BOSTON — This was the trip New Hampshire wasn’t inclined to make: a trip to western Massachusetts for a Hockey East Tournament quarterfinal series next weekend against regular-season champion UMass-Amherst.
That trip became a reality Friday night when No. 9 Northeastern beat the Wildcats, 4-0, in the regular-season finale for each team.
Among other things, the Minutemen swept the season series from the Wildcats (12-13-9, 8-10-6) by a combined score of 9-3.
If UNH, which finished eighth, at least tied the Huskies (23-10-1, 15-8-1) it would have played at No. 2 Providence College. Instead the Friars will host Boston College.
“For us, we knew no matter who we drew, you were going to have your work cut out for you,” UNH coach Mike Souza said. “UMass is dangerous. Playing Northeastern, there are a lot of similarities … high-end defensemen, explosive offense, good goaltending.
“It’s another lesson for us. You break down against UMass and the puck’s in the back of the net.”
The Wildcats came within inches of scoring the game’s first goal when a shot by Brendan van Riemsdyk beat Cayden Primeau (32 saves for his fifth shutout of the season) and hit the left post 1:40 after the opening faceoff.
Even though it appeared the shot clearly hit the post, the officials went to the reply monitor and confirmed it wasn’t a goal.
Overall, UNH carried the play in a scoreless first period as it outshot Northeastern 11-5.
Northeastern’s Jackson Pierson was whistled for tripping at 59 seconds of the second period but the Wildcats’ penalty unit held the Huskies without a shot.
Then, Northeastern junior Biagio Lerario took over. Lerario began the game with one goal and only five for his career but scored twice to give Northeastern a 2-0 lead.
First, Jordan Harris hit the right post but Lerario buried the rebound past Bedford’s Mike Robinson (20 saves) at 3:26.
Then, Lerario deflected in a shot by Eric Williams at 7:10.
Northeastern continued to skate downhill as it increased its lead to 3-0 going into the second intermission. Liam Peccararo deflected in a cross-crease pass from Tyler Madden at 10:29.
“Credit to them,” Souza said. “They’re dangerous. I thought we were playing OK, to be honest with you. I thought we competed hard for 60 minutes. But when you have breakdowns against Northeastern they’re going to capitalize and that’s exactly what happened.
“They’re a talented group. We talked about it all week. What happened was a carbon copy of what happened up at ‘The Whit.’ We’re pretty responsible as a group typically without the puck. You give those guys time and space and they’re going to make plays. And they made them.”
UNH was skating short-handed when Ryan Ferrier was assessed a five-minute major plus a game misconduct for contact to the head at 2:28 of the third.
The Huskies were skating a man down when John Picking found the upper-right corner at 11:46 for his team’s seventh short-handed goal of the season.
Dartmouth 3, SLU 2
Dartmouth outshot St. Lawrence by a wide margin Friday night and the Big Green needed all of that edge in a 3-2 win over the Saints in Game 1 of their best-of-three ECAC first-round playoff match at Thompson Arena in Hanover.
Collin Rutherford, Drew O’Connor and Quin Foreman scored for Dartmouth.
Game 2 is tonight at 7 at Thompson Arena.