LOWELL, MA — After suffering a brutal 4–1 loss to UMass Lowell on Friday night, the Northeastern Huskies badly needed to set a positive tone for their last sets of the season. On Saturday night, they found exactly what they were looking for, emerging from the Tsongas Center with a 4–0 win.
“This was by far our best game of the season,” head coach Jim Madigan said. “Straight from the get go we had good legs, we were hunting pucks, we were good in the offensive zone, the neutral zone, defensively in and around our net was the hardest we played.”
The Huskies were quick to the draw in the beginning minutes, as we’ve seen in similar contests — skating fast, applying pressure, and getting early shots on goal. However, when this tactic didn’t generate an early goal like it did in previous games, it looked like they had begun to slow down a bit, perhaps to take their time and assess the team in front of them.
And that’s when the pieces came together. Maybe it was a boost from their stellar coast-to-coast play, or maybe it was the spectacular saves made by goaltender Connor Murphy, but the Huskies lit their fire and let it spread.
Once again, Northeastern opened the scoring, this time with a beautiful bit of tic-tac-toe action from Sam Colangelo to Ty Jackson to Mike Kesselring for the front-net finish. It was the red-hot Kesselring’s fifth goal in the team’s six games.
Four minutes later, the Huskies struck again. Tyler Spott took a break from his gold-star defensive play and fired a rocket from right below the blue line to notch his second of the season and put the Huskies up 2–0.
The Husky hot streak continued well into the second, despite a hooking call on Colangelo. Northeastern’s offensive aggression intensified and it seemed like they were Lowell’s puppet masters, controlling every moment in the River Hawks’ zone. With tensions like this, battles were bound to break out, like the one that resulted in coincidental penalties for Northeastern defenseman Jayden Struble and Lowell forward Andre Lee.
However, the Huskies didn’t let Lowell’s pushback slow them down and continued to show that they were both bark and bite by getting back on the board. All it took was a little fancy footwork around the back of the net from defensemen Johnny DeRoche to find reigning Hockey East Player of the Week Aidan McDonough in front.
The third period saw aggression at a new high. Both teams killed several penalties, and the Huskies’ physicality rhythm seemed to come naturally. They skated hard to pucks and pinned their opponents to the boards during good shifts.
The River Hawks tried their best to match the intensity, but couldn’t keep up or keep themselves from getting on the Huskies’ bad side. Lowell’s Lee once again found himself in a bad spot after disobeying the golden rule of hockey: don’t touch the tender.
That was the last nail in the coffin for Lowell. They cracked under the pressure and couldn’t make a comeback. With a few seconds left, Ty Jackson finally got his piece from a clean feed by star of the night Connor Murphy. It was Jackson’s seventh goal of the season and Murphy’s second assist, the first coming during his first career shutout back in January.
This was the kind of game the Huskies needed to prove they could handle tough teams.
“We’ll see the areas we got better at today and that’s what the standard is,” Madigan said. “That was a playoff atmosphere game for us, how we approached it and for us to continue playing well, we’re gonna have to play like this. That’s the standard. We’ve got to reach the next level in our next game.”
BOSTON — In game two of a home-and-home series against the New Hampshire Wildcats (6–12–2), the Northeastern Huskies men’s hockey team (8–5–2) hung on to win a 5–4 thriller at Matthews Arena on Saturday night. Aidan McDonough put the Huskies on his back once again, notching two more goals including the game winner with just under four minutes left in regulation.
“He’s a shooter,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said of McDonough. “He’s a threat.”
It was a battle between two teams with nothing but animosity toward each other following Eric MacAdams’s suspension-drawing blindside hit on Northeastern winger Marco Bozzo the night before. The tension manifested in a number of penalties on both sides throughout Saturday’s contest. After scoring on the power play, Northeastern forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine was given a ten-minute misconduct penalty for taunting Wildcat skater Kohei Sato, who was sitting in the box for a kneeing penalty.
The Huskies had five other penalties in this game, three of which yielded New Hampshire scores.
The Huskies dominated the first 22 minutes of the game, lighting the lamp twice on the power play and twice on even strength.
Northeastern did everything right in the first; they controlled the puck well, avoided costly mistakes, and looked great on the penalty kill. Eighteen seconds into the second period, forward Mike Kesselring rocketed a one-timer past Wildcat netminder Ty Taylor to put the Huskies up 4–0. The Huskies were continuing their spectacular play from the last 20 minutes of their forceful 6–2 win Friday night, and it looked like they were cruising to a blowout win.
However, the Huskies started playing sloppy, allowing the Wildcats back into the game with three straight power-play goals.
The Wildcats completely shifted the momentum, a shift that culminated with a game-tying Lucas Hermann goal just five minutes into the third period.
For the first half of the third period, New Hampshire held Northeastern in the Huskies’ defensive zone, dominating puck possession and allowing only one shot on goal. When the Northeastern defense couldn’t respond with the same team-wide pressure, Husky netminder Connor Murphy made some spectacular saves to bail them out and ensure the game-tying goal would be the Wildcats’ last.
