No. 9 UMass rallies late to take down No. 13 Northeastern 4-3 in heavyweight battle

Two late goals by UMass combined with a strong special teams game gave the ninth-ranked Minutemen a 4-3 road win over No. 13 Northeastern (photo: Jim Pierce/NU Athletics)

In an absolute back-and-forth heavyweight battle of nationally-ranked teams on Friday, the club many consider one of the heaviest came out on top thanks to a late-game rally.

No. 9 Massachusetts won a tough, physical battle over No. 13 Northeastern, with two late goals, both resulting from the Minutemen getting physical position in from of the Huskies net, the difference maker in a 4-3 UMass win.

Josh Lopina and Oliver Chau each scored in the final 10 minutes of play for the Minutemen, canceling out a rally by Northeastern in which it climbed from its own deficit in the final period to grab a lead.

“It’s a real sign of the character of this team to battle back,” said UMass coach Greg Carvel, whose team has now won five straight after a loss on the road at Merrimack on December 5. “We found a way to beat a good team on the road.”

Carvel, in fact, points to that road loss at Merrimack as a game that helped his players realize what might have been missing from its character, allowing the Minutemen to work harder to establish an identity he feels is required to win.

“[Friday’s win] is a continuation of what I’ve seen building over the last couple of weeks,” said Carvel. “The game at Merrimack on the road was an eye opener. The week off after gave us a week to reset and gave us a chance to figure some things out.”

Friday’s game, while entertaining to watch, was heavily defined by penalties and special teams play. Each team had six power play opportunities with UMass scoring twice and stopping Northeastern in every one of its chances.

Late in regulation, with Northeastern trailing, 4-3, a penalty derailed any hope for a comeback – though not immediately.

After a scrum in the corner behind the UMass net and a subsequent whistle, Carvel and his staff challenged the play, asking referees Geno Binda and Terence Murphy to review the play. When they pair emerged from the video area, a major penalty was assessed for spearing, putting UMass on the power play for the remainder.

A major factor in Carvel calling for the coach’s challenge was the player who was speared.

“We saw it clearly,” said Carvel. “The kid who got speared is Anthony Del Gaizo. He’s not a kid who will roll around the ice. He didn’t go down but it was clear he was hurt. So we had our timeout left, so there was little risk [to challenge].”

Northeastern coach Jim Madigan, who was displeased with the officiating on multiple occasions, chose not to comment further.

“I won’t talk about the penalties here,” Madigan said. “If I do, I may go sideways, so I won’t say anything about the officials at all.

“We lost the special teams game, there. We had some good looks so we’ve got to bear down on our power play. And we’ve got to defend better on their power plays.”

Northeastern opened the scoring early on the first of two goals by Jordan Harris. But before the first period was over, UMass had responded twice on power play goals from Carson Gicewicz and Garrett Wait.

The game remained that way until the third when Ty Johnson scored his fifth in seven games for Northeastern to even the score and Harris struck for his second.

The difference maker, though, was the two goals, both coming from the goalmouth after surrendered rebounds. That pushed UMass over the top

“They’re a very good team and they go to the net really hard,” Madigan said of UMass. “We talked about it all week long that we’re going to have to defend hard at the net.

“We were on the wrong side of some of those scrums. We worked hard in practice and it didn’t result in the game tonight.”

Scoreboard  | Poll

No. 15 Providence 0, Vermont 0 (OT – Providence wins shootout, 2-1/SD)

In a New Year’s afternoon matinee when it seemed like goal were simply impossible to come by, Michael Callahan’s tally in a sudden-death shootout was the difference maker as 15th-ranked Providence and Vermont skated to a scoreless tie, and Providence took the extra league standings point with his shootout winner.

Providence held a 31-21 advantage in shots through regulation but both Vermont netminder Tyler Harmon and Friars goalie Jaxson Stauber whitewashed the competition.

After a scoreless 3-on-3 overtime where each team mustered two shots, it was the Catamounts the struck first in the shootout on Jordan Kaplan’s first-round tally. Facing defeat, Greg Printz evened the score in the third round. Then after Stauber’s stop of Bryce Misley in round five, Callahan roofed the winner for the extra point in the Hockey East standings.

No. 10 Clarkson 4, Colgate 1

Jack Jacome and Zach Tsekos each tallied a goal and two assists and No. 10 Clarkson earned a 4-1 road victory over Colgate.

Clarkson’s special team played a major role, scoring twice on the power play while killing all five Colgate man advantages.

Goaltender Ethan Haider earned his second win of the season making 36 saves.