NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — The Northeastern Huskies are now the proud owners of a streak.
In a game filled with penalty minutes, Northeastern outlasted Merrimack 2-0, for its second straight victory over the Warriors and its second Hockey East victory, completing a four-point weekend for the Huskies.
“You know we had a big win at Michigan, beat Union, and had so many close games, it didn’t feel like we hadn’t had any wins,” Northeastern coach Greg Cronin said. “And then I looked at the standings and said ‘Holy smokes, that’s an ugly record.’”
The Huskies improved their overall record on the season to 4-8-2 and 2-7-2 in Hockey East on the strength of second-period goals by Chad Costello and Chris Donovan. The Warriors, on the other hand, dropped to 1-12-1 overall, and 1-8-1 in Hockey East play.
After Northeastern center Jimmy Russo rushed down the boards into the Merrimack zone, his rebound was kicked out to Costello, who gathered his own rebound and put it into an open net past a down-and-out Healey.
“The first goal the guy got his own rebound and crashed the net,” Warriors netminder Jim Healey said. “It was a good goal.”
Less than eight minutes later, Donovan added some insurance when he ripped a shot from the far side into the twine.
“Both of those goals tonight were pretty lucky goals,” Cronin said, “so it could have gone either way.”
Cronin’s Merrimack counterpart agreed.
“I thought we played as well as we’ve played all year,” Warriors head coach Mark Dennehy said. “I thought we stopped skating at the eight-minute mark of the second. I thought we put some pressure on them and their goalie responded pretty well.”
NU goaltender Brad Thiessen continued his strong play, despite being taken down late in the second period, which started a skirmish behind the Northeastern net. That led to a total of 46 penalty minutes in last 54 seconds of the second period.
The two teams, ranked first and second in penalty minutes per game in Hockey East, respectively, spent 99 minutes in the box, including two game misconducts for hitting from behind, and a disqualification for Merrimack’s Mike Alexiou, received after a five-minute major for fighting.
“[Last night's game] spilled over into tonight’s,” Thiessen said. “There were a couple of slashes at the end. We didn’t get caught up in a lot of the stuff.”
Thiessen’s shutout, his first of the season and Northeastern’s second, lengthened Merrimack’s goal drought. In 14 games this season, the Warriors have scored a total of 15 goals, and the team is looking anywhere for offense.
“If one of our goalies could do the ‘Brodeur’ and send one all the way down, we’d take that,” Dennehy said. “If we play like the way we played tonight, we’ll score goals. But we need to do that much more consistently than we have.”
Dennehy is hopeful that his young team, with 10 freshmen and seven sophomores, will soon come to fruition.
“You understand they’re going to do some good things for you, and some freshman things,” he said. “Hopefully, by the time Christmas rolls around, they’ve got their feet planted enough to make good decisions.”
The youthful Warriors get their next experience Tuesday night, as they entertain Massachusetts at home, while Northeastern will head back to Matthews Arena for a tilt with Maine.