Huskies Fall to Friars in Critical Matchup

Story by Khalin Kapoor

Photos by Sadie Parker

BOSTON — The Northeastern Huskies (9–7–2) fell to the Providence Friars (10–7–4) in the first half of a home-and-home series on Saturday evening at Matthews Arena.

Providence was reeling after a tough 8–1 loss the week before, but outclassed the Huskies throughout. It was a disappointing game for the Huskies, who were looking to build momentum after their shutout win last week against UMass Lowell. They were also looking to distance themselves from Providence, who started the day 0.02 points behind Northeastern in the Hockey East Power Index but ended it 1.79 points ahead.

“It wasn’t good enough,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. “We let them dictate the pace . . . and played their type of game.”

The first period was incredibly fast and physical right out of the gate, with both teams getting some quality offensive zone time and scoring chances. The back-and-forth continued until the 13-minute mark, when Providence winger Tyce Thompson took the puck off a deflection off of the side of the goal and whipped it into the net. It was an unfortunate sequence for Husky netminder Connor Murphy, who lost track of the puck after the deflection.

“You can’t give good teams like Providence goals like that and expect to win,” Madigan said.

Providence flexed their strength throughout the opening period, consistently winning key puck battles at the boards and laying some solid hits. They forced Northeastern to play their style of hockey, which denied the Huskies sustained offensive zone time.

Coming into this game, Northeastern’s power play conversion rate was ranked first in Hockey East and second in the country at 28 percent. Halfway through the first, Northeastern defenseman Jordan Harris sniped the puck right over Providence goalie Jaxson Stauber’s shoulder to tie the game at one.

Northeastern captain Zach Solow was credited for the assist, making him the 53rd Northeastern player to notch 100 points.

“I’m very happy for him,” Madigan said. “He’s going to go down as one of our better players in the history of this program.”

But the Friars struck back with a power play goal of their own when Jason O’Neill deflected a clearing attempt and chipped the puck over Murphy’s glove. 

In the second period, the Friars looked better than the Huskies and spent most of their time controlling the puck in the neutral zone. Murphy made some incredible saves, even doing a full split to keep the score at 2–1.

The third period began a little better for the Huskies, who seemed better adjusted to the Friars’ style of play. But a bad turnover led to a two-on-two chance, and Jamie Engelbert beat Murphy five-hole to increase the Providence lead to 3–1.

“It was a bad turnover,” Madigan remarked. “They work hard . . . but we contributed to their three goals.”

With just over a minute left in the game, Northeastern forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine cut the deficit with a screamer from the point, giving the Huskies a chance to tie the game before time expired.

Northeastern pulled Murphy to get an extra attacker, but a key turnover led to an easy open-net goal for Providence’s Matt Koopman to ice the game. The Friars killed off Northeastern’s top-ranked power play three times in the final period to secure the series opener. Northeastern will attempt to salvage a series split on Sunday.

“We need to respond better,” Madigan said. “We have to want it more than them.”

Huskies’ Scoring Spree Comes to an End as Friars Blank Northeastern

By Christian Skroce

The Northeastern men’s hockey team’s undefeated run to begin the season came to an end Sunday afternoon as they fell to the Providence Friars, 5–0, in Rhode Island.

After an impressive shootout win over the Friars at Matthews Arena on Saturday, Northeastern came out flat in the second game of the weekend. Jason O’Neill got the scoring going for Providence with just three minutes left in the first period. The Friars’ first goal was a tough one for the Huskies, as a scrum in front of the Northeastern net led to a deflection off the skate of Northeastern defensemen Jayden Struble.

Providence doubled their lead just minutes later, as prolific scorer Tyce Thompson coolly fired a shot into the top shelf off a feed from Davis Bunz. The goal, which game with two seconds left in the first period, was a back-breaking blow for Northeastern, as Providence went into the first intermission with all of the momentum.

The Friars did not look back, and expanded their advantage just 40 seconds into the second period. A nice finish from Parker Ford gave the Friars their second power-play goal and third overall.

Greg Printz and Craig Needham would add two more goals for Providence in the closing moments of the game. Printz’s goal came with an empty net, while Needham scored with 18 seconds remaining in the game, catching the Husky defenders off guard as they poured into the offensive zone.

It was a difficult game all around for Northeastern, as the forward group could not get anything going. The Huskies produced 28 shots on goal, but few were genuine opportunities in front of the Providence net. At times it felt like there was a Providence defender in front of every Northeastern shot. Northeastern will have many questions to ask of themselves.

While the smaller rink in Providence might have contributed to some of Northeastern’s offensive woes on Sunday, Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan made it clear that the team wasn’t looking for excuses.

“At the end of the day you have to go out and play hockey,” he said. “Our guys didn’t make enough plays chasing pucks and finding pockets of space in the offensive zone. It’s as simple as that.”

Northeastern’s biggest concern was their mistakes in even play and poor special teams. The Huskies committed five penalties, and Providence made good on two of the ensuing power plays. The special teams woes also affected NU on the offensive end, as the team failed to convert on all four power-play chances.

“Very seldom do we lose a special teams game,” Madigan said bluntly, “but we did so today.”

The one shining piece for the Huskies was goaltender Connor Murphy, who has made several important plays over the team’s first four games. Murphy’s best play of the day came in the first period, as the netminder pulled off an impressive post-to-post shift, preventing an easy backdoor opportunity for the Friars.

“I thought he played well tonight,” Madigan said of his veteran goaltender. “Little bit of bad luck with the first goal and he faced tough chances with them [Providence] on the power play throughout the game, but he’s be playing very well for us.”

Murphy has been key to Northeastern’s strong start to the season as a replacement for touted freshmen goalie Devon Levi, who is currently with Canada’s world juniors team.

Northeastern is scheduled to take on the Vermont in two games in Burlington next weekend. WRBB will have updates on the Huskies’ games against the Catamounts as the week progresses.