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.”

Men’s Hockey Bests Providence! Sort of.

By Sarah Olender

BOSTON — The Providence Friars and the Northeastern Huskies came into Saturday’s game filled with confidence, having bested opponents the week prior. The Friars won against UMass Lowell on Sunday and Northeastern won both games of a home-and-home against Merrimack. 

The confidence was evident as both teams started the game off filled with energy. It took only three minutes for Northeastern’s Jayden Struble to fire a shot into the back of the net past Providence pipe protector Jaxson Stauber. 

The Huskies played strong throughout the first half of the first period, barely letting Providence control the puck and beating them in most faceoffs.

But then Providence had a scrappy play in front of the net, and one slipped by Husky goaltender Connor Murphy, tying the game. The goal was technically scored by Matt Koopman, although all five of the Friars on the ice had some hand in it. 

Entering the second period Northeastern needed to regain the energy and speed they had at the start. But with Aidan McDonough serving out a slashing penalty, the team struggled to find its confidence. After spending too much time in their defensive zone, they couldn’t stop Providence forward Uula Ruikka from finding the back of the net and putting the Friars in front, 2–1.

This was the wake-up call the Huskies needed, and they answered with a textbook breakout. A pass from Struble to Matt DeMelis seamlessly found the tape on freshman Ty Jackson’s stick. Jackson weaved between the Friar defenders as if they were traffic cones, and fired a shot right into the back of the net to re-tie the score. 

In order for the Huskies to stand a chance at winning the third period, they needed to get more shots on goal. And that’s exactly what they did. On multiple occasions, the Huskies shot rebound after rebound, hitting it directly to Stauber or getting unlucky as Stauber would save the puck or deflect it away from any Northeastern forwards. 

But 17 minutes into the third period, Zach Solow finally beat Stauber, breaking the tie and taking back the lead for the first time since the first period. On the shot, Solow broke his stick and created a legendary celly, warming his hands over the tinder of his broken stick. 

With only a minute left, Providence answered, pulling Stauber and adding another skater. They capitalized on a face-off win and snuck a puck by Murphy. 

After a five-minute overtime, the score remained tied, so Bucheler, McDonough, and Solow all took a turn in a shootout. Bucheller fired it right at Stauber, McDonough found the back of the net with ease, and Solow, trying for his second goal of the day, took a fast approach to the shootout but shot it right into Stauber’s glove. 

After a strong performance, it was only poetic that Murphy saved all three shots in the overtime shootout to seal the game.  

The game goes down as a tie for record purposes, meaning Northeastern sits at 2–0–1 and Providence at 1–2–1. But the shootout win also counts as two points for Northeastern — as opposed to one for Providence and three for a regulation win.

Northeastern will travel to Providence tomorrow to finish the home-and-home in Schneider Arena. Puck drop is 3:30 PM Eastern.