BOSTON — Fourth ranked New Hampshire came to Matthews Arena at Northeastern University without a loss and left the same way, beating the Huskies, 7-4, in front of 2,462 fans.
After Northeastern tied the score at two in the second, the Wildcats exploded for three goals in the period to take a 5-2 lead they would not relinquish. Seven different players scored a goal for UNH while 12 different players collected points.
UNH got things going early on when Brad Flaishans scored the first goal less than three minutes into the game. Flaishans took a shot from the right point that took a deflection and ended up in the top right corner past Thiessen. Danny Dries got an assist.
Before the period was up UNH would strike again, this time with less than three minutes left when Kevin Kapstad took a feed from Phil DeSimone and shot it at the net. Brad Thiessen made the initial save but could not control the rebound which came to Paul Thompson. Thompson, who was pressured hard by Rob Rassey, fought him off put it in the back of the net.
Northeastern would not end the first down two however when Dennis McCauley shot a puck from near the blue line that somehow managed to trickle through the legs of Kevin Regan. Randy Guzior and Ryan Ginand got assists.
After intermission the Huskies came out determined and halfway through the second it paid off when Randy Guzior took a shot from the point that went in. This time Regan was screened hard and did not get a good look at it. Dennis McCauley and Greg Costa assisted on the tying goal.
Less than two minutes later Northeastern came in on a 2-on-1 shorthanded. Joe Vitale fed the puck to McNeely who drove it towards the net but Kevin Regan shot out his left pad and stopped the puck cold. Immediately after the save, UNH took the puck the other way, with Mike Radja converting a 3-on-1 rush for the power play goal. Matt Fornataro and James vanRiemsdyk both got assists in the go-ahead goal.
“I was fighting the puck out there for awhile, games like this you just got to bare down and try and win the hockey game, when the time comes, you gotta step up,” Kevin Regan said after the game.
Forty-two seconds later, UNH added their fourth goal of the game when Jerry Pollastrone put in a big Brad Thiessen rebound of the shot from Bobby Butler.
Pollastrone had the entire net to shoot at and made no mistake finding the back of it; both Peter LeBlanc and Butler added assists.
“I think that stretch in the second [was the momentum turner], seemed like everything we were shooting was going in, guys were just going to net, we were getting shots and rebounds, just little things like that, that’s what wins games in this league,” Mike Radja said after the game.
Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin believed [y]ou could feel the momentum shift in Northeastern favor and they pop that one in, and 40 seconds later they get another. That was a killer. I thought when we tied it in the second we were playing a Northeastern style of hockey, which is a real simple game. We have to play that way. The tragedy is with the 2-on-1 shorthanded you could go up 3-2 there, then eight seconds later it ends up in our net.”
Before the period was up UNH added another tally when Jamie Fritch scored blocker side to put the Wildcats up 5-2 on the 3-2. Bobby Butler and Jerry Pollastrone both got assists.
Freshmen Mike Binnington then entered the game at the goalie for Northeastern, his first appearance of the season.
“I just think Brad needed a break, he is his own worst critic, and he’s a terrific goalie,” Cronin said. It wasn’t Brad Thiessen’s fault we lost this game.
The dagger for Northeastern seemed to come 5:32 of the third when UNH added their sixth tally. Binnington made the initial save on a vanRiemsdyk shot but captain Matt Fornataro was there to poke in the rebound after Mike Radja had taken a stab at it.
For the next five minutes the Huskies attacked the UNH defense pressuring to add another goal but the defense was up for the challenge and knocked all shots away. One second before the horn sounded UNH added their seventh goal, and empty netter by freshmen James vanRiemsdyk, the seventh Wildcat to score. Matt Fornataro also got an assist.
“Its good stuff going on, the first two goals were by freshmen,” UNH head coach Dick Umile said. I like the balance on the team, everybody is contributing.”
For Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin his team still has work to do.
We have talent, and just like I tell the guys all the time, talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller blades, there’s a lot of movement but there is no definitive direction. And that’s what we are right now. It’s a talented team that’s just not playing with enough discipline. That’s just not stupid penalties, it means playing a system and playing it consistently and absorbing a game plan and being able to execute it over a period of a 60 minute hockey game.”
On the night, Kevin Regan made 33 saves, Brad Thiessen made 17, and Mike Binnington made 13. New Hampshire (4-0-0, 2-0-0) went 2-8 on the power-play while Northeastern (1-4-0, 1-3-0) went 1-6 on the man advantage.
In the third period, the Huskies Dennis McCauley was issued a disqualification for punching and will not be eligible for Saturdays game at UNH. Face off is set for 7 p.m.