By Matthew Cunha
Five days removed from a thrilling 3–2 win over No. 4 UMass, Northeastern men’s hockey crashed down to earth with a 2–2 tie against the Holy Cross Crusaders (1–1–1), a team that finished last season 10–21–5.
Sophomore star Tyler Madden notched his first two goals of the season for the Huskies, but didn’t really care about his own play.
“It is something I don’t look at, especially after a loss,” said Madden, crediting the tie as something worse.
The Crusaders beat No. 6/7 Providence in their first game of the season, but lost to Hockey East bottom-feeders Merrimack 3–1 on Thursday night.
In the first period, Northeastern (3–0–1) mustered only five shots. In the second period, they added eight more, at which point the Crusaders were outshooting the Huskies 19–13.
“It might have been the worst two periods we have had in this building since [assistant] coach Keefe and I have been a part of this staff,” said head coach Jim Madigan. “It was just ugly for two periods.
“I don’t think we gave our opponent enough respect. It is one thing playing with confidence; I thought we played with arrogance. And Holy Cross shoved it up the you know what. Right up our rear ends and carried the play for two periods. I thought we were a little bit better in the third, but it is unacceptable.”
The poor starts are nothing new for the Huskies, who have yet to score a first-period goal this season.
“It is a mental approach,” said Madigan. “It is mentally being ready to start, and you need your older guys to take the lead there. We have got some younger guys who I thought played like freshman and they have been here for two months. You have got to figure this thing out. You don’t have three months to figure it out.”
Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano shut the door on multiple Crusader attempts in the first period, but with 4:35 remaining in the second, the Crusaders used a power play to break the scoreless tie. Neil Robinson flipped a slick cross-ice feed to Logan Ferguson and Pantano had no chance.
Less than two minutes later, Northeastern used their own power play to draw even. After Holy Cross’ Charlie Barrow was whistled for slashing, Tyler Madden found a loose pick, caught sophomore goalie Erik Gordon out of position, and potted it in the empty net for his long-awaited first of the season.
“Obviously you want to get that out of the way quick,” said Madden. “It took me a little bit. Once I got it out of the way I will be fine.”
Despite the poor performance in the first two periods, the Huskies were tied. The message from Madigan: “It was win a period, win a game. It has not been pretty to this point. Let’s find a way to win a game.”
Just a minute into the period it looked they were on the way. Madden, entering the zone on the rush with Matt Filipe, snuck a backhander by Gordon for his second of the night.
“I was just driving and trying to get something on the net,” said Madden. “Saw him cheating a little bit and threw it short-side.”
The Crusaders responded four minutes later. Patrick O’Leary’s pass found Conner Jean at the front of the net; Jean’s one-timer trickled into the net off the post.
“They got a second goal that was a little bounce on their end,” said Madigan. “The game probably deserved to end in a tie.”
Northeastern controlled the rest of the period but could not get one past Gordon. With just over three minutes left Madden forced a Crusader penalty with a few dekes. On the ensuing power play, the Crusaders blocked five Northeastern shots.
Play was even in overtime, with no good scoring chances until Northeastern drew a penalty with 15 seconds left. Holy Cross’ Kevin Darrar blocked Aidan McDonough’s attempt, then shot wide as time expired.
The tie will likely drop Northeastern in the rankings after their win over UMass. The Huskies travel to No.7/No.8 St. Cloud St. in Minnesota next weekend for a pair of games.
“The effort was not there tonight,” said Madden when asked how the team could improve. “At times it was, we dominated the third period. If we played like that the whole game we would have won.”