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Men’s hockey, hoops storm into 2012

Photo by Jim Rosvold.

Thrilling victories by both the men’s hockey and basketball teams over the holiday break have helped the squads maintain their momentum heading into the New Year.

On New Year’s Eve, the men’s hockey team skated to a 3-2 victory over No. 2 Minnesota to win the Mariucci Classic tournament, the second time the Huskies have won the tournament and the first time since 1997.

Steve Quailer, Garrett Vermeersch and Vinny Saponari each scored for the Huskies and goaltender Chris Rawlings continued his outstanding play by stopping 31 of 33 shots in the tournament’s championship game.

Rawlings was named the Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week for stopping a total of 54 shots and posting a .915 save percentage in the two-game holiday tournament. Sophomore Braden Pimm was named the tournament MVP, notching two goals and an assist.

Northeastern skated to a 3-3 tie with Princeton in the opening game of the tournament on Dec. 30, but won in a shootout to advance to the final against Minnesota.

The Huskies (8-7-3) are in the midst of an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1), which qualifies as the third longest in program history. Up next is a scrimmage on Saturday night against the Under-18 U.S. National Team Development Program.

Meanwhile, the men’s basketball squad earned a pair of impressive road victories over the break, including a 53-51 thriller at Vermont on Dec. 30 that ended with guard Joel Smith hitting a runner from the right wing as time expired.

The buzzer beater capped a tightly contested game that featured 10 lead changes and six ties. Smith led the Huskies in scoring with 19 points on 50 percent shooting (7 of 14) from the field.

On Monday, the Huskies followed up the dramatic victory by defeating Towson, 57-48. Jonathan Lee led the squad with 13 points and five rebounds. After leading 25-23 at the break, the Huskies opened the second half with ferocious defense that limited Towson to just one field goal over the first 8 minutes, 25 seconds.

The men’s team (5-7) returns to action tonight against the University of North Carolina Wilmington at Matthews Arena at 7 p.m.