“Hats off to the leadership and guys sticking to it,” Madigan said. “When you start the third period up 4–2, you don’t expect to give up two goals in the first five minutes, which is what we did. And they were coming, they had momentum, they were feeling pretty good on their power play.”
With just under four minutes left in regulation, Aidan McDonough took the puck off a blocked shot and deposited it into the net to give the Huskies a 5–4 lead and, a few minutes later, the win. The Wildcats were stunned. For the second straight night, McDonough had provided the fireworks in an absolute thriller.
“For us to be able to weather the storm a little bit then find a way to get the win, that’s important,” Madigan said. “That’s what clubs have to do this time of the year. It gives you momentum getting ready for the next opponent next weekend.”
The Wildcats came into this weekend series on a hot streak, but ran into a buzzsaw. Northeastern faltered a bit late in the game, but ultimately stood their ground to secure the weekend sweep. After a statement win on Friday, Northeastern bent but did not break on Saturday.
DURHAM, NH — Coming off two tough losses last week, the Northeastern men’s hockey team looked like a different breed Friday night, notching a tough, physical, 6–2 road win over the New Hampshire Wildcats. Winger Aidan McDonough led the scoring with a hat trick of power-play goals, netminder Connor Murphy made 22 saves, and Northeastern scored two goals late in the third period to ice the game.
“We blocked more shots, we got in shot lanes, we defended a little bit better in our D-zone,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. “Having lost the last two, we just needed a confidence boost and I thought our guys played well here tonight.”
The two teams were heading in opposite directions coming in, with UNH (5–11–2) coming off a weekend sweep of UMass Lowell and Northeastern (7–5–2) reeling from back-to-back losses against Boston College and UConn.
In the beginning of the first period, Northeastern looked lackluster and slow, and repeatedly failed to clear their own zone. Halfway through, New Hampshire’s Patrick Grasso snuck the puck past Murphy off a rebound to give the Wildcats a 1–0 advantage.
The Huskies of last week may have folded in the face of this one-goal deficit, but on Saturday they struck back with two of their own. With New Hampshire sniper Angus Crookshank in the box for a high stick, McDonough whipped a one-timer from Grant Jozefek past goalie Mike Robinson to knot the score at one.
“Those are confidence boosts also for your club when they happen,” Madigan said. “We played with purpose after going down one and there was no panic, and we still had a little bit of swagger there.”
Just 29 seconds later, Riley Hughes put the Huskies on top with a wicked shot off a slick feed from Matt DeMelis.
“He’s getting to the scoring areas more, he’s shooting the puck more — he’s got a real good shot,” Madigan said of Hughes. “He’s just ready. He’s got that year of experience under his belt . . . There’s still more there — he’s continuing to get stronger, he’s got a real good skating stride, he’s quick and handles the puck well.”
This 30-second stretch reversed the vibe of the first period, which had been heavily controlled by the Wildcats. The Huskies ended the first period with a great penalty kill to maintain their 2–1 lead.
The first half of the second period featured three penalties but no goals. It was clear, however, that New Hampshire was controlling the game. They were constantly in Northeastern’s defensive zone, rifling shot after shot at Murphy. Thirteen minutes in, the Huskies left winger Benton Maass open on the right side of the goal while the puck slid over to the left boards. The puck slipped out of the scrum directly to Maass, who whipped it right past Murphy to tie the game.
Up to this point, the Huskies had not put a single shot on goal, and it looked like things were on the verge of slipping away from them. Mike Kesselring had other plans, however; he got a pass from DeMelis, faked out two defenders, then deked the goalie to the left while he slipped the puck in on the right to make it 3–2 Huskies.
“Tonight he provided some offense, and he’s getting a little bit more opportunity on the power play,” Madigan said. “His game is defending and using that long reach and transitioning pucks quickly, making smart and quick decisions with the puck. He did that, then it’s nice to get rewarded on the power play also.”
Two minutes later, McDonough scored his second power-play goal of the night from the same spot where he scored his first.
That made two periods in a row where Northeastern played poorly in the first half and gave up a goal, then scored twice in quick succession. New Hampshire controlled the second, with the Huskies firing only two shots on goal to the Wildcats’ 12. But what really matters is the goals, and Northeastern capitalized on their chances with devastating efficiency.
Just like they had the period prior, the Huskies entered the final frame with momentum on their side. But this time, they controlled the entire period. Ten minutes in, McDonough completed his power-play hat trick with yet another goal from the same spot. Neither substitute Wildcat goaltender Ty Taylor nor the skaters in front of him could adjust to the Northeastern power play.
Two minutes later, Wildcat skater Eric MacAdams laid a late hit on Marco Bozzo, blindsiding him and knocking him to the ice. MacAdams was tossed and the Wildcats were charged with a five-minute major penalty. Bozzo lingered on the ice in pain for a while, but eventually rose and skated to the locker room.
“It was a tough hit,” Madigan said. “Certainly a blindsided, unsuspecting, one I’m sure the supervisor will take a look at . . . He escaped a major blow.”
