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Huskies top UNH at Matthews for elusive first victory

Northeastern found its first win of the season ten games in, scoring twice in the third period for a 2-1 victory over New Hampshire on Saturday night at Matthews Arena.

Matt Dewkett

BOSTON -- The monkey is off Northeastern's back.

It took nine games but the Huskies found their first win of the season on Saturday night. Neither offense found the back of the net in the first two periods, but cracked the board twice in the third en route to a 2-1 win over New Hampshire at Matthews Arena.

"I thought it was a real good hockey game," NU head coach Jim Madigan said. "I was happy with the way we played in the third. I liked the way we came back and responded. ... It's our first win of the year and it's a long time coming. It's something that we'll build on."

The win snapped a nine-game Husky winless streak, the team's longest since 2010, and was NU's first against UNH in the regular season since Oct. 14, 2011.

"It feels about as good as any win can feel at this point in the season," Huskies senior captain Adam Reid said. "You don't want to put too much emphasis on one win in a 30 plus-game season, but with our record and the way things have been going, getting over the hump with that first win is huge."

The Huskies played a strong first period after falling behind by three goals in that time in Friday's series opener, outshooting UNH by a 11-8 margin.

Just about eight minutes in, freshman Nolan Stevens made a great play to drive to the front of the net but UNH rookie goaltender Adam Clark recovered for a post-to-post save to keep the game scoreless.

UNH dominated the middle period with a 18-5 shots on goal advantage, thanks in large part to an extended 5-on-3 power play about six and a half minutes in.

"I thought we played a pretty good road game," UNH head coach Dick Umile said. "We really battled back in the second period, then got the lead and gave it away. ... It was frustrating. I told the team, 'if we're going to be a team here in this league, you have to win those games.'"

Longmeadow, Mass. native sophomore Tyler Kelleher was sprung in for a breakaway just past the halfway mark, but NU senior Clay Witt was on the spot to make one of his 18 saves in the period.

Both sides found their offenses for the third period with the Wildcats cracking the scoreboard first at 2:02. Off a defensive zone faceoff win, junior Kyle Smith finished off a 2-on-1 rush by moving to his backhand and tucking his first goal of the season past Witt to break the ice.

As the Huskies did after falling down 3-0 at Whittemore Center, they had an answer but this time took a lead for the first time since their 3-3 tie last Friday at UMass Lowell.

NU's starting line - freshman Nolan Stevens, his sophomore brother John and sophomore Ryan Rosenthal - factored into both goals at the 3:22 and 8:21 marks.

Rosenthal collected the rebound from John Stevens' initial shot on the first marker before the elder Stevens found his brother off a beautiful centering pass for his first collegiate point on the game-winner.

"I thought that line played well all weekend," Madigan said. "Obviously, they had two goals but they created offense yesterday and had some chances today. I'm happy for Nolan; I'm happy for all the young guys when they score their first collegiate goal ... because it's something they'll remember forever."

UNH had its opportunities with an extra skater in the final two minutes of the contest, but couldn't get the equalizer and fell to 4-6-0 on the season.

"I thought we were smart in the last six minutes when we were protecting the lead," Madigan said. "We just played disciplined, chipped pucks out, got pucks in deep and didn't really get much until they pulled the goalie."

Witt made 35 saves in total in just his second game since returning to the lineup after injury, while Clark made 15 of his 31 in the final stanza in defeat for UNH.

Both teams remain in league play next weekend with the Huskies at Merrimack to begin a home-and-home Friday night and UNH entertaining Providence twice.