AMHERST, Mass. — The UMass Minutemen (11-11-6, 6-10-5) came out on a mission in the second half of a home-and-home series between with the No. 15 Northeastern Huskies (14-11-3, 11-8-2). UMass never relented against the Huskies, who are still looking for their first win in Amherst since the 1999-00 season.
UMass got the first two goals from junior Alex Berry early in the first, a lead they would never lose as the Huskies played a sloppy game through out.
“Just happy to get through the evening and come out with two points, give us a chance to continue to move forward hopefully right the ship,” UMass coach Don “Toot” Cahoon said. “It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but it was a good start. We came out of the gates pretty good, we executed in a couple of situations and in the third period things got a little tough for us but at least we weathered the storm and made it though the night, and again [Paul] Dainton was very good tonight.”
Berry took a hard slap-shot from Brad Thiessen’s left right along the boards. The shot went screaming over the glove of Thiessen before finding the top far corner. The goal was reminiscent of the Marc Concannon goal from the previous night.
Berry struck again when UMass was on the power-play. UMass was moving the puck to all sides of the ice, keeping the NU penalty-killers in constant motion. While UMass was cycling, Berry fed the puck down low to Chris Davis, who hit James Marcou. As Berry streaked towards the net, Marcou sent the puck back to the slot, where Berry slid it past Thiessen.
“Things are going well for me, been in a bit of a slump lately scoring goals but I got a couple of opportunities tonight to finish and I did, a good night; hopefully it’s momentum to finish out the season strong.” Berry said.
UMass added the dagger when they scored their third goal, their second power-play goal of the night when Marcou made a brilliant move to get around one Northeastern defender, then fed P.J. Fenton, who was on the far side. Fenton fired it home.
During the second period, Huskies’ center Jimmy Russo skated off the ice with an injury. The Huskies were already without freshmen center Steve Silva.
“We have been in this thing for a few weeks with Silva out,” Northeastern coach Greg Cronin said. “We just rolled the three centers and try and clip some wings on them is what we did. This rink is a big rink so in the second period you got long changes so it can tire you out, but I thought we had pretty good energy through out the game. Despite Jimmy’s absence, cause he’s on the power-play too, so it kind of messes your power-play up, but despite his absence I thought we were able to sustain some offensive pressure; we just couldn’t score.”
In the third period, the Huskies turned up the pressure, but still struggled to get many quality offensive opportunities. Their best chance came on a penalty shot awarded to Tyler McNeely after he was hooked by Justin Braun. McNeely came in towards the right side and snapped a shot that sailed to the back boards, missing the net.
However, the Huskies maintained the pressure and it finally paid off for them when Kyle Kraemer shot one past Dainton. For Kraemer, it was his second goal in as many games.
A penalty shot is rare; two is even rarer. yet that is what the 4,921 at the Mullins Center were presented with when Cory Quirk was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped by Drew Muench late in the third. Qurik came in and tried to deke Thiessen, but was unable to slide the puck past the pad of the NU netminder.
“Given the fact that he called the one he did against us, I thought the plays were pretty similar,” Cahoon said. “If [Benedetto] didn’t call the first, I don’t think he would have called the second one.”
The Huskies have a home-and-home with crosstown rival Boston University starting Friday night at home; UMass travels north to Maine for a two game set.