BY: JOSH BROWN
BOSTON- After Northeastern lost 3-2 to Acadia last Sunday in their annual exhibition game, head coach Jim Madigan said he was expecting a quick Vermont team to show up to Matthews Arena for both teams season openers Saturday night.
Madigan, who was suspended for comments made after last year’s game three loss to New Hampshire in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, watched from the rafters as Vermont (1-0-0) did just that, using their speed to dismantle the Huskies (0-1-0) 6-2 in front of 3,298 fans.
“Extremely disappointed,” said assistant coach Jerry Keefe who manned the bench for Northeastern in Madigan’s absence. “I didn’t see this coming to be honest with you. I thought we were going to come out with a lot of energy.”
Unfortunately for the Huskies, that is exactly what Vermont did, taking a 1-0 lead 16:33 into the first period on a Mike Paliotta goal from the blue line that sailed over the outstretched glove of Huskies goalie Clay Witt.
“Going into the second period I thought, alright we’ll find our way a little bit,” said Keefe.
The Huskies were never able to find their way, as Vermont scored four second period goals, exposing the Northeastern defense and beating the usually solid Huskies net minder.
Sophomore Mario Puskarich started the second period onslaught 9:16 into the period when he took a shot from the right point that Witt had no chance on, giving the Catamounts a 2-0 lead. Just over two minutes later Jonathan Turk got on the scoreboard on a power play goal that came about after Huskies defenseman Jarrett Fennell took a seemingly unnecessary tripping penalty a minute prior.
That would not be the last Northeastern heard from Turk, as he netted another goal at the 18:08 mark in the second, when he cleaned up a Mario Puskarich rebound to give Vermont a 3-0 lead.
The Catamounts finished their third period beat down with just 35 seconds left in the period when senior Jake Fallon took a puck laying on the door step and roofed it into the net to give his team a commanding lead heading into the third.
“The second period I felt like we exectured our game and sometimes you get a little puck luck,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “I think that’s what happened tonight.”
Northeastern would not die just yet though, as Mike Szmatula scored 3:33 into the third period after Huskies junior Kevin Roy dished the puck from the behind of net to the stick of Szmatula who muscled it between two Vermont defenders and behind goalie Brody Hoffman to cut the deficit to four.
Less than two minutes later Huskies captain Dax Lauwers scored when a Mike McMurtry shot produced a juicy rebound that Lauwers poked away at until it found the back of the net.
“I thought our team battled more in the third,” Keefe said, “There was no quit on our team, so I’ll give them credit for that.”
Vermont ended any hopes for a Northeastern comeback on this day though when Turk scored his third goal of the game on a cross ice pass from Alexx Privitera that beat Derick Roy, who took over for Witt in the third period.
“Give our guys a lot of credit,” Sneddon said, “I thought we had excellent defensive sticks tonight. And not just influencing their shots but they had some good entry plays and our back pressure was pretty good.”
“When you’re talking about guys like Kevin Roy, Szmatula, really all four of their lines had dangerous players on it,” Sneddon added. “I thought we were consistent with executing that game plan tonight.”
Keefe felt a lack of effort from the Huskies in the first two periods was to blame for the loss.
“I can look at our lineup right now and say there was only maybe a few guys that looked like they showed up and wanted to make a difference tonight,” Keefe said. “They’re a good team no doubt, they looked faster, they looked stronger, they looked grittier.”
“The most disappointing thing for me, was I thought we were a soft team tonight, and we’re not built that way,” Keefe added.
This article can also be found on USCHO.com