BOSTON -- Although New Hampshire was on the wrong end of the game-tying goal in Saturday’s Frozen Fenway nightcap against Northeastern, it was most certainly a positive weekend for head coach Dick Umile’s club.
The Huskies struck quickly at the outset and ultimately forced a 2-2 draw, but sophomore Ara Nazarian and junior Shane Eiserman scored the game’s middle two goals to make sure UNH would not leave Boston completely empty handed as it finished its first league series of 2017 with a win and a tie.
“Hey, if you get three out of four points in Hockey East, it’s a real good weekend,” Umile said. “Four points is a great weekend. Three out of four? Pretty good.”
This night was a battle as the Wildcats have a 35-29 advantage in shots on goal, but the teams attempted exactly 66 apiece.
Umile and Northeastern’s Jim Madigan agreed that the temperature and ice conditions were conducive to a quality hockey game, and it didn’t disappoint two nights after the Wildcats scored three third-period goals in a 5-3 home win.
“We had to get back to some basics and staples in our game, just simplifying it, and I thought we did to that,” Madigan said. “It was a 2-2 game, and I think there were some chances on both sides. I just liked our mentality and mindset.”
The Huskies came out fast in the opening minutes and took the game’s first lead on sophomore Adam Gaudette scored his 11th goal of the season at 6:56. On the power play, junior Dylan Sikura clanked a long shot off the post and deposited a rebound home after senior Zach Aston-Reese followed up the play.
After scoring, Gaudette proceeded to show off the only baseball-related celebration of Hockey East’s four outdoor games this year, swinging his stick through the air as if it were a bat.
“Obviously, it’s exciting and very special,” Gaudette said. “I mean, you don’t get this chance often. And, being a local guy it’s even more special. I thought it was a good game, we all fought hard and it’s definitely something to remember.”
After the Braintree native lifted NU, a Boxford native and Malden Catholic product evened the score at 10:49 as Nazarian slipped his second goal this season inside Northeastern goaltender Ryan Ruck’s glove-side post, following up freshman defenseman Anthony Wyse’s shot.
“I’m playing with two great players, two big guys (Eiserman and sophomore Marcus Vela) who create a lot of room out there and are both pretty skilled,” Nazarian said. “I think, as a line, we’re starting to come together and get pucks to the net.”
Once again, the teams traded goals in the second to finish off the scoring. To the net with screens and see what happens. Again,
At 9:18, another Massachusetts native struck for the Wildcats as Newburyport’s Eiserman banged home a puck that stayed loose through traffic in front of Ruck’s crease. Junior Cameron Marks shot one off from the point that was blocked, but the fellow third-year followed the play and slammed in his fourth of the season from the left crease.
UNH worked hard to vault itself ahead, but the middle frame was the lone in which it did not have the statistical advantage as the Huskies had it to the tune of a 12-9 shot count.
With 50.5 seconds left in the period, defenseman Jeremy Davies squared the score again as a marked Aston-Reese slid a pass up to the left point where the freshman sent a low shot through a sea of bodies and under UNH junior Danny Tirone’ pad.
“It was tough … but that’s the kind of game you had to play,” Umile said. “Get shots to the net with screens and see what happens. Again, I was pleased with the way they played.”
The ‘Cats had a 9-7 edge in shots in the third period, one that ended with an end-to-end sequence that saw NU just miss high at one end of the ice and Ruck save UNH senior Tyler Kelleher ― who was held without a point in back-to-back games for the first time this season ― at the other.
In overtime, UNH registered the only shot on goal. NU’s Ryan Shea had the puck at the top of the zone, but his attempt with 12 seconds remaining was nullified after a whistle due to the net coming off its moorings.
“You know, the call’s the call and it was the right call on the ice,” Madigan said. “I thought the officials did a great job tonight. They called it when they had to and then let us play at the end.”
Gaudette’s goal was the only on special teams in the game, although UNH generated 11 shots on its three power plays.