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Northeastern’s early goals, breakaway chances prove insurmountable for UMass

Caroline O’Connor/Collegian

BOSTON – After scoring five goals in the Massachusetts hockey team’s previous match up with Northeastern University, Friday evening’s contest at Matthews Arena appeared to be one that the Minutemen could steal on their opponent’s ice.

Those hopes were dashed fairly early on in the first period, as it was apparent that UMass (5-22-2, 2-13-1 Hockey East Association) would not pull off such a feat.

Northeastern (12-12-5, 5-9-3 HEA) struck for four goals in the first 20 minutes of play, chasing UMass’ starting goaltender Ryan Wischow (eight saves) just 17 minutes and five seconds into the game.

The Minutemen fought back and scored two quick goals before permitting a short-handed and power play goal before the end of the second period in an eventual 6-2 defeat.

“We competed for 60 minutes but ultimately we shoot ourselves in the foot too often,” UMass coach Greg Carvel said. “We didn’t make their skill guys work to score. It felt like we gave them a lot tonight. Obviously they’re very good skilled forwards who put the puck in the net when given the opportunity and we can’t put the puck in the net when we have our opportunities so it’s not a good combination.”

Leading 2-0 with just over three minutes to play in the first period, the Huskies’ earned a power play chance after Minutemen defenseman Ivan Chukarov committed a hitting from behind penalty. Northeastern’s John Stevens (three assists) fired a cross-ice pass to Adam Gaudette who then buried a slap shot past Wischow to push the Huskie lead to three.

Just 22 seconds later, a Huskie defender found a streaking Nolan Stevens (two goals) after Niko Hildenbrand’s shot in the Northeastern zone went wide. With the Minutemen left defending a 3-on-1, Stevens drilled a slap shot by the short side of Wischow to give the Huskies a four-goal advantage and put UMass in a deficit that proved to be insurmountable.

“I looked up and they had four goals on 11 shots,” Carvel said. “I don’t care if they get 11 breakaways, you shouldn’t give up four goals. Something’s got to change.”

“They have a few big guys who can really play, so it’s tough,” UMass defenseman Jake McLaughlin (goal) said. “They cycle the puck well and they play well together. It’s tough on us. I thought we did a good job keeping them to the outside. They just kept bring it up the boards.”

The Huskies opened the scoring just 16 seconds into the game as UMass was caught in a defensive breakdown. Stevens tallied his first goal of the game and fifth of the season off a feed from line mate Zac Aston-Reese (two goals, two assists).

A 2-on-1 breakaway put the Minutemen in a two-goal deficit after Dylan Sikura pushed the puck past Wischow’s short side. Senior goaltender Alex Wakaluk played the proceeding 42:55, stopping 25 of 27 shots from the high-powered Huskies.

“We brought two goalies this weekend and we brought Alex [Wakaluk] because he deserves a chance,” Carvel said. “He played steady and played solid and he’ll have another chance tomorrow night.”

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at kdaluz@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

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