Men’s Hockey Suffers Worst Loss in 27 Years

By Christian Skroce

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — It was one of the worst performances in recent memory.

After a hard-fought Thursday game between the Northeastern Huskies and the Boston College Eagles ended in a 3–2 BC victory, tonight’s matchup saw the Eagles demolish the Huskies 10–1, the worst margin of loss for Northeastern since a nine-goal loss to Maine . . . on December 5, 1992.

Northeastern grabbed some early momentum, beginning the contest with two early power plays. But despite some nice movement and a few chances, the momentum faded and the Huskies had nothing to show for the man advantages.

Grant McPhee got the scoring going for Boston College after finishing off a centering feed from teammate Marc McLaughlin. When Husky goalie Craig Pantano lost his stick behind the net, his defense momentarily fell asleep, leaving McPhee wide open in front of the net.

BC had a clear strategy to begin the game, as almost every offensive possession started with a centering feed from behind the Northeastern net. Despite the offensive onslaught, the Huskies found themselves down by only one heading into the first break.

And then BC decided to stop messing around.

Northeastern’s defensive luck ran out quickly in the second frame, as BC doubled their lead just one minute into the period off a breakaway goal by Alex Newhook. The NU defense seemingly lost the freshman first-round pick, who found himself one-on-one with Pantano off of a great pass from teammate David Cotton.

The defensive lapses continued for Northeastern as Marc McLaughlin made the score 3–0 after a poor clearance by Pantano, who found himself on the bench after letting in a fourth goal, this one from long range by Logan Hutsko.

But freshman goaltender Connor Murphy fared no better than Pantano. The Eagles didn’t let up in the second period, as their first-round forward Matt Boldy got on the scoresheet with a power play goal that looked eerily similar to Hutsko’s.

The Huskies could do nothing to stop the bleeding, as forwards Mike Hardman and Marc McLaughlin scored a goal each to give the Eagles six goals in the period and a 7–0 lead.

Northeastern finally got something going at the end of the period, as forward Matt Thomson finished off a fantastic breakaway effort to score his first career goal and foil BC’s shutout bid. The goal was a small consolation prize in the end, though.

Boston College poured more salt in the Huskies’ wounds in the third period, as Boldy, defensemen Ben Finkelstein, and forward Aapeli Räsänen each added a goal in the final frame to put BC into double digits. Northeastern could only watch with dropped jaws as the final seconds ticked down and BC celebrated their best performance of the season.

The Huskies showed a total lack of composure, with nearly every player failing to make a positive impact. While Northeastern’s defensive miscues did them no favors, Boston College’s dominant performance began on their own defensive end, as the Eagles barely allowed Northeastern forwards to get anywhere near goalie Spencer Knight. The physical BC defensemen were in full force, and the Huskies had minimal offensive zone presence.

“I don’t know what to say. They were the better team tonight,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. “They sensed blood in the water and those kids on BC are sharks. They just kept coming as soon as they saw us struggling. I could talk a lot about a lot of things, but bottom line is they beat us up.”

When asked about where Northeastern goes from here, Madigan took a more positive tone, noting, “Well, we’re gonna reset. We’re gonna reset and get back to work tomorrow in preparation for the rest of the way.”

The absolute drubbing by Boston College gives the Eagles a weekend sweep and puts Northeastern in a precarious position. With several Hockey East games still to be played this weekend, the Huskies find themselves in seventh place after Providence’s helpful loss to Merrimack.

Northeastern will end their season with two crucial series against Vermont and Boston University. While most of the Hockey East seeds remain up in the air, the weekend performance certainly does not help the Huskies’ outlook. Northeastern probably needs to win all four remaining games to have a chance at a home first-round playoff series. Anything less than eight points during their final two weekends will likely see Northeastern traveling for the first round, while completely missing the tournament remains a possibility.

Men’s Hockey Falls to Boston College

By Matt Neiser

BOSTON — Coming off a hard-fought weekend sweep of UMass Lowell, No. 10 Northeastern hoped to carry their momentum against another top Hockey East team Thursday night at Matthews Arena. This time it was the No. 5/6 Boston College Eagles, holders of the top spot in the conference.

Despite encouraging play in the first and third periods, a rough second frame doomed the Huskies as they dropped the game — and crucial points in the Hockey East playoff race — by a 3–2 score.

“I thought Boston College was a better team than us tonight,” said Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan after the game. “They’re a very well-balanced team with a great goaltender . . . If we’re gonna get wins against very good teams like them, we’re gonna need a much better effort for a full 60 minutes. Disappointing to have that inconsistent effort.”

Unlike some of their recent games, the Huskies (17–9–3, 10–8–1 HEA) got off to a great start. They established the forecheck early, which led directly to their first goal. Julian Kislin held up the puck as the Eagles (20–8–1, 13–6–0 HEA) tried to clear the zone, shuffling the puck to Riley Hughes. The freshman threw the puck into empty space in the Boston College zone, allowing Matt Filipe to run onto it. Filipe, fresh back from an injury that held him out for four games, picked up the puck and wrapped around the opposing net, playing a shot in front that appeared to bounce off a skate and into the net.

Despite Northeastern being arguably the better team for most of the frame, the Eagles struck back late in the period when Julius Mattila fired home a shot after a slick drop pass from David Cotton to open him up. The goal allowed Boston College to enter the break none worse for wear after a lackluster first period.

