The Northeastern men's hockey team will play in the championship game of the Mariucci Classic on New Year's Eve after the Huskies tied Princeton in the tournament's first semifinal bout, 3-3, but eventually skated to the finals after Justin Daniels ended the shootout in the eighth round.
Northeastern's six-game winning streak was halted but the unbeaten spell stretches to seven after the Huskies surrendered three one-goal leads on Friday night at Mariucci Arena. Princeton's power play unit registered three power play goals to tie the contest up on three separate occasions.
Sophomore Braden Pimm accounted for his second-career two-goal outing while junior Vinny Saponari tallied his second goal as a Husky and first since Oct. 9 (at Maine).
Junior Steve Quailer extended his point streak to a team and career-best eight games after assisting on Pimm's second marker of the night.
Junior Chris Rawlings made 23 saves in the draw while Tigers' netminder Mike Condon steered away 38 Northeastern blasts. The Huskies outshot Princeton, 41-26, marking the second time this season NU has outshot its opponent (PC - Nov. 18).
Quailer committed the first penalty of the game at 1:50 of the initial stanza and gave Princeton the first man advantage of the game. The Tigers were snuffed out by the Huskies' swarming penalty kill and managed to discharge only one shot on Rawlings.
The Huskies' first grade-A chance of the contest arrived at 5:40 of the first period after junior Drew Daniels set up rookie Ludwig Karlsson in between the circles from the far boards. Karlsson made one move to his right, but Condon maintained his stance and snuffed out the wrist shot.
Northeastern's first power play came after an Eric Meland interference whistle at 6:44, but the Huskies' chance mimicked Princeton's and only tested Condon a couple times.
Sophomores Cody Ferriero and Anthony Bitetto were sent off for respective infractions of hooking and interference at 9:31 and 10:17 to set up a Princeton two-man advantage of 1:14. The Huskies did a great job of clogging the middle but the Tigers missed a couple wide-open opportunities in the slot to aid NU's huge kill.
The march to the penalty box continued after Tucker Brockett was assessed a trip at 13:40. Junior Vinny Saponari had an unattested opportunity on the near post but could not convert.
The scoring picked up in the waning moments thanks to some special teams' action. Ferriero took his second penalty of the first period (charging - 19:03), but the Huskies won a draw deep in their zone and the Pimm-McLaughlin connection drew first blood at 19:15. Princeton touched the puck after the draw, but Pimm poked it out to himself on the near boards and connected with a wide-open McLaughlin in the neutral zone. McLaughlin skated in alone and bounced it off of Condon, allowing Pimm the chance to swoop in and pounce on the loose carom for the short-handed tally and a 1-0 lead.
Princeton deflated Northeastern's momentum with just four seconds left in the first period and cashed in on Ferriero's penalty. Michael Sdao created the play and discovered Jack Berger unmanned in between the circles. Sdao deferred to Berger at 19:56 and Berger knocked in the wrister to tie the game with the power play marker, 1-1.
Jeremy Goodwin took a holding call at 2:40 of the second and junior Garrett Vermeersch nearly regained the lead for Northeastern on a tic-tac-toe play from behind the net. Condon was in position to turn away another Husky power play bid.
Northeastern gained its fourth power play of the day after Rob Kleebaum was cited for boarding at 5:04. Princeton's aggressive kill along the boards kept Northeastern at bay despite a couple strong blasts from Bitetto at the top of the zone.
A 4-on-4 situation dissipated near the midway point of the second session and the Huskies' upped their pressure in the Tigers' zone, but could not penetrate. Condon kept PU in the game as his club registered only three shots in the second period.
Saponari broke the scoreless stretch thanks to some fancy stick work in front of the net at 4:35 of the third period. Vermeersch won a scrum along the boards out to Saponari in the near corner. A Tiger defenseman descended onto Saponari, but he juked his pursuer to the right and had a clear lane to the net. Saponari brought the puck around to his forehand right in front of the crease and stuffed the puck underneath Condon's pads to take the 2-1 advantage.
The Tigers gained their second 5-on-3 advantage of the evening after rookie Adam Reid (8:24) and Saponari (9:25) went away, in that order, for a 59-second window of a PU two-man advantage.
Reid' infraction inspired but Tyler Magueri made the Huskies pay at 10:40 for Princeton's second power play tally of the night. Meland set the play up from the neutral zone and triggered from just within the blue line on NU's net. Rawlings could not handle the rebound and Magueri was in front to stash away the loose rebound to knot it back up, 2-2.
Pimm broke the Huskies away again 37 seconds later on a similar-style goal as Magueri's at 11:17. Quailer made a nice play along the far boards and cycled the disc up to Ferriero. Ferriero carried the puck into the corner and flipped it to the front of the net where Pimm was in position to jam it home on the doorstep to give Northeastern the 3-2 advantage.
Princeton capitalized on a sophomore Luke Eibler penalty at 11:32 for its third power play strike of the contest. Andrew Calof bestowed Kevin Ross with a perfect pass in between the circles. Ross quickly unleashed a crisp wrist shot over Rawlings' blocker to button the game up, 3-3, at 12:20 of the third period.
Regulation ended in a 3-3 draw despite Will MacDonald nearly ending it with a tip in rip at 19:15.
In the overtime session, Marc Hagel almost tipped in a centering pass in front 20 seconds in, but his stick nudged the puck just wide of the net. Northeastern maintained possession for a majority of the five-minute window, but could not find the back of the net.
After both Rawlings and Condon displayed some great goaltending, J. Daniels managed to trickle the puck through Condon's pads in the eighth round of the shootout to send the Huskies to the championship game of the Mariucci Classic with a sharp, low wrist shot.
Northeastern will ring in the New Year tomorrow night, Dec. 31, at Mariucci Arena to take on Minnesota in the championship game of the Mariucci Classic. Game time is schedule for 6 p.m. (CST) / 7 p.m. (EST).
P: Andrew Calof (Did not get a hard shot off)
N: Braden Pimm (Tried to craft a 360 around Condon, but could not finish)
P: Rob Kleebaum (Wide wrist shot that sailed to the left)
N: Vinny Saponari (Tried to go up high but Condon nipped it with the glove)
P: Jack Berger (Wrister shot blocked to the right)
N: Ludwig Karlsson (Double deke in front of Condon that was kick-saved away)
P: Tyler Magueri (Backhand bid denied by Rawlings)
N: Steve Quailer (Wrist shot sailed wide to the left)
P: Will MacDonald (Wrist shot to five-hole kicked aside by Rawlings)
N: Garrett Vermeersch (Puck slipped off the backhand and could not get shot off)
P: Marc Hagel (Glove save by Rawlings on the wrist shot)
N: Anthony Bitetto (Kick saved on the wrist shot)
P: Brodie Zuk (Backhand snuffed out to Rawlings' right side)
N: Cody Ferriero (Hard wrist shot gloved away by Condon)
P: Aaron Kesselman (Deke to Rawlings' left goes wide)
N: Justin Daniels (Beats Condon five-hole on the low wrist shot front for the shootout win)