BOSTON - Four assists from Kevin Roy, along with three-point efforts from Zach Aston Reese (two goals, one assist) and Mike Szmatula (one goal, two assists) helped the No. 9 Northeastern men's ice hockey (18-10-4, 10-6-2) to a 4-3 victory against No. 17/15 Maine (15-11-4, 9-6-3) on Saturday night at Matthews Arena.
Aston-Reese scored the game's first and final goal as his line with Roy and Szmatula combined for three of the game's four goals. Clay Witt was strong in net for the Huskies, making 35 stops as the Black Bears held a slight 38-37 edge in shots on goal.
Ben Hutton scored twice for Maine while Ryan Lomberg added two assists and Martin Ouellette made 33 stops. Maine was 1-of-4 on the power play while NU went 1-of-3 on the man advantage.
NU controlled the tempo of the contest early on, outshooting the Black Bears 5-0 in the opening minutes and potting the game's first tally less than four minutes in. After Szmatula blocked a shot in the defensive zone, the Huskies transitioned up ice where Roy controlled the puck below the goal line. Roy then stickhandled around a defender and found Aston-Reese alone out front. Aston-Reese then quickly settled the puck and flung it over the right shoulder of Ouellette for his sixth goal of the season.
The trio connected again three minutes later with 13:16 left in the first period when Szmatula, stationed atop the crease, redirected a shot from Aston-Reese off a feed from Ouellette inside the right post for Szmatula's 12th goal of the season.
Witt faced his toughest test of the period with eight minutes left in the frame when Mark Anthoine picked off a pass in the defensive zone and flew down the ice on a semi breakaway. Anthoine then tried to beat Witt five-hole, but the NU netminder quickly closed his pads to make the stop.
Maine clawed back to make it a one-goal game with a power play tally with 3:14 left in the first when Hutton notched his 12th of the season. Cam Brown began the play for the Black Bears by sending the puck up to Jake Rutt at the point. Rutt and Hutton then swapped places at the as Rutt fed Hutton with a pass. Hutton then took a couple strides towards goal and sent a wristed that beat Witt shortside.
NU nearly caught Ouellette napping early in the second period when Szmatula gathered a loose puck from behind the net with Ouellette out of the cage. Szmatula then hit Roy with a pass, but Ouellette recovered just in time to make the save. After the Black Bears transitioned, Maine knotted the score at two on Shore's 13th goal of the season when he beat Witt five-hole through a screen.
Adam Reid had a couple chances to give the Huskies the lead once again throughout the second period, the first coming off a pass from Torin Snydeman on the doorstep that Ouellette steered aside before Reid rocketed a shot off the post before Rutt was called for an elbow with six minutes to go in the period.
On the ensuing power play, Northeastern fired back with a goal from Pimm, his 18th of the season. After Colton Saucerman took a hit along the right wall, Roy dug the puck out and fed Pimm alone at the side of the goal. Pimm then stepped out and roofed a shot past Ouellette for Pimm's eighth power play tally of the season.
Witt stood his ground for the Huskies as the game entered the third period, and denied Brian Morgan and Blaine Byron on a two-on-one with 13:08 left in regulation as Witt caught a backhand bid from Morgan on the right side.
The Huskies extended their lead to two with 9:04 left in the third period when Aston-Reese picked up his second goal of the evening. With the Huskies cycling the puck in the Maine zone, Szmatula dished down to Roy behind the net. Roy then skated out below the right faceoff dot and fired a low shot that Ouellette stopped. Aston-Reese, however, crashed the net and buried the rebound to make it 4-2.
Northeastern kept its foot on the gas pedal after the Aston-Reese goal looking for more insurance. Snydeman almost gave the Huskies a three-goal cushion when he tried to tuck a shot under the right pad of Ouellette before Ryan Belonger nearly redirected a centering pass from Mike McMurtry with less than four minutes left in the third.
The Black Bears cut the deficit in half with 2:41 left in regulation with the extra attacker on the ice as Hutton notched is second of the game when he corralled the puck off a face-off win and threaded a shot through traffic that snuck past Witt to make it 4-3.
Maine pulled the goaltender yet again in the final minute of play, and after a Snydeman hooking minor had a six-on-four skating advantage, but NU was able stave off the late rush to secure two points.
The Huskies will return to action on Friday night when Northeastern travels across town to Boston University for a 7 p.m. matchup at Agganis Arena. The game will be aired live on NESN.
- Northeastern is now 39-55-19 all-time against Maine, and earns three points against the Black Bears for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
- NU now has 22 points in conference play and is in sole possession of third place in the Hockey East standings. Northeastern's 10 league wins are the most for the team since the 2010-11 season.
- The Huskies' 18 wins this season are tied for the eighth most in program history.
- Saturday's win moves NU to 18-10-4 on the season, guaranteeing the Huskies a winning season for the first time since 2008-09.
- Roy extended his point streak to four games (two goals, seven assists). He tied a career-high with four helpers on Saturday, and has played a part in six of Northeastern's last eight goals.
- Pimm's power play goal gave him eight on the season, which is tied for sixth in the nation. It's the most power play goals for the Huskies since Wade MacLeod had 10 during the 2010-11 season. Pimm has two goals and two assists in his last three games.
• Szmatula has a goal and four assists in his last three games.