BOSTON — After seeing their 11-game unbeaten streak end Friday night, the No. 7 Northeastern Huskies came out with extra motivation and shutout the Merrimack Warriors 3-0 Saturday.
“This is the time of the year when you are playing back-to-back games, often against the same team,” said Huskies’ coach Greg Cronin. “It’s a unique dynamic there; its like a fight. If you get punched in the nose, you gotta come back and swing the next night. I thought we had better intensity tonight, and I thought we were much better away from the puck.”
Northeastern took the lead at 6:13 of the first period when David Strathman tapped in a beautiful cross-ice feed from Chad Costello. Strathman just tapped the puck with his backhand over the shoulder of Merrimack netminder Andrew Braithwaite.
“I was coming off a change and I saw Chad [Costello] coming down the far side and the defense didn’t see me coming backdoor, and he just made a great pass and I tried to put it on net and luckily it went in,” Strathman said after the game. “He made a great pass. I’ll give him all the credit, he saw me coming down the wing and that’s it.”
Northeastern added another tally in the first when Tyler McNeely scored a power-play goal, deflecting in a Steve Silva blast from the point. The assist gave Silva, a freshmen, ten points on the season.
“[The power-play] has been one of our main focuses coming into tonight,” McNeely said. “Joe [Vitale] made a great play up to Steve [Silva]. Steve walked in and took a shot and I was in front of the net and it just tipped of me and went in. You get those lucky goals; it happens sometimes.”
Coming into the game, the Northeastern power play had been struggling, scoring only nine goals on their 89 chances. This time on the power-play, Cronin had five forwards on the ice, Silva and Russo on the point with Northeastern’s top offensive line of McNeely, Vitale, and Wade MacLoud.
“We’ve been struggling on the power play all year and coach has been trying to find some combinations and today he put five forwards on the power-play and me and [Jimmy] Russo on top and I think we were working it pretty good, finding lanes,” Silva said. “I think as a whole our unit was just clicking. Generally, forwards have a lot of creativity and I think we all we move and get open and find each other. I actually like it.”
Northeastern kept the hammer down in the second period, adding their second power-play goal of the game when Vitale scored his seventh of the season, a deflection that hand-cuffed Braithwaite as the puck trickled through the five-hole.
Neither team scored during the third period, though Northeastern seemed content to kill the clock a majority of the time
Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen pitched his first shutout of the season in tonight’s game.
“It’s always nice to get a shutout,” Thiessen said. “We played really well and were able to keep them to the outside and whenever there was a rebound they were able to clear the puck away.”
Next up for Northeastern is a pair at the University of Vermont; Merrimack hosts Boston University on Friday night.