BOSTON — Northeastern is in uncharted territory. With Thursday night’s thrilling 2-1 victory over visiting Providence, the Huskies earned something they hadn’t seen all season.
A winning streak.
Northeastern, which snapped an 18-game losing streak with a 6-4 triumph over Massachusetts-Lowell last Friday, won its second straight Hockey East game, improving to 3-20-6 overall, 3-13-6 in Hockey East. The team now sits three points behind Lowell and four points behind Massachusetts for the final conference playoff spot, having played one more game than both teams.
“We got behind the eight-ball when we had that string of ties … tie, tie, tie and then we lost to these guys in overtime,” Husky coach Greg Cronin said of a stretch in December during which his team tied New Hampshire once, and Merrimack twice.
“We’ve had so many games that we reflect back on that we lost points. We’re in a desperation mode. We just gotta keep scratching and clawing to get back in the picture. We’re gonna need some help, big time.”
Junior goalie Adam Geragosian outdueled Friar goalie Tyler Sims, making 37 saves to the sophomore’s 24. The NU goalie was instrumental in keeping the score 0-0 after a first period in which a buzzing PC team outshot its hosts, 12-4.
“Your goaltender is the most important guy on the ice,” Cronin said. “He’s a difference maker in the game. It’s like a pitcher in baseball, a quarterback in football … he can change the dynamic of a game, and Geragosian did it because Providence deserved to be up two- or three-nothing in the first period, and they weren’t.
“When you stay close in those games you gotta keep scratching and clawing and maybe get a bounce here and there. That’s what happened to us. It was a great team win, but I think Geragosian was the difference-maker.”
He’s right about that bounce thing, too.
With six minutes left in the game, PC (15-10-2, 12-8-2) seemed in total control. Northeastern had just taken two penalties in a span of 14 seconds. On the first power play, it took exactly seven seconds for the Friars to strike. Sophomore Jon Rheault wheeled around the left faceoff circle and snapped a wrist shot past Geragosian.
On the second power play, however, everything changed.
Seven seconds after PC’s goal, NU junior Brian Deeth was whistled for a tripping penalty. While on the man-advantage, a pass to the NU blue line skipped over the stick of a Friar defender and gave the Huskies a two-on-one. On the break, freshman Rob Rassey’s pass deflected off a PC defender and sat near the goal for classmate Joe Vitale to swat home.
Six minutes later, with just 1:35 to play, freshman Dennis McCauley culminated the comeback with a goal oddly similar to his strike in the Beanpot two weeks ago. The 6-3, 205-pounder took a pass from sophomore Josh Robertson and used his long reach to slip the puck around Sims and force it over the line.
Not bad, for a couple of rookies.
“It shows a lot of maturity from the younger guys,” Geragosian said of the comeback. “Dennis McCauley and Joe Vitale got the goals and in the beginning of the year I don’t know if they would have done that with that much time left down 1-nothing after a hard-fought game. For them to come back shows a lot of maturity. They’ve developed so much over the year.”
PC lost a chance to leapfrog UNH and climb within a point of second-place Boston University with the loss, its third in five games.
“We had good chances, (Geragosian) made some good saves,” PC coach Tim Army said. “We did some good things. After you look at the tape, I’m sure we played pretty well … but we didn’t see it through when we needed to. We didn’t see it through. If you’re gonna be a good team, if you’re gonna compete in the playoffs, you’re going to have to see those games through. We didn’t see it through tonight. That’s frustrating to me.”
The teams finish their regular-season series Friday with a 7 p.m. tilt in Providence.