BOSTON — Massachusetts regained their momentum after Saturday night’s 7-2 loss to New Hampshire, as they sailed past Northeastern with a 4-1 victory at Matthews Arena in front of a crowd of 2,160 Sunday night. The Huskies went 0-2 against the Massachusetts sister schools over the weekend.
“I thought to a man we were mentally prepared and played with a purpose all night long,” said Massachusetts coach Don “Toot” Cahoon. “It was a complete reversal from last night for sure.”
The Minutemen didn’t waste a minute of their first power play, putting points on the board in the first five minutes of play. A few seconds after Alex Tuckerman was sent off the ice for hooking, Casey Wellman sent a fast one past Huskies’ netminder Bryan Mountain, putting Massachusetts up 1-0. Hobey Baker hopeful James Marcou and Justin Braun also earned assists on the extra-man play.
Massachusetts controlled the puck for most of the period, outshooting Northeastern 11-3. Their offensive domination paid off one more time in the period, but not without a fight from the Huskies.
With two minutes left in the first, Will Ortiz executed a crisp pass mid-spin to Matt Irwin, who fed it to Rocco Carzo waiting in front of the Huskies’ net. Carzo appeared to have scored, but speculation from the opposing side stating the puck went off Carzo’s skate intentionally sent the referees to review the play. After reviewing the replay, the ruling on the ice remained the same, and the Minutemen took a 2-0 lead.
Mountain stood tall in goal for the majority of the second period, not letting any goal by while Massachusetts nearly doubled the shots on goal.
However, Mountain’s confidence quickly crumbled after a five-minute major penalty called on Steve Silva for hitting from behind. Silva received the game misconduct with a little over four minutes to go in the period after ramming Marcou from behind into the boards. Marcou, unscathed by Silva’s slam, sought revenge on the power play, as he sent a backhanded shot from Ortiz and Braun right in front of the net past Mountain.
“It was nice to score the goal after that [hit],” said Marcou. “It’s part of the game. He got me from behind. It’s not the first time it’s happened and it’s not going to be the last time either. You just have to battle through that stuff.”
Not quite finished reaping the benefits of their lengthy one-man advantage, the Minutemen extended their lead to 4-0 when Ortiz sent a blast from the top of the circles past Mountain. Braun picked up his third assist for the night while Irwin snagged his second as well.
“On the power play, I thought we moved the puck really well,” said Cahoon. “We didn’t over-handle the puck; we delivered it when we needed to. When they’re alert and making simple plays, it’s an especially good power play.”
Looking once again to make a late-game comeback from the first 40 minutes of the contest, the Huskies came out shooting in the third. Despite nearly doubling their shots on goal from the first two periods combined, NU was only able to capitalize on one of their attempts early on in the third.
Wade MacLeod passed to Tyler McNeely, who was set up at the far post and tapped it in past Paul Dainton. While the Minutemen raked in three two-minute minors over the course of the period, their ability to kill penalties and block shots kept the Huskies from closing the gap.
“Usually in sports, the team that wants to win more wins battles and they wanted to win the game more,” said NU coach Greg Cronin. “That was an impressive performance by them. They were very good defensively. They won a lot of battles on the boards, they cycled us. Their penalty kills must have blocked 10 shots on their hands and knees taking them to the chest. You have to give credit to UMass.”
Massachusetts next hosts Massachusetts-Lowell while Northeastern will try and get it together for their road trip to Vermont to take on the Catamounts. Both games are set for Friday, January 15th, at 7 p.m.