If McDonough’s third goal didn’t seal this game for the Huskies, the illegal hit definitely did. Kesselring added to Northeastern’s lead during the power play, cashing in from McDonough’s spot to yield the 6–2 final score.
“When you lose a couple of games in a row, and both were at home of course . . . but you lose a little bit of that swagger, a little bit of that attitude,” Madigan said. “You can bring it back in practice . . . but it needs to manifest itself in a game.”
The Huskies and Wildcats will battle again Saturday night at Matthews Arena. Mike Puzzanghera and Khalin Kapoor will be on the call for WRBB, with coverage beginning at 5:45 PM.
BOSTON — It was hard to know whether Tuesday night’s Northeastern–Boston College men’s hockey matchup was an attempt to recreate the Beanpot — which begins in the first week of February in non-pandemic years — or merely a resumption of the schedule Northeastern would have played had a positive COVID test not robbed them of two weeks’ worth of games.
Either way, the Huskies hung tough with the newly minted top team in the nation for about half the game, but ultimately fell, 6–2. The fifth-place Huskies dropped to 6–4–2, while the second-place Eagles rose to 10–2–1.
Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan remarked on Monday that he wasn’t sure how much energy and stamina his team would have. After all, COVID testing protocol meant that players were rejoining the team one by one, with some only being cleared on Sunday. Nonetheless, the Huskies began the game with plenty of energy and aggression, with Zach Solow in particular proving impactful on breakouts. This energy gave them a chance when BC’s Patrick Giles went to the box for boarding, and Riley Hughes tipped in a Dylan Jackson rocket from the point.
“I thought at times we had good energy,” Madigan said. “I thought our guys who logged a lot of minutes — like [Jordan] Harris and Solow — had good legs.”
But the 20 days between games did leave the Huskies’ conditioning short of ideal. Madigan confirmed that goaltender Connor Murphy and forward Grant Jozefek exited the game due to cramps and dehydration. Both are likely to play on Friday. In addition, defenseman Jayden Struble exited with a lower-body injury; his status for Friday is uncertain.
For the first 10 minutes, Northeastern’s energy made up for some discombobulated breakouts, which the Eagles’ size, strength, and speed made exceedingly tricky. But after an entry from the blue line ricocheted off Murphy’s pad, Nikita Nesterenko buried the rebound to even the score.
Less than a minute later, the Eagles caught the Huskies in the middle of a line change. A quick-hit stretch pass from Eamon Powell to Giles was all it took to post another tally.
Going into the second, the Huskies seemed to have solved the breakout issue. They skated with vigor, aggression, and precision, and were finally working in sync. The offense generated chances and put pressure on the Eagles’ blue line. These chances paid off when Mike Kesselring glided unimpeded to Spencer Knight’s doorstep to tie the game at two.
Kesselring, who was bumped off the first line earlier in the season for performance reasons, had notched his first goal of the year and justified Madigan restoring him to the top line. However, BC captain Marc McLaughlin could not let the score go unanswered, scoring his team-leading eighth goal of the year a mere 40 seconds later.
“We worked hard to get it to 2–2 there in the second and then we gave a goal right back at them, we gave it to them within 40 seconds.” Madigan stated. “For me, that was a turning point and then they got the next goal.”
Marshall Warren’s goal seemed to be the point of no return, as the Husky offense seemed to lose its spark. For the rest of the period, even when Northeastern went on the man advantage, their best outcomes were a flurry of strikes in Knight’s general direction, only a few of which necessitated a save. BC, meanwhile, seemed entirely in control, as only a spectacular Murphy save prevented Matt Boldy from slotting home a breakaway.
The period also marked an escalation of the tensions that had pervaded the game until that point.
“It was a good, physical game,” BC head coach Jerry York remarked. “The refs reffed the type of game that both clubs like. There were no ticky-tack penalties.”
However, the small displays of aggression came to a head with the first of a few scuffles throughout the night. Knight made a save off of a Julian Kislin wrister, then Jozefek and BC’s Jack McBain kicked off with some pushing and shoving in front of the goal. It only amplified when Nesterenko inserted himself into the mix to defend his linemate, resulting in roughing penalties for the trio.
The aggression and skirmishes continued in the third, particularly when a frustrated Solow was whistled for an obvious hooking. Tempers were still running high as the teams departed the ice post-game, with Eagles players waving a still-barking Solow off the ice.
The third period featured two more BC goals, most notably the first collegiate goal for senior defender Michael Karow, who was playing his 120th BC game. The jubilant leaping and piling-on of his linemates, as well as the eruption from the bench, said everything.
Both goals were ceded by Curtis Frye, who took over for Murphy a few minutes into the third. It was Frye’s second appearance in three-and-a-half years with the Huskies; in both, he was inserted in the third period to halt a BC team that had Northeastern on the ropes. With the Huskies struggling to match BC’s aggression, passing precision, shot volume, and overall cohesion, the 6–2 lead was too much to overcome.
The Huskies next play Friday at 6 PM against Connecticut. WRBB will call that game, with coverage beginning a few minutes before puck drop.
