Huskies deliver victory No. 1 for Madigan
Of all the teams in Hockey East, the most question marks were about how well Northeastern would bounce back from losing several players after coach Greg Cronin left to become an assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For first-year coach Jim Madigan, the goal was to build off of what Cronin and his staff built and to put his own mark on the team as quickly as possible.
Last night, the Huskies (1-1-1) took a step in the right direction with a 4-0 victory over No. 15 New Hampshire in front of 3,094 at Matthews Arena.
Junior goaltender Chris Rawlings (27 saves) posted his ninth career shutout, tying the program record set by Brad Thiessen.
As good as the home team felt after the contest, it was a head scratcher for New Hampshire, which has lost its first two outings by a combined score of 9-0. It was Northeastern’s first win over the Wildcats since a home win Nov. 21, 2008.
“It was obviously a great win for our team,’’ said Madigan. “We competed hard. We had a good week of practice in just bringing the game back to its simplest form in all three zones. The credit always goes to the players because they responded.’’
After they were outplayed for the first five minutes, the Huskies erupted for three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 52 seconds.
Sophomore center Braden Pimm started the rally at 6:29 when he redirected a pass from junior left wing Steve Quailer, beating senior netminder Matt Di Girolamo for his second tally of the season.
Only 1:17 later, freshman left wing Adam Reid centered a pass for Zak Stone. The sophomore right wing went to his backhand and fired it between the legs of Di Girolamo for his first collegiate goal. It was the Huskies’ second shot of the contest.
At 9:21, junior center Justin Daniels potted his third of the year from just outside the left post. All three tallies were at even strength.
The middle period was scoreless with both teams putting seven shots on net.
Things turned chippy at 4:56 of the third period when there was a skirmish in front of the UNH bench. That side action resulted in 14 minutes in penalties and a power play for the Wildcats, who weren’t able to capitalize. Instead, the Huskies (who blocked 34 shots to just 12 for New Hampshire) added to their lead once they got back to five-on-five play.
With New Hampshire attempting to clear the puck, sophomore defenseman Luke Eibler made a fine play to keep it in at the right blue line. He dished it to captain Mike McLaughlin, who wristed a shot from the right circle that sailed over Di Girolamo’s glove to make it 4-0 at 8:37.
Wildcats coach Dick Umile pulled Di Girolamo (14 saves) in favor of Jeff Wyer (3 saves) for the final 11:23.
“The guys just played their hearts out in all three zones,’’ said Madigan. “I thought we were on pucks pretty good, I thought defensively we were much better in our own zone and we did a great job coming back through neutral ice. We blocked a lot of shots, which was great because we were talking about it all week long. The players just responded really well.’’
It doesn’t get any easier as UNH will host No. 1 Boston College tonight.
“We can’t hit the panic button because nothing good comes out of panicking,’’ said UNH captain Mike Borisenok. “It’s not like we have a week to practice it. We just have to be urgent and play with some urgency.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.