Men’s Basketball Topples Towson in CAA Quarterfinal

Reminder: Northeastern plays Elon at 8:30 PM EDT on Monday in the semifinal of the CAA Tournament. Michael Petillo, Milton Posner, and Matt Neiser will be on the call from Washington D.C., with coverage beginning about 15 minutes before tipoff.

By Milton Posner

WASHINGTON — The calling card of Northeastern’s conference season was an infuriating one: they couldn’t figure out how to win close games. They forfeited second-half leads large and small, going long stretches without a bucket and letting other teams pillage them down low with little defensive resistance.

So when the Huskies went up 16 a few minutes into the second half, and when Towson mounted a furious run to trim the lead to four, Husky fans could be forgiven for fearing the worst.

But not tonight.

With their season on the line and the Tigers bearing down on them, the Huskies found another gear, securing a 72–62 win and advancing to the semifinals of the CAA Tournament. They will face No. 7 Elon on Monday night in the first six–seven semifinal matchup since 1993.

The game began in a rather unexpected fashion. Pat Skerry’s Towson squads are known for size, strength, and defensive intensity, all of which manifest in fierce play around the basket. But the Huskies used a number of lateral cuts and slides to earn strong position in the paint, and their ballhandlers ably found the cutters for layups. Max Boursiquot set the tone for this style of play, scoring Northeastern’s three buckets and finishing with 16 points (7–10 FG). Greg Eboigbodin also notched a pair of buckets off penetration and drop-off passes from the Husky guards.

“We knew Towson was going to blitz on ball screens, so we had a game plan to slip me to the mid-post and try to be aggressive,” Boursiquot noted. “My teammates were doing a great job of finding me and I was doing a good job of getting in and out of screens.”

Eventually the Huskies diversified their attack, with Bolden Brace chipping in some outside shooting. His three triples keyed a 15-point, eight-rebound performance that helped to negate several of Towson’s physical strengths.

In an odd scheduling quirk, Northeastern had played Towson a week before in their last regular-season game. Northeastern head coach Bill Coen attributed the Huskies’ three-point loss in that game primarily to Northeastern’s excessive second-half fouling, which give the Tigers a hefty advantage from the charity stripe and landed several key forwards in foul trouble.

Tonight there would be no repeat mistake. The Huskies played brilliant defense throughout the first half, limiting the Tigers to 23 points and fouling just five times. By holding their defensive positions on the low block and maintaining verticality when contesting shots, the Huskies turned the Tigers’ famous physicality against them, drawing offensive fouls that killed any chance Towson had at offensive momentum. It also placed nearly every Towson starter in foul trouble.

“We left our feet a lot when the ball came [inside],” Skerry said. “We were a little bit all over the place.”

After a slow start, Husky point guard Tyson Walker turned on the jets to boost Northeastern’s lead to 10 by halftime. Walker injured his shoulder two weeks ago against Drexel, and until he emerged from the tunnel before the game it was unclear if he would play. But he said the shoulder felt “perfectly fine” and undoubtedly played like it, netting 14 points.

The true oddity for the Huskies was Roland, who went scoreless in the first half amid foul trouble. When he finally stole a pass and slammed home a breakaway dunk with 18:24 to go in the second half, he immediately picked up his fourth foul and headed to the bench.

Coen deployed him in short bursts for the rest of the game, playing him for just 10 minutes in the second half when Roland would normally play all or almost all of it. He finished with just eight points after missing most of his shots and committing two turnovers. (The Huskies as a team were extraordinarily disciplined, turning the ball over just seven times to Towson’s 15.)

Northeastern wasn’t missing Roland, though, and after a pair of bailout threes from Walker and Shaq Walters — plus a layup form Guilien Smith — the Husky lead stood at a game-high 16 points.

But Towson finally tightened the screws, switching to a 3-2 zone.

“They were findings guys for a lot of layups . . . we couldn’t handle them off the dribble,” Skerry explained. “We probably played a lot more zone tonight than we’ve played in 20, 25 games, but we needed it to try to get back in the game.”

The zone threw Northeastern’s offense off the rhythm it had established from the opening tip. The Huskies started turning the ball over and forcing up contested long-range shots. Towson, normally the slowest-playing team in the CAA, used every defensive rebound as a chance to push in transition. Between their layups, foul drawing, perimeter shooting, and offensive rebounding, the Tigers went nine possessions without an empty trip. The zone threw Northeastern’s offense off the rhythm it had established from the opening tip. The Huskies started turning the ball over and forcing up contested long-range shots. Towson, normally the slowest-playing team in the CAA, used every defensive rebound as a chance to push in transition. Between their layups, foul drawing, perimeter shooting, and offensive rebounding, the Tigers went nine possessions without an empty trip. The run was keyed by Brian Fobbs — who finished with 21 points to lead all scorers — as well as Nakye Sanders and Dennis Tunstall, who each scored nine without missing a shot.

Combined with their rediscovered defensive restraint — they didn’t commit a foul for the first ten minutes of the second half — it allowed the Tigers to seize the momentum, with a resounding rejection by Sixth Man of the Year Nicolas Timberlake prompting a Jakigh Dottin layup that trimmed the lead to four.

But with Towson bearing down on them like a bowling ball, the Huskies refused to fall. Brace hit a quick three off a baseline inbounds to stem the tide, then Boursiquot threw down an basket-shaking jam off a slick pick-and-roll feed from Walker.

But the final dagger would come with a minute left when Walker stole an errant dribble and flew downcourt. With Towson big man Nakye Sanders bearing down on him, Walker tossed a pass to Walters — the man who filled in for him at point guard last week — who flushed home a clean one-handed dunk to seal the game and end Towson’s season.

The Tigers truly had a commendable year, leaping several spots in the conference standings after posting one of the largest record improvements of any team in the country. But this is the CAA, where absurdity is the new normal and calling a team an underdog proves only that you’re about to lose the money you bet against them.

The Huskies’ next opponent is a perfect example of that. After needing last-second heroics from Marcus Sheffield just to squeak by the worst team in the conference, No. 7 Elon scrapped their way to a win over No. 2 William & Mary and Nathan Knight, their newly crowned Player of the Year. Northeastern and Elon will square off at 8:30, and god only knows what happens then.

“We’re really, really excited to still be playing basketball in March,” Coen said with a wide smile. “It’s the greatest month of the year, and if you’re involved at all — as a player, as a fan, as a coach — the excitement around these tournaments is just unbelievable.”

IT’S A THREE-PEAT! Women’s Hockey Wins Hockey East Championship

By Christian Skroce

NORTH ANDOVER, MA — There was a theme for the 2020 Hockey East Championship, a theme the Northeastern Huskies hammered home forcefully and often: goals, goals, and more goals. That theme propelled the Northeastern Huskies to an unforgettable 9–1 victory over UConn and their third consecutive Hockey East Championship.

Northeastern began the day with 149 goals on the season, and they decided to add to that in a big way. The Northeastern Huskies played the Huskies of UConn, a team they had beaten three times during the regular season by a combined score of 10–2. By the time Sunday’s game wrapped up, Northeastern had doubled that margin.

Northeastern came out firing early and often, applying heavy pressure on the UConn defense and tallying several opportunities in the first five minutes. Junior defenseman Skylar Fontaine gave Northeastern its first goal of the day as she finished off a brilliant feed from forward Alina Mueller. Including the two quarterfinal games against Vermont, the semifinal against Maine, and her goal on Sunday, Fontaine had scored or assisted on the Huskies’ last eight goals.

