Northeastern 9, UAH 1

There’s lots of excitement about the future of Charger hockey. There was lots of excitement heading into Friday night as UAH represented the WCHA for the first time.

But there will still be days like this, when you realize you’re rebuilding and have seven freshmen making their college debuts.

Northeastern hit the Chargers early and often, dominating the first period and never looking back in an 9-1 win over UAH Friday night in the season opener for both teams. Both teams face off again Saturday at 6 p.m (Catching the Game).

The Huskies came out shooting, and it wasn’t long before their top scorer Kevin Roy got on the board. His spin move from between the circles bounced off the crossbar past freshman goalie Matt Larose gave NU a 1-0 lead just 46 seconds in.

On the Huskies’ first power play, Dalen Hedges took a Zach Aston-Reese pass in the left circle and snapped it over Larose for a 2-0 advantage at 6:07.

NU already had an 11-1 shots advantage at that point, but after Brandon Clowes was called for a hitting-from-behind major with a game misconduct, the Huskies poured it on. In the ensuing five-minute power play, NU extended its lead to 4-0 after goals from Matt Benning and Braden Pimm in a 10-shot barrage.

Larose was pulled after the fourth goal, stopping 16 of 20 shots in just 11 minutes. The other freshman net minder, Carmine Guerriero, was peppered immediately, and he stopped five pucks in his first minute alone.

At one point, NU had a 23-1 shots advantage. UAH would close a little thanks to two power plays late in the period, but could not convert.

Larose came back in goal to start the second, and the Chargers were able to get a few more opportunities for themselves. However, a loose puck goal by Mike McMurtry at 5:31 made it 5-0, Adam Reid at 15:10 made it 6-0, and Roy’s second goal of the night made it 7-0.

UAH finally got on the board with 1:11 to go in the second. Brandon Carlson’s shot rebounded off of goalie Clay Witt, and Chad Brears followed up in the slot for his first goal of the season. Frank Misuraca got the second assist.

Braden Pimm earned his own game misconduct on a contact to the head penalty, but the Chargers couldn’t fully realize a major power play due to penalties of their own. Most of the second period and early in the third was full of whistles: UAH had 10 penalties, while NU had 12.

Ryan Belonger scored at 4:41 of the third period, and Roy finished his hat trick with 1:52 to go to finish the scoring.

Northeastern outshot UAH 52-27. Larose finished with 35 saves on 44 shots. Guerriero had eight saves in just under nine minutes.  — Michael Napier

Commentary: What do you say about a night like tonight?  I think that you have to focus on three things:

  1. The penalties are an obvious thing to control.  The game was called very tightly, and the guys have to react to that.  I don’t think that either major penalty was more than a minor, but a) I don’t wear stripes and b) it’s early in the season, and we usually see points of emphasis.  The boys just have to rein that one in — and you can see how it affected both teams.
  2. Northeastern has a speed advantage, and the boys have to work strategically to get them wider and slower.  The Huskies were at their best tonight when slashing through center ice, as you can see by, well, anything that Mike Szmatula did on the ice.
  3. The power play didn’t do the best job of handling the puck and holding it in the offensive zone.  That has to be better.  No matter what the Huskies’ forwards can do to use their speed advantage, the point guys have to do a better job holding the puck in, moving it lower, and taking shots.

Herm Edwards liked to say, “We can build on this.”  Yes, we can.  After the last few years, it’ll be more interesting to see Game 21 than Game 1. — Geof Morris

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