The Northeastern men's hockey team treated the Huskies fans to a 3-3 thriller against Massachusetts in both the season opener and head coach Jim Madigan's first-career game as sophomore Braden Pimm netted an extra attacker goal with two seconds left in regulation at Matthews Arena.
Friday's contest marked the first time Northeastern UMass met in the season opener as Madigan went 65 minutes in his introduction to Hockey East.
Junior forward Justin Daniels, who scoreless in 2010-11, tallied the Huskies' first two goals of the net followed by Pimm's heroics at 19:58 of the third period. Junior transfer Vinny Saponari displayed his talents with a pair of assists while senior captain Mike McLaughlin and juniors Garrett Vermeersch and Drew Ellement each recorded an assists. Pimm joined J. Daniels and Saponari as two-point scorers with an assist on J. Daniels' first goal.
Junior netminder Chris Rawlings returned for his third year in net and turned away 36 shots in his season debut. UMass goaltender Kevin Boyle stopped 29 shots in his first career start. The Minutemen outshot Northeastern, 39-32. Each club converted one-of-six chances on the power play.
The first five minutes yielded a couple shots for each team outside the circles until T.J. Syner made a play in the neutral zone and charged Rawlings with sophomore Luke Eibler in pursuit. Eibler busted up the play, but was whistled for a holding infraction at 5:21 for the first call of the game.
The Minutemen controlled from the draw and converted on the power play about a minute and a half in at 6:48. Conor Sheary faked the shot from the right dot and deferred to Colin Shea on the near post. Shea did not get all of the puck and the change-up duped Rawlings for the 1-0 UMass lead.
Rookie Josh Manson put Massachusetts on the power play once again at 10:31, but an Adam Phillips hook at 10:44 quickly negated the call for some 4-on-4 action. Neither team attacked, but at 16:03, Northeastern exploded on a pair from J. Daniels at 16:03 and 17:50, respectively.
J. Daniels made the initial pass between the circles for Ellement to unload on. Boyle was on point to make the stop, but Pimm crashed the net and jostled the puck back out to J. Daniels on the near post. J. Daniels had the entire right side of the net open and buried the opportunity to tie it up, 1-1.
Just over a minute later, Northeastern won the draw and took the lead, 2-1, at 17:50 on a great power play goal (Oleg Yevenko - hitting from behind - 16:03). Saponari split traffic from behind the net and connected with Vermeersch in the open slot. Vermeersch unleashed a wrister that met Boyle's chest protector, but J. Daniels swooped in on the opposite post and cashed in on his second tally in under two minutes.
Massachusetts cancelled out the Huskies' goal nine seconds later on a wrister from Braden Gracel at 17:59. Emerson Auvenshire stripped the puck in the neutral zone and kicked it out to Gracel on the far boards. Gracel let it loose from the right circle to cinch in back up, 2-2.
Ellement was called for interference at 18:28 of the first, but no damage was done for the Huskies. Even strength resumed and Syner's one-timer from Sheary at 4:10 of the second put UMass ahead for the second time of the night, 3-2. Oleg Yevenko made the pass to the near boards and Sheary zipped it down low to Syner for the tap in.
In the later part of the middle frame, Northeastern was bestowed with 30 seconds of 5-on-3 action after Syner and Sheary took seats for boarding and tripping at 11:31 and 13:01, respectively. The Huskies offered a couple shots from the outside but could not attack with the two-man advantage.
Yevenko and Conor Allen took respective tripping and boarding calls at 16:30 and 17:37 to impart another 5-on-3 window for NU, but despite several chances, the Minutemen penalty kill kept Northeastern off the board.
The third period unfolded evenly in terms of chances until the 13:00-minute mark. The Huskies surrounded Boyle and pummeled him with rubber while he was sprawled out, but the Minutemen defense stood together and managed to block the flurry of NU's attack.
Time continued to tick and Madigan pulled Rawlings with 1:12 left on the clock. Northeastern descended upon the net once, but this time, Pimm's stick snuck the puck through the pile with just two seconds left to force the game into overtime at 19:58, 3-3.
Massachusetts controlled the tempo in the extra frame, but neither team was able to find the back of the net to snatch victory.
The Huskies jump immediately back into league action this Sunday, Oct. 9 for their only trip to Orono, Maine for the regular season. Northeastern and Maine drop the puck at Alfond Arena starting at 1 p.m.
A replay of this game is available on GoNUxstream. GoNUxstream is free to all viewers and features live and on-demand video and audio broadcasts, as well as live game stats, and is accessible on PC and Mac computers, as well as on iPhones, iPads and Android phones.
- Tonight marked the first time in program history the Huskies opened the season against Massachusetts.
- Justin Daniels' two-goal output marks a career first and also his first two goals against Massachusetts in his career. The junior forward scored his first goal since a tally as a rookie on March 5, 2010 at Boston University.
- The last time a Husky scored two goals in a game was last season when Brodie Reid potted a pair at Boston University in the Hockey East quarterfinals on March 13, 2011.
- The last time Northeastern scored an extra attacker goal was when Wade MacLeod scored against Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals on March 18, 2011 at the TD Garden.
- Braden Pimm's goal with two seconds left in regulation counted for his first-career game-tying goal.
- Jim Madigan's tie in his first-career game as Northeastern head coach marks a program first. No coach has ever skated to a tie in their first game behind the bench.
- Of all the Hockey East teams, Northeastern's longest unbeaten streak comes against Massachusetts. The Huskies are 4-0-2 against UMass in the last six meetings, including a pair of ties in the last two encounters.