St. Cloud, MN – After watching film of the Northeastern Huskies earlier this week head coach Brett Larson told me this weekends Hockey East opponent was fast and skilled and that sophomore forward Tyler Madden was an elite player. He felt one of the keys to success this weekend was to shut down the line centered by Madden. The NU Huskies were indeed skilled and fast and Madden was a dfference maker. Madden scored twice including the game-winning goal to lead the 11th ranked NU Huskies to a 4-1 non-conference win at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center on Friday, October 25. The win improved Northeastern’s record to 4-0-1 and allowed them to hand SCSU their first loss at the Herb since a 3-2 overtime loss in the NCHC quarterfinals on March 10, 2018 to the Miami RedHawks.
Northeastern impressed with their speed, quick transition and puck control forcing the Huskies back on their heels repeatedly throughout the first 20 minutes. The visitors took an early lead just 8:32 into the contest on a nice play by University of New Hampshire graduate transfer Brendan Van Reimsdyk. On a three-on-three rush into the SCSU zone, Van Reimsdyk directed the puck through traffic from the left circle to the goal where it was slapped past David Hrenak by John Picking who was parked in the goalmouth. The Huskies put themselves into a precarious position with an interference penalty to Nick Poehling just eight seconds after the goal and another to Nolan Walker for hooking at 11:32. But, the Huskies who entered this series without allowing a power play goal held firm and weathered the storm. In fact, it seemed to energize their play with several scoring opportunities late in the period. First, it was Spencer Meier with a clean shot on goal from the point forcing NU goaltender Pantano to make a key save and then a tipped puck on goal by Nick Poehling was turned aside by Pantano. Finally, with just seconds left in the period Pantano had to make a point blank save on a shot by Nolan Walker. The period ended with Northeastern outshooting SCSU 13-6 and with a 1-0 lead.
Despite being outplayed in the first period, SCSU was able to score the equalizer at 4:30 of period two on a highlight reel goal by Sam Hentges (Krannila | Kuster). Hentges charged into the NU zone and powered past Montreal Canadiens second-rounder Jayden Struble and flipped a backhand over Craig Pantano’s right shoulder for his second goal of the year. Play began to even out and the Huskies caught a break at 7:35 when NU’s Biagio Lerario was whistled for interference. But, Northeastern who entered the series with a 94% penalty kill didn’t yield to the man-advantage and responded with their second goal just two seconds after the expiration of Lerario’s penalty. SCSU got caught in the offensive zone and Northeastern found themselves with a three-on-one into the SCSU zone. Matt Filipe slid a goalmouth pass to Madden who tipped the puck past Hrenak for another one-goal advantage at 9:37. And, they weren’t done scoring another with just 35.9 seconds remaining in the period for a 3-1 advantage. A nice two-way passing play had John Picking feeding TJ Walsh who hit Madden with a pass high in the slot who one-timed it past Hrenak. Northeastern again, outshot SCSU by a wide margin 14-9 in period two.
SCSU begun to assert themselves more in period three firing more shots at Pantano with many missing their mark. Hentges, with another strong game, had a golden opportunity for his second goal of the game on a wrap-a-round at 12:46 but the puck somehow stayed outside the goal line. Two other close-in opportunities by Kyler Kupka and Hentges were stopped by Pantano and a third by Nick Poehling missed the net. In a desperate move to close the two-goal lead Hrenak was pulled with 2:12 remaining in regulation. But, Lerario buried an empty-netter at 18:35 to seal the win for Northeastern. In a much closer third period, Northeastern still outshot SCSU 7-5.
“We looked tentative and nervous early” said coach Larson. “You could tell we had that deer in a headlights look and they took advantage of that and jumped on us. We had quite a few freshman and sophomores in the lineup up front and working through those nerves was not unexpected. Obviously that second goal was a crusher. We turned the puck over at the end of the power play and that was a huge momentum swing because at that point it was a 1-1 game.”
“Northeastern is a really good team and we’re going to try some different line combinations (in the rematch) but we have to sustain our shifts better. They did a better job around the faceoff circle.” said Larson.
For the game, Northeastern outshot SCSU 34-20 with David Hrenak stopping 30 of 33 shots on goal. Northeastern’s Pantano was only called on to stop 19 of 20 shots but several were of the grade A variety. Each team was unsuccessful on two man-advantage opportunities. The battle for superiority in the faceoff circle was nearly even with a 31-30 advantage for Northeastern. Nick Poehling led the Huskies winning 5 of 6 faceoffs.
“It was a great team effort and team response from last week (2-2 tie with Holy Cross).” said NU’s coach JIm Madigan. “We went at our guys and they responded. From our goaltender to our defensemen and forwards it was a good team effort. We know tomorrow night will be much more of a challenge.”
Northeastern’s record improved to 4-0-1 while the SCSU dropped to 0-1-2.
Stars of the Game: #1 Tyler Madden (NU) #2 John Picking (NU) #3 TJ Walsh (NU)