No. 1 UMass stunned by No. 8 Northeastern in 2-1 overtime thriller

Tyler Madden scored game-winner for the Huskies

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(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

BOSTON—Cale Makar had the game on his stick.

With under a minute left in regulation in a 1-1 tie between the Massachusetts hockey team and Northeastern Saturday night at Matthews Arena, Makar sprung loose on a breakaway after a slick poke check and had just Huskie goalie Cayden Primeau in his sights.

Unfortunately for UMass, Primeau stoned Makar with a glove save, robbing the Minutemen from snatching a last-second victory.

Instead it was Northeastern who claimed the win in overtime on Tyler Madden’s backhand beauty on a two-on-one bid, giving the No. 8 Huskies (15-5-1, 9-3-1 Hockey East Association) a split in the weekend series with top-ranked UMass (18-4-0, 10-2-0 HEA).

“[It’s] unfortunate for us that their two best players got breakaways and finished, our best player had a breakaway, had a chance to finish [and didn’t],” coach Greg Carvel said after the game. “I thought Primeau was the difference tonight. He was outstanding in net.”

Northeastern scored its first tally on an equally eye-catching goal from Jeremy Davies midway through the second period. Kurt Keats got outmuscled in the neutral zone by Davies, sending the Huskie blueliner in untouched against Minuteman netminder Matt Murray and Davies made no mistake with a backhander at 11:04.

One glaring mistake cost UMass a 1-0 score in an otherwise clean first 35 minutes of action. The Huskies were ready to go in the opening five minutes of the first but the Minutemen stood with them, before turning on the heat for themselves through the middle portion of the opening frame.

Davies’ goal was the only marker of the first 40 minutes, despite three power play chances for UMass and none from Northeastern.

“We wanted to try and get the puck to the point because they collapse down and they don’t give you a lot of space down low,” Carvel said about the offensive game plan Saturday. “We could have done a better job of that but it was one of those games, a pound the stone game. We told them before the game, ‘you’re not going to score six goals tonight like you did last night.’ Somebody’s going to win by a goal, maybe two goals and [we] had to have that mentality.”

After missing Friday night’s game with an illness, John Leonard returned in the second half of the home and home and made his presence felt in a big way. Following some extended offensive zone time by the Minutemen, Ty Farmer snapped a shot on Primeau from behind the goal line and the rebound popped right out to Leonard who was unmarked in the slot.

Leonard wasted no time, wristing home his seventh of the season glove-side past Primeau, knotting the score 1-1 at 8:02 of the third period.

“I thought after we scored that goal we’d find a way to win,” Carvel said. “I thought we played extremely well.”

UMass used Leonard’s goal and ramped up the pressure for the remainder of the third, not allowing the Huskies much breathing room.

It would prove to not be enough as Madden’s game-winner sent the Northeastern faithful home happy on a snowy Saturday night.

Murray finished with 25 saves while Primeau turned aside 45 shots.

“I know everybody was interested to see how we would play this weekend and I thought we played extremely well both nights and deserved a better fate,” Carvel said.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.