AMHERST, Mass. — Things were looking up for the Northestern Huskies as with 1:16 left in the third and trailing one, UMass captain Mark Matheson went off the ice on a penalty. The Huskies quickly pulled goalie Brad Thieseen but the UMass defense held strong and did not allow the Huskies to convert.
“We were fortunate to get though this one, we weren’t as sharp as we’d like to be” said UMass head coach Don Cahoon.
A crowd of 6,350 at the Mullins Center saw the UMass Minutemen continue their winnings ways and solidifying themselves at the top of Hockey East with a two-one win of over Northeastern. The game was finished incredibly quick, under two hours, as breaks were few and far between. Even the most penalized team in Hockey East, Northeastern, found a way to stay out of the sin-bin for a majority of the game taking only six penalties, UMass took three.
“A lot of scoring chances were generated off the power play by both teams but most of the game was played between the bluelines. It was a sloppy, trappy game,” said Northeastern coach Greg Cronin.
The first period finished scoreless with both teams playing quite lethargic. Dump and chase seemed to be the name of the game as ice to ice rushes were common but rare were shots resulting from the rushes.
Northeastern opened the scoring, as captain Mike Morris netted a power play goal twenty seconds into the second period. It was Mike Morris’ 4th goal of the season with assists going to power-play point-men Steven Birnstill and Kyle Kraemer.
Northeastern held their lead for about six minutes before UMass made a rush of their own. Scott Crowder came streaking down the boards before feeding a perfect pass to Mark Matheson who scored his second of the year. Jon Quick also got an assist on the play.
The rest of the second period was back and forth as both teams had seemed to find their feet but goalies would be the difference. Jon Quick for UMass and Brad Thieseen both came up big for their respective teams and made save after save to keep their teams in the game.
The third period was a close on the entire way though. Almost exactly half way through the final frame Chris Davis lobbed a shot at net and Thieseen made the initial save, then the puck began to roll over his pads. In a scene reminiscent of a drama movie everything seemed to move in slow motion as the puck rolled to the goal line and Northeastern players diving to try and keep it out of the net to no avail. Chris Davis got the goal from Justin Braun and Mark Matheson.
In attempt to tie the game the Northeastern offense opened the arsenal. As shots were saved and pucks were cleared it seemed as NU might end the game without another good opportunity. Then Mark Matheson made the error of all errors taking a late penalty. Northeastern now had the edge, 1:13 left, one goal down, and a power play attempt to try and tie the game. Northeastern won the ensuing face off and immediately pull goalie
Brad Thieseen and then began to set up the power play. As time was ticking away NU took their time in setting up the play they wanted but one fanned shot and a missed pass later time had run out without the Huskies getting as much as a shot on net. As UMass sighed in relief the Huskies were visibly frustrated.
“UMass got the better scoring chances in the third period.” Northeastern coach Greg Cronin said.
On the night Jon Quick made 19 saves on 20 shots and Brad Thieseen made 28 saves on 30 shots. The NU power-play went 1-3 and the UMass power-play went 0-6.
Next up for UMass is UConn on November 18 at home, and Northeastern gets the rest of the weekend off before they travel down I-95 to take on Providence College in Providence.