By: Dan McLoone
Orono, ME. – It was another high-scoring affair at Alfond Arena on Saturday night, but Northeastern did not have the answers this time. The Huskies held a one-goal advantage four different times, but Maine fought back to tie it every time and came away with a 5-4 win on senior night.
Tanner Pond got the scoring going early for Northeastern, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds after puck drop. Nolan Vesey tied it up with eight minutes left in the first period to send the teams to the locker room tied up at one.
Goals were aplenty in the second period, as the Huskies took a 2-1 lead six minutes in when Jeremy Davies tapped home a puck on the doorstep on the power play, set up by a beautiful pass from Nolan Stevens. The Black Bears responded with a power play tally of their own just three minutes laterwhen Chase Pearson found the back of the net. Dylan Sikura reclaimed the lead for Northeastern with eight minutes left in the period, benefiting from another great pass from Nolan Stevens.
It looked like the Huskies would head into the third period with a 3-2 lead, but Nolan Vesey netted his second goal of the night on a power play strike with just 28 seconds left in the frame to tie the game up.
Stevens lit the lamp himself four minutes into the third period, giving the Huskies a 4-3 lead and their second power play tally of the evening. As they had done all night, the Black Bears responded. After getting tripped up with just the goalie to beat, Blaine Byron converted on a penalty shot to tie the game up at four. Having seized momentum back, it took just a few minutes for Maine to take the lead for good, as Vesey completed his hat trick with six minutes left.
Northeastern tried to find the tying goal down the stretch, but couldn’t overcome the eight penalties they took and the stellar play between the pipes of senior Matt Morris, the backup who finished with 40 saves in the senior night start.
With the loss and Merrimack’s win over Vermont, Northeastern finishes as the eight seed in Hockey East. The Huskies will take on UConn, the ninth-place team, in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. Games one and two of the best-of-three series will be at Matthews Arena on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., with game three on Sunday at 7 p.m. if necessary.