BOSTON -- For those liking close, low-scoring games, Matthews Arena was not the place to be on Friday night.
Minnesota held a one-goal lead after one period and a two-goal lead after two, but things changed in a heartbeat for Northeastern over the final 20 minutes.
“We were just not in sync,” head coach Jim Madigan said. “We weren’t generating much offense, and then in the third period we just said, ‘Hey, you know what? We haven’t played well, so let’s admit it and (play well for) 20 minutes here to go.”
Eventually led by a hat trick and four points from junior Dylan Sikura and sophomore linemate Adam Gaudette’s goal and two assists, the Huskies scored four times in the third period to snag a 6-4 win over the Golden Gophers.
NU, now 5-5-4 on the season, has never lost to Minnesota in five meetings all-time on home ice. The win is also the Huskies’ first this season when trailing after two periods.
“They stuck with it and they battled,” Madigan said. “For me, this was a real character win for our hockey club, and probably our biggest win this year. When you score four goals in the third period against a team like Minnesota, a ranked team well-coached and highly skilled, it says something about your hockey club that the resiliency and resolve were there.”
Sikura scored two of his three goals in the third period, capping off his first hat trick as a Husky. The Blackhawks prospect from Aurora, Ontario, now has five goals and four assists in his last four games.
Gaudette assisted on each of Sikura’s first two goals. Roles reversed on the equalizer as Sikura sent a feed across the grain to Gaudette at the far post at 3:22, while sophomore Lincoln Griffin set up Sikura’s game-winner exactly ten minutes later.
“I think we’ve found a good chemistry here this year,” Sikura said of his line with Gaudette and, recently, sophomore Patrick Schule. “(Adam’s) a threat. Every time he has the puck, he likes to shoot. I like to think of myself as more of a passer, so whenever I can find him for an open shot I try to do that.”
Defense and goaltending were apparently optional in the first period as the Huskies scored just 35 seconds into the game before Minnesota countered with three of the next four goals to take a 3-2 lead.
Garret Cockerill was the first Husky on the board, scoring Northeastern’s fastest goal to start a game in nearly three years. Off a feed from Schule, the junior defenseman slung a wrist shot from between the circles for his third goal of the season.
Minnesota responded with two goals in two minutes in the middle stages of the first. Senior Justin Kloos tipped in sophomore linemate Tyler Sheehy’s centering pass at 9:21, while senior Vinni Lettieri added his fifth of the season after Bruins prospect Ryan Lindgren’s shot from the point darted off the end wall and back to the net front.
The teams traded goals before the end of the frame as Sikura shot from a bad angle at the side of the left circle at 14:01, while Kloos tallied again on another puck that caromed off the wall behind Northeastern’s Ryan Ruck, on the power play, at 17:32.
“He’s had some tough outings, and I’m sure there’s a few tonight he’d like to have back,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said of Schierhorn, who made 21 saves but only ten after the first period. “We’ve got to get him to find that consistency to his game, especially on Friday night.”
Minnesota has now allowed 15 goals in its last three Friday games.
Kloos capped the second hat trick of his career and extended the Gophers’ lead to two at the 6:38 mark of the second, potting a rebound home at the end of a partial odd-man rush with Sheehy. It was his sixth goal of the season.
In the third, all the scoring went the Huskies’ way.
“I thought we had really seized control of the game after two,” Lucia said. “We were skating good, getting pressure on their D, and then they scored the faceoff goal.”
Just 1:40 into the third, Gaudette won a draw cleanly back to Sikura, who fired a wrister from atop the circle past Schierhorn.
The floodgates continued to open with Gaudette’s eighth goal of the season, off Sikura’s feed, at 3:22. Ten minutes later, Sikura’s hat trick goal came on a shot that beat Schierhorn under the glove after his strong effort to collect a loose puck.
“It feels good,” Sikura said of the hat trick, which comes after three previous two-goal efforts at NU. “Got that one out of the way.”
Senior Zach Aston-Reese added an empty-net goal with 31.8 seconds remaining, scoring unassisted after intercepting a clearing attempt.
With the loss, the Gophers failed to win consecutive games for the third time this season. “When we’re good, we’re good and when we’re bad, we’re bad,” Kloos said. “It’s that kind of deal right now.”