December 7, 2013

College Wraparound: Comeback for PC, bounce-back for BC

By Joshua Kummins

Sophomore Nick Saracino set up two of the Friars' three goals on Friday night.

BOSTON -- Things were looking good for the 19th-ranked Northeastern Huskies (9-5-2, 3-4-1 Hockey East) on Friday night, but the No. 4 visitors from Providence College (11-2-3, 6-2-1) had other plans, scoring three unanswered goals in the third period to take a point at Matthews Arena.

"It was a good game," Friar head coach Nate Leaman said following the contest, which was his team's final test before the exam break. "I thought it was our best effort in our last five or six games. I was really happy with how we played tonight."

The Huskies did not waste any time getting on the board as freshman Mike Szmatula let a quick wrister go, just seven seconds into the proceedings, that eluded stellar PC sophomore goalie Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine). Szmatula continues to lead a strong NU rookie class - one of the nation's top freshman units - with six goals and 12 assists. 

At 15:20, sophomore Kevin Roy returned to the scoring column for the first time in three games as he stopped at the perfect position and buried a wrister across the grain to Gillies' blocker side.

If there was any doubt the Huskies would have all the momentum going into the second break, senior Braden Pimm solidified that fact at the 15:35 mark of the second, streaking through three Friar defenders and beating Gillies upstairs for his second consecutive goal.

"It was tough," added Leaman. "I thought we played a great period in that first period and we're down 2-0. Even in the second, I thought we played a good period and we're down 3-0. Sometimes, the puck doesn't go in for you and it goes in for the other team. We kept at it."

The Friars staged a furious comeback in the third, scoring a pair of quick goals on the heels of a 5-on-3 advantage to move within one before squaring the count in the final four minutes.

Leading the charge in the three-goal outburst was the player who has done it all season long - junior Ross Mauermann. The Wisconsin native posted an assist on each goal and has now registered a point in 13 of the Friars' 16 contests.

At 3:16, rookie Anthony Florentino (West Roxbury, Mass.) scored a man-up marker off a terrific power-play cycle and pass from sophomore Union transfer Trevor Mingoia. Just over two minutes later at 5:47, third-year Shane Luke scored a dirty goal on the rebound to bring the guests within a 3-2 margin.

Second-year Friar Tom Parisi kept the puck in at the point at the 17:39 mark of the third and fired a slapper from the high slot through a sea of bodies and by Witt for his first goal this season. 

"You're down on the road in Hockey East, it can be tough to get back into it," Mauermann said. "That just speaks to the character of our team. We stuck with the game plan. We knew if we just kept getting pucks to the net, we were going to get our chances. ... Once we got one, it just opened the door for us to get more confidence."

Witt was tested early and often, rising to the challenge for a career-high 52 saves - a mark which ranks in a tie for third in program history. He is the first goaltender to make 50 or more stops aganst the Friars since UNH's Kevin Regan on Feb. 15, 2008. 

Boston College 6, New Hampshire 2

The No. 9 Eagles (9-4-2, 5-1-1 Hockey East) bounced back from last Friday's upset loss to Holy Cross with an excellent offensive effort in a victory against the longtime league rival Wildcats (9-8-1, 5-5-0) in the final home game of 2013 at Kelley Rink. Six different BC skaters found the back of the net, led by junior Johnny Gaudreau returning to his strong goal-scoring ways 1:07 into the opening stanza. He has now recorded ten goals and 19 points in his last two handfuls of games. Junior Brian Billett (Brunswick, Maine) registered a season-best 39 saves for the Maroon and Gold.

Merrimack 3, Boston University 2

The Warriors (4-9-1, 1-5-1 Hockey East) struck first, but played back for the eighth time in 14 games and emerged victorious in league play for the first time this season at Lawler Arena. Senior Mike Collins (Boston, Mass.) scored the winner at 10:20 of the third period to lift the Warriors from a 0-6-1 skid with their first win since Nov. 1. Sophomore defender Matt Grzelcyk (Charlestown, Mass.) squared the score with 16 seconds left in the opening period for BU, but Rasmus Tirronen stood tall in the Merrimack net and made 17 saves.