Northeastern doubled its lead soon after, as Jess Schryver finished off an excellent pass from Chloé Aurard for a 2–0 lead. The goal was initially called back for interference, but replay confirmed the score.

UConn’s lone goal came just two minutes later, as an awkward bounce off the boards put goalie Aerin Frankel in a difficult position and allowed UConn forward Catherine Crawley to put the puck in the back of the net.

That’s when Northeastern really decided to take things seriously.

The Huskies stayed aggressive for the rest of the game, tallying minutes upon minutes of offensive zone time with exquisite puck movement that made it seem like they had eyes in the back of their heads. Mueller triggered the avalanche with a minute to play in the first period, fielding a pass in the high slot and firing an impeccably placed rocket into the bottom left corner.

The second period was easily the lowest-scoring, but its lone goal was easily the most impressive of the night. Just one minute in, Matti Hartman was skating away from the goal near the right dot when a quick pass flew behind her. Without looking at the goal, Hartman subtly flipped her stick behind her back and poked it through traffic for the Huskies’ fourth score. It’s difficult to tell from looking at her reaction whether or not she was trying to score, but the result was gorgeous either way.

Hartman’s fellow captains Capistran and Brooke Hobson logged assists on the play. After the game, Hartman remarked that three had been waiting for a such a goal for some time, and that they finally got their chance.

The third period was a nonstop Northeastern tidal wave, with goals from Chloé Aurard and Katie Cipra coming in the first 40 seconds.

By the end of the period Jess Schryver, Codie Cross, and Peyton Anderson had joined the party, yielding the 9–1 final score that set records for goals and scoring margin in a Hockey East Championship. Eight different Northeastern skaters punched home a goal, with Schryver the only double-dipper among them.

“I had confidence in the team, seeing how relaxed they were before the game,” coach Dave Flint said. “I felt good about them going out and taking care of business.”

Hartman spoke on the team’s recent results, noting “with the recent success, it’s important to remember where you came from. Freshman year was tough and so was sophomore year. We were about .500 that year, and we’ve tried to remember that struggle going into games like this.”

Mueller took home Tournament MVP for her efforts throughout the Hockey East Tournament, including a one-goal, three-assist performance in the championship. Mueller now has 66 points on the year as the leader one of the most formidable attacks in college hockey. Aurard matched Mueller’s performance with four points of her own in the championship game.

Head coach Dave Flint praised the entire first line, noting that they played like a “buzz saw” for the entirety of the contest. Flint also reflected on his time at Northeastern after the game, explaining that he has learned to focus on the players in the locker room rather just look ahead to victories and bring in recruits. Flint emphasized the impact former Husky Kendall Coyne had on the locker room during her junior year and says that competitive mindset has been maintained during the past several years.

Aerin Frankel took home goalie of the tournament, although she didn’t have much to do in this game. Northeastern’s defense stepped up on the biggest stage, forcing UConn into several turnovers throughout the game and preventing the bad Huskies from having significant offensive zone time.

Flint briefly discussed the future after the game, stating, “You can get up there and you can achieve excellence, but how are you gonna sustain it? That’s the challenge for us now looking ahead to the [NCAA] tournament.”

Northeastern will likely play Princeton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament next weekend, though specific details will be announced later. WRBB will have the call for that quarterfinal matchup.

2020 CAA Tournament Day One

By Milton Posner

Reminder: Northeastern men’s basketball takes on Towson in the quarterfinal of the CAA Tournament Sunday at 8:30 PM EST. Michael Petillo, Matt Neiser, and Milton Posner will have the call from Washington D.C., with coverage beginning fifteen minutes before tip-off.

WASHINGTON — The CAA Tournament kicked off Saturday with two games featuring the CAA’s bottom four seeds, those that didn’t earn first-round byes. No. 8 Drexel squared off with No. 9 UNCW, then No. 7 Elon battled No. 10 James Madison.

Drexel 66, UNCW 55

Despite a steady second-half advance from UNCW, Drexel held on to win the tournament’s first game. Drexel will kick off the four-game Sunday slate against the No. 1 Hofstra Pride.

As you might expect of two well-rested teams playing a win-or-go-home game, the energy was sky-high from the opening tip. UNCW began by applying full-court pressure, but the main defensive objective was to funnel Drexel’s ballhandlers into the space between the midcourt line and the three-point arc, force them to the sideline, and trap them with double teams. The scheme required movement and energy, two qualities best exemplified by UNCW interim head coach Rob Burke, whose emphatic, demonstrative, dramatic sideline behavior was on full display.

The traps worked for a few possessions, but eventually the Dragons got more comfortable. They made the Seahawks pay with accurate passes for easy layups, enough to make the Seahawks relax the pressure a bit and finally ramp down the game’s initial chaos.

After a war of inside shots and parallel scoring droughts yielded a stalemate, Drexel’s Coltrane Washington and UNCW’s Ty Gadsden decided a little back-and-forth was needed. Washington kicked things off with a deep three from the left wing, Drexel’s first points in five minutes. Gadsden responded with a three. Washington nailed another three from the same spot after a pump fake and a slick sidestep. Gadsden nailed a tricky leaning midrange jumper. By this point, UNCW’s defensive pressure, again with mixed results, had refocused to swarming every time Drexel put the ball in the paint, so the jumpers were available.

After a close first half, Drexel emerged from the locker room and shot down the Seahawks. All-CAA Second Team guard Camren Wynter got things going by hunting out a layup to open the half. He hit a three, as did Mate Okros. After a pair of buckets from James Butler, the Dragons had built an 11-point lead. Though the Seahawks would steadily eat into the lead, even cutting it to three multiple times, the Dragons would never give it up.

Led by Butler, who finished with 14 boards, the Dragons snatched up most of the high-leverage rebounds and translated them into a momentum advantage. Only Gadsden (13 points) and Martin Linssen (18) got much going for the Seahawks, with Brian Tolefree, Jaylen Sims, and Mike Okauru making just one shot apiece. Three-pointers from Wynter and Zach Walton down the stretch put the game out of reach and ended the Seahawks’ season.

Elon 63, James Madison 61

If, someday, a movie is made of this game, there will be only one logical name for it: The Sheffield Redemption.

For the first 39 minutes of the game, Marcus Sheffield II, Elon’s top scorer, All-CAA Second Teamer, the focal point of their offense and the man who breathed life into a program reeling from the graduation of every volume scorer from last season, couldn’t score a basket to save his life. Long shots or short, contested shots or not, moving shots or stationary ones, it didn’t matter. Sheffield had tried 14 and made just two. He was sucking the life out of Elon’s offense.

But with one shot, a twisting, fading, stepback midrange jumper, Sheffield broke through. Elon’s first lead of the game was the only one they’d need.

The Phoenix will face the No. 2 William & Mary Tribe Sunday at 6 PM EST.

It was a fitting end to a game marked by profound weirdness. That weirdness began when James Madison’s Deshon Parker, a 26 percent three-point shooter this season, kicked off the scoring with a long-range swish. It continued when JMU, unquestionably the worst team in conference play this season, built on that shot until a 14–0 lead forced Elon to call timeout three-and-a-half minutes after the opening tip.

