BOSTON — Sometimes the best goals come in the strangest ways.
For Randy Guzior, the game-winner at 13:26 of the third period wasn’t how he diagramed it, but it was no less sweet. After racing up the left wing and taking his defenseman wide, the sophomore cut to the net and tried to get off a backhander. The resulting caroms had almost everyone wondering how it went in.
“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Guzior said. “I was told it hit the defenseman’s stick, then the goalie’s stick, his shoulder and then it went in. It was just one of those goals.”
Arguably, the turning point came earlier, midway through the second period when Vermont went on a 1:57 five-on-three with a 1-0 lead already in hand. The Catamounts immediately tested goaltender Brad Thiessen with two strong chances, but the sophomore made the big stops and the penalty-killers then stymied the two-man advantage.
“We were running around a little bit, but we had some huge clears and a couple of blocked shots,” NU coach Greg Cronin said. “When you have a full five-on-three for almost two minutes and don’t score, it’s a bad omen. It’s the same as having a five-minute major and you don’t score.”
Vermont’s bad omen took little time to manifest itself. Within a minute of the penalties’ end, the Catamounts found themselves a man down and Chad Costello capitalized with a shot from the left point.
A little more than six minutes later, Tyler McNeely took a pass from Joe Vitale, cut left-to-right near the goalmouth and threaded a shot in for a 2-1 lead.
“The turning point in the game was our inefficiency on the five-on-three,” Catamounts’ coach Kevin Sneddon said. “Northeastern did a great job killing it. We spent a lot of time over our 11-day break working on our power play, but we just didn’t execute the five-on-three well at all.
“When they came back with their power-play goal, it took the wind out of our sails.”
Even so, a Brayden Irwin goal in the opening minute of the third put the game back up for grabs until Guzior struck. Vitale added an empty-netter with 11 seconds remaining.
The loss keeps Vermont winless at 0-4-1.
“That second goal really sparked us,” Sneddon said. “We were back in the game. It was just an unfortunate, flukey goal [that beat us]. We’re not getting the bounces right now.”
Northeastern (3-4-0, 3-3-0 HEA) got its goals from four different players.
“We’ve been lucky that we’ve been scoring goals by committee,” Cronin said. “It always bodes well because if your big guns, so to speak, can pick up their scoring it makes you a little more dangerous.”
In the early going, Vermont had to kill off two quick penalties but then got on the scoreboard at 10:47. Defenseman Dan Lawson did the heavy lifting, passing from the right boards to an all-alone Jack Downing on the far side post where he put it in. It was the first collegiate point for both freshmen.
That ended the scoring in the first period, a frustrating outcome for Northeastern since they outshot the visiting Catamounts, 13-8, and out-attempted them by an even wider margin, 23-13. Vermont lived up to its defensive reputation, however, blocking eight shots.
The two teams return to action on Saturday. Northeastern hosts crosstown rival Boston University while Vermont travels to Merrimack.