College Hockey:
Providence and Northeastern battle to spirited tie for second straight game

— Northeastern’s best chance of securing a victory over Providence tonight came when Huskies’ blueliner Anthony Bitetto fired a one-timer low in the slot past Providence goaltender Alex Beaudry.

Bitetto’s shot, however, beat Beaudry just milliseconds after the buzzer sounded signaling the end of overtime.

“You always want to come away with a win,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan said. “But this weekend was a hard-fought weekend.”

Despite the unsatisfying end to the homestand, the Huskies’ second consecutive tie with the Friars was far more eventful than its first. The stalemate aside, the dueling goaltenders shined as Providence posted 49 shots on goal and Northeastern followed with 35.

“There was a lot more offense in tonight’s game,” Friars coach Nate Leaman said. “The 49 shots for us is probably our season high. I thought [Huskies' netminder Chris] Rawlings was very good [and] I thought Beaudry was very good. It was a good college hockey game.”

Northeastern drew first blood on the man advantage late in the first period when center Justin Daniels rifled a shot on net from the right point. Captain Mike McLaughlin knocked the pass down in front of the net, allowing Beaudry to make the initial save. The rebound landed on the stick of Alex Tuckerman, who lit the lamp with a wrist shot at 17:34.

Providence nearly solved Rawlings with 30 seconds to play in the opening stanza. Providence blueliner Steven Shamanski beat Rawlings blocker side, but rang the puck off the left post just inches on the wrong side.

The Friars responded early in the second period when winger Chris Rooney swooped down the right side, faked a slap shot, and fired a wrister at Rawlings from the goal line. Rawlings made the initial stop, but Shane Luke poked the rebound through Rawling’s pads at 2:36. The controversial goal underwent a brief review before the officials confirmed the tying tally.

Momentum swung decidedly in the Friars’ favor minutes later when Northeastern defender Ben Oskroba collided with Providence winger Matt Bergland at 4:39. Oskroba earned a five-minute major for contact to the head and a game misconduct. Oskroba’s rookie mistake paid further dividends when Friars blueliner Kevin Hart launched a slap shot at Rawlings from the right circle. Rawlings tried to sweep the puck away at the left post, but misjudged its location, allowing the rubber to find the twine at 6:47.

Northeastern battled back, knotting the score at two apiece at 15:01. Adam Reid outworked a Friars defender and beat Beaudry on a breakaway in front of the crease. Garrett Vermeersch and defenseman Drew Ellement were credited with helpers on Reid’s fifth goal of the season.

“I thought that Chris [Rawlings] settled down,” Madigan said. “I’m sure if you asked him, he wishes he had both goals back, but then he made some key saves for us after that second goal.”

The pace became fast and furious midway through the final frame.

Northeastern took a turn at the go-ahead when winger Joseph Manno skated the puck in from center ice at 9:35. Manno took the puck backhand to forehand low in the slot, but Beaudry made the save. Manno repeated the exact same play about three minutes later, only this time with a backhand shot on Beaudry that went wide at 13:10.

“Manno was all over the place tonight,” Tuckerman said. “He had, I think, three breakaways.”

Northeastern had several opportunities to finish off the Friars in overtime, including a fortuitous power play just 19 seconds in, but could not seal the deal.

“Specialty teams played a big part in the game,” Leaman said. “I think both penalty kills came up big. I thought our penalty kill came up pretty big, especially in overtime.”

With 30 seconds to play, Vermeersch was deep in the Providence zone with an open lane to the net and the puck just centimeters from his backhand. Vermeersch, however, was handcuffed and could not get off the shot.

“I like the way our kids battled,” Madigan said. “We had some chances around the net, but we couldn’t convert around the net. We’ve got to do a better job converting at the net.”

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