BOSTON -- At the start, it was a hard-fought Saturday night at Matthews Arena.
Ninth-ranked Notre Dame used unanswered third-period goals from Cam Morrison, Jake Evans and Andrew Peeke to break a deadlock and walk out of its series opener at Northeastern with a 5-2 win.
“Their power play was pretty good, but I thought 5-on-5 we were playing pretty well,” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson, whose team allowed the hosts to go 2-for-3 on the power play. “As long as we continued to play 5-on-5, we were OK. We played 5-on-5 in the third, and that gave us a chance to score some goals.”
Notre Dame is now 5-3-1 and 2-1-1 in Hockey East play, while the 3-4-3 Huskies are still searching for their first league win at 0-3-1.
It was an up-and-down contest at the start, but the host Huskies finished the first period with a slight lead after junior Dylan Sikura finished a loose puck past Notre Dame’s Cal Petersen low on the right side at the 8:57 mark.
Sophomore Adam Gaudette sent a perfect pass to Sikura at the bottom of the right circle where he worked around his defender and tucked his fourth goal of the season just inside the post.
The Huskies gained a 12-9 shot advantage through 20 minutes, but the visitors struck for two of the three total goals scored in the second period to tie the game at 2-2 and finished the night with their second three-goal third period of the season.
After Petersen was forced to make 11 saves in the first period, he stopped 12 of just 13 he faced over the final two.
“I thought we did some good things there through the first two periods,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. “In the third period, their speed and quickness just took over. We were on our heels and very bad in our defensive zone, and they just took advantage. … I was disappointed with how we played that period, especially the last ten minutes.”
Jordan Gross initially leveled the score for the visitors just 2:23 into the second period as the junior defenseman placed a perfect shot over the glove of Northeastern’s Ryan Ruck from the center point.
Anders Bjork continued his hot start to the season with the primary assist on Gross’ fourth goal of the season. After adding two assists, the Bruins prospect leads the Irish with 18 points, a league-leading 11 of which are helpers.
Senior Zach Aston-Reese temporarily gave NU the lead at the 15:57 mark, finishing the rebound left in the slot off defenseman Eric Williams’ slapper from just outside the left circle.
NU’s two-goal effort on the power play was a “positive” especially in the absence of the injured John and Nolan Stevens, Madigan said.
“Two of the three power plays we had some good zone time in their end. … We’ve got enough players to win. There’s a little bit of a mash unit there, but we need more from everyone. The injuries aren’t coming around in the next week, so this is our team.”
Second-year winger Andrew Oglevie knotted the score less than two minutes before second intermission, tipping home junior assistant captain Evans’ attempt from the point for his fifth goal of the season, second on the team to Bjork.
From there, the Irish dominated, holding a 12-4 shot advantage in the third period.
After freshman Morrison’s third goal of the year beat Ruck 8:54 into the final frame, Evans got into the goal column himself at 13:48 as he made a great individual effort to turn into open space and shoot into an open side of the net.
The Notre Dame back line contributed on the scoresheet one final time just over a minute later as Peeke scored his first collegiate goal, a shot from the point that developed off Bjork’s assist from the goal line.
“It’s important that our defense is contributing offensively,” Jackson said. “In this game, you don’t win anymore without your defensemen being active, and Northeastern’s always a tough team to generate a lot of stuff in and around the net (against), so you kind of have to expand the zone and try to get pucks through because they do a good job blocking shots too.
“We were fortunate tonight that we got some through. That, with traffic, can help you score goals.”