March 14, 2009

Courtesy of UMass

BOSTON - Chris Davis' goal with 7:30 to play in regulation lifted the UMass Minutemen to a 2-1 victory against No. 4 Northeastern in Game One of the Hockey East Quarterfinals at Matthews Arena. Both teams were held scoreless until the third period when Wade McLeod gave Northeastern the lead, but UMass responded with two goals of its own later on. Matt Irwin also scored for the Minutemen, while Paul Dainton was huge in goal, making 25 saves. Brad Thiessen got the start in goal for the Huskies, making 21 saves. The two teams will faceoff again tomorrow night in Game Two, which will be televised live on NESN with the puck scheduled to drop at 7:30 PM.

The Huskies outshot UMass 27-25 for the game, and Northeastern was 0-for-2 on the power play. The Minutemen were also 0-for-2 on the man advantage, but won 38-of-73 faceoffs.

Both teams had some quality chances during the first period, with the Minutemen outshooting Northeastern 7-5, but Thiessen and Dainton made big saves to keep the game scoreless. The Huskies had a good chance early in the period, but Dainton went post-to-post to make a huge sprawling save. Northeastern had other chances when they went on a four-on-three power play, but the UMass penalty-killing unit was able to weather the storm and keep the puck out of harm's way. The Minutemen's best chance of the period came in the final two minutes when a puck squirted out into the slot and onto the stick of Chase Langeraap, but Thiessen was there to turn away the bid.

The teams played a similar style throughout the second period, but once again both netminders continued to make save after save for their teams. The Huskies started to gain some momentum at the midway mark of the stanza, but Dainton calmly stood his ground and prevented Northeastern from taking the lead.

The Minutemen had a great chance with less than a minute to play in the period when Justin Braun and Cory Quirk went in on a two-on-one. Braun sent the puck over to Quirk, but a defenseman knicked the puck on its way through, and Quirk could not get a stick on the bouncing puck. Northeastern responded with a couple chances of their own with ten seconds left, but they could not get the puck past Dainton.

It took 45 minutes, but Northeastern finally broke the deadlock five minutes into the third period while shorthanded. After a UMass defender lost control of the puck along the boards, Wade MacLeod picked up the loose puck, dangled through another UMass defender and snapped a shot past Dainton.

The Minutemen answered back three minutes later on Irwin's fifth goal of the season. After receiving a pass from Quirk, Irwin let a rocket go from the point that buzzed through traffic and past Thiessen for the score.

UMass kept pounding away as the period wore on, and took its first lead of the game with seven minutes remaining in regulation on Davis' tenth goal of the season. After Davis sent the puck in on Thiessen from behind the net, Davis followed the rebound and kept digging until the puck crossed the goal line to give the Minutemen a 2-1 lead. The goal was Davis' first since January 30 against the Huskies.