BOSTON — Paul Zanette led Niagara with two goals and an assist in its 4-1 choppy win over Northeastern Friday night at Matthews Arena in front of a crowd of just over 1,200.
The game marks the first time the two teams have ever faced off against each other.
“Zanette is having an amazing start and you always want your seniors to have their best years as seniors,” said Niagara head coach Dave Burkholder. “He’s a leader by example, and when our senior class is playing well and leading, everyone seems to be following.”
In a game full of penalties, Niagara went 2-8 on their power play while Northeastern went 1-14. There were 76 total penalty minutes including two five minute majors and game misconducts, tying the Huskies’ season high in their outing against Rensselaer last month.
Niagara’s strong penalty kill was a huge component in their win.
“I think it shows so much character when our guys are blocking shots, selling out, doing whatever it takes,” said Burkholder. “I’ve never been involved in a game like that. I feel badly for both teams for the way it was called. We are two really disciplined teams when you look at it but our penalty kill was amazing and certainly got us the win on the road.”
Neither team was able to score in the first period despite both being awarded 5-on-3 power plays. Niagara gave up four penalties while the Huskies surrendered two.
The Purple Eagles started a man short at the top of the second period while Giancarlo Iuorio served the rest of his tripping penalty from the first, but the Huskies were unable to make anything of their one-man advantage.
Shortly after Iuorio finished his penalty, his teammate Marc Zanette was sent off the ice for tripping also. While Zanette was in the box, Niagara also picked up a penalty for having too many men on the ice, awarding the Huskies with another 5-on-3 power play.
Despite being short-staffed, Niagara was the first to put points on the board nearly six minutes into the period. Shortly after his brother’s penalty expired, Paul Zanette fed the puck to Bryan Haczyk who was skating across the left circle towards the net. Haczyk caught the puck and put the shorthander past NU goalie Chris Rawlings for a 1-0 lead.
Niagara offered their third 5-on-3 advantage to the Huskies as Scott Arnold and Patrick Divjak took seats in the penalty box for high-sticking and holding, respectively. This was the first full two minute, two-man advantage for Northeastern, and the third that Niagara was able to kill.
Niagara’s second strike game with just over five minutes left in the second when Zanette tallied his seventh goal of the season at full strength. Zanette put a quick shot past Rawlings from right outside the crease. Dan Weiss and Divjak also earned helpers on the play.
The Huskies started the third period on a sour note as their captain Tyler McNeely left the game thanks to a 5-minute major penalty and game misconduct for contact to the head and elbowing.
During the penalty, Niagara tacked on two more goals making the score 4-0. The third goal came from Ryan Rashid’s stick as he caught a rebound and tipped it in past Rawlings.
The Purple Eagle’s fourth goal and Zanette’s second came a minute later on a shot from the right circle that found the back of Northeastern’s net.
The Huskies finally started chipping away at Niagara’s lead when Wade MacLeod scored a power play goal off a rebound from Brodie Reid.
Niagara picked up a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct of their own as C.J. Chartrain was sent off the ice for hitting from behind. Still, the Purple Eagles were able to maintain their three-goal lead.
The rest of the game was plagued by penalties. After the six-minute mark, the two teams collectively picked up 11 penalties in 14 minutes of play. Overall, there were 27 penalties in the game; Niagara had 16 while Northeastern had 11.
“The game devolved into special teams and it’s hard because you’ve got to change your identity,” said Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin. “We’ve got to be one of the best teams at 5-on-5 and then the other identity is your special teams. In an era when penalties are called left and right, if you don’t have a good special teams identity, you’re in trouble. And we’re in trouble.”
Still searching for their second win of the season, Northeastern travels to Maine next weekend for a pair of Hockey East games on Friday and Saturday. Niagara will host Bentley for two games on Friday and Saturday as well. All games are scheduled for 7 p.m.