but it was too late for Northeastern to climb back into the game.
“This is one of those games you wish you could have back,” Crowder said. “Our guys know they didn’t play up to expectations.”