No. 17 Men’s Hockey Nets Shootout Win Over Friars

By Jack Sinclair

The Northeastern Huskies were barely hanging on to their fifth-place spot coming into the last weekend of February. The difference between them and sixth-place Providence came down to a 0.03 margin in the Hockey East Power Index.

The Friars stole a game from the Huskies in Matthews Arena on Saturday, 4–2. The Huskies needed to bounce back with a win on Sunday to maintain their fifth-place spot entering the last week of the season.

Northeastern added some roster depth, as TJ Walsh returned from injury and Alex Mella made his 2021 debut. 

Providence quickly established themselves on Northeastern’s end of the ice. Mella was whistled for hooking, giving Providence a chance on the power play. The Husky penalty killers were excellent in keeping the pressure out near the boards, and kept the Friars quiet for the duration of the penalty.

Neither team generated sustained offense, and the action went back and forth for most of the period. Providence goaltender Jaxson Stauber and Northeastern netminder Connor Murphy held fast, keeping the scoresheet blank at the end of the first period.

Neither carried their stellar play over to the second period. Just 30 seconds in, Northeastern senior captain Zach Solow pounced on a rebounding puck and buried it for his ninth goal of the season.

Seconds later, Providence drew even. Freshman and Penguins prospect Chase Yoder forced a turnover behind the Husky net, then connected with sophomore Patrick Moynihan, who fired a wrist shot past Murphy. 

Minutes later, the Huskies received their first power play of the night. They boast a 28 percent power-play conversion rate — good for second best in the NCAA — and it showed tonight, as they quickly capitalized on the man advantage. Sophomore Aidan McDonough powered the puck home through Stauber’s glove side off of a quick feed from junior Jordan Harris. It was McDonough’s seventh goal (and ninth point) of the month.

“He’s a shooter,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said, “and when he gets hot, he’s as good as there is.” 

Northeastern got another chance on the man advantage after Moynihan was called for roughing. But the Friars’ penalty kill adjusted, and didn’t give the Huskies any room to breathe. 

Shortly after the halfway point of the period, Solow struck again. Lovely stick handling and precise skating gave Solow a clear look, and he capitalized with his second goal of the game and his team’s third.

Providence didn’t respond immediately, and Northeastern had a couple more opportunities to score, but Stauber fought off everything the Huskies threw at him. In the dying moments of the period, sophomore and Lightning prospect Max Crozier charged towards the net and fired a shot at Murphy. The Huskies netminder made the initial save but couldn’t corral the puck, allowing Yoder to score off the rebound.

When the puck hit the ice for the third period, it was clear Providence had reset in the locker room. They immediately took over, pushing Northeastern deep into their own end. After three minutes of unrelenting pressure, the Friars scored again. Sophomore Parker Ford found senior captain Greg Printz behind Murphy, who fired a wraparound shot. Murphy again made the initial save, but failed to contain the puck; Printz was there to collect his own rebound and put it past the well-screened Murphy.

The tied score underscored the play on the ice, as neither team was giving an inch. Northeastern had their best scoring chances come on the power play late in the third, but they couldn’t find a fourth goal. The game headed into overtime tied 3–3.

Northeastern controlled possession of the puck well throughout the OT period; they just couldn’t get the puck past the Friars, who clogged up any potential shooting lanes. Anything that did get through was swallowed by Stauber.

Although the game officially ended as a 3–3 tie, there was still a shootout to come. Freshman Gunnarwolfe Fontaine opened up the tiebreaker with a snappy wrist shot past Stauber, giving the Huskies a 1–0 lead. Providence freshman and Rangers prospect Brett Berard couldn’t beat Murphy, and the story was the same for Solow on Stauber. Junior captain Tyce Thompson was next for the Friars, but he too failed to beat Murphy. McDonough was next for the Huskies, and he iced the shootout on a tight forehand to a backhand deke. 

The Huskies finished the weekend ranked sixth in HEPI, a solid 2.4 points ahead of UMass Lowell but 0.9 behind Providence. Fifth place, and the first-round playoff bye that comes with it, is not necessarily out of reach, but the Huskies will need to perform well next weekend to have a shot.

“We need to have a good week of practice.” Madigan said. “We need to get ready for whoever our opponent is. You want to finish off the season on a strong note so you’re playing well heading into the playoffs.”

Huskies Bite Back in Shootout Victory Over Vermont

By Dale Desantis

Sunday night’s game started out smoking hot once again for the Huskies, as an early power play set the tone for the early part of the period.

Northeastern had nearly every good opportunity early on as they outmatched Vermont and kept the puck in the offensive zone. The Vermont defense did a good job controlling the pressure of Aidan McDonough and Riley Hughes as they defended some very close scoring opportunities. On the other end, the best scoring chance came early on as Vermont had a three-on-one breakaway that Northeastern goalie Connor Murphy halted.

