By Mark Fraenkel
The penultimate weekend of January was an exciting few days of hockey setting the stage for a tight race for the conference title.
Northeastern Sweeps Merrimack
The Northeastern University Huskies (12-9-3, 10-4-2 Hockey East) beat the Merrimack College Warriors (15-9-1, 10-5-0 HE) twice this weekend, elevating the Huskies to first place in Hockey East.
Powered by a strong offensive performance, Jerry Keefe’s team took game one. Junior forward Sam Colangelo scored a power-play goal at 3:19 of the first period to open up the scoring. Sophomore forward Matt Choupani made it a two-goal lead just four and a half minutes later. Merrimack would respond when senior forward Filip Forsmark found the back of the net to cut the Northeastern lead to one, but three unanswered goals from the Huskies would give them the 5-1 victory.
The next night at Matthews Arena was a lower-scoring affair. Neither team scored heading into the final minutes of the matchup, but senior forward Aidan McDonough found the back of the net with 1:32 to play to secure a six-point weekend for the Huskies.
Northeastern will host the Boston College Eagles (9-7-5, 5-4-4 HE) on Tuesday night. Merrimack will travel to Burlington, Vermont to face the University of Vermont Catamounts (8-13-3, 3-10-1 HE) twice this weekend.
UConn Takes Four Out Of Six Points From UMass
The University of Connecticut Huskies (15-7-3, 10-6-2 HE) had a great weekend against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen (9-12-3, 3-10-1 HE).
In Amherst on Friday night, tied at two midway through the third period, UMass sophomore defenseman Scott Morrow scored on the power play to give the Minutemen the lead. Junior forward Hudson Schandor responded for the Huskies by scoring his second goal of the game with about three minutes left to tie it at three. In the overtime period, sophomore forward Chase Bradley found the back of the net late to win the game for UConn.
The next night, a UMass goal from sophomore forward Ryan Lautenbach gave the Minutemen a lead 12 seconds into the game but UConn went on to score three unanswered goals to take the game in regulation.
UConn, tied with the Boston University Terriers (17-6-0, 11-4-0 HE) in second place, will face the Yale Bulldogs on Friday in Hamden, Connecticut before facing either the Sacred Heart Pioneers (12-9-2, 11-4-2 Atlantic Hockey) or the Quinnipiac Bobcats (18-3-3, 12-2-0 ECAC) on Saturday.
UMass will look to rebound on the road against the UMass Lowell River Hawks (14-9-1, 8-5-1 HE) on Friday.
BC Stumbles Against UVM
After picking up some momentum, BC took a huge step back against Vermont this weekend.
Freshman forward Cutter Gauthier gave the Eagles an early 1-0 lead on Saturday night at Conte Forum, but sophomore forward Isak Walther tied the game later in the first. The score would hold through regulation and overtime, and the Catamounts would take the shootout.
In the rematch on Saturday, BC once again broke out to an early lead off of a power-play goal from junior forward Nikita Nesterenko. Sophomore forward Andrei Buyalsky would respond for the Catamounts on the power play in the second but junior forward Colby Ambrosio made it a 2-1 BC lead with about 13 minutes to play in the period. Two power-play goals from Catamount junior Will Zapernick in the second though, would give UVM the regulation win.
After playing Northeastern in a midweek game, Greg Brown’s Eagles will take on archrival BU in a home-and-home series.