BOSTON — One of the things Northeastern University coach Greg Cronin learned when he was an assistant coach at the University of Maine was the late Shawn Walsh’s penchant for having his teams properly prepared for the second night of a two-game series against the same opponent, especially if the Bears had lost the first night.
“Part of Shawn’s mentality up at Maine was you can’t lose back-to-back games. There has to be playoff desperation with the way you play [the second night] and we had that tonight,” said Cronin after his Huskies, decimated by injuries, used four third-period goals to beat Maine 5-2.
Maine had won Friday night 6-2.
Northeastern, without six injured regulars, improved to 4-5 overall, 2-4 in Hockey East, while Maine had its three-game winning streak snapped and is now 4-6 and 3-3, respectively.
Sophomore left wing Alex Tuckerman’s goal 8:34 into the third period, 56 seconds after Maine’s Brian Flynn had equalized, proved to be the game-winner, and NU put the game away with power-play goals 1:50 apart after Maine’s Kyle Solomon and Will O’Neill took contact to the head minors 47 seconds apart.
Kyle Kraemer scored with the two-man advantage and Matt Lipinski converted with a one-man advantage as the Huskies went 3-for-8 on the power play.
“They were hungrier for the puck, especially in the third period,” said Maine junior defenseman Mike Banwell. “They battled harder than we did and that’s why they came out on top.”
Maine coach Tim Whitehead said it was a great win for Northeastern.
“They kept their discipline in the third period and outworked us,” he said. “The game was within our grasp, but we let it slip away with foolish penalties.
“And a big thing was after each of our goals, they struck right back. That always deflates you and lifted them up.”
Banwell broke a scoreless tie when his wrist shot from the point deflected in off a Northeastern stick 15:34 into the second period, but Robbie Vrolyk’s power-play goal 2:15 later tied it.
David Strathman’s shorthanded goal 1:12 into the third period gave NU its first lead, but Flynn answered 6:26 later.
Tuckerman struck back after Flynn partially fanned on a shot in the high slot and it wound up on his stick.
Tuckerman carried it through center ice into the offensive zone and wristed a 35-footer from the high slot over Maine goalie Scott Darling’s blocker into the far corner.
“It got tipped. It was going into my chest and hit a leg and went over my shoulder,” said Darling.
It was the fourth time this season Maine has given up a goal within a minute of scoring one.
“Unfortunately, the momentum we gained from tying it up we lost with that goal,” said Whitehead.
“[Tuckerman] was our best player tonight,” said Cronin.
Kraemer scored seven seconds after O’Neill’s penalty gave the Huskies a two-man advantage.
Steve Silva won a faceoff back to Garrett Vermeersch, and his low shot from the midpoint wound up on the stick of Kraemer in the low slot. He pulled it around Darling and swept it between the goalie’s left skate and the post.
“I just spun off my checker and scored,” said Kraemer, who felt he and his teammates played better than they did on Friday night.
“We won a lot of battles for the puck tonight. We didn’t win many battles down low in the corners last night. And we didn’t shoot the puck. Tonight, we planned on shooting the puck, going to the net hard and scoring some goals,” added Kraemer.
Lipinski iced it when he skated on to a perfectly placed pass by Mike Hewkin in the left wing circle and one-timed a snap shot between Darling’s blocker and pad and into the short-side corner.
Banwell opened the scoring with his second goal in as many games, but Vrolyk converted a diagonal pass by Drew Ellement with a rising wrister from the bottom of the left circle.
Strathman’s shorthanded goal was set up by a low airborne pass from Tyler McNeely that allowed Strathman to slice across the low slot and tuck the puck into the short side.
Flynn tied it on the power play with a rising wrist shot from the top of the left circle off a Spencer Abbott pass that sailed over the glove of freshman goalie Chris Rawlings.
Maine went 1-for-6 on the power play and has now scored at least one power-play goal in every game this season and in 13 consecutive games dating back to last season.