But Elon quickly flipped the script, taking better care of the ball and posting nine unanswered points of their own to make the game competitive.

The game featured poor outside shooting from both squads, partly due to poor shot selection and partly due to missed open looks. JMU want on a second-half run not because their offense clicked, but because Elon missed 11 consecutive shots. The only consistent offensive bright spot for Elon was sophomore big man Federico Poser, who scored more points (14) than he ever had against a Division I team.

If you had approached Elon head coach Mike Schrage before the game and told him that his squad would allow 14 unanswered points to start the game, that his best scorer would miss three-quarters of his shots, that his team would shoot just 28 percent from downtown, and that they would go seven minutes without scoring a bucket, he would have assumed disaster.

But that’s the kind of league the CAA has been this season. The line between disaster and triumph is so narrow that you often can’t see it until after the final buzzer sounds.

Northeastern Tops BU, Clinches Playoff Spot

By Christian Skroce

BOSTON — It was do or die time for Northeastern as they took a five-game losing streak into their regular season finale against Boston University. And to no one’s surprise, things were tense (and a little weird) from the very beginning.

The Huskies began the game on the penalty kill after backup goalie Curtis Frye was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Frye lifted a cross-ice shot during warmups that struck a BU player, which caused the referees to review the “play” just before puck drop. Because of the penalty call, senior forward Grant Jozefek spent the first two minutes on the sin bin while BU started the game on the power play. Despite a less than ideal start, the Huskies responded well in the first period and easily killed off the penalty.

Northeastern responded in a big way just six minutes after the penalty kill, as a well-constructed power play goal gave them the early lead. The Huskies combined excellent puck movement with great positioning as Aidan McDonough finished off a pass from Grant Jozefek. Northeastern controlled play for the rest of the period and headed into the first intermission with a one-goal advantage.

Despite some nice Northeastern chances throughout the second period, BU controlled the majority of play. The best chance for Northeastern came about 15 minutes into the period, as Matt Filipe nearly found fellow forward Neil Shea on a breakaway, though the pass trickled just wide of Shea’s stick.

The Huskies held their lead after two periods despite a late-period scare. With just 20 seconds left in the frame, BU forward Trevor Zegras sent a long-range shot on Pantano, who had difficulty holding onto the puck. With both teams fighting for the puck to the immediate right of Pantano, BU defenseman Cam Crotty eventually redirected the puck into the net. However, it was determined after a lengthy review that Crotty interfered with Pantano, causing the goal to be waved off and allowing NU to escape the second frame with the 1–0 lead.

After an admittedly sluggish second period, the Huskies found their grove once again just 43 seconds into the third frame, as Matt Filipe finished a rebound off a long-range drive from defenseman Ryan Shea.

The Huskies’ momentum was short-lived, however. BU responded with their own goal just three minutes later when senior forward Patrick Harper sent in a bullet from the near face-off dot. Despite the goal light going off, play continued for the next two minutes with the referees saying the shot had not gone in. A review of the play determined what everyone already knew — the Husky lead was down to one.

With their season on the line, Northeastern did what they do best: block shots and clog shooting lanes. Despite some nice chances for BU, the Huskies maintained their lead for the rest of regulation. Northeastern combined impressive defense with timely offense, as the Huskies enjoyed several stretches of offensive zone time to further drain the clock.

BU would not go quietly, however, as with just 1:44 left Northeastern was called for a tripping penalty, giving BU a man advantage for the rest of regulation. The Terriers turned it into a two-man advantage, playing the entire power play with goalie Sam Tucker on the bench. Despite the six-on-four Terrier advantage, Northeastern held its own defensively, as BU would have virtually no chances on the power play. Matt Filipe cleared the puck for the final time as the Husky bench celebrated the breaking of a five-game losing skid with an intense 2–1 victory over their crosstown rivals.

“I thought our kids played a gutty, tough, and determined game,” coach Jim Madigan said. “We wanted to make sure that we earned our way into the playoffs and just not backed into it and tonight’s win was that.”

Captain Ryan Shea echoed his coach’s thoughts, saying, “We didn’t want to leave it up to chance. We didn’t want to risk our season and watch them [UNH] at 7 o’clock . . . We just wanted to get the job done ourselves.”

“This is a building we haven’t had much success in over the years,” Madigan said of Agganis Arena. The Huskies avenged their 6–3 defeat at Agganis earlier this year while playing in front of one of the Terriers’ largest crowds this season.

On Pantano’s performance, Madigan explained, “I thought he was really dialed in today. He was tracking pucks well and getting the puck out of the crease. I also thought our guys defended well, getting in front of shots and limiting BU’s opportunities.” Madigan said the team understood how dominant Boston University can be offensively, noting “With these guys [Patrick Harper, Trevor Zegras, Patrick Curry] you can just try to contain them and hope that they don’t get the opportunities where they can get going.”

The win places Northeastern (18–13–3, 11–12–1 HEA) in seventh place in Hockey East to finish the regular season and gives them a spot in the Hockey East Tournament. Northeastern will have a quarterfinals series away at UMASS Amherst next weekend, with the game times still to be announced. The Huskies are 1–2 against the Minutemen this season, with both losses coming on the road. Northeastern will have its work cut out for them if they are going to truly turn their season around, though this win gives them the confidence boost they will need to have any chance.

Women’s Hockey Advances to Hockey East Final

By Jack Sinclair

Reminder: Northeastern will play Connecticut in the Hockey East Championship game Sunday at 2 PM. Christian Skroce and Dale Desantis will be on the call from Lawler Rink at Merrimack College, with coverage beginning at 1:45 PM EST.

Northeastern established themselves as the team to beat early in the season. They clinched the number one seed at the end of January and have lost just four games all season. The reward for their regular-season dominance was a first-round playoff series against the eighth-seeded Vermont Catamounts, who they swept back to Burlington last weekend.

As a result, they headed up to Lawler Rink in North Andover, MA, to play a neutral-ice semifinal matchup against the University of Maine Black Bears. Maine’s journey to the semifinal game was not as smooth as Northeastern’s, as they barely edged Vermont out for the seventh seed, but their sweep of BU in an away series was impressive. The Black Bears came to Lawler Rink riding the high of their sweep, and this revealed itself early in the game.

Maine burst out of the gates firing. They were flying up and down the rink, and drew an early penalty. Less than a minute into their man advantage, Maine’s Ida Press slipped the puck past Hockey East Goaltender of the Year Aerin Frankel.

The Black Bears didn’t stop there, staying one step ahead of the Huskies by establishing a strong 1–2–2 trap on defense. This slower pace cramped Northeastern’s usual high-octane play style, and if not for the efforts of Frankel the score could have easily gotten out of hand. Maine managed to draw another penalty towards the end of the period, but the strength of Northeastern’s penalty kill was on full display, as they held the puck in Maine’s end of the rink for the duration of the penalty. 

The second period started, and Northeastern’s goal was clear. Establish their brand of hockey and simply keep the puck away from the Black Bears. Maine was ready for this, and jammed their bodies into the neutral zone, making it impossible for the line of Alina Mueller, Chloe Aurard, and Jess Schryver to blitz their way into the attacking zone on transition.

