Northeastern Edges Minutemen, 3-2
March 6, 2004
AMHERST, Mass. - Northeastern jumped out to a 3-0 lead, then withstood a furious UMass rally to hand the Minutemen a 3-2 defeat on Senior Night at the Mullins Center. However, the Minutemen gained the No. 3 seed for the upcoming Hockey East Quarterfinal series next weekend. UMass falls to 16-11-6 overall and finished 12-9-3 in Hockey East.
UMass was the aggressor, as three Minuteman seniors, dominated the first eight minutes of the game. Mike Warner (Walthamn, Mass.), Thomas Pöck (Klagenfurt, Austria) and Nick Kuiper (Beaconsfield, Quebec), playing in their final regular-season home game, all had good looks at the goal that Northeastern goalie Keni Gibson stopped, two on remarkable saves. Greg Mauldin (Holliston, Mass.) also had a good look from the left slot on a 4-on-2 break, but his shot was into Gibson's body, who smothered the puck. The Minutemen dominated defensively, but the Huskies got a big break after a UMass turnover in its own zone. The Huskies' Brian Winiarski picked up the loose puck, shoveled a pass to Eric Ortlip, who then dropped a pass back to Jared Mudryk, who wristed a shot top-shelf past Gabe Winer (Stoughton, Mass.) for a 1-0 advantage at 19:19. The goal came on Northeastern's first shot of the contest.
Northeastern had the game's first power play after a UMass tripping penalty early in the second frame. The Minutemen killed off the Husky attack and went on their first chance after a Husky penalty at the end of the Northeastern chance. However, UMass had only one good look from Pöck and Northeastern stopped the chance. The Huskies went up 2-0 when Ray Ortiz flipped in a shot from in front on only their second shot of the game, with assists credited to Jason Guerriero and Mike Morris. UMass continued with the pressure, and went on its second power play when Josh Hanson (Medford, Mass.) drew a penalty 10 minutes into the game. But again, the Minuteman power play struggled, not being able to set up in the Northeastern zone and the Huskies killed the chance. Northeastern also had a power play killed late in the period, to keep the Minutemen within striking distance.
Northeastern pushed the lead to 3-0 just 2:02 into the third period. Steve Burnstill picked up a loose puck in the right slot, was left alone for several seconds, put a couple of moves on Winer and slipped a shot just inside the left post. Both Swiniarski and Ortiz assisted on the netter. UMass tried to get back into the game, going on its thired power play of the contest just five minutes into the frame. The Minutemen answered, as Greg Mauldin one-time a Stephen Werner (Chevy Chase, Md.) feed at 5:40 to cut the Huskies' lead to 3-1. Pöck also assisted on the goal. Moments later, UMass went on another power play, and cut into the lead even further as Mauldin rocketed a Marvin Degon (Millbury, Mass.) feed at 6:54 for his second goal of the game. Werner fed Degon for the second assist on the play. The Minutemen continued to buzz, and pulled Winer with 1:43 to play, hoping to get the equalizer. However, the Minutemen couldn't push it across and the Huskies held on for a 3-2 win.
The Minutemen will now focus their efforts on the Hockey East Quarterfinals to be played at the Mullins Center on Thursday, March 11, through Saturday, March 13, against UMass Lowell. It marks the first time that the Minutemen have ever hosted, as the Minutemen received the third seed for the Playoffs. For ticket information, call the UMass Ticket Office at 1-866-UMASS-TIX.