The Northeastern men’s hockey team made the trip up to Vermont Saturday afternoon to face off against Vermont. The Huskies entered Gutterson Fieldhouse with a record of 2–1–1, coming off of a split home and home series with Providence the weekend before. The Catamounts played UMass Amherst the weekend before, coming out of the series without a win.
The Huskies and Catamounts last faced off shortly before the pandemic put a stop to the 2019–20 season. The Catamounts won both games, spoiling the Huskies’ hopes of home ice during the Hockey East playoffs. Those two wins were the first and only conference wins for the Catamounts in the past 22 months.
Northeastern decided that they would start off the game on the back foot, as Julian Kislin found himself in the penalty box not even a minute into the game. The Huskies penalty kill, which struggled in their last game against Providence, showed improvements in coverage across the ice, and handled the UVM power play with relative ease.
Soon after, the Catamounts found themselves with a man in the box, allowing the stellar Husky power play to go to work. It was not long before Riley Hughes found the back of the net off of a backdoor feed from Dylan Jackson for Hughes’s third goal of the young season.
The Catamounts attempted to respond by establishing themselves in the Northeastern defensive zone, but the Huskies’ defense didn’t allow the Cats to even sniff the ice past their blue line. The Huskies kept the pressure on Vermont’s senior goaltender Tyler Harmon, and the Catamounts couldn’t clear the puck. The Huskies’ efforts soon paid off, as a rebounding puck ended up on the stick of Ty Jackson, who cooly slotted it into the net for his third goal of the season.
Both teams traded penalties as the first period wound to an end. Northeastern held on to a two-goal lead.
With just over a minute of penalty time to kill off, the Huskies began the second period much like they had the first. The penalty kill held fast, not allowing a single shot on goal. Once the Huskies were back to even strength, they floored the gas.
Less than a minute later, they found themselves with a man advantage. A fantastic effort from Captain Zach Solow in the neutral zone allowed the Huskies to force things. A spinning Solow slid the puck to a surging Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, who fired a scorching wrist shot past Harmon for his first collegiate goal.
Once again, the teams traded penalties, rotating from the penalty kill to four-on-four to the power play. When the Huskies found themselves on the power play, they once again put the man advantage to use. Fontaine continued to put his talent on display, as his slapshot managed to beat Harmon once again. Catamount Head Coach Todd Woodcroft had seen enough, and pulled his senior goalie for freshman Gabe Carriere.
Carriere made an immediate impact in his first college appearance, stopping screaming slap shots from Mike Kesselring and Jordan Harris. The teams continued to trade penalties, as it felt like more time was spent on special teams than at even strength. The period ended after a flurry of quick shots on Carriere, but no new Husky points to show for it.
The Catamounts came out of their locker room with renewed energy, no doubt inspired by Carriere’s stellar play at the end of the second period. Northeastern goaltender Connor Murphy held fast, but struggled a little with holding onto the puck. A few juicy rebounds almost allowed Vermont onto the scoreboard, but the Husky defense cut out second-chance shots off of rebounds.
The action moved up and down the ice as each team struggled to establish its offense. Eventually, there was a break in the five-on-five action, as Jayden Struble was sent into the box for a phantom embellishment call. Vermont got the momentum they needed, as Conner Hutchinson found Tristan Mullin lurking on Connor Murphy’s back post, and Mullin slipped the puck past Murphy as the goalie came across his crease.
Northeastern would have a number of excellent chances, but nothing could beat Gabe Carriere, who looked right at home protecting the UVM net. A couple breakaways created by the fearsome freshmen forwards of Fontaine, Ty Jackson, and Dylan Jackson were fought off by Carriere, keeping the score at 4–1. The Catamounts did their best to create some semblance of offensive rhythm, but excellent back checking by Struble and Kesselring eliminated any scoring threats.
The game ended with a score of 4–1, but the action on the ice continued after the final whistle. A late hit by Vermont’s Hutchinson on Hughes caused tempers to flare. Struble was the first to arrive on the scene, followed by a number of enraged Huskies. Punches were thrown, and Hutchinson’s helmet was removed, but since the game was over, there were no penalties to be handed out.
The Huskies are back at it again on Sunday, once again playing UVM at the Gutterson Fieldhouse. The Huskies will look to improve their record to 4–1–1, and the Catamounts will look to avoid falling to 0–4–0.
Northeastern’s 2019–20 season began about as well as anyone could have hoped. The Huskies started with a convincing sweep of Union and two signature wins against UMass Amherst and St. Cloud State. However, the Huskies’ fortunes would take a turn for the worse, as heartbreaking losses to teams like Vermont, UNH, and BC placed NU as the seventh seed in the Hockey East playoffs, setting them up to face the Minutemen once again in the quarterfinals.
But as we all know, Northeastern would not play in that series. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States with a boisterous fury, Northeastern quietly dissolved into the offseason with questions of what went wrong, instead of what could have been.
