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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Northeastern held a 2-1 lead going into the third period but Cornell came back with a pair of late goals to beat Northeastern, 3-2, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. Louis Liotti and Steve Silva scored for the Huskies and goaltender Brad Thiessen made 29 saves. Evan Barlow scored the game-winner for Cornell at 19:42 in the third.
Northeastern finished the season with a 25-12-4 overall record, tying the program record for wins, and an 18-6-3 Hockey East record. Cornell improved to 22-9-4 overall and will face the winner of the Bemidji State vs. Notre Dame game later on Saturday.
The Huskies struck first when Liotti scored on a shot from the center point just as a four-on-three power play was ending. Silva won a faceoff to J.P. Maley, who passed it back to Liotti. Liotti fired the shot on net with Ryan Ginand down low and the puck got through the crease past Cornell goalie Ben Scrivens.
The Huskies had other good scoring opportunities in the first period, including a shot by Tyler McNeely on a feed from Dennis McCauley that was followed quickly by an open shot in front by Rob Rassey. McNeely generated another opportunity later when he shot the puck from the right circle and Steve Silva got a stick on the rebound, but his shot went off the side of the net. NU got a good defensive effort from Jim Driscoll when he broke up a two-on-one early in the first. Cornell outshot Northeastern 12-9 in the period.
Northeastern stretched its lead to two when Silva scored on a breakaway at 9:21 in the second period. Chris Donovan poked the puck loose at the blueline to Silva, who took it strait up the slot and beat Scrivens high on his glove side.
Cornell got back within a goal at 17:58 in the second when Blake Gallagher hacked at a loose puck from the front of the net and it went high into the corner. Colin Greening and Michael Kennedy got assists on the play, which made it 2-1.
Cornell outshot Northeastern, 14-4, in the third period and had three power plays to work with. After the Huskies neutralized Cornell's efforts for most of the period, Colin Greening scored a power-play goal from the top of the right circle that went off Thiessen's pad at 16:04. He got the feed from Barlow at the point.
In the final minute, Cornell got an odd-man rush and passed the puck through the Huskies' zone. Barlow got the shot through a Northeastern defender and Thiessen for the game-winner with 17.2 seconds on the clock. Riley Nash and Gallagher got assists on the play.
The Huskies pulled Thiessen after the goal and worked a faceoff in the Cornell zone, but none of their desperation shots made it past Scrivens to prolong the season.
Northeastern went scoreless on eight power plays in the game. Scrivens made 19 saves in the game and Cornell went one-for-four on power plays.
Northeastern advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1994 and the fourth time ever. In addition to tying the school record for wins, the team tied the record for Hockey East wins (18) and finished second in the Hockey East regular season for the second time ever. Thiessen was named Hockey East Player of the Year and head coach Greg Cronin was named Hockey East Coach of the Year.