BOSTON — The Northeastern University Huskies and University of Maine Black Bears skated to a gritty 3-3 tie Saturday night at Matthews Arena in front of a crowd of 2,182. With both teams each earning a point, Northeastern maintains its sixth-place spot in Hockey East, while Maine drops to fourth.
“It was exciting out there and the crowd was good tonight,” said NU forward Wade MacLeod. “It was a battle the whole night. At this point in the year, we need any point we can get to climb in the standings.”
Both teams looked very physical right out of the gate, as the game got off to a choppy start. The Black Bears started a man short in the second period, as Robby Dee served the last 1:40 of his cross-checking penalty from the first period.
Looking to get on the board, the Huskies wasted no time during their power play to go on top 1-0. Anthony Bitetto scored his second career goal when he snuck a quick shot behind Maine goalie Shawn Sirman. Tyler McNeely and MacLeod both earned assists.
Riding their momentum from their first goal, the Huskies made it a 2-0 game less than a minute later. Skating down the ice into their attack zone, Brodie Reid passed the puck to Rob Dongara, who went behind his back to find Mike McLaughlin. A quick-wristed shot from McLaughlin earned him his seventh goal of the season and gave Reid and Dongara their 10th and third helpers, respectively.
The Huskies gave up a risky five-on-three power play when Jamie Oleksiak and Drew Daniels were whistled for holding and hooking, respectively, within 36 seconds of each other. NU managed to kill Oleksiak’s penalty, but just as Daniels penalty was about to expire, they picked up another delayed penalty and Maine earned their first point of the evening.
From between the circles, Gustav Nyquist sent a hard shot towards Rawlings, and teammate Brian Flynn gave the puck the extra tap it needed to earn the goal. The assist is Nyquist’s 22nd of the season.
The goal ended a two-game shutout streak for Rawlings. Still, he was able to record 34 saves during the game.
“I thought he played great tonight,” said NU assistant coach Albie O’Connell. “I don’t think he made a mistake. The two power-play goals I don’t think he really had a shot at. He’s been terrific.”
NU’s Luke Eibler was sent to the penalty box for two minutes on a hooking call, and less than a minute later, Maine evened the score thanks to a shot from between the circles from Tanner House, his seventh goal of the season. Spencer Abbott earned his 13th season assist.
“They [NU] got those two quick goals at the start of the second period and I think that got our backs against the wall,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead. “We definitely played with a sense of urgency from that point on. I liked our compete level in the second and I liked it in the third period too. ”
With less than three minutes to play in the third, MacLeod evened the score at three for the Huskies when he picked up his 50th career goal in a Northeastern uniform after finding a hole behind Sirman right in front of the net. Silva and Bitetto were awarded assists on the play as well.
“He’s been pretty clutch and hopefully he can continue to score points,” said O’Connell. “That whole line works really well together.”
Maine was awarded a power play in overtime when Steve Quailer was sent off the ice for boarding, but they were unable to capitalize on their final advantage.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Whitehead. “We had our chances to finish it off in overtime, but they [NU] battled and blocked a lot of shots and made some great plays around their net to cover it and Rawlings made some great stops. We just got one point, but it’s certainly better than none.”
Maine will host Boston University for a pair of games next weekend while Northeastern will host the University of Massachusetts Friday evening and then head out to Amherst for a rematch on Saturday.