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Aston-Reese, Roy lead Northeastern to Friday rout over UConn, 9-0

Northeastern built up a 5-0 lead in the first period and never looked back, rolling to a 9-0 win over Connecticut in a critical Hockey East clash on Friday night at Matthews Arena. The teams entered the night in a seventh-place tie in the league standings.

Matt Dewkett

BOSTON -- It was going to be all Huskies all night no matter what on Friday at Matthews Arena, but Northeastern wanted to keep all the spotlight to itself.

The home-standing Hounds scored five times in the first period and took command for good, rolling to a 9-0 win in the team's first-ever Hockey East clash with Connecticut.

Junior Kevin Roy led the way with a four-goal effort, while sophomore Zach Aston-Reese completed his first career hat trick in a tick over 30 minutes. Twelve different Huskies recorded points in the game, their largest margin of victory since Oct. 11, 2002 when they also defeated UConn.

"Obviously, it was a good game for us," NU head coach Jim Madigan said. "We were able to get ahead early in the game ... and I thought our guys were really on it. They were real good forechecking, they were at the net."

Aston-Reese scored NU's first two goals of the night, deflecting shots from the point past UConn sophomore goaltender Rob Nichols at 2:48 and 10:38.

Aston-Reese's first goal came at even strength as he redirected junior Colton Saucerman's shot from the top of the left point, while sophomore John Stevens was the initial shooter on the man-up goal that gave NU a 2-0 lead.

"My practice habits have changed," Aston-Reese said. "I've been working on bearing down in front of the net. We've been doing that as a team and it's starting to translate."

Freshman defenseman Garret Cockerill scored his first goal in 20 games to make it a 3-0 contest two minutes later at the 12:38 mark, turning around in the right circle for a shot that beat Nichols across the grain.

NU scored its second power-play goal of the period at 17:01 as Roy to extend his team-leading count to 13. The Anaheim Ducks prospect collected the puck in stride and beat Nichols between his pads on a wrist shot from the wing.

"I think Northeastern won that game in the first period," UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said. "They came out and were clearly the better team, outplayed us. I thought we played better in the second period ... but they were clearly the better team for 60 minutes."

Sophomore Mike Szmatula scored his 11th goal of the season and 18th point in 19 games for Northeastern's sixth goal with 28 seconds remaining in the second, taking advantage of UConn's lackadaisical defense on a power play.

To make matters worse, Nichols vacated his net inadvertently on the play and Szmatula took advantage for an easy goal into a virtually open net.

Nichols went the duration and made 22 stops despite allowing nine goals in the UConn net. All told, the game tied UConn's worst shutout loss of the school's Division 1 era as it dropped a pair of 9-0 contests to Bemidji State and Niagara in 2001-02.

"We just pulled him last week in a very similar game, so I wanted him to fight through it and see if he could find his rhythm," Cavanaugh said of his sophomore stopper from Dallas, Texas, "and I thought he was better in the second and third periods."

Aston-Reese completed his trifecta at the 10:01 mark of the second, scoring on another deflection from the low slot with junior defenseman Colton Saucerman taking the initial shot towards goal.

Roy finished off his first four-goal night as a Husky with a goal with 18.9 seconds remaining in the second before two more goals to conclude the scoring in the third.

He opened the latter trio at 19:42 of the second, deflecting sophomore Dalen Hedges' shot from the side board while holding his ground between the circles. Hedges set him up once again 4:50 into the third before sophomore defenseman Matt Benning provided the assist to Roy's third goal at 12:16.

The loss was UConn's second blowout in three games as it suffered a 10-1 defeat at Providence last Saturday night. The Huskies have now lost six of the eight games in which they have allowed four or more goals this season. "You can have one performance like that and say it's an admiration, Cavanaugh said of his team's recent play," but when it's two of the last three that's something we'll have to take a look at."

It is a quick turnaround for both teams as the series concludes with a 3:35 p.m. contest on Saturday at XL Center. The game will be Northeastern's first-ever on the road against UConn.

"We ran away, and that's hockey at times," Madigan concluded. "That is no way indicative of what type of team UConn is because they're a good team. ... We know that tomorrow's game is going to be a lot more difficult."