COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The 20th-ranked Huskies celebrated head coach Greg Cronin's 150th career game behind Northeastern's bench with a 4-3 victory at Colorado College in front of 5,264 on Saturday night for the first triumph of the season.
The last time NU triumphed over a non-conference opponent was against Western Michigan on Jan. 2, 2009 at the Dodge Holiday Classic in Minneapolis.
Northeastern staved off a vicious Tigers' attack in the third period. The Huskies maintained their composure and forced Colorado College to play aggressively, forcing CC to play a man-down for the final four minutes of the contest.
Senior assistant captain Chris Donovan ignited the Huskies attack with a three-point effort, including his fourth-career game-winning goal and two assists. Tonight's performance marks Donovan's first mulit-point game since Feb. 2, 2009 against Boston College.
Freshman Garrett Vermeersch continued to make his early impressions with NU's second powerplay marker of the season as well as an assist for the rookie’s first-career two-point outing. Newcomer Robbie Vrolyk also broke into the points' column by potting his first career tally in the first period.
Junior captain Tyler McNeely's marker wasn't only the game's first goal, but indicated his first point of the year. Senior Jim Driscoll logged his first point of 2009 with an assist in his 110th-career contest.
Four Huskies have generated a two-game point streak heading back to Matthews Arena for the home opener next Friday. Along with Vermeersch and Donovan, sophomore Alex Tuckerman and senior David Strathman contributed an assist for notoriety in both scoresheets from World Arena this weekend.
Rookie Chris Rawlings defended the pipes for the second consecutive outing and responded with his first victory for Northeastern. The 6'5 backstopper shunned 34 shots on 37 Tigers' attempts.
"I really think we looked really crisp in the first period," Cronin said. "Things kind of got away from us in the second and third and a lot of credit should go to (Chris) Rawlings. He was the star of the game."
Colorado College tested out a new goalie in junior Tyler O'Brien, who made 24 stops on 28 shots.
Northeastern pummeled O'Brien with shots in the opening two minutes of the game, but nothing was able to make its way though. Eventually, Northeastern's captain offered a preview of what lied ahead.
The Huskies owned their first lead of the season after McNeely took a CC defender down low on the near post and worked the puck back to Strathman in the seam. McNeely freed himself between the two circles and snapped a quick wrist shot past O’Brien at the 3:44 mark of the first period for the early 1-0 lead.
Colorado College quickly negated the early edge with a wrap-around tally from Mike Testwuide at 9:01 of the first stanza. The puck came loose in left corner and Testwuide was able to navigate through NU's defense to knot it at 1-1.
Northeastern recaptured the advantage by cashing in on a transitional goal capped off by Vrolyk at 11:43. The Huskies stuffed CC's offense on the blue line, allowing Donovan to motor up the right boards. Donovan sailed a pass to Vermeersch in the seam and tossed the disc on net. Vrolyk was able to poke his stick at the right angle and chip it in for the 2-1 edge.
After Brian McMillin was whistled for hooking at 12:34, Vermeesch gave the Huskies some more breathing room with his second powerplay tally of the season. Vermeersch was fed a pass from Tuckerman five feet within the blue line and sent in a rope at 13:12 of the first for the 3-1 cushion. Donovan logged his second point with the aid.
It was all Colorado College in the first portion of the second period as the Tigers outshot NU, 6-0, at one point and CC finally saw the fruits of its labor on Testwuide's second tally of the game. Freshman Chris Student was flagged for holding at 17:21 and the Tigers pounced on the uneven situation. Testwuide closed the gap, 3-2, by banging home some loose garbage in the crease at 18:35.
Donovan quickly expunged the powerplay marker with a sensational wrist shot in the slot 29 seconds later at 19:04 to keep the Huskies ahead, 4-2. Driscoll wedged the puck back to Donovan to unleash the shot. Strathman picked up credit for the helper by creating the play in the neutral zone.
The Tigers broke through NU's penalty killing unit for the second occasion after sophomore Mike McLaughlin was charged with holding at 8:01. Nate Prosser fed the puck on net and was able to manage a carom to bounce right towards Ryan Schwartz who was waiting to bury it at 9:34 of the third to cut the deficit, 4-3.
At the 15:19 mark, Cronin hailed for a timeout with his Huskies lagging behind in shots, 13-3 in the final session. Cronin’s breather yielded three consecutive penalties from Colorado College's bench, forcing the Tigers to play man-down for virtually the remainder of the period. Northeastern staved off any attempt of a comeback for the 4-3 triumph.
The Huskies unveil the new Matthews Arena when they host local-foe Bentley College for the second time in program history next Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m.