There was significant offseason turnover. The Huskies lost key pieces at all three positions, including captain defenseman Ryan Shea, Mr. Bright Lights himself Tyler Madden, and veteran net-minder Craig Pantano. Rounding out the losses are senior forwards Matt Filipe, John Picking, and Brendan van Riemsdyk.
Northeastern emphasized experience going into last season, as seen in their aggressive pursuit of graduate transfers. Pantano and van Riemsdyk, along with the other seniors, contributed to NU’s impressive start and will certainly be missed in the locker room. But despite losing the offensive prowess of Tyler Madden and the veteran leadership from other skaters, this is still a hopeful Huskies squad that will be helped by a second straight top-ten recruiting class in the nation.
This team’s strength is its defense, which is easily the most experienced unit on the roster. As we’ve seen in recent seasons, Northeastern has adopted an aggressive, grind-it-out style with its physically imposing defensemen at the forefront. NU employs multiple counterattacking defensemen who force the issue in the offensive zone. Their leader this year is junior Jordan Harris, who logged three goals and 18 assists last season, including the game-winning overtime goal in the 2020 Beanpot final against Boston University.
Joining Harris is fellow Canadiens’ draft pick Jayden Struble, who will look to rebound after an injury-riddled freshman campaign. Struble’s physical prowess is undeniable, as he finished in the top five of several NHL Combine categories heading in 2019, which helped him get drafted in the second round. Struble will be one of the best athletes on the ice this season, which should prove invaluable for the Huskies as they face draft-pick-filled teams like BC, UMass Amherst, and BU.
Filling out the defensive unit are juniors Julian Kislin and AJ Villella, as well as sophomores Mike Kesselring, Jeremie Bucheler, and Tyler Spott. Coming in at 6’4” and 190 pounds each, Kesselring and Bucheler will bring the physical defensive play they became known for during their freshman years. Freshman defenseman James Davenport will also look to contribute to a deep defensive unit.
The biggest question for the Huskies is consistent scoring from their forwards. Gone are the days of relying on Adam Gaudette and Dylan Sikura to make plays and find the back of the net. In recent years, Northeastern has focused on depth and scoring across all four lines, which has been especially apparent in the Huskies’ two most recent recruiting classes. Northeastern is filled with hardworking forwards who break down opposing defensemen as games go on, but talent will not be the issue with NU’s forwards this season. The real problem will be their lack of college experience.
Returning upperclassmen Grant Jozefek and Zach Solow will provide veteran leadership for NU’s forwards, with the latter unsurprisingly earning the honor to captain this year’s squad. Solow has been a mainstay in NU’s top two lines since he arrived on campus, and displayed invaluable leadership qualities even as a freshman and sophomore. He has a fire that is rare in young players and he can always be counted on to emotionally spark his team on and off the ice. Jozefek shares this passion with Solow, and the two have been a handful for opposing teams whenever they are on the ice together.
Also returning for the Huskies is an impressive group of sophomore forwards, all of whom were members of last year’s top-ten recruiting class. Leading this group is last year’s top freshman goal scorer: Aidan McDonough. McDonough’s offensive abilities were especially potent on the power play, as he logged six goals on the man advantage last season, good for third in the conference. McDonough would often work on the same lines as Solow or Jozefek, which will no doubt continue this season. His elite vision and knack for being in the right place at the right time should come in handy. Returning forwards Matt Demelis, Riley Hughes, TJ Walsh, and Neil Shea should all have larger roles this season.
But all eyes will be on the newcomers for the Huskies, led by USHL teammates Sam Colangelo and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine. Both were selected in the 2020 NHL Draft, with Colangelo going to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round and Fontaine heading to the Nashville Predators in the seventh round. The two connected often on goals for the Chicago Steel and will look to continue their record production.
Colangelo will look to be the primary cog in this year’s attack. The Stoneham native is a gravity well who attracts opposing defensemen no matter where he is on the ice. Colangelo’s stick skills and elite vision should allow him to set up his teammates and find the back of the net often. At 6’2”, his size will also allow him to compete in front of goal against some of the best defensemen in Hockey East.
Fontaine will prove to be a valuable two-way forward, as he excels at back-checking and covering his defenders during counterattacks. Brothers Dylan and Ty Jackson complete the tremendous freshman forward class and will look to contribute on the third and fourth lines.
Northeastern’s most important addition may be goaltender Devon Levi, who will look to fill the massive shoes left by Cayden Primeau and Craig Pantano. The French-Canadian netminder is a bit undersized at just under 6 feet tall, but his agility and puck tracking have allowed for his meteoric rise. Levi’s stock skyrocketed last year as he posted a 1.47 goals against average and 0.941 save percentage for Carleton Place Canadians in the CCHL, both of which were easily the best in the league. Levi’s impressive season undoubtedly put him on every NHL team’s radar and led to the Florida Panthers drafting him in the seventh round of the 2020 NHL Draft, despite the team drafting BC goalie Spencer Knight in the first round a year prior. Connor Murphy and Nick Scarpa complete the goalie room for NU.