Soon after Vermont had their first power-play attempt, Julian Kislin made his way into the sin bin for holding. During the power play, Northeastern shot themselves in the foot, as they got called for too many men on the ice when Marco Bozzo entered far too early on a five-on-three.

By the end of first, Vermont more than made up for their lack of offense at the outset. They lacked skill in the Northeastern zone, but got enough pucks in front of the Northeastern edge to earn a slight edge going into the second. If it had been a boxing match, the refs would give round one to the Catamounts. But the scoreless first period meant that there would be no free french fries offered at a Burlington establishment.

Meanwhile, goaltender Tyler Harmon was getting busy in the Catamount net throughout the first half of the game. His strong presence helped keep the game equal as he stymied the Northeastern offense time after time. On the other end, Murphy faced only three strong scoring opportunities, most on breakaways.

The young group of Matt DeMelis, TJ Walsh, and McDonough created some of the best opportunities in the second period. Walsh probably would have snuck one in if not for a spectacular save from Tyler Harmon to keep the game level. This crew seems poised to be a veritable goal-scoring threat through the season if they continue to grow and get more comfortable with each other.

It was a pretty tame game until a Zach Solow fall sparked the Huskies. Northeastern would soon after be assessed their first power play of the period on a tripping call, and a DeMelis tip of a Riley Hughes slapper broke the scoreless tie.

Soon after, Jacques Bouquot finished a rebound of the post to bring Vermont back level. It was one of the Catamounts’ few even-strength goals this year, as the team responded extremely well going into the break.

Early in the third, a muffed clear from Vermont fell to Northeastern’s Ty Jackson, who drove home Northeastern’s fifth power play of the year. The power play has been a strong suit for Northeastern all year and tonight it provided a bevy of their offensive opportunities. 

But déjà vu struck, as Vermont quickly tied the game on a Ray Vitolins goal.

The game was pretty sterile for the most part, as solid goalie play kept the game tied 2–2 through the third period. Although it was a back-and-forth affair, it felt Vermont was very much in the game and just couldn’t come up with that much-needed go-ahead goal.

As the game moved through overtime and into a shootout, Gunnarwolfe Fontaine played hero once again as three Connor Murphy saves made him the lone scorer in the shootout. The game goes down as a tie for record purposes, but Northeastern gets two points instead of the typical one point for a tie (and three points for a regular win).

The Huskies will return to the ice Friday night.

Northeastern Men’s Hockey Thrashes Merrimack to Kick Off Season

By George Barker and Mike Puzzanghera

BOSTON — Eight was great for the Huskies Saturday night, as they tallied multiple goals in each frame to claim their first win of the season over Merrimack, 8–2.

Northeastern (1–0–0) hosted Merrimack (1–2–0) for their first game of the season at Matthews Arena. While the Huskies had yet to hit the ice competitively, the Warriors split a home-and-home against a very talented UMass team the prior weekend.

It was the Huskies’ fourth line that created the first goal. The top defensive pairing of Michael Kesselring and Jordan Harris connected as Harris crept in from the blue line. Harris played a slick pass across the ice to freshman Steven Agriogianis, who ripped the puck past Merrimack goalie Troy Kobryn on his glove side for his first college goal.

Northeastern went glove side again on Kobryn later in the frame, as Harris picked up a power-play goal to go with his assist. It was almost a carbon copy of the first goal, as Grant Jozefek passed it low to Zach Solow, who shuttled it across the ice for Harris to fire home.

The Huskies held a two-goal lead entering the break. But they continued relentlessly and picked up four tallies in the second period.

“As the game went along, we got better,” Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan said. “Early in the year, the first game, you’re trying to play to your identity. Every hockey club has their identity and I thought as the first period transitioned to the second period, we started to play more to our identity. In the second period, we had a lot of offensive zone possession time.”

For the first goal, TJ Walsh and Solow combined to win the puck in the offensive zone, catching Merrimack napping. Solow sliced across the ice to set up a forehand and, rather than beating Kobryn high like the first two goals, slipped the puck five-hole for his first of the year.

Photo by Jordan Baron

Solow played provider once again for the fourth, as he patiently waited for sophomore Tyler Spott to enter the zone on the power play. Spott came screaming in, took a sharp feed from his captain, and one-timed it into the top corner, beating Kobryn glove side for the third time on the night. It was Spott’s first career goal.

“The bench went nuts for that one,” Harris said. “He teed it up too, he got good wood on that puck. We were all just so happy for him.”

Harris picked up his second goal of the night on the power play a few minutes later. He played a neat one-two with Jozefek to set up a shot at the point and, with the help of a great Solow screen, rifled yet another puck by Kobryn glove side. The goal went to review, but the officials determined Solow did not interfere with Kobryn in front.

