BOSTON -- It has been an emotional rollercoaster of a season for Northeastern senior Kevin Roy.
It is safe to say that Saturday night marks the highest of highs.
Roy endured a slow start to the season and missed 12 straight games due to injury, but scored two goals ― including the game-winner 13:45 into overtime ― and added an assist to lift NU to a 4-3 victory over Maine to conclude its opening round series in the 2016 Hockey East Tournament.
"When you get into overtime, games can go either way," NU head coach Jim Madigan said. "We were on (in overtime). We were skating and around the net. ... We were on the short end of this last year, when I thought we were playing well and lost two overtime games (to Merrimack), but it's nice to win two."
The Huskies' captain forced a turnover in the middle of the slot, corralled the puck and flicked the winning wrister clean past Maine freshman netminder Rob McGovern, who made 26 saves on the evening and kept his team in the game all weekend long.
Roy has come on strong of late, as his second goal of the night marked his eighth in as many games and seventh in the last six. It was a fitting way for one of the top 15 scorers in Husky history to go out.
"It's pretty special," Roy said the ending to his Matthews Arena career. "I have a lot of memories here, so it's just good to end on that note and send us to the next round. That's what really matters here."
NU ― winners in eight consecutive games and unbeaten in 18 of its last 19 ― next heads for South Bend and a quarterfinal clash with No. 3 Notre Dame. The win that clinched NU's spot looked like it was going easy, but it turned into anything but.
NU chased the territorial play for the first several minutes of the opening period, but finished it in completely in command with a three-goal lead. Freshman defenseman Eric Williams got the scoring going at 14:51, taking a hard shot from the left point that clanked pipe and dribbled past McGovern.
Nolan Stevens doubled the Huskies' lead at 16:09 as he tipped home Garret Cockerill's point shot from a few steps inside the blue line. The junior camped out at McGovern's right crease where his 17th goal of the season came off a redirection.
Roy lifted the Huskies to a 3-0 lead in the same minute, at the 16:47 mark. Sam Kurker provided the lone assist, feeding Roy for the wraparound shot that started to the left and reversed directions for a shot past McGovern's blocker side.
The Huskies dominated the game on the scoreboard, but Maine had an 11-10 shots on goal advantage in the first period and chipped away at its deficit as NU did at points on Friday.
Natick, Mass., native junior Cam Brown scored Maine's first goal of the game for the second straight night, cashing in at the 11:44 mark of the second period. Senior Will Merchant took an initial shot on goal, but Brown followed up the play and tucked a rebound home for his eighth goal of the season and third in five games.
Maine tied the game with two goals in the first half of the third period, carrying momentum over from a middle frame in which it held a 16-5 shooting advantage.
"We played pretty well prior to them getting a flurry there and then we battled back," Maine head coach Red Gendron said. "I can't fault our hockey club in terms of effort and intensity for the entire weekend, not just tonight's game. ... We came in here and battled."
Sophomore Cedric Lacroix lit the lamp for the fifth time this season at 4:40, snapping a loose puck home past NU freshman stopper Ryan Ruck, who was counted on for 33 saves, 15 of which came in the middle frame.
The tying Black Bear goal came off the stick of an unlikely source ― freshman defenseman Keith Muehlbauer ― at the 8:29 marker, as he took a feed from freshman Brendan Robbins and fired a wrist shot by Ruck from the top of the right circle. Muehlbauer had not recorded a point in any of his previous 23 collegiate games.
In overtime, the Huskies responded to Maine's push, holding an 8-2 shots on goal advantage before the winning goal was scored.
"We forced their defensemen to make mistakes and that's what happened there," Roy said. "(Linemates Brendan Collier and Sam Kurker) just threw it up the middle, I was just waiting there and it just happened to hit me. ... I tried to move the puck a little bit and got a shot off, and it ended up going the right way, so we'll take it."
Roy also scored in the second game of last weekend's series with the Black Bears and tied Friday night's game at 2-2 in the third period.
Roy's line was in the middle of a change as the play developed, but the captain wasn't having any of it.
"This is how smart I am," Madigan laughed. "I'm yelling for (Kevin) to get to the bench for the change. Thank God you stayed out and didn't listen to me. ... When I'm calling him, he never hears me."