The most important stretch for NU this season may be from January 22 to February 13. During that month, Northeastern will take on New Hampshire and Connecticut in home-and-home series, while also facing off against Maine twice at Matthews Arena. Those three teams have given the Huskies fits in recent years, and given how close the Hockey East standings will be, winning any less than four of those six games could spell disaster for Northeastern.
Bottom Line: The Huskies will go as far as their impressive freshmen can carry them. Transition to college will be difficult, especially given the abnormal season, but their overwhelming talent alone may be enough to win a decent number of games this season. If Northeastern can start strong, they will position themselves nicely to host a playoff series come March.
BOSTON — Hockey East is the closest it’s ever been this late in the season.
Coming into Saturday night, three points separated second and ninth place.
Northeastern sat at the low end of that range, in a three-way tie for seventh
with 19 points. UMass Lowell, with 22, was atop the scrum — tied with Boston
College for second place. With the top eight teams making the playoffs in
Hockey East, every point is essential for making the playoffs and earning a
“My tenure with this league goes back to the
first year,” said Husky head coach Jim Madigan. “I was a senior in that first
year of Hockey East in 84–85. I’ve got a lot of history with this league and
I’ve never seen it this bunched up . . . It’s going to be a dogfight all the
way to the end.”
Northeastern clearly understood the importance of this series. Despite missing key players, the Huskies scrapped their way to a 2–1 win over Lowell on Saturday night at Matthews Arena, completing the season sweep of the Riverhawks after defeating them in Lowell the night before.
Northeastern (17–8–3, 10–7–1
HEA) was missing a few major pieces. Jayden Struble is out for the season after
sustaining a lower-body injury against Maine on February 7. Matt Filipe missed
his third-straight game and is currently day-to-day. Tyler Madden, the Huskies’
star forward and Hobey Baker hopeful, picked up an injury late in Friday’s
Madigan said after
tonight’s game that Madden would be evaluated on Monday and the team would have
a return timeline after that. However, Jeff Cox of New England Hockey Journal reported that Madden
could miss 4–6 weeks with a fractured finger. That’s just a rumor, of course,
but it’s worth noting until the team gives more info.
The game itself was much
less intriguing than its circumstances. Full of sloppy passes and neutral zone
battles, it seemed like neither team wanted to snag the points up for grabs. The
Huskies came out of the gates looking disheveled, misplacing passes and
struggling to clear their zone.
The River Hawks’ (15–9–5, 9–6–4
HEA) opening goal was borne out of a defensive miscommunication as the Huskies
scrambled to find their footing. Carl Berglund made his way into the Husky
zone, dropping it off for the trailing Reid Stefanson. Having just lost his
stick in a collision at center ice, Jordan Harris was out of his normal
defensive position. Stefanson took advantage, finding acres of space on the
left side of the zone to step in close and beat Husky goaltender Craig
Much like in their Beanpot
victory against Boston University on Monday, the Huskies changed their tune in
a big way in the second frame. Whatever was said in the locker room during the
break worked, as Northeastern played with more energy, finishing checks and
moving the puck around much more cleanly.
That clean, beautiful puck
movement paved the way for the Huskies’ second-period equalizer. Starting with
Matt Thomson, the puck touched all five skaters’ tapes on its trip around the
Lowell zone. The fifth skater was freshman Mike Kesselring, who blasted a
one-timer at the opposing net off a feed from Jordan Harris to beat a screened
The two sides battled into
the third period; neither team found paydirt for the first half of the frame.
Finally, with 10:34 remaining, Northeastern broke the deadlock. Remember how
their first goal involved crisp passing and a clear shot? Their second was
about as far in the other direction as you can go. Instead of trying to
describe what happened, we’ll just let you watch the replay:
Not nearly as pretty as the first, but they all count for one point in the end.
As the clock ticked down,
the game became more and more frenetic. At one point, a loose puck in front of
the Husky net squirted out to an open Lowell skater on the left side of the
crease. Pantano, out of position on the right side, flung his leg out at the
last second to make an incredible kick save and keep the Huskies on top.
Pantano, when asked about his great play as of late (40 saves in the Beanpot and a shutout win the night before), said, “I think it has to do with the play in front of me right now. They’ve been letting me see shots, and they’ve been giving me the easy plays. I think we’ve been dialing in our defensive game, and that’s helped me too.”
“Other than adjusting our lines, we didn’t
change our game plan,” Madigan said of the injured players. “We didn’t really
talk much about Tyler [Madden] not being in the lineup tonight . . . Guys
stepped up, which is what you need and expect.
“The lines are going to be shuffled. We might as [well] not even put out a lineup chart,” he said to laughter from himself and the gathered media. “The lines are going to be shuffled for the rest of the year. I think you guys got a lineup chart; there’s 11 forwards and 11 doesn’t go equally, at least in my math. It’s going to be that way for the rest of the year.”
The Huskies will look to build off these wins heading into a huge matchup next weekend against Boston College. The home-and-home will kick off on Thursday at Matthews Arena, with Christian Skroce and Matt Neiser on the call for WRBB. Pregame coverage will commence at 6:45 PM EST.