This resulted in a hard-fought stalemate of a period, with both teams fighting along the boards for possession. Northeastern managed to get some glimpses at the Black Bears’ goal, with a few great chances coming for Mueller in particular. Maine goaltender Carly Jackson used every square inch of her leg pads to keep the puck out of the back of the net and made some incredible saves to preserve her team’s lead going into the third period.

Whatever coach Dave Flint told the Huskies during the second intermission worked. Just over a minute of a power play carried over from the second period was all it took for Skylar Fontaine to send a rocket from just in front of the blue line into the back of the net. 

This was the cue for the Huskies. They had exposed a weakness in Maine’s trap: they simply could not keep up with the Huskies. The Black Bears had spent a lot of the game holding onto the puck and working slowly from their end of the ice into the Huskies zone. This proved costly, as their fatigue was apparent early on in the third period.

It took only two minutes for the Huskies to pounce on the tiring Black Bears and go up 2–1. Swiss Sensation Alina Mueller found herself with miles of space in the slot off a lovely feed from Skylar Fontaine. Mueller wasted no time, taking only one touch of the puck before sliding it coolly into the bottom left corner of the goal. 

Maine, despite their early skid, managed to establish their brand of hockey once more, and began to work into the Huskies zone. The defense held fast, and the Huskies were more than happy to dump the puck back into the Maine zone, switch out for some fresh legs, allow Maine to work their way back to their end of the ice, rinse, and repeat. Maine got a few looks at the net, but Frankel was having a grand total of zero percent of the Black Bears’ nonsense, and coolly protected her net. 

In the closing minute of the game, the Black Bears pulled their goaltender in a last-ditch effort to even up the score. Unlike the Beanpot final, there was no last-gasp goal. Fontaine forced a turnover in the neutral zone and sniped the empty net to ice the game for the Huskies. Fontaine has either scored or assisted on the Huskies’ last seven goals going back to last week’s doubleheader against Vermont.

The Huskies sealed their fourth straight Hockey East Championship appearance and will fight Sunday afternoon for their third straight title.

Mueller Named Player of the Year, Huskies Dominate WHEA Awards

By Matt Neiser

Surprise, surprise.

Well, not really.

In the midst of one of the greatest season in programs history, nine players on the No. 4 Northeastern women’s hockey team and head coach Dave Flint were honored with a slew of awards for the 2019–20 campaign, the conference announced this week.

Freshmen Megan Carter and Katy Knoll, sophomores Alina Mueller and Chloe Aurard, juniors Skylar Fontaine and Aerin Frankel, seniors Matti Hartman and Paige Capistran, and head coach Flint were all recipients of various conference awards, as voted on by the league’s 10 head coaches.

Headlining the honors were Mueller and Flint, who took home two of the most prestigious awards on Friday.

Mueller was unanimously selected the Cammi Granato Award winner as the Player of the Year in Hockey East. With 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in Hockey East play, Mueller led the conference in scoring by a wide margin; the next closest player (teammate Chloe Aurard) was 10 points behind. Mueller led the conference in both points and assists as well, in addition to her nine game-winning goals and three shorthanded goals. If ever there was a time for a unanimous selection, Mueller’s season fits the bill.

Mueller also earned a pair of statistical awards during her otherworldly regular season. The sophomore was named both the league’s Scoring Champion and the PNC Bank Three Stars Award winner.

After every Hockey East contest, the Three Stars of the game are announced. The Three Stars Award is given to the player that accumulates the most “points” based on these recognitions, with first being worth the most points and third the least. Mueller was named the first and second star four times apiece and the third star on a trio of occasions, earning her the overall award.

For the second year in a row, Flint was voted as the Coach of Year. Northeastern’s helmsman led the Huskies to a program-record 24 conference wins and their second consecutive regular season title. Flint’s never-too-high, never-too-low mentality has been a staple of his teams’ success over the years and helped the Huskies to new heights this year.

Mueller (unanimous), Aurard, Fontaine (unanimous), and Frankel were each named First-Team All-Stars and collectively comprised two-thirds of the team’s selections. 

Second only to her linemate Mueller, Aurard racked up 34 points on 15 goals and 19 assists in Hockey East play. Individually, her goal and assist tallies rank third and second in the conference. Aurard was the only player in Hockey East to record two hat tricks, and she matched Mueller’s three shorthanded goals. Talk about a lethal duo on that top line.

Fontaine, Northeastern’s star blueliner, led Hockey East defensemen in myriad categories, including goals (13), assists (21), points (34), rating (+42) and shots on goal (155). Fontaine was a vital contributor to Northeastern’s elite offense and defense, often her blinding speed and smooth stickhandling to initiate attacks and stymie opponents’. 

Fontaine was also honored with the Best Defenseman Award. She is the first Northeastern player to win the award since its inception ten years ago.

Stalwart as ever in net, Frankel compiled one of the best seasons in Hockey East history. Her .967 save percentage is the highest mark in conference history, while her .84 goals against average ranks third. Frankel also led the conference with nine shutouts, as well as wins and win percentage (.864) with a 19–3–0 record in Hockey East play. A top-10 Patty Kazmaier candidate, Frankel consistently gives the Huskies a chance to win every game. The junior netminder was also named Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season.

Carter and Knoll, the most prominent members of the Huskies’ standout freshman class, were both named to the Pro Ambitions All-Rookie Team. 

Carter was a pivotal part of the conference-best Northeastern defense, her size and physicality perfectly complementing Fontaine’s speed and shiftiness. The blueliner led Hockey East freshmen with 41 blocked shots in the regular season, while chipping in two goals and nine assists.

Knoll made an immediate offensive impact for the Huskies. The Amherst, New York native oscillated between the first and second forward lines for most of the season, earning two Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Month nods (November, December) and a WCHA National Rookie of the Month award as she led Northeastern freshmen in scoring with 10 goals and 16 assists (26 points). Those numbers were good for fourth, second, and third among Hockey East first-years.

Matti Hartman, the Huskies’ second-line center, was named the conference’s Best Defensive Forward. Hartman excelled on the forecheck, pinning opposing teams in their own zone and regaining possession for the Huskies by forcing turnovers. When opponents actually made it down to the Northeastern end, her excellent positioning clogged passing lanes and disrupted attacks. Hartman is the third Husky to earn the honor, joining alumnae Casey Pickett and Hayley Scamurra.

Paige Capistran is the first-ever Northeastern recipient of the Sportsmanship Award. Voted by her teammates as captain for the first time in her final campaign, Capistran has been a Husky mainstay over the past four years and always exemplified leadership qualities on and off the ice.

A quick anecdote about Capistran to cap things off, as it’s one of my favorite stories and really illustrates what she’s meant to the program. In the waning seconds of regulation in last year’s Hockey East Championship, all hell broke loose. A waved-off empty netter, a thrown notebook, and a late Boston College faceoff goal to force overtime left the Huskies reeling as they headed back to their locker room to regroup.

Was it captain Brittany Bugalski that settled things down and rallied the troops? One of the assistant captains, maybe? According to Kasidy Anderson, it was actually Capistran, who up to that point was known by the media as more of a quiet presence than an outspoken leader. Anderson recalled that Capistran reminded everyone to forget about the chaos that had just happened, even though it “sucked,” and focus on the task ahead. It would have been easy to blame officials or lament bad luck, but the now-captain displayed true sportsmanship, shrugging it all off and getting her team back on track as they went on to claim the trophy.

