BOSTON, Mass. - The Northeastern men's hockey team gave up a two-goal lead to No. 7 Merrimack on Saturday night at Matthews Arena and ultimately lost in overtime, 3-2. Merrimack's Ryan Flanigan ended the contest on a breakaway in overtime to issue the Huskies their fifth setback on the season.
Senior captain Mike McLaughlin led the way for the Huskies, netting his third goal of the season and chipped in an assist for his first multi-point outing of the season. Sophomore Rob Dongara put away his first goal of the season while rookie Joseph Manno and junior Drew Daniels attained their first assists of the season.
The Huskies power play went 0-for-7 and were outshot, 31-19. Merrimack attacked on two of its four power play chances, marking the biggest difference of the game.
Junior Chris Rawlings stopped 28 shots while MC backstopper Joe Cannata steered aside 17 attempts.
Justin Mansfield put Merrimack in the hole early with an interference call at 2:34, and despite no NU conversion on the power play, the Huskies maximized their possession shortly after and converted at 4:53.
Manno's aggressive forecheck on Merrimack's blue line paid off when the rookie connected with McLaughlin on the far post. Manno lifted the puck off of a Warrior defenseman and relayed it over to a flanking McLaughlin in the left side of the zone. McLaughlin gathered it quickly and zipped it top shelf past Cannata for the quick 1-0 lead.
Northeastern kept its foot on the gas as Dongara lit the lamp again at 8:04 on a tally in similar fashion after McLaughlin made a big defensive play in the Huskies' zone. McLaughlin intercepted a pass with his hand and carried the puck up the left side of the ice with Dongara in pursuit. McLaughlin perfectly timed the pass and Dongara made a nifty move to bury the backhand to give the Huskies a 2-0 cushion.
Freshman Josh Manson's five-minute major for hitting from behind at 14:22 gave Merrimack life to close out the first stanza as Mike Collins made Northeastern pay from the point. Karl Stollery and Collins cycled at the top of the one and Collins was able to smash the puck past Rawlings with a wide open late between the circles to cut the deficit with the power play marker, 2-1, before the conclusion of the first period.
Right out of the chute to start the second period, the Huskies were picked up a two-man advantage for 1:45 when Stollery and Brendan Ellis took respective seats for cross checking and hooking at 00:51 and 1:07. Junior Vinny Saponari sent the biggest jolt with a ringer off the crossbar near the 2:00-minute mark, but the Warriors penalty kill prevented any damage.
After a Rhett Bly holding infraction subsided, Merrimack increased its forecheck and managed to keep in the Huskies' zone for a good portion of the middle period. Rawlings made a cluster of good saves despite several MC opportunities.
The third period started off with a Dan Cornell roughing penalty at 6:12 but Stollery quickly negated MC's power play with a trip at 6:43. Collins nearly potted one on the far side post near the 8:00-minute mark during the 4-on-4 scrum, but both infractions concluded unscathed.
Merrimack took advantage of its next opportunity for its second power play goal of the night after junior Garrett Vermeersch took an elbowing call deep in Warrior territory. Collins was the perpetrator once again with the wrister at 11:30. Stollery fed Collins in the exact same spot to knot the game up with 8:30 left in regulation, 2-2.
Despite the lapse, the Huskies picked up a huge opportunity after Carter Madsen hit the showers with a hitting from behind five-minute major and game misconduct at 14:16. Northeastern was on the man advantage for nearly the duration of the third period and freshman Ludwig Karlsson posed the most formidable threat on the right dot. Karlsson swatted a backhander at a wide-open right side of the net, but Cannata made an acrobatic save to force the game into overtime.
Just before the teams regrouped for the extra session, Kyle Bigos allowed the Huskies an extra skater to start overtime with a high-sticking call. The penalty was called with 1.7 seconds left in regulation.
The Warriors did not permit a shot on Cannata and parlayed a blocked shot into the game winner. Ellis stepped in front of a rifle from sophomore Luke Eibler in between the circles and the puck slipped over to Bly on the near boards. Bly lifted the puck over two Huskies in the neutral zone and landed it right on Ryan Flanigan's lumber right on NU's blue line. Flanigan sauntered in all alone and beat Rawlings on the glove side at 1:57 for the game-winner.
Northeastern will travel to Conte Forum next Friday, Nov. 11 to take on its future Fenway Park opponent, Boston College, at 7 p.m. The following night, the Huskies travel to Amherst for a Saturday night showdown with Massachusetts at 7 p.m.
• Merrimack was one of two unbeaten teams in the country heading into tonight's matchup (Western Michigan - 6-0-3). After tonight, the Warriors are the lone unbeaten team in the country.
• Half of Northeastern's contests this season have gone to overtime. The Huskies record in those contests are 0-2-2.
• Mike McLaughlin registered his sixth-career multi point game with his third goal and second assist of the season.
• Rob Dongara netted his first goal of the season in Friday night's contest against Merrimack.
• Drew Daniels notched his first point of the year with the secondary assist on McLaughlin's goal.