By Matt Noonan
BOSTON, MA – For the past few seasons, Northeastern University’s men’s ice hockey teams have always had the potential to win big games.
Against Boston College and Boston University, the Huskies elevate their game to another level. Yet, when it comes to some of the so-called, “middle of the road teams,” they stoop to the opposition’s level.
On Friday evening against the University of Maine, Northeastern had numerous chances to pull ahead for good. Their offense should have recorded three or four goals in the opening period, but instead they squandered numerous chances and wound up tying the last place Black Bears, 1-1.
“At home you want to come up with two points every night, but we’ll take the point tonight and then build on it,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “It’s our first point in the league in 2013, and [we’ll] build on it as we get ready and prepare for our two opponent’s next weekend.”
Friday’s game should have been a win for the Huskies. They won 41 face-offs, tallied more shots on the power play and Chris Rawlings deflected the puck 42 times between the pipes. Yet, they didn’t win the shots on net battle and couldn’t continue their first period momentum throughout the final two frames. And when Bill Norman notched his first collegiate goal for Maine in the second, Northeastern appeared lost.
Cody Ferriero, though, had three chances on various rushes down the right side of the ice during the third, which would have provided Northeastern with the go-ahead score, as well as a much-needed spark. However, his three shots from in front of the net, right circle and left of the slot were all denied by Martin Ouellette, which kept the game tied.
“I thought they got very good goaltending. I thought he made a couple of nice combination saves there later in the third period,” Madigan said.
The Huskies fired 11 shots during the final 25 minutes, which included overtime, and still couldn’t find the back of their opponent’s cage. Maine rifled 15 shots and really only had one particular chance on the left side of Rawlings net to score the go-ahead strike, but Steven Swavely didn’t deliver.
“We had our chances to take the lead, but I thought Rawlings was very good, both teams fought hard, [and] it could have gone either way,” said Maine coach Tim Whitehead.
If Northeastern is going to make any push toward a spot in the conference’s Final Four at the TD Garden in mid-March, they’ll have to be at their best for their remaining contests and put this match away immediately.
Next weekend, Northeastern will have two tough tasks, as they’ll skate against Boston University on Friday and Boston College on Saturday. Both contests will be on the road, and despite only one conference victory away from Matthews Arena, the Huskies know their chances of postseason success would fade with back-to-back losses.
“It’s all about preparation, week to week, and so we’re not going to change our preparation going into this week. It was a point, we wanted two, [but] as I said, we’ll take the point because they’re hard to come by in this league,” said Madigan.
“When you play BU and then our opponent the next night is a team of Boston, [so] when you play those two teams it is easy to get up for them. It’s been that way since I played here in .”