The Huskies will look to return to the championship again this weekend, starting with their semifinal matchup against Maine at 12 p.m. today. WRBB will provide written coverage of the game.

Men’s Hockey Fizzles Against BU

By Adam Doucette

BOSTON — Northeastern began their Friday night hopeful that they could beat Boston University on home ice, then go to Agganis Arena the next day and overtake the Terriers in the Hockey East standings. They ended the night realizing that wasn’t going to happen. 

The Terriers came to Matthews Arena Friday night and thoroughly beat the Huskies, 3–0. After surviving an up-tempo first period, Northeastern conceded a goal to BU’s Patrick Curry with 7:11 elapsed in the second period. Husky goaltender Craig Pantano stuffed the initial shot by BU center Jake Wise, but Curry slid the rebound under Pantano’s pads.

The Huskies attempted to rebound but instead conceded again, this time to a Cam Crotty redirect with 14:26 gone in the second.

“We had a decent first period, and then second and third period we didn’t generate much offense,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan observed. “They got up 2–0; we didn’t respond well enough.”

The Huskies went into the second intermission down two goals and in desperate need of a better offensive effort. That didn’t happen, as Terrier center Wilmer Skoog put one past Pantano to give BU a 3–0 advantage.

Northeastern simply lacked the offense to cut into the deficit. While senior forward Grant Jozefek returned after missing last week’s doubleheader due to injury, the continued absence of leading goal scorer Tyler Madden (day-to-day with a hand injury) was noticeable. Madigan, however, refused to blame Madden’s absence for the team’s offensive struggles.

“Other guys need to step up,” he said before channeling his inner Rick Pitino. “Tyler Madden, he’s not walking through the doors right now . . . we’ve got enough in that room to create some offense; it’s up to those guys to create offense.”

On the opposite side of the puck, David Farrance continued his run of dominance. The star defenseman played well all night and notched an assist on all three BU goals. 

Despite the disappointing loss, Northeastern still controls its own playoff destiny. If the Huskies beat BU on Saturday in their last regular-season game, they guarantee themselves a spot in the Hockey East Tournament. If they don’t, they will make the tournament only if Boston College beats or ties New Hampshire tomorrow.

Christian Skroce and Adam Doucette will call the game from Agganis Arena, with coverage beginning around 3:45 PM EST.

Roland, Walker Win All-CAA Awards

By Milton Posner

Reminder: Northeastern begins their CAA Tournament play against Towson Sunday at 6:30 PM EST. Michael Petillo, Matt Neiser, and Milton Posner will have the call from Washington D.C., with coverage beginning at 6:15.

It was hard to know what to expect from Jordan Roland and Tyson Walker before the season started.

Everyone knew Roland could shoot. He spent all of last season sprinting around screens and letting shots fly from downtown en route to 99 three-pointers, a school record. But how would he adjust to being the focal point of the offense and having the ball in his hands more often?

Everyone knew Walker was quick, a good driver, and could handle the ball. But how would he adjust from his high school team to playing point guard for a Division I program?

Both spent the year exceeding expectations and were recognized for it. On Friday, the CAA announced its postseason awards, the results of voting by the league’s head coaches, media relations directors, and media members (including your favorite Northeastern student-run radio station).

First TeamDesure Buie, Hofstra
Nate Darling, Delaware
Nathan Knight, William & Mary (PoY)
Grant Riller, Charleston
Jordan Roland, Northeastern
Second TeamBrian Fobbs, Towson
Matt Lewis, James Madison
Eli Pemberton, Hofstra
Marcus Sheffield II, Elon
Camren Wynter, Drexel
Third TeamKevin Anderson, Delaware
Allen Betrand, Towson
James Butler, Drexel
Isaac Kante, Hofstra
Andy Van Vliet, William & Mary

Roland was tops in the conference — and seventh in the nation — with 22.7 points per game. His white-hot start — best encapsulated by a school-record 42-point explosion against Harvard — placed him atop the national scoring leaderboard to begin the season and garnered him national attention. His 87 three-pointers rank second in the CAA, with only Delaware’s Nate Darling making more.

Roland keyed the Husky offense all season with superb, often unbelievable shot making. His unorthodox shooting style, hesitation-heavy movement, and supreme concentration made him a nightmare for the conference’s best defensive guards and forced opposing coaches to gear up on him.

As expected, Nathan Knight took home the Player of the Year Award. Though Grant Riller was the preseason favorite for the trophy, Knight quickly established himself as the man to beat, averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game despite the arrival of star center Andy Van Vliet in the William & Mary frontcourt. Knight’s size, quickness, shooting touch, leaping ability, spatial awareness, and basketball IQ made him a terror to guard on the block.

They also made him a terror on the other side of the ball, as he led the league in blocks, defensive rebounds, and won Defensive Player of the Year as well. Only Knight and George Evans (1999, 2001) have ever won both awards in the same season.

William & Mary’s awards weren’t limited to Knight. Andy Van Vliet took home Third Team honors, Luke Loewe joined Knight on the All-Defensive Team, and first-year head coach Dane Fischer earned Coach of the Year recognition. The Tribe finished seventh in the preseason poll, and many expected this to be a rebuilding year for them after the firing of head coach Tony Shaver and the transfer of four of their top five scorers. But under Fischer, the Tribe won more regular season games than they had in 70 years and tied their record for conference wins with 13.

While Tyson Walker’s hot start to the season and numerous Rookie of the Week Awards appeared to establish him as the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, he ultimately lost to Elon’s Hunter McIntosh, who averaged 11.5 points per game and made 41 percent of his threes. McIntosh torched the Huskies in the teams’ meeting last month, dropping 24 points on near-perfect shooting.

All-Rookie TeamJason Gibson, Towson
Hunter McIntosh, Elon (RoY)
Shykeim Phillips, UNCW
Tyson Walker, Northeastern
Hunter Woods, Elon

Walker carved up defenses like a hot butter knife this season, using crossovers, hesitations, and raw speed and quickness to earn himself layups. After the graduation of All-CAA First Team point guard Vasa Pusica, when there were serious doubts about who would carry on the Huskies’ point guard tradition, Walker didn’t blink. He took the keys to the offense from the opening game and never looked back.

As the season progressed, Walker displayed an increasingly deft, alert, and creative passing touch, something he will undoubtedly build on next season after the graduations of Roland and Bolden Brace.

His best game was January 2 against Elon and eventual Rookie of the Year McIntosh. The Huskies as a team had a tough time getting their offense going, so Walker came to the rescue again and again, torching the Phoenix with a diverse array of moves and buckets.

All-Defensive TeamDesure Buie, Hofstra
Brevin Galloway, Charleston
Nathan Knight, William & Mary (DPoY)
Luke Loewe, William & Mary
Dennis Tunstall, Towson

Notably absent from the All-Defensive team was Northeastern forward Max Boursiquot, who started every conference game as an undersized center and held his own against the league’s best big men, including Nathan Knight. Perhaps it’s more a case of statistics; Boursiquot’s defense is best understood and appreciated through watching him every night, while the players on the Defensive Team have statistics like blocks and rebounds to back up their cases.

Sixth Man of the Year Nicolas Timberlake (Towson), Dean Ehlers Leadership Award winner Desure Buie (Hofstra), and Scholar-Athlete of the Year Tareq Coburn (Hofstra) rounded out the awards.