BOSTON — An extra week off of the ice usually results in one of two things.
Either the team returns rested and with fewer injuries, or they look sluggish
came off their 12-day break with nothing but benefits. They were rested, and the
return of Julian Kislin after a four-week absence gave the Husky defense added
against Providence was critical in determining Northeastern’s destiny in Hockey
East and NCAA as a whole. The Friars are always a fierce opponent, and they entered
Matthews Arena with only one road loss. That the loss came by four goals
against Northeastern guaranteed nothing for Friday night’s game.
sat tied for second in the Hockey East; the Huskies, while only three points
behind, sat tied for sixth. If the last few weeks of Hockey East action have
taught us anything, it’s that nothing, nothing, is certain. With bottom
feeders like UConn and UNH surging, and previous leaders like Northeastern and
BU faltering against easier opponents, Hockey East is as wide open as ever.
started off slowly for both teams, with no fantastic chances for either side.
After about 10 minutes, the Huskies found their footing in the dynamic of the
game, and their forward check came into full swing. Northeastern, with the help
of Matt Filipe and Zach Solow, put considerable pressure on Providence and its
goaltender Mike Lackey. The puck rarely made its way to Northeastern’s side of
the ice, and Providence began to tire. That fatigue became most apparent when
Tyler Madden forced a turnover in the neutral zone and carried the puck all the
way to the goal, putting the Huskies up 1–0.
Huskies continued to dominate the physical and mental tempo of the game. Only
four minutes after Madden’s breakaway goal, Matt Filipe and Matt DeMelis found
themselves in a two-on-one rush, and netted another goal for the Huskies.
The period ended with both teams receiving penalties, resulting in a four-on-four that only saw more Northeastern dominance over the puck. The period ended with the Huskies holding onto their 2–0 lead.
as the start of the first period was, the second period was insane. Providence
came out with some good looks on net, but Craig Pantano had absolutely none of
it, making some difficult saves look trivial.
When two quick Northeastern penalties gave Providence a five-on-three, Mike Kesselring displayed his spectacular stick skills on the penalty kill and willingly put his body on the line. He took a scorching shot high off the arm and was clearly in considerable pain, but fought through until the best opportunity for him to make a change.
did not return to the ice for the duration of the kill, and that is perhaps
what led to Providence breaking through and putting themselves on the score
sheet. Tensions ran high between the two teams, with forwards Greg Printz and
Zach Solow exchanging pushes and what could only have been the most pleasant of
physicality of the game skyrocketed, with both teams exchanging savage stick
slaps and brutal body blows. This culminated with Biagio Lerario’s massive
check against Printz right in front of the Providence bench, which drew a five-minute
major penalty against and Lerario’s ejection.
Northeastern penalty kill took the ice and took no prisoners. It didn’t even
feel like a penalty kill, as they held Providence to a grand total of zero
shots for the first 4:40. The whole PK unit skated their butts off, beating
every Friar they could to the puck and making Pantano’s job between the pipes
easier. This momentum carried into five-on-five play after the penalty, as
Aidan McDonough netted his ninth goal of the season less than a minute later.
goal only made the Friars upset, as they played most of the rest of the period
on Northeastern’s side of the ice. Patrick Moynihan forced a turnover right in
front of the goal on the forward check, spun, and slipped the puck past
Pantano. The tumultuous second period concluded with the Huskies leading 3–2.
Providence dominated the beginning of the third period. The only thing keeping the Friars from tying the game was an admirable performance by Pantano, who went so far as to lay across the ice to keep the puck out of the net. But Jack Dugan made the most of a Providence faceoff win on their offensive side, pounding the puck past Pantano to tie the game.
soon went to the power play, but unlike those earlier in the game, the top line
of McDonough, Madden, and Jozefek was unable to get things done, and almost
allowed a shorthanded goal. The unceremonious power play resulted in the return
of Providence dominance, and more amazing saves from Pantano.
a quarter of the period remaining, Providence’s Parker Ford was sent to the
penalty box for hooking. This Northeastern power play began much like their
last, but about halfway through it, they worked the puck into the offensive
zone. This kicked off a beautiful sequence of about 20 passes where the power play
unit methodically broke down the Friars’ defense, slowly applying pressure and
working the puck closer and closer to the net.
the breakthrough came. Zach Solow found himself, and more importantly, the
puck, right in front of the net, after a precise pass by McDonough right to his
stick. Solow’s job was made easy and he executed perfectly, placing the puck
into the bottom left of the cage, giving the Huskies the lead with only five
game, Providence head coach Nate Leaman expressed his displeasure with his
team’s physicality, saying that it “hardly felt like [they] checked anybody all
night.” On the flip side of the hockey coin, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan
expressed his pleasure with his team’s approach to the game.
can’t sit back and wait for goals to happen,” he said. “You have to go out and
earn them against a team like this.”
head to TD Garden this Monday to face Harvard in the first game of the Beanpot.
Christian Skroce, Matt Neiser, and Dale Desantis will call that one, with
coverage beginning at 4:45 PM EST.
