Saturday evening’s game began with the recognition of the six seniors on Northeastern University’s hockey team: Dustin Darou, Jarrett Fennell, Mike McMurtry, Derick Roy, Kevin Roy and Colton Saucerman. Flowers were given by the players to family or girlfriends and undoubtedly the seven players continue to try to put the end of their collegiate time in the back of their minds while they focus on the game at hand and the play-offs forthcoming.
— Northeastern MHKY (@GoNUmhockey) February 28, 2016
After Friday’s game, Huskies’ head coach Jim Madigan stressed that while his team garnered the two points, he wasn’t pleased with their overall play—felt they hadn’t brought the level of play he knew was possible. As the puck dropped on the game, the University of Maine Black Bears seemed to pick up where they left off in the third period on Friday—controlling the play. It was more than seven minutes before Northeastern would register their first shot on net, while Maine already had four. Of course, that first shot for the Huskies would find twine and Adam Gaudette would get Northeastern on the scoreboard first during the power play, so definitely a good shot. Three minutes later, the Huskies registered their second shot on goaltender Matt Morris, and this time it was Nolan Stevens with the goal. That was a familiar score on Friday, so there was wonder if Maine would be the next to capitalize. Instead, Kevin Roy would get his fifth of the season and put Northeastern up 3-0. Just nine seconds later Sam Kurker got whistled for interference and Maine went on their first power play of the game. Nolan Vesey would be able to capitalize. As the first period came to an end, the score stood at 3-1 in favor of NU, but the shots on goal favored Maine at 10-7.
Second period began in much the same as the first—Maine outshooting Northeastern, though the Huskies were able to get back on their game more quickly. Penalties in the second increased, the first coming just 15 seconds after the puck dropped to start the middle stanza, when Nolan Stevens was sent off for slashing. Northeastern killed that one and then just over a minute later found themselves down a man once again as Roy went off for slashing. Five minutes later Cedric Lacroix for Maine headed off for crosschecking. Four minutes after that Eric Shurhamer would go for a retaliatory whack after Tanner Pond checked him. It was while the Huskies were up a man on this power play that they would pot their fourth goal of the game from Colton Saucerman. Amazingly, there was a brief time where the teams were even strength and Mike McMurtry was off to the side of the crease where he cleaned up the trash and got Northeastern their fifth goal of the game and second of the period at 16:09. However, the teams weren’t done. With just 1:42 remaining in the period, a big scrum erupted behind Morris’ net that would take a bit of time to sort out.
It’s easier to take a screenshot of what just happened: pic.twitter.com/nhY8UOUVSX
— Northeastern MHKY (@GoNUmhockey) February 28, 2016
It was clear from the number of penalties handed out in that dust up at the end of the second that emotions were running high on both sides. One side metes out a shove at the whistle and someone from the other team responds in kind. Such had been the case at the end of the second. Unfortunately for the Black Bears, the tally of penalties assessed found Vesey in the box for 14 minutes: two for roughing, two for elbowing and a ten-minute misconduct.
The third period saw the Black Bears kill off the remaining 18 seconds of their penalty time from that ruckus and then the teams actually managed to get some even strength play for a little more than five minutes before the whistles were blowing again, sending Dan Renouf off for interference. Maine would again make the kill.
With the Huskies up by four goals Ruck sat out approximately the last nine minutes of the game and Derick Roy came in to play. The emotions and frustrations continued to come to the surface with Maine receiving a high-sticking call on Cam Brown and Swavely getting his second roughing of the night. It was while the Huskies were up a man on the Brown penalty that Aston-Reese would be the recipient of a great feed from Matt Benning to add to the goal total in favor of the Huskies. Pond got his first goal of the season during the Swavely penalty, giving Northeastern their seventh goal of the game and their fourth power play goal.
This may have been the spark that lit the fuse on the powder keg, but shortly after matching unsportsmanlike conducts were issued to Aston-Reese and Conor Riley, the game became all about the emotion and it would have been difficult to prove that there is no fighting in NCAA hockey, given the number of players involved and the penalties that came out of the overflow of frustration of the Maine players.
As the buzzer signaled the end of the game, part of which was played three-on-three and then finished four-on-four, the teams lined up to shake hands and the Huskies saluted their faithful fans. In the end all of the seniors played in the game: and four of them had major contributions: Fennell (1 assist); McMurtry (1 goal); Derick Roy (1 goal, 1 assist); and Colton Saucerman (1 goal).
With the quarter final pair rankings released by Hockey East, Northeastern will welcome back the Black Bears for a best of three tournament this next weekend. Both coaches will expect more control of emotion from their players. And the players know that nothing of the regular season matters when that puck drops to start the game Friday night, March 4th. Slates have been wiped clean when it comes to the playoffs.
Highlights of the game: