October 13, 2013

Northeastern sends Alabama-Huntsville packing

By Joshua Kummins

Final: Northeastern 3, Alabama-Huntsville 2

Recap: For the second consecutive night, things got off to a roaring start for the Huskies as they found the scoreboard just 3:32 into the first period. Rookie Mike Szmatula fired a shot from the right circle and changed directions off the lower body of veteran winger Braden Pimm for his second goal of the season, beating a virtually helpless UAH netminder Carmine Guerriero.

After Guerriero made a point-blank stop on Pimm right in front at the start of a 5-on-3 for the Hounds, the lead doubled at 16:02 of the second. After a nice drop from sophomore Kevin Roy, senior Cody Ferriero (Essex, Mass.) lifted a lovely one-time in the top left corner of the net for his first goal of the season.

Huntsville cut the NU lead in half with a power-play goal of its own 4:57 into the third. Sophomore Chad Brears had time and space in the center of the right circle and found an open blocker side on Husky redshirt freshman Derick Roy to break the shutout bid in his first-collegiate start.

Roy, the brother of Kevin, made 27 saves to earn the victory in his first outing, despite losing the shutout. After posting eight stops in the first and second, Derick finished the job with 11 stops in the third.

Sophomore Colton Saucerman re-padded the NU lead at 13:08 with the first non-special teams goal of the evening on either side, scoring on a tough-angle shot with the goal line extended with a puck that eluded Guerriero between the wickets.

UAH made things look a bit closer in the final four seconds of the game when second-year Steven Koskey slapped one home from the right point on Roy’s blocker side.

Records: Northeastern 2-0-0 (0-0-0 Hockey East), Alabama-Huntsville 0-2-0 (0-0-0 WCHA)

Key Play of the Game: Approaching the midway mark of regulation, the Chargers were granted a lengthy two-man advantage and immediately brought the puck forward into the offensive zone. Derick Roy put forth his best work of the night, stopping a trio of opportunities, including a straight-on shot from visiting local native Stephen McKenna (South Boston, Mass.) – who returned to his home city for his first weekend of collegiate hockey - to end the threat and force a crucial draw.

Plus: Northeastern’s power play has been the epitome of an Achilles’ heel for much of the last two seasons, but things went relatively well on the man-up with two goals on nine opportunities.

Minus: On the flip side, NU head coach Jim Madigan was quick to talk about the Huskies’ lack of discipline in the contest, stating that that type of play "will be addressed" during the upcoming week. Nine of the Huskies’ 11 infractions on the night were called on returning players.

The Chargers really flew out of the gates in the third, scoring two of the stanza’s three goals. It certainly looked like the Huskies had taken a step back with the lead and let the score dictate their approach to the game.

Notable: After notching nine goals for the first time since Dec. 3, 2012 at Notre Dame and for the first time in a season opener since 1988 against Vermont, the Huskies’ offense quieted down a bit, but still managed to earn the victory and improve to 2-0-0 for the second time in as many years. A NU team had not achieved that milestone since 1993-94 and 1994-95.

Quotable: "That was awesome. I knew when I committed to UAH, our first game was at Northeastern and I had that over my bed, checked off my list. I was ready to come here. Everybody came out and it was good to have the support. ... I’m happy where I am, very excited. We’re going to battle this year." -UAH freshman and South Boston native Stephen McKenna on returning home for his first collegiate hockey experience.

Final Thoughts: In front of a crowd (1,979 announced) that was primarily comprised of Charger blue in support of a trio of New Englanders, there were certainly some ups and downs for both sides. The Huskies had some very good chances at various points throughout the game, but Guerriero was equal to the task in posting 34 saves. UAH dominated the start of the third period and scored twice to make things interesting.

Elsewhere in Hockey East: UMass Lowell returned to form with a 5-2 win over rival Massachusetts in a nonleague game at the Tsongas Center. Sophomores Ryan McGrath and Michael Fallon and freshman Chris Maniccia each posted multi-point efforts. … Providence and Notre Dame capped off their weekend sets with shutouts. Sophomore Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine) made 38 saves for the Friars in a 3-0 win over Minnesota State, while Steven Summerhays paced the Irish in a 22-save blanking by the same score. … Boston University squeaked out a 3-2 home win against local rival Holy Cross, while New Hampshire and Maine suffered non-conference losses.

Next: Northeastern will hit the road for the first time in the regular season this coming Friday night as it heads west on the Mass. Pike for the program’s first-ever contest at Holy Cross’ Hart Center.

Twitter: @JoshuaKummins

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