BOSTON — When the Maine Black Bears took a 4-1 lead, things looked finished for the young Northeastern Huskies squad, but battled back, scoring two goals in the third, including one with only three minutes to play, to make things interesting. In the end, it was not enough, as Maine goalie Ben Bishop and his squad turned away a flurry of chances to end the game.
“There’s a good feeling in the locker room,” Maine coach Tim Whitehead said. “It’s been a good team effort so far. It’s obviously early, but we came on the road and got four hard fought points. We’re pleased with that.”
Maine opened the scoring a little over a minute into the second on a shot that was deflected in by the Northeastern defense. Chris Hahn took the puck to goalie Brad Thiessen’s left after the faceoff and threw it towards the net. After taking a few weird bounces, the puck found itself in the back of the net, much to the surprise of everyone involved. “[Northeastern] jumps so fast of their faceoffs, so Orsini was just going to push it to the corner and just flood the net and it ended up working out,” Hahn said after the game.
Maine added to their lead when Thiessen misplayed a shot. Thiessen made the initial save with the glove hand, but was unable to catch it after the puck bounced out to the slot, where Jeff Dimmen calmly put it away.
Maine added another tally when a weird rebound off a Vince Laise shot left Thiessen sprawled, Keenan Hopson came in and cleaned up the garbage putting the shot in unchallenged.
Northeastern finally got on the board when freshmen Tyler McNeely found the back of the net for his first collegiate goal. McNeely was just happy to get things going. “Feels good to get the monkey off my back after being snake-bitten for a couple of games. I think we were working hard, doing the right things, just couldn’t put the puck in the net.”
In the third, Maine came out and scored what was thought to nothing more than an insurance goal when Vince Laise put in a Wes Clark rebound to put the Black Bears up by three.
Laise had two assists and a goal in his first game back after being sent to the bench for a few. “It felt good out there. I was working hard at practice trying to get back to the basics. It’s always a motivational factor; when you’re sitting on the backburner for a few games, you have a little extra jump in your step.”
With the Huskies trailing by three and under 15 minutes to play, most figured the Huskies chances were over and some of the 3,157 began to file out. However, they missed a resilient Northeastern squad battle back.
Northeastern was on the power play with Robby Dee in the box for an earlier cross-checking penalty when Simon Danis-Pepin was called for holding; however, before Maine could get control of the puck and get a whistle, Northeastern added an extra attacker and got a goal from Randy Guzior.
The Huskies were not finished however, and captain Joe Vitale netted his first of the year. Fresh off the bench, Vitale took a Wade MacLeod pass from behind the net and beat Bishop. For MacLeod, it was his second assist of the game, and McNeely also got his second point of the evening.
The Huskies had several good chances late in the game, but the Maine defense made sure to clear the rebounds and cover the point men.
When asked about the big rebound that Thiessen gave up, Huskies coach Greg Cronin commented, “Even though [Thiessen] gave up crappy rebounds, we had guys in position on all three of their goals. If you watch the replay, we had players standing right around the players that scored the goal and we gave an undisciplined effort around the puck.”
For the evening, the Northeastern power play went 1-6 and Maine was 0-3. Bishop made 31 saves and Thiessen made 25. Next week Maine, plays arch-rivals Boston College, while Northeastern plays a home-and-home with the University of New Hampshire.