BOSTON — Benjamin Freeman’s power-play rebound goal three minutes
into overtime gave UConn (9–10–4, 6–7–2) a 3–2 win over Northeastern (13–7–2, 7–6–1
HEA) Saturday night at Matthews Arena. The outcome was a crucial one, coming
amid a tight Hockey East playoff race in which the top seven teams — including
Northeastern and UConn — are separated by just five points.
It was Northeastern’s second straight overtime loss. They will wait a few weeks for a chance to bounce back, with their next game coming January 31 at home against Providence. Christian Skroce and Matt Neiser will call that one, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM EST.
Freeman’s goal came as a result of a Jeremie Bucheler holding penalty with 2:22 to go in OT. UConn’s Vladislav Firstov, who had already scored twice, broke in on net after a Ryan Shea turnover in the neutral zone. Bucheler attempted to halt a Firstov breakaway before being whistled for the penalty.
afterward, the officials ruled that the puck flew into the Northeastern bench, giving
UConn an attacking-zone face-off. UConn won it, then Freeman tallied the
game-winner after Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano came up big on a Jake Flynn
went on the power play and, to be frank with you, I thought Jeremie Bucheler
did a great job defending their forward going to the net,” said head coach Jim
Madigan. “That is how we teach it. He went to the box and they scored on the
powerplay. We cleared the puck and the referee thought it went in our bench
which never hit our bench. In-zone faceoff and they scored. We didn’t get the
To start the game, it took UConn all of 89 seconds to get on the board after a Firstov breakaway split the NU defense. It worsened after a Jayden Struble penalty gave UConn a power play, which Northeastern killed off. Shortly after, Northeastern’s own penalty generated a flurry of chances that failed to get past UConn goalie Tomas Vomacka, who saved 35 shots on the evening. The first period ended with a 1–0 UConn lead.
the end of the first period, five-minute major and 10-minute game misconduct
penalties were assessed to Northeastern’s Riley Hughes (grasping the facemask)
and UConn’s Jáchym Kondelík (boarding).
the second period, Northeastern killed off a penalty before crawling back into
the game. Grant Jozefek was hit hard around 5:30 into the period and stayed on
the ice for a few seconds. A few minutes later, Aidan McDonough found Jozefek
for a game-tying one-timer. Around seven minutes after that, Jozefek drove home
a feed from Mike Kesselring for his sixth goal of the season and a 2–1
answered with just over three minutes left in the second period as Firstov, on
a pass from Wyatt Newhouse, ripped his second of the night in front of Pantano
with little NU defensive pressure.
third period, both Pantano (41 saves) and Vomacka stood on their heads with
plenty of chances both ways.
in overtime, the team went back and forth until Bucheler’s holding penalty.
feel bad for Jeremie Bucheler because he defended the play the right way and he
got called for a penalty,” said Madigan. “We will have to re-group. We have two
weeks off now to get ready for Providence and this is a tough loss, but we will
re-group. This is a resilient group in there and we just keep battling and move
In a battle between Hockey
East’s two Husky teams at the Hartford XL Center on Friday night, Northeastern’s
early-game dominance on both sides of the puck carried them to a 5–2 victory
Within the team’s first 30
seconds of play in 2020, Northeastern’s Matt Filipe fired a shot into the back
of the net on an assist from Ryan Shea.
After Filipe’s goal, play swung
back and forth until 10:40 into the period, when Zach Solow’s unassisted goal
gave Northeastern a 2–0 lead. Minutes
later, Tyler Madden scored another goal, assisted by Aidan McDonough and Grant
UConn struggled through the
entire first period and most of the second, turning over the puck frequently
and giving Northeastern many scoring opportunities.
Nearly twelve minutes into
the second period, Solow put in another goal, assisted by McDonough and Madden.
Northeastern’s score streak continued minutes later,
their fifth goal courtesy of freshman Matt DeMelis, who put home a rebound from
teammate Neil Shea.
UConn finally got on the
board with a minute left in the second period, when Vladislav Firstov put home
a rebound. Firstov’s goal trimmed the Northeastern lead to 5–1 entering the
Though the final period
featured UConn’s second goal (by Jonny Evans seven minutes in), it also brought
increased aggression. With just under five minutes to play, McDonough was
called for goalie interference. Simultaneously, freshman defender Mike
Kesselring was hit with a five-minute major penalty (and a ten-minute game
misconduct) for a violent cross-check, putting Northeastern at a disadvantage
for the remainder of the game.
With nearly three minutes
to go in the game, UConn pulled goalie Tomas Vomacka, leaving Northeastern in a
three-on-five situation. Once McDonough’s penalty was over, Northeastern
defended the more manageable four-on-five penalty kill.
“We didn’t play as cleanly as I would
have liked in the third period,” Madigan said, though he remarked that the “PK
did a great job all night long.”
Craig Pantano also played a solid game, making 24 saves for a .923 save
Northeastern will take on
Bentley this Monday in Matthews Arena. Christian Skroce and Dale Desantis
will call the game for WRBB, with coverage beginning at 6:45.