BOSTON - The No. 19 Northeastern men's ice hockey team (9-5-2, 3-4-1) bolted out to a 3-0 second period lead against No. 4/4 Providence (11-2-3, 6-2-1) only to see the Friars net three third period goals to earn a tie on Friday night at Matthews Arena, 3-3.
Junior goaltender Clay Witt kept Northeastern in the game throughout the evening, making a career-high 52 saves, tied for the third most in a game in program history. Mike Szmatula, Kevin Roy and Braden Pimm all scored for Northeastern, which was outshot 55-26 in the game. The Friars were 1-of-5 on the man advantage and won 42-of-79 face-offs while NU went 0-of-4 on the man advantage.
The Huskies wasted no time in jumping out to an early 1-0 as Szmatula potted his sixth goal of the season just seven seconds into the contest. After winning a face-off back to Mike Gunn, Szmatula skated towards the attacking zone and received a pass from Josh Manson. Szmatula took a stride towards goal before ripping a slap shot that got past Gillies.
Providence took control of the game following the Szmatula tally, outshooting NU 10-3 in the frame, forcing Witt to make several tough stops on shots from all angles. Witt came up big for Northeastern seven minutes in when he handled a deflection from Noel Acciari.
The Huskies nearly extended their lead to two with 5:20 remaining in the first when Cody Ferriero and Adam Reid created a shorthanded chance for Northeastern, with Ferriero dishing the puck out in front to Reid, who snapped a shot off the left post.
NU would make up for it less than a minute later when Roy netted his 12th goal of the season, picking off a dump-in from the Friars, going coast-to-coast and firing a shot off the left post and past Gillies for a 2-0 Husky lead.
Northeastern had some early chances to build on its two-goal lead when the Huskies went on the power play less than four minutes into the second as John Stevens and Pimm were both set up for one-timers off passes from behind the cage, but Gillies stood tall to make the save.
Dax Lauwers came up with two big blocks in the defensive zone midway through the stanza, the first coming off a botched clearing attempt from the Huskies, resulting in a Trevor Mingoia shot from the slot that Lauwers got a skate on before Lauwers dropped to a knee to prevent Mark Jankowski from sneaking a shot past Witt moments later. Three minutes later, PC almost buried a shorthanded bid when Ross Mauermann rocketed a shot off the crossbar from the top of the left face-off dot.
Witt continued to dent the Friars as the second period wore on, making consecutive pad stops on Anthony Florentino from the point and the rebound attempt from Nick Saracino with nine minutes to go in the frame.
With the Huskies on their third power play of the period, Pimm's initial shot from the left dot through traffic was stopped by Gillies, but Pimm followed his rebound before sending a pass across to crease to Stevens on the opposite post for another chance that went wide.
Pimm would break through with 4:25 left in the second when he took an outlet pass from Manson, flew through the defense and roofed a shot over the left shoulder of Gillies for his eighth goal of the season.
Providence mounted a comeback early in the third period, burying two goals in 2:31 to make it a 3-2 contest less than six minutes into the third period. PC spoiled Witt's shutout bid 3:16 into the third when Florentino hammered home a one-timer from Mingoia in the final seconds of a Friar power play for Florentino's third of the season.
PC made it 3-2 with 14:13 remaining in regulation when Shane Luke knocked home a rebound of an initial shot from Mauermann through a slew of bodies in front of the Northeastern cage.
The Friars continued to pepper Witt as the period wore on with 25 shots on goal during the final frame, and nearly knotted the game at three with 4:19 to play when Florentino ripped a shot from inside the blue line that Witt somehow got a pad on before the officials blew the play dead. NU made a bid to give itself a two-goal cushion with 3:30 left in the third when Gillies pounded on a loose puck outside the crease as Szmatula crashed the net.
Providence would complete the comeback with 2:21 remaining in regulation as Tom Parisi took a pass from Mauermann out of the corner, and quickly settled the puck before blasting a shot through traffic and past Witt for his first of the year to force overtime.
In the extra session, Witt covered the bottom of the net to stone both Luke and Mauermann on shots from point blank range 1:15 into overtime. At the other end, Szmatula tried to end it for the Huskies when he jumped on a loose puck and went in on goal before being hauled down by Kevin Hart, drawing a holding call.
NU generated three shots on goal during the man advantage in the game's final minute, and had the puck in Gillies' feet as the clock wound down, but the Providence netminder was able to protect the net and earn the draw.
The Huskies will be back in action on Dec. 17 when Northeastern travels to Burlington, Vt. for a 7 p.m. matchup with Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse.
- Northeastern is now 51-79-17 all-time against the Friars, and extends its unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2) which is tied for the sixth longest streak in the nation.
- Witt made a career-high 52 saves on the night, which is tied for the third-most in a game in school history (George Demetroulakos vs. Boston University on Feb. 21, 1980).
- Witt became the first goaltender since Tom Cole on Feb. 4, 1991 to record 50 saves in a game. He has made at least 30 saves for the fourth straight game, and seven of the last eight.
- Szmatula's first period goal was two seconds shy of tying the NCAA record for fastest goal to start a game (five seconds; four times, most recently on Mar. 11, 2005 Alaska-Fairbanks vs. Bowling Green).
- Szmatula's goal was also the quickest Northeastern has scored to start any period since Mike Jozefowicz scored six seconds into the second period at Massachusetts on Jan. 15, 2000.
- Northeastern's two first period goals matched the team-high from each of the last five games against Providence, dating back to Feb. 17, 2012.
- Roy has points in five of his last six games (four goals, three assists), and is tied for second in Hockey East with 12 goals.
- Reid has an assist in each of his last two games, a new career-long assist streak.
- Manson had a career-high two assists on Friday, while Benning tied a career-high with two helpers.
- Pimm's shorthanded goal gave him six special teams goals on the season, which is tied for third in the nation. He scored his third-career shorthanded goal and first since the 2011-12 campaign.
- Lauwers blocked a game-high eight shots on Friday night.