“He’s an elite player so we expect him to play at a high level,” Madigan said of Harris. “It’s nice that he got those goals and got us on the board, two really nice plays. Solow made a nice play to him on his first power-play goal, finding him and he was really good back there just moving pucks.”

The second Harris goal wrapped up Kobyn’s day. The sophomore forfeited five goals in just under a period and a half, and Merrimack head coach Scott Borek had seen enough, replacing him with freshman Zachary Borgiel.

Not that it made a dent in Northeastern’s momentum, as three minutes later, the fourth line combined for another goal.

Photo by Jordan Baron

Spott capitalized on a poor pass from Merrimack and took it into the offensive zone himself. Agriogianis broke forward and continued the rush after receiving it from Spott, and he pushed a neat pass over to Neil Shea, who made no mistake with his finish, beating Borgiel high blocker side.

“I’ll enjoy it for the night,” Agriogianis said. “Obviously, Jordan Harris made a great play and like I said, I’ll enjoy it for tonight but quick turnaround for tomorrow.”

Photo by Jordan Baron

With an increasingly lopsided score, the game got increasingly chippy. Merrimack typically puts out a very physical side, but the Huskies matched their physicality on numerous occasions. Hard hits came across the ice from Northeastern’s Marco Bozzo and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine and Merrimack’s Patrick Kramer. Kramer eventually left the game with an injury after a hit from Northeastern’s Jeremie Bucheler sent him sliding into the boards.

“Every team has certain types of DNA and that’s been a big part of their game: being physical, heavy, they’re strong on pucks,” Madigan said of the Warriors. “One of the things we wanted to adjust a little bit was that hey, we have to be heavier, we had to get over pucks a little bit more because we thought they were a little bit stronger on pucks.”

Photos by Sarah Olender

The Warriors pulled a goal back with a slick rush before the period ended. Logan Drevitch seized the puck at center ice, broke through the Huskies’ defensive line, and fed the onrushing Dominic Dockery with a crisp pass. Dockery beat Husky goaltender Connor Murphy glove side to bring the period to a close at 6–1, NU.

The third period was marred by more physical play and a big scrum after Merrimack’s Patrick Holway grabbed one of the Jackson twins around the neck and attempted to throw him to the ice. Holway received only two minutes alongside Drevitch and Northeastern’s Fontaine.

“I thought we were throwing the body around well, and it’s a smaller building as you know tomorrow,” Solow said of the Sunday tilt at Lawler rink. “So it’s going to be a physical game and we’re ready for it.”

There were no goals until the 17-minute mark, as Agriogianis grabbed his second of the night. Bucheler gave him a great feed in front of the net and the freshman put a pretty redirect on it to take it over the outstretched Borgiel.

Riley Hughes got in on the act just over a minute later to cap the scoring for Northeastern. The sophomore picked the pocket of a Merrimack defender in his own zone and beat Borgiel high blocker side to score the only unassisted goal of the night, and Northeastern’s eighth in total.

The Warriors grabbed the final tally as a bit of consolation, as Liam Walsh fed the puck right across the face of goal to freshman Conor Lovett, who scored his first career goal with ease.

Connor Murphy got his first career win between the pipes, saving 20 of 22 shots and looking comfortable doing so. With Devon Levi off playing for Team Canada, Murphy stepped up and got the job done in game one.

“I thought he did a real good job there,” Madigan said of Murphy. “A couple early rebounds were put back in front, but he knew it and I thought he did a really good job and played with some poise.”

Photo by Sarah Olender

Also standing out for Northeastern were the bottom six forwards. While the Jackson–Jackson–Fontaine line didn’t register any goals, they constantly created chances and caused problems with their speed and agility. The Shea–Agriogianis–Austin Goldstein fourth line created three goals, but also kept steady pressure on Merrimack with the forecheck, something Madigan said the whole team did well.

The two teams will make the hour-long trek up to Merrimack Sunday to cap off the home-and-home.

“We know it’ll be much more of a different situation tomorrow night in their building,” Madigan said. “The confines are a little bit tighter and they play very well at home . . . They’ll be looking to avenge tonight’s game.”

Men’s Hockey Succumbs to BU after Frantic Second Period

By Matt Neiser

Photo by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — Fresh off a victory in the Belfast-based Friendship Four and riding a five-game winning streak, the No. 8/12 Northeastern men’s ice hockey team headed across town to rival Boston University for the teams’ first meeting this season.

Despite entering Saturday’s game with a losing record, the Terriers are chock full of talent. They showed that in this game, scoring four goals in the second period and six overall as they took down the Huskies, 6–3.

Northeastern (10–5–2, 6–4–1 HEA) got off to an encouraging start, generating 17 first-period shots on net to BU’s seven. But the Terriers (6–6–5, 4–3–4 HEA) emerged with the advantage after senior Patrick Harper capitalized on a defensive lapse by the Huskies to score the lone goal of the first 20 minutes.

