Northeastern hangs on to beat Maine 4-3 behind Roy's four assists

Matt Dewkett (mrd-photos.com)

Behind a big offensive night from Kevin Roy, and a timely goal from Braden Pimm, Northeastern secured a big Hockey East win over Maine.

BOSTON, Mass. --  Braden Pimm has excelled in his senior season, so much so that Northeastern made him an alternate captain midway through its campaign.

It's clutch nights like Saturday that reminds the Huskies how crucial Pimm has been all season.

Pimm scored a big go-ahead goal in the second period, and the Huskies scored a critical Hockey East win over Maine at Matthews Arena 4-3.

"I thought it was a great weekend of hockey," said Madigan. "With two evenly matched teams... there wasn't much difference in the six periods of play.

"I was thrilled with the way our guys battled and showed a lot of resolve from Friday night, into tonight."

Northeastern opened the scoring only 3:41 into the first on a great play from its top line. Mike Szmatula got the puck to Kevin Roy on the wall, and Roy worked it below the goal line.

After drawing two Maine defensemen to him, Roy threaded a no-look, backhand pass onto the tape of Zach Aston-Reese, and the freshman beat Martin Ouelete to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

Northeastern doubled its advantage only 3:03 later, when the same trio combined for a second tally. Roy again did well to hold up the puck, and got it to Aston-Reese. With Maine closing down the space, Aston-Reese threw it toward the net, where Szmatula deflected it past Ouelette for a 2-0 Northeastern lead.

"Szmatula has got a high, high energy, and a motor that continues to go," said Madigan.

Maine would push back though, and eventually find itself on the power play after a Torin Snyderman hook.

It looked like the Black Bears' man-advantage might be negated after a huge collision at center ice between Ben Hutton and Szmatula. The play had the Northeastern bench up in arms, but no call was made, and the Black Bears resumed the power play.

"I'll let the league review that," Madigan said. "Of any play in hockey, knee-on-knee infraction is the worst for me.

"I've had it done to me. I'd rather someone punch me in the head than go knee-on-knee. I thought it warranted a penalty, obviously."

Getting the puck back in Northeastern's zone, Hutton took a point-to-point pass from Jake Rutt. Hutton walked the puck below the dots, and fired a shot past a screened Clay Witt to pull Maine to within 2-1 heading into the intermission.

"[Rutt] made a great play there; he called the switch at the top," Hutton said. "He opened up space for me, and I was just fortunate to get a puck on net, and it went in."

Maine would come out flying in the second period, and quickly draw even on the scoreboard. Just over three minutes in, Devin Shore tallied on a delayed penalty, beating Clay Witt through his legs to knot the score at two apiece.

The teams would trade chances for the rest of the period, and Northeastern landed on a power play with six minutes remaining.

Enter Pimm.

With the puck in the corner, Roy emerged from a crowd, and shoveled a backhand feed to Pimm who was all alone in front of Ouelette. The senior chipped the puck past his blocker, and gave Northeastern a 3-2 lead.

Northeastern would get a key insurance goal midway through the third on another well-worked play from Roy. Saucerman sent him the puck below the goal line, and Roy curled out in front of the net. His initial shot was stopped, but Aston-Reese jammed home a rebound for his second of the night, and a 4-2 Northeastern lead.

"Going to the front of the net I feel like is pretty easy; you just park in front," Pimm said. "Players like Kevin Roy will find you there, and I was lucky enough that he found me with an unbelievable pass, and I just turned on it and shot it."

Maine would get a late goal from Ben Hutton-his second of the night-to pull within one, but the Black Bears never got any closer.

Roy had a huge night for Northeastern, recording four assists, tying the most in any single game of his career. He was creating chances all night, maneuvering around the Maine zone and doing well to maintain possession.

"I'm just trying to help the team," said Roy. "These past few games, I've had the opportunity to pass the puck more than shoot, so I'm just doing anything to try to help the team."

The win moves Northeastern to within a point of UMass Lowell for second in Hockey East, while Maine sits in fourth, a point behind Northeastern and two points behind the River Hawks.

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