BOSTON — Wins haven’t come easy for Northeastern since Greg Cronin took over behind the bench last year.
In the 2005-06 campaign, the Huskies did not get a win until November, dropping the previous seven. This year however, things are different on Huntington Avenue.
The Huskies (1-2-1) outshot and outplayed the Union Dutchmen (2-1-1) on the way to a 5-0 win at Matthews Arena in front of a crowd of 4,082. The Huskies scored three in the first and added two more in the third.
The game was a penalty-filled nightmare for both teams, as Northeastern took a total of 21 penalties for 69 minutes and Union collected 15 of its own for 41 minutes. The game was officiated under the new two-referee experiment which led to the outpour of penalties.
“If someone had told me we would be the victims of that, then I would have thought we would have lost the game,” Cronin said, “The game was called just as I predicted; I just don’t like the [two-referee] system.”
Northeastern senior Ray Ortiz collected three points on the night, all assists, as NU had five different goal-scorers.
The freshmen have been a major factor to Northeastern success in this game and on the season as a whole.
“The key to our success this year will be how quickly we can develop [the freshmen].” Cronin said. On the season four of 12 goals have come from freshmen with an additional seven scored by sophomores.
Northeastern opened the scoring early as Joe Vitale scored a shorthanded goal 2:37 into the game. Vitale came down on a 2-on-1 with Joe Santilli, who fed Vitale the puck for the goal. Louis Liotti also collected an assist on the play.
Northeastern wasn’t done as Andrew Linard rifled a shot from the point to collect his first goal of the season. The play got started when Ray Ortiz passed to Chris Donovan, who made a no-look, between-the-legs pass to Linard. He skated across the blueline and slapped it home.
A little over a minute later, the Huskies struck again as Ryan Ginand netted his first of the year on another 2-on-1 with Rob Rassey. Rassey fed the puck to Ginand, who just had to tap it in. It was the first point of the season for both players.
After the third goal, Union pulled netminder Justin Mrazek, who made only two saves on the night. Freshmen Rich Sillery entered the match in his collegiate debut.
Union found some fire coming into the second and played solid hockey for most of the second. However, not to be outdone the Huskies’ defense was spot-on.
Adam Geragosian made his first start of the season in net and did not disappoint, making save after save as the defense cleared out the middle and let him see every puck all the way in. Rebounds were practically nonexistent and Geragosian smothered most shots — and those what weren’t were quickly cleared by the defense.
At the end of the second things got confusing. As the horn sounded an altercation between Scott Brady of Union and Dennis McCauley of Northeastern saw both ejected. Brady got a major for spearing and a game misconduct and McCauley got both a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.
Northeastern had a five-minute power play to start the third and quickly was given an additional two minutes of 5-on-3 play, but the Dutchmen defense played well.
At 14:42 Bryan Esner netted his first of the year after streaking down the left side and firing off a rocket to beat Sillery top-shelf on the glove side. Ray Ortiz collected his second assist on the play.
Freshman Chris Donovan had been all over the ice all night and had previously hit a post, but at 15:35 he found paydirt with his first collegiate goal off his own rebound. Denis Chisholm and Ray Ortiz also collected assists on the play.
“Donovan [generated points] and was very visible all night,” Cronin added.
The penalties continued as both teams found themselves shorthanded at many points.
“It was an awful, goofy game, I mean the penalties after penalties … it was just a sloppy game, it was just good to get the win,” Cronin stated.
On the night, Geragosian made 32 saves for the shut out, Mrazek made two saves for Union with Sillery collecting the other 22.
Northeastern was 1-for-10 on the power play and Union was 0-for-12. Next up for Union is the Capital District Classic in Albany, N.Y., where the Dutchmen take on RPI on the first round. Northeastern has a pair with Michigan in Ann Arbor starting Friday.