It also served as a springboard for the Eagles, who thoroughly dominated the Huskies for much of the second frame. After peppering Northeastern netminder Craig Pantano with countless shots, one finally leaked through at the 10:45 mark of the period. After making the initial save on Alex Newhook’s redirect from the slot, Pantano couldn’t scramble back into position to stop Marshall Warren’s follow-up.

Mattila added his second of the night on a two-on-one breakaway six minutes later to make it 3–1.

Northeastern turned the intensity back up in the third period, competing at a much higher level. Just under seven minutes in, their hard work paid off when Biagio Lerario got the tip of his stick on a Jordan Harris shot from the slot. The tip did just enough to throw off Eagles goaltender Spencer Knight, who slowed the puck down under his pad but couldn’t fully stop it.

Madigan praised his team’s third-period turnaround, saying, “I thought our compete level was better; I thought we had a good first period as well. We had our backs against the wall and we had to respond, but we just didn’t respond enough.”

The Huskies continued their push for an equalizer and generated some quality opportunities, but the final product just wasn’t there as they failed to net a third tally and succumbed to the Eagles. Madigan emphasized that despite midseason trophies like the Belpot and Beanpot, the team has much bigger goals this year.

“I’m hoping it’s a wakeup call for our guys. We need to play better or else we won’t get the result we need tomorrow night,” Madigan said. “We’re in a playoff hunt, you know? We haven’t won anything yet. Our goals are measured by what we do at the end of the season. I think they need to understand in our locker room that we haven’t won anything yet. Some of these guys might have won something in the past couple years, but this team hasn’t won anything yet.”

These two teams will face off again on Friday night, this time in Chestnut Hill. Christian Skroce and Matt Neiser will be on the call, with pregame coverage starting at 6:45 PM EST.

Hockey East Preview: Boston College Eagles

Last Season: 14–22–3 (10–11–3 in HE, seventh place); lost in HE finals

Head Coach: Jerry Yorke (26th season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: First

Losses

  • G Joseph Woll
  • D Michael Kim
  • F Christopher Brown
  • F JD Dudek
  • F Oliver Wahlstrom

Additions

  • G Spencer Knight
  • F Matt Boldy
  • F Alex Newhook
  • F Mike Hardman
  • D Mitch Andres
  • D Marshall Warren
  • D Drew Helleson

By Christian Skroce

The last few years of college hockey have not been kind to Jerry Yorke’s Eagles, and 2018–19 was yet another disappointing year. While the team ended its historic non-conference losing streak, Boston College’s woes continued into their conference schedule as the team finished seventh in Hockey East, its worst regular season finish since 2008. The team also failed to win the Beanpot, losing to Northeastern in the final.

Despite the poor regular season, the Eagles picked up the pace in the Hockey East Tournament by eliminating Providence and UMass Amherst before ultimately falling to Northeastern in the title game. Once again, Jerry Yorke and BC failed to come away with any hardware. In fact, even with the waves of talent coming through the Conte Forum over the past decade, Boston College has failed to win the Hockey East Tournament or a national championship since 2012.

After an encouraging Hockey East Tournament run, BC came to terms with several offseason losses. Two senior captains — Michael Kim and Christopher Brown — graduated, while the team’s other captain, forward Casey Fitzgerald, signed an entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres. The offense took yet another hit when freshman forward Oliver Wahlstrom — the 11th pick in the 2018 NHL Draft — ended his college career and signed with the New York Islanders. The final loss came on the back end, as junior goalkeeper Joseph Woll decided to forgo his senior season and sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The talented goalie was a mainstay for the Eagles these last few years, posting an impressive 45–8 record with a 2.51 goals against average.

Despite the lackluster recent results and losses for BC, hope has arrived this season. The Eagles’ incoming freshmen class should terrify every team in the country. Three commits were chosen in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft, a feat practically unheard of in college hockey.

Headlining the monumental freshmen class is forward Matthew Boldy, the 12th pick. Boldy is an intelligent playmaker whose stick skills will immediately bolster BC’s already impressive attack. Taken just four picks after Boldy was fellow freshman Alex Newhook, who averaged a remarkable 1.9 points per game in the BCHL last season. The two first-round picks will join upperclassmen David Cotton on the front lines; Cotton is a talented skater returning for his senior year after a fantastic 23-goal junior campaign.

Spencer Knight, the 13th pick and BC’s replacement for goalie Joseph Woll, is the first goalie taken in the first round since Jack Campbell in 2010. At 6’3” and 198 pounds, Knight fills the entire goal and — as his 2.36 GAA in 33 games for the US Under 18 team proves — is one of the best goalie prospects in years. While the transition into Hockey East can be difficult for young goalies, hockey fans should remember that former Northeastern goalie Cayden Primeau made it look easy for two years. Knight might be even better.

Bottom Line: This BC team won’t be short of talent, especially in their offensive unit. The combination of young superstars Boldy and Newhook and the veteran talent of Cotton and Logan Hutsko should prove deadly. Senior defenseman Ben Finkelstein and junior Michael Karrow lead a solid Eagles defense backed by Spencer Knight between the pipes. This team is young, but its star potential should scare every team in the country. With a difficult out-of-conference slate, the young Eagles will be battle-tested and well-prepared for a deep Hockey East Tournament run and a return to the NCAA Tournament.