Men’s Basketball Media Day

By Milton Posner

The CAA Tournament is a funny thing.

Save for the top six teams receiving a first-round bye — which Northeastern has — there isn’t much advantage in being a one seed instead of a six seed. This is especially true this season, in which the league’s almost ludicrous parity limits the matchup advantages higher seeds would normally enjoy.

With just a few days left before the Huskies depart for Washington D.C., WRBB Sports caught up with them during their Wednesday practice at Northeastern University’s Cabot Center to talk about their quarterfinal matchup, their preparation, and the mental challenges of a conference tournament.

Head Coach Bill Coen

What’s the prognosis [on Tyson Walker]?

He’s working hard with our trainers. We’re hopeful he can he can give us something, but nothing’s been decided yet. Obviously he’s an elite competitor, he wants to get out there and help the team. But right now he hasn’t practiced yet, hasn’t been cleared to practice five on five yet, so it’s going to be day to day for him and probably a game-time decision.

Is he practicing today?

He’ll be conditioning and doing everything you could do, everything short of playing basketball.

So what do you do to try to flood the hole with that? Who has to step up?

Shaquille Walters finished the [Drexel] game, played really, really well on the ball. Then he had a terrific game against JMU, played the point against Towson last game, played 35 minutes on the ball and had nine assists and one turnover. So he’s done an unbelievable job in Tyson’s absence. We’ll need another great supporting effort from Shaq, I’m sure.

What went into the decision to have Shaq slide in for Tyson at the point?

He’s played there all year long, since really the beginning of the season. Part of our system [is] we like guys that play multiple positions. We try to rotate around — whether it’s developing our offense or defense — we’ll move guys around. Right from the beginning he played some point guard. He has a natural ability because of his size and length, the way we play in a ball-screen motion offense. He’s able to make passes with both hands, handle the ball, and get into the lane. So he’s gotten better and better at it and I think you’ve seen that over the last couple games. But still, you have to give him credit for his mental toughness to be able to step up in that type of situation and really try to help the team.

And for Guilien who’s slid into the starting lineup for Tyson, how does his defense and offense compare to what Tyson brings to the table?

Completely different player than Tyson. But he’s a very good on-ball defender, gives you some athleticism and some rebounding and has shown the ability to make shots. He’s gonna have to play at a high level in order for us to be successful. He’s a mature kid, a fifth-year student athlete. He’s played a lot of college basketball, so I know where his heart is and what he’d like to do. If we’re going to be successful, it’ll come down to some of his contributions.

How does your team change depending on whether Tyson plays?

With two different point guards you get two different styles of play. Shaq has shown the ability in the half court to run offense and make passes. Tyson can be more of an open-court player; he’s got a little bit more quickness where he can get to the rim and penetrate and draw some fouls. Hopefully, we’ll have both those guys available and that’ll give us a nice little option.

How is the health overall of the team? How many cylinders are you firing on?

I think everybody this time of year is . . . a little banged up, a little sore but really, really excited because it’s March and if you’re a college basketball player or college basketball fan, you know what that month means. Our guys are excited to get out there and compete. It’s kind of the third portion of the season where you’re out there you’re in one-and-done territory. So the urgency is at the utmost high and they’re excited to get ready and get down to D.C.

What kind of a challenge does Towson bring to you guys? What do you guys have to do well in order to beat them?

They’re playing almost as well as anybody in the country. They’ve been on kind of a hot streak since we played them the first time back in late December. They’re a team that’s built on aggressive defense and rebounding. What’s really allowed them to have great success during CAA play is that their offense is highly efficient, both from the free-throw line and from the three-point line. When you marry that type of offense with great defense and rebounding, you’ve got a pretty good club.

Did you learn much from the last game?

You’re certainly in the neighborhood, but you’ve got to finish the game a little bit better. We had maybe a five-point lead with about six minutes to go. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping them off the foul line. I thought we gave them too many easy points and ultimately that was the difference in the game. They outscored us by nine at the line. So we’ve got to be a little bit more disciplined there and try to keep them off the line.

Why do you think you guys are so highly considered in this tournament? You’re a six seed but the oddsmakers are saying you’ve got a good shot here.

We’ve played competitively all year long. I think each and every team and each and every game we’ve been competitive. Out of 18 league games, we’ve had one game where it was kind of lopsided. In one-possession games, everything comes down to maybe just get one possession better and that’s what we’re trying to do this week is to improve in those areas.

So playoffs now — what do you tell your guys?

They know that. It’s not too much explaining for me to do. It comes down to execution in the moment. As John Wooden would say, “You have to be best when your best is required.” That’s what makes March so special; guys step up and you get some magical moments when guys really live out their dreams in this type of environment under this type of spotlight.

Have you ever seen a team lose so many close games and at the same time keep showing up?

I think it speaks to the resiliency of this group. Certainly there’s a level of frustration. We’ve been in more close games and had opportunities to win and opportunities to reverse the fortunes of the season, but this group is coming to practice each and every day. That keep believing in themselves and keep trusting in the system and in the coaching staff. We’re hoping that resiliency will bear fruit in the tournament down in DC.

Who are one or two guys that you’ve seen the most improvement from over the course of the season?

One guy we talked a lot about is Shaquille Walters. He’s a guy who had shooting struggles early on and was more of a defensive-minded guy, now he’s proven at the end of the year with a lot of his hard work that he’s a more-than-capable point guard. He’s able to make plays, makes his free throws, and has learned to attack the basket a little bit more and create some offense for us that way. So I think he’s made the biggest improvement over the course of the year.

You have a few guys from last year’s team in leadership positions. How helpful will they be [in the tournament]?

You’re going to need that leadership and that tournament experience. It’s an emotional time. You have to stay ready; the preparation time is very, very quick in between games. And just keeping the guys focused and keep everybody in it. We need that voice in the locker room and we have a couple of guys who have been on championship teams and played in that environment. That should help us.

Are there any Towson players that you’re particularly looking to key in on after Sunday’s game?

They have a very balanced attack right now, but I think Brian Fobbs and Allen Betrand are the two guys who have been most consistent throughout the year. Freshman [Jason] Gibson played really well against us, had a very efficient game. So, not so much keying in on, but you have to know everybody’s tendencies and take try to take the best part of their game away from them. And that’s hard to do against a talented group like Towson.

Is there a sense that if you guys could just win one of these close games, it would be a breakthrough that would get you going?

I thought we did that kind of towards the end the year. We had some terrific outings against Charleston both times. We played well down the stretch, had one very competitive game down at Drexel, and they’ve been great at home. We’ve been close.

Unfortunately, foul trouble put us in a position where we couldn’t finish the game. We’ve just got to be better in certain areas. It’s not always that; sometimes it comes down to making a shot, sometimes it’s getting rebounds, sometimes it’s making a smarter play, better execution. But we have to find a way to be one or two possessions better and then we’ll be right in the mix.

When teams key in on Jordan, what do you have to do?

You’ve seen that all year long. Teams will try to take him out of what he does. He’s hard to deal with because he’s a prolific scorer. Two things have to happen. He’s got to kind of give himself up a little bit and pick his spots and not feel rushed at the end of the game that he’s got to do it all by himself. And then somebody else has to step up and help carry the load.

