MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The advent of the shootout was, in theory, not only intended to ensure a concrete result, but to do so in a manner which electrifies the crowd.
Only one of those objectives was met in Northeastern’s 4-3 win over Princeton to open the Mariucci Classic.
After seven scoreless and nearly uneventful rounds, Northeastern junior forward Justin Daniels mercifully ended the shootout with a wrist shot past Tigers’ goalie Mike Condon in round eight. NU’s Braden Pimm scored twice in regulation and Huskies’ goaltender Chris Rawlings made 23 saves as Northeastern extended its unbeaten streak.
“This is seven [games unbeaten] in a row (6-0-1) for us and the first six games were remarkably different than what we played tonight,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “We showed frustration, we didn’t move pucks and our transition game wasn’t there at all through the neutral zone area.”
Although officially a tie, the shootout win advances Northeastern (7-7-3, 4-7-2 HE) to Saturday’s 6 p.m. championship game, setting up a rematch with Minnesota to whom the Huskies lost in the title game of the 2008-09 tournament. Ironically, that was the last time the Gophers won their own holiday tournament.
Nine Princeton players registered a point in the game and Condon finished with 38 saves. Princeton moves on to face Niagara in the consolation game at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The teams traded goals throughout regulation including a three-goal barrage in a 1:40 span halfway through the third period which left the game knotted 3-3. The Huskies led three times but the Tigers (4-9-3, 3-7-1 ECAC) answered on each occasion with power-play goals, twice in rapid fashion.
“We knew that Princeton works hard, they skate hard, they come at you,” said Madigan. “I didn’t think we matched their intensity at periods of time and I thought it was an ugly win from our perspective.
“We just didn’t execute, we executed poorly, we had way too many penalties, we were undisciplined in our play and every time we got a lead we’d throw it right back to them.”
Northeastern broke a scoreless tie at 19:15 of the first period on Pimm’s shorthanded tally, but the Tigers struck back with just four seconds left in the period on Jack Berger’s power-play goal.
The Huskies allowed Princeton just three shots over the next period and a half, but only managed to extend the lead by one on Vinny Saponari’s goal early in the third before the game briefly morphed from a light jog into a sprint.
Tyler Maugeri evened the score at 2-2 for Princeton at 10:40, but Pimm’s second of the game restored Northeastern’s one-goal lead if only for a moment. The Tigers responded just 1:03 later on Kevin Ross’ goal with NU’s Luke Eibler serving a holding the stick penalty.
Northeastern appeared to press for the winner in the waning moments of regulation and nearly paid dearly for it in the way of a pair of dangerous odd-man rushes upon which the Tigers failed to capitalize.
Madigan said his team must get better over the next 24 hours, but acknowledged that an ugly win is a win nonetheless.
“There was still some good things out there; this isn’t doom and gloom,” said Madigan. “It’s more a product of our mindset than our legs at this point.”