BOSTON — The Northeastern University Huskies defeated the Providence Friars, 4-1, in front of a home crowd of 3,414 at Matthews Arena. Captain Tyler McNeely, Kyle Kraemer, and Wade MacLeod each led their team with a goal and an assist apiece.
“For the first time all year I think we played with discipline and smarts for 60 minutes,” said northeastern coach Greg Cronin. “We had yet to develop an offensive identity like that, and I think the power play is a catalyst for a team’s identity offensively and it builds confidence. We just have to keep building on it. I thought we did a very good job tonight not giving up any odd-man rushes.”
Despite a very physical first period, each team was only awarded with one power play, and neither capitalized on the advantage. Drew Muench took a seat for two minutes early on in the period for hooking, while Alex Velischek served a two-minute minor for tripping.
Both Chris Rawlings and Justin Gates snagged 12 saves each, although Providence maintained possession of the puck for the majority of the period. Just as the buzzer sounded at the end of the first, Eric Baier was called for a two-minute minor penalty for holding that would later come back to haunt him.
Starting the second period off with an extra man, the Huskies saw their chance to get their offense going on the carry-over power play. A little over a minute into the second period, McNeely tapped his fourth goal of the season in the net after Kraemer sent a rocket from the right circle.
“I’m trying to focus on shooting the puck more and shooting the puck on net,” said Kraemer. “I shot it to score and Tyler made a great tip-in. I shot that puck pretty hard and for Tyler to tip that is great hand-eye coordination.”
Just 40 seconds later, with the Friars at full strength, MacLeod made it a 2-0 game, putting his third goal of the season past Gates with a little help from teammates Drew Muench and Chris Donovan. Donovan back-checked Ben Farrer, freeing up the necessary space for Muench and MacLeod to execute the two-on-one goal.
The Friars were given an opportunity to cut their deficit to one when McNeely was sent to the penalty box for two minutes on a roughing penalty with contact to the head, but they were unable to answer. McNeely’s penalty was the only one of the period.
Still running off their momentum from the second period, Kraemer earned his second point of the night as the Huskies went up 3-0 four minutes into play. McNeely tallied his second point of the evening on an assist.
Rawlings was six minutes away from his second shutout of the season when the Friars’ offense finally got going on a power play. Matt Lipinski gave the Friars the one-man advantage after being called for roughing, and shortly before his penalty expired, Tim Schaller slipped one past Rawlings with help from Daniel New and Matt Germain, putting the Friars on the board 3-1.
“We didn’t generate a lot, but we hung in there,” said Providence coach Tim Army. “There were some good things, but penalties cost us and you can’t come on the road and take penalties like that. Naturally when you fall behind like that, the team that scores is going to have more life, but I thought we did a good job of finding our way again.”
Unwilling to give up their lead, the Huskies took away any momentum gained by the Friars by grabbing their second power-play goal of the evening. After New left the ice for a boarding penalty, Alex Tuckerman gave the Huskies their fourth goal of the night. .
Despite giving up four goals, Gates’ performance left Army satisfied. With 30 saves, Gates showed excellent composure under pressure, including a shutout on a lengthy five-on-three power play in the middle of the third period.
“He gave us a chance to hang in there,” said Army. “He was great on the five-on-three, he played at the top of the crease, he played great at Bowling Green and he played great tonight. I’m very happy.”
Looking to earn the first conference sweep in Hockey East, the Huskies will try and keep their momentum going in Providence for a 7 p.m. game.