NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — The Northeastern University Huskies scored 0:30 into the game and controlled the tempo for the night, toppling the Merrimack College Warriors, 5-1, on Friday. Northeastern was three-for-eight on the power play, including a goal on its first man advantage of the game.
Great communication between linemates was a recurring theme for Northeastern. Tyler McNeely scored three points, Kyle Kraemer had a pair of assists and Justin Daniels got his sixth goal early.
Wade MacLeod also had three points for Northeastern. Chris Rawlings made 37 saves in his team’s victory, including a couple that wowed the fans. The Huskies’ goalie made more saves in each period than the previous one.
After the game, both coaches mentioned the importance of sticking to the game plan in Northeastern’s win.
“Since the Vermont loss, (on Jan. 16), we’ve played solid, especially on the forecheck,” Northeastern coach Greg Cronin said. “We made some personnel adjustments on the power play; there was more talent on the ice that way.”
“[Northeastern] did exactly what we thought they were going to do, and we couldn’t stop them,” Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy said. “We didn’t kill penalties well.”
Daniels got the Huskies on the board half a minute in when Kraemer led the team’s first rush. He dished the puck to McNeely, whose crisp pass found the wide open Daniels for the 1-0 lead.
MacLeod struck six minutes into the first. An interference call gave Northeastern its first power play. McNeely laced another great pass onto Andrew Braithwaite’s doorstep. MacLeod picked the puck up and doubled the team’s lead to 2-0.
McNeely scored his third point of the night in the first, when MacLeod’s shot bounced off of Braithwaite’s leg pad. McNeely was there to bury the rebound without a chance for the defense to answer. The teams skated into intermission with a 3-0 score and all the momentum on the Huskies’ side.
Chris Barton netted the Warriors only goal to open the middle period’s scoring. The Warriors had the man advantage thanks to a J.P. Maley double minor. Merrimack cycled the puck through the zone in the first half of the power play.
What looked like an errant lead pass ricocheted off the boards behind the net right over to Barton. After gathering the puck, his slapper beat Chris Rawlings to cut the NU lead to two. Merrimack finished the game one-for-five on the power play.
Drew Daniels scored the last special teams’ goal for either team. Toward the end of the second period, Daniels found some space in the left faceoff circle. His shot zoomed past Braithwaite for Northeastern’s fourth goal.
Robbie Vrolyk added an insurance goal in the third period on a tough angle shot along the right side boards. His attempt seemed to catch Braithwaite by surprise, and was symbolic of the flow of the game for Merrimack.
The win gave Northeastern a 2-1 season series victory over Merrimack. The Warriors are now five points behind the Huskies (and the Vermont Catamounts, whom they play twice next weekend) in the Hockey East standings.
Merrimack has two extra games to play in the conference than Northeastern, but has a challenging slate remaining, including games against four of the top five teams.
Northeastern’s next contest is at the TD Garden on Monday, when the Huskies face the Harvard Crimson in the Beanpot Consolation Game.
Merrimack continues its weekend homestand on Saturday against Massachusetts-Lowell at 7 p.m.