By Joshua Kummins
BOSTON, MA – After a tie and a loss last weekend, the Jim Madigan era at Northeastern University finally saw their first win on Friday night at Matthews Arena, as junior goaltender Chris Rawlings pitched his school-record ninth shutout in a 4-0 decision over No. 15 New Hampshire.
“Obviously, it was a great win for our team,” said Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan. “We had a good week of practice and we brought the game into its simplest form in all three zones.”
It was all Huskies in the first period, as they tagged New Hampshire senior Matt DiGirolamo for three scores on just six shots.
Northeastern took the 1-0 lead at the 6:29 mark of the first stanza, as Braden Pimm redirected a nifty pass in the slot from junior line-mate Steve Quailer. Then, sophomore Zak Stone was found at the right place at the right time and sent a loose puck through the five-hole on DiGirolamo for his first collegiate goal before Justin Daniels made it 3-0 for the home team at the 9:21.
“[The three goals] gave us a chance to believe in what we worked on all week in practice-just actually coming through,” said Madigan.
New Hampshire surrendered five goals in a shutout at BU last Saturday and had been blanked just six times in the last five seasons, including just two in ‘10-’11. Although, despite 14 total shots in the opening period, neither team was able to light the lamp in the middle stanza, as both goaltenders settled in to keep the score at 3-0 in favor of the home team.
At the start of the third period, the Huskies put several golden chances towards DiGirolamo’s cage, including a point-blank shot from Robbie Vrolyk on the right circle before eventually sophomore Luke Eibler connected with senior captain Mike McLaughlin on the right circle for his second goal of the season.
McLaughlin took a wrist shot that was deflected into the net over DiGirolamo’s right shoulder, allowing the Reading, Mass. native and sophomore Jeff Wyer to see his first regular-season game action ever in a Wildcat uniform.
Wyer made three saves in the final 11:23, while DiGirolamo made 14 stops in 48:37 and was credited with his second defeat of the season.
For Husky goaltender Chris Rawlings, this particular game was a great comeback from last weekend’s dismal performance.
“It was a complete 180 from Maine,” said Rawlings. “Our team was completely different in all three zones. The biggest key was all the shots we blocked…Pucks were not getting through, which makes my job a lot easier.”
The Huskies return to action next Friday night at Merrimack, while UNH’s home opener is tomorrow against the nation’s top ranked team, Boston College.
* With the Huskies’ first blanking of the season, Rawlings record 27 saves en route to tying Brad Theissen’s career record with nine shutouts from ‘06-‘09.
* The Huskies had not scored three goals in a period since the third and deciding game of the Hockey East Quarterfinals at Boston University on March 13.
* Zak Stone played in 14 games last year, recording his only point on an assist against Harvard on Jan. 19.
* The Huskies have enjoyed recent success when leading after two periods with a [20-3-3] record over the past two seasons.