Men's Hockey: Northeastern overcomes two-goal deficit to force Game Three

By Justin Loring
On March 15, 2014

After game one of the series finished 1-0, Northeastern and New Hampshire flipped the script for game two as Northeastern captured a 5-4 victory in overtime. Kevin Roy scored two goals for the Huskies while Grayson Downing and Justin Agosta each registered a goal and an assist for the Wildcats. Despite trailing 4-2 a little more than halfway through the second period, Northeastern battled back and scored three unanswered goals to force a game three.

The game-winner came at the 3:39 mark of the extra frame after Matias Cleland committed a turnover from behind his own net. Braden Pimm intercepted an errant shot at the blue line and immediately looked to set up the offense. With a host of bodies in front, Pimm put a shot on net that apparently hit Mike Szmatula in the chest and trickled into the net to seal the win. The referees went to the monitor to review, but the play was upheld and Northeastern captured the win.

"We had [the lead] and we just gave it up," head coach Dick Umile said. "Give [Northeastern] credit, they battled back."

UNH got on the board first off an expiring penalty from the stick of Downing. Taking the puck from the point, Downing worked into the high slot and fired a shot that deflected off Pimm's stick. Clay Witt was unable to get his pad on the puck as it bounced five-hole for the first goal of the game.

Northeastern answered less than three minutes later on a hard charge in front of the UNH net by Ryan Belonger. Pimm set up the play from the wall and fired a shot off that found its way in front. The puck trickled to the right post, where Belonger was Johnny-on-the-spot and knocked home his fifth of the season. Casey DeSmith protested to the referees, begging for an interference, but the call stood and the game was tied at 1-1.

The top line of Nick Sorkin, Kevin Goumas and Matt Willows set up a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing sequence that lead to UNH taking a 2-1 lead. Willows took the puck along the boards and dumped it behind the net. As the defensemen crashed, they failed to located Sorkin in front of the net and a simple pass from Goumas gave Sorkin his 19th on the year.

Towards the end of the first period, Northeastern took two penalties that gave UNH a 5-on-3 opportunity to start the second. UNH was able to get a few good looks at the net, but as the first penalty expired, Matt Benning was hauled down on a breakaway to give the Huskies a penalty shot. Benning should have taken the shot, however the referees allowed Northeastern to select their best player, Kevin Roy, to take the shot. Roy stickhandled around DeSmith, who made a desperation attempt to stop it, but the Huskies tied it at two apiece.

"That was definitely the turning point in the game," Umile said afterwards.

UNH rebounded, however, scoring two goals from Tyler Kelleher and Justin Agosta to take a 4-2 lead with 8:25 to play in the second. Kelleher's goal came on a rebound from a Dalton Speelman shot, while Agosta ripped a slap shot from the right side boards that went past a screened Witt on the near post.

"That [goal] goes back to our new system," Agosta said. "[The coaches] want the defensemen really aggressive on the walls. I pinched up and just took a shot, really don't know what happened after that."

Northeastern didn't falter, scoring three unanswered goals to capture the victory. The first came at the 16:29 mark as Colton Saucerman gathered his own rebound in front and put it over the shoulder of DeSmith. The tying goal came in very similar fashion to the first goal, as Roy netted his second of the night with just 6.6 seconds left in the period.

After a scoreless third period, the teams traded possessions in overtime with looks from Sorkin and Maxim Gaudreault for the 'Cats that could've given the team the victory. Despite the deflating loss, Agosta was confident the team could capture game three:

"We take care of what we can take care of and the Hockey Gods will do the rest for us."

The teams will play the rubber match of the series at 4:30 on Sunday at the Whittemore Center.

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