Durham, NH. – Northeastern scored a quick goal, 30 seconds into the game, off the stick of Robbie Vrolyk but failed to capitalize on the momentum falling to New Hampshire, 3-2. After failing down by one early UNH scored four minutes later on a goal off by, Stevie Moses. The goal was his 20th of the season from a tight angle right through the pads of Husky goaltender, Chris Rawlings. UNH scored again later in the first on an Austin Block goal that caromed off of Northeastern goaltender, Chris Rawlings foot and into the net.
After an evenly played second period where UNH would receive another goal off the stick of Austin Block, a tip from a point shot by Damon Kipp, UNH would take a 3-1 lead into the third period. In the third period, UNH used a stifling neutral zone trap, where Northeastern was able to get off only five shots in the period. With Rawlings pulled, Northeastern would score a late goal with the net empty off the stick of Mike McLaughlin but it was not enough as UNH got the all important two points.
UNH with the win stayed in a tie for sixth place with providence, who defeated Maine on home ice 4-3 to keep pace with the Wildcats. With the win UNH moves three points ahead of Northeastern who dropped into a tie for eighth and ninth place with Massachusetts, who came up with a huge 3-2 victory against Boston University at Agannis Arena.
What I saw
-Northeastern scored a quick goal 30 seconds into the first period and dominated play much of the first period. The demoralization of leaving the period down 2-1 on two soft goals allowed by Chris Rawlings became too much for the Huskies to come back from.
-UNH used two gift goals to skate to the lead against the Huskies and never looked back. UNH has won three in a row and every game shows an improvement on defense and depth scoring. UNH was down, momentum wise but fought back to eventually take the win, which was never in doubt during the second and third periods.
What I thought
-Chris Rawlings struggled once again. The two goals he allowed in the first period were unacceptable and two of the softest goals one will ever see. Austin Block’s first goal of the night was off of Rawlings skate from behind the net and Stevie Moses early first period goal was from a poor angle, both of which saves Rawlings should have made. Allowing two goals in a period that should have been stopped with your team dominating play is something that is very demoralizing to a team’s psyche and thus they came back to haunt the Huskies.
-After allowing a goal only 30 seconds into the game the Wildcats responded well to the situation. Although the first period was a strong period for Northeastern, UNH was able to gain the momentum back late in the period and used it to propel them to another strong defensive performance. Giving up goals early in the game are not the best thing going forward but finishing and responding are important parts of hockey. Tonight New Hampshire did both.
What they said
Northeastern Coach Jim Madigan said, “From where we came from on Monday night to tonight. I felt we were on pucks. UNH kept us to the outside but I like the way we responded from Monday night. Rawlings has been a rock for us this season and the two goals he gave up in the first I’m sure he would like to have back.”
New Hampshire Coach Dick Umile said, “I thought it was a pretty good hockey game. We found ways to get the puck behinds Rawlings and I like the way we competed tonight, especially in the second period. They came out pretty quick and they were flying early. We stayed with it and we responded well.”
UNH forward Stevie Moses said, “Every game is huge for us. Three straight wins have given us a lot of confidence. They are a good team with a good goalie. I think every night we need compete and chip in. The third and fourth line production is huge down the stretch. Teams that win get production from all three lines, not just offensively but defensively as well.”
What they didn’t say
When Chris Rawlings is on his game he is one of the best goalies in Hockey East, but tonight he was on and off both in the same game. The huskies fought hard to gain the momentum early in the game but UNH took it away from them with a strong response and a few bounces along the way. In late October, Chris Rawlings was benched in lieu of Clay Witt at the Whittemore Center. The move failed to produce results right away but then Northeastern rattled off six straight wins. Is it possibly time to try it again? If not it may become too late for the Huskies.
What else you should know
UNH plays Merrimack College on Saturday night in an attempt to keep their winning streak alive. Every game is still a playoff game for New Hampshire, but if they can somehow come away with two points they would take a five point lead in the race to make the playoffs, as Northeastern is idle on Saturday night.
Northeastern next plays in the Beanpot consolation game on Monday night. They are in serious need of wins and confidence going down the stretch. Being tied for eighth place cannot be comforting for Jim Madigan’s troops as they head down the stretch. Wins are at a premium for the Huskies and it has to start pronto or they may miss the Hockey East playoffs altogether.