BOSTON — The battle between Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell would need more than 60 minutes to be decided but the score was settled only 1:01 into overtime.
Northeastern netted the game winner on a two-on-one where Ryan Ginand made a great pass to Jimmy Russo who had no problems banging the puck into the empty net. The win gave NU the weekend sweep over UML, the second weekend sweep for the Huskies this year with the other coming over Merrimack December 1 and 2.
This is the first time since the 1999-2000 season the Huskies have had two weekend sweeps in the same year.
“I thought we played very well after having a poor outing last night…I thought we played extremely well tonight in all faces of the game. We had some new guys in the line-up tonight, we played, we played, 12 freshmen tonight. That’s pretty darn good for these guys to come into this great environment and compete the way they competed. I thought we deserved a much better fate tonight.” UML coach Blaise MacDonald said after the game.
Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin had only high praise for the tenacious defense of the River Hawks.
“I told Blaise [MacDonald] after the game that they deserved a better fate, we played the brass, so to speak, with BC, BU, and Vermont twice, and I thought the game we played against Lowell tonight was the fastest paced game we played. They can really skate and their D are very quick to get involved in rushes and tonight they defended very well. They were very good in their D zone, we couldn’t get a lot of pucks through.”
Lowell grabbed the first lead of the night when at 12:58 the puck found its way past Northeastern goaltender Brad Thieseen. Kelly Sullivan took the shot on net that was trickling on the goal line.
As Thieseen and NU defender Denis Chisholm both went to knock it out of the way, their sticks collided and knocked the puck in. It was Sullivan’s, a junior, first goal of his collegiate carrier. Getting assists on the play were Jeremy Hall and Chris Auger.
Lowell kept the Huskies off the board for the first two periods only letting up a combined 13 shots in the two periods. Northeastern finally got a goal when Bryan Esner took a shot from the outside that got deflected by the Lowell defense past freshmen goaltender Nevin Hamilton who was making his first start of the year. The play was unassisted.
“It’s good to score the goal, but the best part is that were finding ways to win, and that’s the most important thing,” senior Bryan Esner said.
When MacDonald was asked about Nevin Hamilton he had this to say, “That’s his first full game he’s played in probably two years. I thought he was solid, square to the puck. Made it look pretty fundamental, did a great job.”
The two teams traded opportunities for the rest of the third but chance after chance was either shot wide or turned away by the net minder.
As the overtime session got underway, Lowell got the first opportunity. After the shot was wide, Joe Vitale grabbed the puck in his own zone, as he was skating it out he made a tape-to-tape pass to a streaking Ryan Ginand sending Ginand and line mate Jimmy Russo in on the two on one.
As Ginand moved towards the outside, the defender followed as did Hamilton, Ginand fired a cross-ice pass to Russo who banged it home.
“Ginand made such a good pass, I got lucky the puck was flat right on my stick and I just hit it right where I wanted to…It’s just a great feeling, not many overtime winning goals, it feels good.” Russo continued “this was a really big weekend for us because we put a lot of distance between us and Lowell and they were one of the guys on our heels.”
Northeastern moves to 8-11-4 on the season and 5-9-4 in Hockey East play and 4-1-2 over their last seven games. UMass Lowell moved to 3-17-5 and 2-12-2 in Hockey East. UML is winless in their last 17.
On the night UML went 0-2 on the power-play and NU went 0-3. Thieseen made 25 saves and Hamilton made 21 for Lowell.
Northeastern makes a trip to the Alfond Arena next weekend for a pair at Maine and Lowell is hosting UMass-Amherst Friday night in the state school showdown.