So I think we’ve been much better at that as of late; we’ve had a more balanced scoring attack, and Jordan’s been better in terms of understanding he can be a little bit more of a playmaker and pick the spots where he’s most aggressive.

What’s it going to be like playing in this new venue?

It’s supposed to be a beautiful venue. I’ve never been in it, but it’s an NBA arena. The G League team from the [Washington] Wizards plays there. It’s fairly new so it’s going to be a first-class arena and I know our guys are excited going down in that area. I think having a tournament down in D.C. gives — at least for a northern school — more of a chance for our fans and alums and students to get there. It’s a little bit more accessible than some of the other venues we’ve competed at. So we’re hoping people come out and support the team.

Bolden Brace

How do you think your experience will help you and the team heading into this tournament?

Personally, I think I feel a lot more comfortable than some of these guys who haven’t been here. Jordan and I both — as well as some other guys — won it. We also know the feeling of losing as we did like against Charleston two years ago. But having experience kind of just calms you. You can think back on that and use that to your advantage.

It’s amazing to look back at the schedule and all the close games, all the close losses, and you guys keep putting yourselves in that situation. Where do you fall whether to take more bad out of it or more optimism?

I think that the theme this year has been trying to learn from our losses, try to learn as much as we can, try to get better from that. But the fact that we’re in with every team and we have a chance is good, and we can beat anyone. The three-day tournament is awesome, because it’s hard. If you win, it’s one of the most amazing feelings ever. So just knowing that we can stay with any team, we’ll have a chance. We’ve just got to prepare and be ready.

What are some takeaways from the game you just played against Towson that you could use for this Sunday’s game?

The offense that they run isn’t really that difficult. In terms of a scouting perspective, they just play really hard and they’re athletic, and they rebound. So just knowing that we know what they’re going to do and better preparing ourselves on the scout perspective is going to be big. And just fighting on the glass and playing as hard as we can knowing it could be our last game.

And what’s been the difference just from your standpoint with Shaq running the offense versus Tyson?

They’re different players. They both bring different things to the table, and Shaq’s been playing really well at the point. He can pass well. I think he if he can keep doing that, we the guys around him just have to play better and help him succeed.

But Tyson’s great, hopefully we can get him back. He brings another dimension to our offense and scoring, passing, and just doing a bunch of little things. So no matter who we have, we just got to do our best and work together as best we can.

You get to the doldrums of February, then all of a sudden you’ve got to turn it on. It must get you rejuvenated.

Yeah, Coach always says there’s three parts of the season: the non-conference, the conference, and the conference tournament. It seems like every year the conference goes by super fast; non-conference goes pretty slow, but once we’re done it seems like it went fast. And then the conference tournament is just a whole new beast.

Some guys have never been here before and preparing for that three days in a row is tough. But I think just knowing what we’re getting ourselves into and knowing that we can stay in the game with anyone and hopefully beat anyone is going to be big for that.

How have you viewed your role this year, your leadership position?

I think of my role this year as a little bit similar to last year. I think going into the season, Coach told me that I’d have to have a little bit more aggressive offensively and keep trying to play well defensively, guard some of the best four men in the league.

It’s taken me a while to kind of assert myself offensively; I haven’t played that style since high school. Last year we had great passers like Vasa and a bunch of guys who could do different things, and we all worked together well last year. So this has kind of been about figuring it out as we go. And I think right now, I’m playing with more confidence than I have all season just knowing my role and trusting the guys around me. I’m ready. I’m ready to get it going.

You had an uptick in the number of shots you were taking as conference play went on. Was that confidence?

Yeah. Coach was telling me to shoot the whole time but I had to remind myself throughout the game: do the little things — rebound, defense — and the shots will come. And that’s kind of how I’ve been trying to provide for the team this year. It’s kind of hard for me to always remember to shoot but once my shot gets going, I forget about it and just play my game.

Have you had to play bigger this year because of injuries to big men?

Max has done a great job down low. He kind of took away some of that pressure that we felt earlier when we lost Tom. And Greg’s played well. I definitely have tried to rebound more in terms of playing big and guarding other teams’ big men. But the way our offense works, I don’t really feel like I’ve had to play bigger defensively.

Jordan Roland

Sometimes when defenses set up stop you, you have to change your game and make the other players around you better.

I think that’s definitely something I have to work on, passing the ball to put the other guys in a situation where they could be successful. But it’s something I’ve been running into all year. It’s a constant adjustment. Especially going to tournament time this will be the third time that we’ve seen teams, so going in and knowing what their scheme will be [is important] and I’m trying to make that adjustment for those guys.

You got off to a great start, teams started reacting. How did you learn to adapt to the defenses that you saw?

I came on the scene pretty quickly. Just a matter of trying to keep my composure. I was getting a lot of attention, and just like I was saying earlier, I’m just trying to make those adjustments. Try to figure out what kind of looks teams are going to give me before the game. The biggest thing is trying to keep my composure.

What’s the excitement of tournament time been like?

This is the best time of the year for almost all sports. I feel like the brackets are super fun, especially us getting to be a part of last year, winning the championship. So we kind of have a taste of what that feels like. I think that experience will definitely help us. Me, Bo, and a bunch of guys have been in this situation already. It’s a super fun time for sure.

It is weird playing a team in the first round of the tournament that you played so recently? Is it an advantage?

Yeah, it’s definitely kind of weird, I don’t think a lot of teams are in the situation where they’re playing the team that that they just played. But I don’t think it’s necessarily an advantage or disadvantage. Whoever we play we would have played twice already. So it’s definitely a weird coincidence, but I don’t I don’t really look at it any different.

How was it for you against Towson’s defense on Sunday, and how do you think that factors into the game plan for this Sunday?

They’re a good defensive team with how they how they attack you off the ball screens and everything. They’re a team that you’ve got to be able to move the ball against and we have a whole week to prepare in practice, so we’ll definitely be ready for them.

How much do you think your experience will help you?

I think it’ll be huge. I think experience is huge in college basketball. Senior teams are usually the teams that do well. We don’t necessarily have a lot of seniors, but we have a lot of guys who have been around. Max played in the conference championship two years ago. Bo has won a conference championship, as I have. Shaq has been around in college basketball for three years. So I think experiences is one of the biggest examples, it’ll definitely be able to help us.

Your record wasn’t what you would have hoped, but you were [close] in every game. Do you think there’s a lot of respect for your team heading into this tournament?

I would think so. I’m not sure what other teams are thinking about us. But I don’t think that really matters. I think we’re really confident that we can beat any team in this league. I think that we’ve shown that. I think any team that we haven’t beat we’ve been within one possession and if you can play with a team you can beat them. So even though we’re a six seed I think we’re going in with the mindset that we have as good a chance as anybody to win the whole thing.

Last year the pressure was all on you guys. This year you’re a little bit of an underdog. Do you feel that makes things a little bit easier?

I wouldn’t say it makes anything easier or harder. It’s definitely a different situation. Last year I feel like we were in a situation where the tournament was kind of ours to lose. I think the league is also so much more open this year. I think we have as good a chance as anybody, but there’s seven or eight teams that are thinking the same thing. You’ve got to win three games in three days regardless of what your mindset is, so I’ve just got to be ready to play every day.

How do you guys manage your energy and the fatigue of playing three games in three days?

