NU strikes twice on power play to beat UMass in Game 1 of Hockey East playoff series

  • UMass forward Brett Boeing, top left, scores against Northeastern goaltender Cayden Primeau during Game 1 of their best-of-three Hockey East playoff series, Friday at Matthews Arena in Boston. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • UMass forward Brett Boeing, right, skates against Northampton GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • UMass forward Philip Lagunov, left, is pushed aside by Northeastern’s Eric Williams during Game 1 of their best-of-three Hockey East playoff series, Friday at Matthews Arena in Boston. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

Friday, March 09, 2018

BOSTON — UMass hockey coach Greg Carvel liked almost everything about his team’s effort against No. 7-ranked Northeastern in Game 1 of their best-of-three Hockey East playoff series.

But the outlier proved to be the difference. The Huskies’ vaunted power play scored twice on the Minutemen’s only penalty, a 5-minute major in the second period, as Northeastern escaped with a 3-2 win at Matthews Arena, Friday.

“It was a real good hockey game. I’m very proud of my team,” Carvel said. “We came out and played the way we wanted to. Everyone said don’t take penalties. That was a focus of ours. We hit a guy in the numbers and took a 5-minute penalty. That was the difference in the game. ... I love my team. I love how hard we played. It was a fun hockey game to watch. I’m excited for tomorrow night.”

The teams will return to Matthews for Game 2 Saturday at 7 p.m.

The game-winner came just after the end of UMass’ only power play with the game tied 2-2. Patrick Schule jumped out of the penalty box and laid a hit on Philip Lagunov separating him from the puck. Schule alertly centered the puck to Dylan Sikura across the ice. The senior forward slung it at the net. Minuteman goalie Ryan Wischow got a pad on the puck, but it trickled through with 6:12 remaining.

“Awesome job by my team coming back, but unfortunate how they scored the third goal,” Carvel said.

Going into the series, Carvel said avoiding penalties against Northeastern’s elite power play was critical to having a chance. So when Jake Gaudet was called for a 5-minute boarding major and game misconduct for contact to the head, the Huskies smelled blood.

The first goal came on a failed clear that allowed Jeremy Davies to tee up a shot from the point. Nolan Stevens redirected it past a screened Wischow to make it 1-0 with 11:09 left in the second.

Sikura had the second, unloading a shot from the right-wing faceoff circle past Wischow with 16 seconds left on the penalty and 7:09 left in the period to make it 2-0.

“Their power play is just too good to give them 5 minutes,” Carvel said. “We had two chances to get the puck down the ice at the beginning of it. It we did maybe it changes it up a little bit.”

UMass (17-19-2) cut its deficit and grabbed some momentum just seconds after the Husky power play ended. Coming out of the box, Austin Albrecht, who was serving the penalty for Gaudet, took a pass from Niko Rufo and his wrist shot was faster than Cayden Primeau’s glove to the top-right corner of the net to make it 2-1 with 6:37 left.

For the third time in four postseason games, UMass erased a two-goal lead. Brett Boeing, who’d moved into Gaudet’s spot on the first line to start the third period, redirected a Mario Ferraro shot by Primeau to tie the game at 2-2, 2:42 into the final frame.

“That’s a gritty effort by my team to be down 2-0 and come back,” Carvel said. “If we can stay out of the penalty box, I like out chances tomorrow.”

Wischow, who started his second straight game in place of injured freshman Matt Murray, made 28 saves, while Primeau stopped 29 for the Huskies.

Among the crowd of 1,919 in the old building were a good-sized loud collection of UMass fans who at times shouted down the sparse group cheering for the home team.

“That was awesome. To hear them have our back gives so much pride to the program,” Wischow said. “We wish we could have had a better result for them.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage