BOSTON — BOSTON – There were ten goals, eighty-three shots and multi-goal games by two collegiate rookies. In the end, though, the script played out as written.
New Hampshire, despite having to overcome a deficit late in the second period, rode a two-goal effort by freshman Thomas Fortney to earn a 6-4 victory over Northeastern on Friday in front of a raucous Husky crowd of 3,628 at Matthews Arena.
Fortney’s performance, which included the game-winning goal at 5:14 of the third period, spoiled Northeastern’s rookie counterpart Ryan Ginand’s natural hat trick, the first three goals of his college career.
For UNH, the game was a solid test. After building an early 2-0 lead, the Wildcats surrendered three straight goals midway through the second period all by Ginand and needed a late second period goal to tie the game and three tallies in the third to win.
“It’s good character, it’s composure, they stayed with it,” said UNH coach Dick Umile. “We got some penalties and gave up some power play goals, but that’s what happens when to take penalties. But the guys stayed with it.”
UNH controlled the play in the opening period, thanks mostly to four power plays rendered by Northeastern. One resulted in a goal, accounting for half of UNH’s 2-0 lead through one.
The Wildcats grabbed the lead with the man advantage when Brian Yandle scored his first goal of the year, one timing a Craig Switzer pass from the point into the top corner of the net at 10:46.
At 17:57, UNH struck on another deep shot. Fortney scored his first career goal, wristing a shot from just inside the blue line past the glove of NU goaltender Doug Jewer (34 saves) at 17:54 for the 2-0 lead.
In the second, Northeastern pulled off a major momentum swing. Ginand scored his first of the game on the power play at 3:56 banking the puck from behind the goal line off the back of UNH goaltender Jeff Pietrasiak (39 saves) to pull the Huskies within a goal at 2-1.
Less than two minutes later, Ginand struck again. His blast from the high slot came right back onto his stick and a quick snap shot on the rebound ended up between Pietrasiak’s legs to knot the game at two.
Late in the period, again on the power play, Ginand finished off the natural hat trick. His seeing shot maneuvered through traffic to beat Pietrasiak clean at 16:40 for the 3-2 lead.
It was the first hat trick by a Husky since Mike Ryan accomplished the feat in the 2002 Beanpot semifinal against Harvard; it pushed the NU crowd to deafening levels.
UNH’s Daniel Winnick, through, rendered the hat trick and the NU crowd mute with 1:21 remaining in the second. On a partial breakaway, his move on Jewer left the entire left side of the net open, allowing Winnick to bury his fourth goal of the season and send the game into the locker even through two.
In the third, UNH scored early. Brett Hemingway was wide open in the slot and one-timed a Jacob Micflicker pass under the crossbar for a 4-3 with just 29 ticks gone off the clock.
Northeastern, though, didn’t roll over. Joe Vitale’s shot from the left point through traffic beat Pietrasiak clean glove side to knot the game at four at 2:38.
That left young Fortney to play the role of hero, burying a rebound of a Mike Radja shot with 14:46 to play for what turned out to be the game winner.
Rookie Jerry Pollastrone scored his first career goal at 7:24 to give the Wildcats a two-goal cushion and the eventual victory.
For Northeastern rookie head coach Greg Cronin, a 0-5-1 start isn’t exactly what he’d hoped for. But given a rash of injuries early in the season that have taken away key players, the production that he has gotten, particularly from his freshman class, is the one silver lining.
“You’ve got to give credit to our freshman who keep scoring,” said Cronin, particularly of his top line of Ginand, Vitale and Matti Uusivirta, who at this point have 16 points total among the trio. “It’s the same guys who are showing up every night.”
For UNH, scoring six goals breaks the Wildcats out of what would be considered a minor offensive slump by their standards. The Wildcats, generally known for offense, had not scored more than four goals in a game until Friday.
“I told my coaches at the end of the game that these guys played really well [tonight],” said Umile. “Offensively and five-on-five we played well.”
Northeastern and New Hampshire will close out this two-game series Saturday night at the Whittemore Center