Just trying to be smart with this week. You don’t want to go too hard but you want to make sure you’re in shape. These guys have been there before. The biggest thing, I think, is the quick turnarounds and just getting ready, coming off of the game and going through scout the next morning and just getting the game plan in a short time, more than the fatigue.

Men’s Hockey Media Day

By Milton Posner

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for the Huskies. After losing star sophomore forward Tyler Madden to injury, the Huskies dropped two games against first-place Boston College, including their worst loss since 1992. After losing senior Grant Jozefek to injury in the second BC game, the Huskies were swept by last-place Vermont.

The Huskies look to rebound with a home-and-home against Boston University this weekend. Both games are critical, as the Huskies — who sit in eighth place, one point ahead of New Hampshire — need to finish in the top eight to make the Hockey East Tournament.

The Friday game begins at 7 PM, the Saturday game at 4 PM. WRBB will call both games, with Matt Neiser and Adam Doucette on the Friday game and Christian Skroce and Adam Doucette on the Saturday contest. Both broadcasts will go live about 15 minutes before game time.

WRBB Sports caught up with head coach Jim Madigan and captain Ryan Shea at Northeastern’s Wednesday practice at Matthews Arena.

Jim Madigan

I saw in your postgame press conferences that you were down to ten forwards. How is Jozefek doing?

Jozefek is day-to-day and we’re hoping he can play on Friday. He skated yesterday, he skated today, he looks good. So he’s getting close. Madden’s getting close, but he probably won’t go on Friday.

How’s the morale of the team?

We’re not a fragile group. We’ve lost four in a row; we haven’t lost four in a row all season. And Vermont was an emotional game for them up there. It was their coach’s last weekend, their senior night, and they’d been playing well. We’re not looking at it as “we just lost two games to the last-place team.” They’re a good team. Every team in this league is a good team.

But I think when people see that we’ve lost four in a row and we lost to Vermont they think that it’s doom and gloom here. Certainly there are things we need to clean up and get better at, but we’ve had two real good practices here yesterday and today. We got back to some fundamentals and some basics yesterday and today and we’re excited about the opportunity to play on Friday. We still control our own destiny in terms of the playoffs. We’re a point ahead of New Hampshire for that eighth spot; we play BU here at home [which] is a very good team and is a rival for us. Expect our guys to be ready.

Was that the message this week to the team, that there’s still a lot in front of you despite the way things have gone the last couple games?

What happened the last two weekends is in the rearview mirror. [We need to] learn from those situations, but it’s all about what’s in front of us, the opportunity to make the playoffs, playing well this weekend, focus in on Friday and be ready to play BU. We’ve played well at home all season long.

And it’s BU. It’s going to be an emotional game. The last time we played them was the Beanpot. So we know they’re going to be hungry. They’re fighting for a playoff seeding more than a spot. We’re in a spot where we can not just sneak into the playoffs, but if we play well this weekend we could move up in the standings. So there’s a lot to play for.

You’ve talked a lot in the last couple of weeks about the leadership of your veteran guys at a time like this. What is it you’re expecting from them to push this team back to where it can go?

To lead. To let their actions show on the ice. Make sure that — there’s going to be adversity as there is in every game — they get us through those tougher times in a game. Be a difference maker. I thought last weekend on the back end Ryan Shea tried to be a difference maker. Matty Filipe scored a big goal for us to get us going on that second night. We can play better when we score that first goal. Last time we played BU we were down 2–0 after one and came back.

Those guys need to step up and show the way for the younger guys. Since the Lowell game they’ve been playoff-type games, so this is the biggest game of the season because it’s the second-to-last game of the regular season.

Looking ahead to BU, what have you seen from them since the last time you guys faced off, and what are some strengths and weaknesses you’re looking forward to?

Their strengths are — and we’ve seen them a couple of times on video since we played them — they’re great in transition. They’re fast, they want to play fast, they want to score off the rush. You can’t turn pucks over in the neutral zone because [Trevor] Zegras and some of their forwards are just too good in transition that way.

And they jump up into the play. [David] Farrance is leading the league [and the nation] in scoring from the defender [position]. He’s up in the play a lot. So we’ve got to manage pucks, we’ve got to play in their zone, we’ve got to get pucks below the goal line and make them defend, and forecheck as much as we can.

Ryan Shea

So what do you do as a senior right now? What are you trying to say to your teammates?

Everyone knows where we are right now. UNH is playing well — obviously they’ve got a tough opponent in BC — but my message is if we play the way we know how to play against BU — we beat them in the past and we played them well even when we lost — but we just gotta get to the playoffs because once you get to the playoffs it’s a whole new season.

Before I came in, when they won Hockey East the first time, they had to beat Notre Dame and they had to beat all these top teams and they beat UMass Lowell in the championship. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, being an underdog. I think that’s honestly a positive for us, because it’s kind of gives us a chip on our shoulder that we need right now that.

You mentioned you beat them before; that was a pretty emotional ending. Any concerns that you know they’ll be carrying into this weekend series?

Right now both teams are on losing streaks. They lost to UConn, Merrimack, and BC and we got swept the last two weekends, but they’re going to be pretty upset because of the Beanpot and especially how it ended with the power play in the OT. But that’s in the past for us. If I was in their locker room I’d be trying to take — not runs at people — but make sure you get an extra bump in or an extra slash. They don’t like us and, honestly, we don’t like them. So we I think we play two different types of styles, and I think if we stick to ours we’ll come out on the good side of it.

Are you feeling the sense of urgency from your teammates? Do they understand what they’re up against this this weekend?

Yeah for sure. Everyone was a little down after Vermont. We gave them their first two wins in Hockey East. We kind of had the look on our face like “the season’s over” and it’s not even close to being over. I know the seniors definitely don’t want to be over, and I think once some of the younger guys see like the reception we have on Senior Night and all the families coming out and how important these four years were to us, I think we’ll step up our play right away after that. There’s no better night to start then Senior Night.

In the Vermont game you came out in the third period and really tried to get people energized. How do you think your on-ice leadership will factor in Friday and Saturday against BU?

Just controlling our emotions. There’s going to be there’s going to be a lot of talking and chirping back and forth between the teams. We just got to stick to the way we play. We don’t need to worry about the refs, we don’t need to worry about their coaching, their coaching style, their top players. Every team’s got top players; it’s Division I hockey.

I think, especially on senior night, we’ve got to set an example. There’s no room for error. We’ve got to have our best game every game no matter if it’s two more games or we end up making it to the Hockey East Championship. Our seniors, older guys, and younger guys — they’re not freshmen anymore — everyone needs to have their best game. It’s like we’re playing the Beanpot championship every night. You don’t want to make that mistake that ends up costing the season.

How have you guys managed the workload and the fatigue given that you haven’t been at full strength for a little while?

That hasn’t been bad. [If] we have a hard weekend where we play a team that’s heavy and strong, we’ll have short practices, kind of more of a rehab-type week. I think they do a good job with that.

During the game, you got to kind of manage it within yourself. For me, it’s making sure you don’t take that extra-long shift that’s going to affect your next one because I might be out there the shift after. And same with a guy like Jordan Harris, and Solow, Filipe because Madden’s out and someone has to fill that extra center spot right now.

But like I said earlier, it’s a chip on your shoulder once Madden went down, everyone thought the world was over. We won a couple games and obviously we’re in a little slump right now but hopefully we have Jozefek back and Filipe’s already back, so that’s a positive.