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Different day, same score, as Huskies beat Union 2-1

Different day, same score, as Huskies beat Union 2-1

Funky bounce in the third period leads to game-winning goal for Huskies as Dutchmen fall to 0-4-0
Different day, same score, as Huskies beat Union 2-1
Union's Dylan Anhorn advances the puck under pressure from Northeastern's Tyler Madden.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY -- It was like losing a staring contest because you hiccuped.

As Union men's hockey coach Rick Bennett said, the Dutchmen can't afford even one hiccup these days.

A long, high flip-in by Northeastern looked harmless, and then wasn't, as Union goalie Darion Hanson not only misplayed a funky bounce, but watched the puck skitter over to the stick blade of Northeastern's Biagio Lerario barreling toward the net.

Fresh out of the penalty box, Lerario buried the gift at 11:42 of the third period to give the No. 15 Huskies a 2-1 victory over Union at Messa Rink Saturday evening.

The score was identical to Friday's result between the teams, and was played in a similarly even fashion, with barely anything separating the two teams on the ice or the scoresheet.

But Northeastern moves on with a 2-0-0 record to start the season, and Union fell to 0-4-0, as it did two seasons ago. Bennett said after Friday's loss that Union's margin of error "is nil," and they proved that again on Saturday.

"We're not here to go out on the ice and lose, so a win would be awesome," Union senior co-captain Vas Kolias said. "If I recall, back in my sophomore year, we started oh-and-5, so this is not the end of the world, by any means. We're a new team, and we've got some growing pains currently, but we're going to keep pushing and get in the right direction."

"We found a way to even it up, and got a bit of a break on the winning goal, when we were Johnny on the spot," Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. "The good news is we were driving the net, which allowed us to put it in that empty net after that bad bounce."

Unlike Friday, Union never had a chance to pull Hanson for an extra skater in the closing moments, since junior defenseman Brandon Estes had gone to the penalty box for hooking with 2:12 left in the game.

After two scoreless periods without much in the way of scoring chances for either team, sophomore center Sam Morton gave Union a 1-0 lead at 4:45 of the third period for his first goal of the season.

Senior wing Anthony Rinaldi drove hard to the left post and was able to shovel the puck into the crease while under heavy pressure, and Morton banged it home.

"Driving the net goes a long way," Morton said. "It creates confusion. The more people we can get at the net, the more we're going to create, so we just have to pounce on rebounds when they're there and have chaos around the net."

Union's first hiccup allowed Northeastern to tie it just over four minutes later.

Freshman defenseman Dylan Anhorn fanned on a pass from the left point, and the Huskies' Riley Hughes pounced on it for a breakaway that made it 1-1 at 8:54.

At 9:30, Estes and Lerario drew matching penalties after Estes went crashing into the Union net on a play in transition. He randomly found himself in possession of Lerario's stick, and flung it toward center ice, so Lerario punched Estes in the head while Estes was still sitting on the ice.

"Not happy with the first one," Bennett said of Estes' two penalties in the third. "No need to throw the kid’s stick. So, thank goodness the kid rapped him in the head so it was even.

"Second one [with 2:12 left], he was just trying to recover because we had two missed assignments and he had to help out. He was doing his job, two other guys were not. I don’t fault him on that one."

Moments after Lerario and Estes got out of the box, Lerario found himself in the right place at the right time on the short hop that Hanson couldn't smother.

The Huskies' Zach Solow launched the puck high in the air toward the Union goal from the right side of the blueline, and Lerario came down left wing and easily put in the game-winner with Hanson way out of position.

"Listen, I am not a goaltender," Bennett said. "It was just an unfortunate play. I don’t know if it bounced or not, if it was going wide. All I know is that it hit Hanny.

"But we didn’t pick up the wide side, either. So, that is just not one person at fault here. All the players that were out there, we had a forward watching the puck the whole time and there was a guy on the wide side. To me, that was a collective effort."

"The puck got flipped out towards their goalie," Madigan said. "It was jumping, and the goalie had a hard time, it bounced once and was in between hops, kind of like on a shortstop, he couldn't corral it and it got out in front of him. Lerario was Johnny on the spot, going to the net hard, which is good. He redeemed himself."

It doesn't any easier for the Dutchmen.

Their next assignment is two road games next weekend at UMass, who made it to the national championship game last year before losing to Minnesota Duluth.

"Tonight I saw a little bit of it [frustration from the players]," Bennett said. "I could sense they feel they are so close, but at times, it feels like you are so far away. We just have to know that we are not that far away."

"Yeah, it's frustrating, but it's also motivation," Morton said. "It's early in the season still, so there's a lot of time to make improvements in areas we need to make improvements in."

Northeastern 0 0 2 -- 2

Union 0 0 1 -- 1

First period -- None. Penalties -- Sidorski, U (holding), 9:40;  R. Shea, NE (high sticking), 12:30.

Second period -- None. Penalties -- Bucheler, NE (interference), 9:45; Breault, U (hooking), 19:19.

Third period -- 1, Union, Morton 1 (Rinaldi, Kolias), 4:45. 2, Northeastern, Hughes 1, 8:54. 3, Northeastern, Lerario 1 (Solow, Harris), 11:42. Penalties -- Hughes, NE (hooking), 00:00; Breault, U (delay of game), 1:45; Smedsrud, U (slashing), 6:19; Lerario, NE (hitting after the whistle), 9:30; Estes, U (unsportsmanlike conduct), 9:30; Harris, NU (tripping), 15:08; Estes, U (hooking), 17:48.

Shots on goal -- Northeastern 6-10-8 -- 24. Union 6-5-10 -- 21.

Power-play opportunities -- Northeastern 0 of 5. Union 0 of 4.

Goalies -- Northeastern, Pantano 2-0-0 (21 shots-20 saves). Union, Hanson 0-4-0 (24-22).

T -- 2:15. A -- 1,852.

Referees -- Kyle Allen, Anthony Kenney. Linesmen -- Fraser McIntyre, Jordan Patarino.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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