BOSTON — The puck just seemed to bounce the way of No. 3 Maine on Saturday night, as the Black Bears put up seven goals on a Northeastern team that could not seem to find its feet.
Josh Soares got a hat trick with two of the goals coming shorthanded, and goaltender Ben Bishop came two minutes from the shutout.
“We’re pleased; we put a lot of pressure on ourselves tonight to come out with a real strong effort … Tonight I thought we back to where we were against Providence, where we played real consistent from start to finish defensively, and tonight we were able to contribute on offense too,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said.
It took only a little over a minute to get the scoring started, when Maine’s Keith Johnson knocked a goal in with assists from Josh Soares and Keenan Hopson.
That would be the only five-on-five goal of the night for the Black Bears. Northeastern had a opportunity to tie the game, but open shots were missed and Maine was able to hold on to the lead.
Senior captain Michel Lveill got the second goal of the night, skating four-on-four, on an incredible shot from the left circle. Lveill put the shot right over the blocker side of Northeastern netminder Brad Thiessen as Teddy Purcell and Mike Hamilton collected assists.
Soares completed the scoring in the first, collecting his first of three on the night, a power-play goal. Soares also scored a shorthanded tally to start the second and another shorthanded marker in the third.
“[Josh] was not really happy with the way he was playing lately, but tonight is going to open things up for him; he is a terrific player, I’m glad things turned out the way they did for him tonight,” Lveill said.
Soares echoed similar sentiments. “I was able to put the in the net tonight, I want to contribute as much as I can to this team, that’s what I’m out here to do, and I’m glad I could do that tonight.”
The Maine penalty kill was in top form, rarely letting Northeastern set up any plays — and when they did, the Black Bears were quick to clear the puck.
Said Soares, “We are really focusing on transition, we feel we have a pretty good penalty kill, we have been working on it, and we are trying to learn that sometimes when we have the puck we don’t have to rush it, and just shoot it away.
“You can make a play, and you saw that tonight. We made some smart plays with the puck shorthanded, and we were able to get a few shorthanded goals, which is always nice.”
Northeastern’s only break came on a shorthanded two-on-one, when Rob Rassey fed the puck to Joe Vitale, who put it behind Bishop, snapping Bishop’s 160-minutes shutout streak snapped.
“Benny has been terrific for us … obviously when its 7-0 we wanted to keep the shutout for him … We’re definitely not happy about [giving up that last goal],” Lveill said.
Afterward, Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin was subdued.
“The bottom line is that they scored three short handed goals, a power play goal, and a four on four goal,” said Cronin. “This was a humbling loss … it was one of those games that you are just like ‘What the heck is going on here?’
“It’s one of those nights, I don’t know how to describe it, you just throw the tape away and move on.”
On the night Maine was 1-7 on the power-play and NU was 0-8. Bishop made 20 saves and Thiessen 27. There were a total of 24 penalties called.
Northeastern has an extended break as the Huskies are not back in action until after Christmas when they open the Toyota UConn Hockey Classic with a 4 p.m. matchup with Colgate. Next up for Maine is on December 16 versus Mercyhurst at 7 p.m.