Bentley 4, Robert Morris 1

Junior Alex Grieve led the Falcons (6-7-1, 5-2-1 Atlantic Hockey) with a hat trick and senior Brett Gensler notched a playmaker to break the program's Division I career points record in a home victory over the guest Colonials (2-9-1, 2-4-1) at Ryan Skating Arena. Gensler surpassed Dain Prewitt's four-year old record of 126 with three assists, helping BU extend its unbeaten streak to five at 4-0-1.

Notre Dame 5, UMass 3

Thanks to a strong effort from its freshman class, including Brandon Wahlin's first-collegiate goal, the Minutemen (3-11-2, 1-7-2 Hockey East) could not fully contain the Fighting Irish (10-6-1, 3-3-1) offense in this weekend's series opener at Compton Family Ice Arena. Rookies provided five of UMass' nine points, while goalie Steve Mastalerz (North Andover, Mass.) made 27 saves in a losing cause.

Brown 2, Harvard 1

Two first-period goals propelled the Bears (4-6-1, 2-4-1 ECAC Hockey) to a close victory over their ancient foes from Cambridge at historic Meehan Auditorium in Providence. Sophomore Jimmy Vesey (North Reading, Mass.) scored the Crimson's (4-7-1, 2-6-1) lone goal at 1:19 of the final stanza, but it was not enough to overcome the strong Brown attack, which was highlighted by senior Dennis Robertson's power-play winner 17:28 into the game.

Quinnipiac 3, RPI 3 (OT)

The No. 5 Bobcats (13-2-3, 6-1-2 ECAC Hockey) faced an uncharacteristic two-goal deficit to the Engineers (7-5-2, 2-3-3) early on at Houston Field House, but battled back to split crucial league points in the opener of an upstate New York weekend. As he does so well for QU, junior Matthew Peca sprung up in the clutch, scoring the equalizer with 8:23 to play in regulation.

Dartmouth 4, Yale 1

In another match between old Ivy rivals, the Big Green (2-8-0, 2-6-0 ECAC Hockey) won their first game at New Haven's famed Ingalls Rink since Feb. 17, 2007, by a decisive score over the defending national champion and No. 8-ranked Bulldogs (6-3-2, 3-2-2). Rookie Troy Crema scored twice in the opening 20 for Dartmouth, which sophomore Cab Morris made 40 stops, including half of that total in the third period.

Air Force 2, Holy Cross 2 (OT)

Local sophomore Castan Sommer (Shrewsbury, Mass.) started things off strong for the Crusaders (4-9-1, 3-4-1 Atlantic Hockey) offensively, but settled for just one point in the opener of two with the Falcons (7-5-3, 4-2-2) at Hart Center.

Connecticut 3, Niagara 2

Sophomore Shawn Pauly scored at the tail end of the second period and set up the game-winner as the Huskies (5-5-2, 4-2-1 AHA) played rude hosts to the Purple Eagles (3-10-1, 3-3-1) at Freitas Ice Forum. Junior Trevor Gerling netted the winner at 5:38 of the third for UConn, which looks for the sweep in a 4 p.m. Saturday matinee.

Mercyhurst 7, Sacred Heart 1

Senior Chad Filteau scored the Pioneers' (4-11-0, 3-6-0 Atlantic Hockey) lone goal in a lopsided loss to the AHA-leading Lakers (8-7-1, 6-1-0) at the Mercyhurst Ice Center in Erie. SHU faced just a 1-0 deficit after the first period, but the hosts rattled off four goals in the middle stanza and cruised from there.

RIT 3, American International 2

The Yellow Jackets (3-9-0, 3-5-0 Atlantic Hockey) erased a two-goal deficit with strikes from stellar offensive players Alexander MacMillan and Jon Puskar in the second, but it was one too little to emerge with any points against the Tigers (5-7-2, 4-3-0) in Rochester, N.Y.

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins