LOWELL, Mass. — Northeastern received a top-notch performance from its first line, and rode the solid goaltending of freshman Brad Thiessen en route to a 6-2 victory over host UMass Lowell at the Tsongas Arena.
Freshman Kyle Kraemer and fellow first-year line mate Chad Costello each had two goals, with Costello adding two assists as well for the Huskies’ top line.
Senior captain Mike Morris, sidelined most of the year with injuries, came back to the ice strong, chipping in with four assists for the Huskies.
Northeastern improved to 7-11-4 overall, 4-9-4 in Hockey East. The Huskies are now 3-1-2 in their last six games.
The struggles for UMass Lowell continued, as the River Hawks lost their sixth straight game, and are now winless in their last 16 contests, falling to 3-16-5 (2-11-2 Hockey East).
One might have thought that Northeastern had been on the short end of the score at the end of the evening, based on comments at the end of the game from the Huskies’ coach.
“You’re going to think I’m nuts, but there is a certain rhythm to the game that we are trying to establish. We’ve had that rhythm against BU, BC and Vermont recently.
“But I really thought that they [Lowell] had the better of the play tonight. I was impressed with Lowell’s speed. They had us on our heels a good part of the night. This was not your typical 6-2 game,” said Northeastern coach Greg Cronin.
The Huskies wasted no time getting their offense started.
Just 29 seconds into the game, defenseman Louis Liotti found Costello planted at the right post of Lowell goaltender Vinny Monaco. Costello just needed to tap in the pass for his seventh goal of the season.
Northeastern also got a back-breaking goal with just 31 seconds left in the first period from another freshman, Randy Guzior, giving the Huskies a 3-1 lead at the end of one period.
“Its very difficult to in this league to give up an early goal, and then proceed to give up four goals on nine shots,” said UMass Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald.
“I’m impressed with their [Northeastern's] style, and how hard they work, but also their skill level, ” added MacDonald.
Indeed, MacDonald was so frustrated with his team’s play in the defensive zone and in goal that he lifted starter Monaco after Kraemer scored his first of the game at 9:57, with assists to Costello and Morris.
“You never know what might happen when you do that,” said MacDonald in reference to making the change in goalies to freshman Nevin Hamilton.
Lowell did have two bright spots in freshmen Kory Falite of nearby Billerica, MA and Frank Stegnar, who each tallied a goal on the night.
“I thought Ben Holmstrom’s line was outstanding. They were our best line tonight. They won most every shift. I also give [captains] Jason Tejchma and Jeremy Hall credit for inspiring the team to the end,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald inserted Monaco back into the game at the start of the second period. The teams traded goals to go into the locker room at 4-2, Northeastern, at the end of two periods.
Lowell had a chance late in the third period with back-to-back power plays, but the River Hawks registered zero shots on goal on the first one, and got only as close as a hit post by Tejchma on the second man advantage situation.
With Monaco pulled for an extra skater, Bryan Esner scored an empty net goal for the Huskies to make it 5-2. MacDonald put Monaco back in, but Costello scored his second of the night seconds later to close out the scoring.
“Chad [Costello] has been in the doghouse a little. He gets away with floating around sometimes. I joked with him earlier tonight that he was like a lost puppy dog without his mother without Morris in the lineup with him. Tonight he skated,” said Cronin of Costello’s work on the night.
The two teams square off again on Saturday at Matthews Arena in Boston. Game time is at 7 pm.