Photo by Sarah Olender

After a relatively tame opening frame, all hell broke loose in the second. Goals from junior Zach Solow and senior John Picking — 12 seconds apart and both within the first minute of play — put the Huskies on top, but BU sophomore Jack DeBoer fired right back 40 seconds later, evening the game at two goals apiece.

Northeastern retook the lead on an Aidan McDonough goal 90 seconds after that, but the Terriers rattled off three unanswered goals from Harper, Robert Mastrosimone, and Domenick Fensore to take control heading into the final frame.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Despite holding possession for much of the third period and benefitting from four power plays, the Huskies couldn’t match the ridiculous production of the previous period. The Terriers held them scoreless and tacked on a shorthanded empty-net insurance goal to extend their lead to 6–3, securing victory over their Hockey East rivals.

Solow added an assist to his goal and finished as Northeastern’s only multi-point scorer. Jayden Struble, T.J. Walsh, Ryan Shea, and Matt Filipe all added assists. Goaltender Craig Pantano made 21 saves but allowed five goals.

Terrier goaltender Sam Tucker was fantastic in net, totaling 37 saves, including many tough stops, in the victory.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan didn’t mince words after the game, stating, “I don’t know how much there is to say. We played shitty hockey, and really bad defensively, and they took advantage of opportunities.” He repeated that choice two-word phrase multiple times throughout the post-game press conference.

“We were just turning pucks over. We knew what we needed to do, it wasn’t like they were hemming us in their own zone, we were just really sloppy with the puck,” Madigan added. The Husky head coach was spot-on with his analysis, as always. This was not a good game for the Northeastern skaters, whose sloppy play led to many of the Terriers’ opportunities and goals.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The loss halts the Huskies’ win streak at five, their longest of the season. They are tied with Massachusetts and UMass Lowell for second place in Hockey East; BU sits in fifth place, though they are just one point behind the Huskies.

The Huskies have a week to recoup, with their final matchup of 2019 coming on Saturday against Dartmouth College. Milton Posner and Alex Bensley will be on the call, with coverage starting at 3:45 PM EST.

Men’s Hockey Bests Merrimack in Fight-Filled Penalty Fest

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Catherine Morrison

Saturday night’s homecoming game was a tension filled dramafest. Multiple fights broke out. 23 penalties were called, with Merrimack’s 13 and Northeastern’s 10 both setting season highs. Three players were hit with 10-minute misconduct penalties.

And amid it all, Northeastern pulled out a 3–1 win.

NU’s Tyler Madden celebrated his 20th birthday by opening the scoring. Eight minutes into the first period, he fired a backhand shot into the top right corner of the goal for his sixth of the season. Only a great save by Merrimack goalie Jere Huhtamaa prevented a second Madden goal in the period.

Although there were no more first-period goals, the drama was still there as Northeastern’s Matt Filipe got into a scuffle with a Merrimack player behind the net. Filipe was called for cross checking, and Northeastern held down the fort while he was in the penalty box. Madden looked angry as he argued with the referee after the call, and was whistled shortly after when he got into it with Merrimack’s Liam Walsh. Both players were sent to the penalty box.

The second period started with two Northeastern players and one Merrimack player in the box. With thirty seconds left in the power play, Filipe joined them after he was called for hooking. Filipe slammed his stick against the glass as he skated in, drawing a whopping 10-minute penalty for misconduct.

Seven saves by Husky goalie Craig Pantano and an unsuccessful Merrimack penalty challenge helped Northeastern emerge unscathed. But the box wouldn’t remain empty for long. Northeastern’s Biagio Lerario and Merrimack’s Regan Kimins kept the seats warm after a heated faceoff yielded a dual unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Two minutes later, Merrimack’s Tyler Irvine was whistled for hooking. Before the PA announcer could finish announcing the penalty, Aidan McDonough slapped home a one-timer off an assist from Madden and Ryan Shea.

Shortly afterwards, Northeastern’s Zach Solow was aggressively knocked down and ate ice, but the refs didn’t call it, despite penalizing nearly everything else. The Huskies got their revenge when — after Merrimack’s Declan Carlile went to the box for interference — Aidan McDonough chipped in a floater for his second goal of the period.

The third period started with yet another power play after Northeastern’s TJ Walsh was called for tripping. With 11 minutes remaining, Lerario slammed into Merrimack’s Colin Murphy, flew over his head, and got into a scuffle on the side of the rink with some displeased Merrimack players. The fracas yielded an interference penalty for Lerario and a penalty apiece for Merrimack’s Logan Drevitch and Zach Vinnell. Northeastern failed to convert on the power play.

With five minutes remaining, Carlile finally put Merrimack on the board off an assist by Ryan Nolan and Liam Walsh. Northeastern challenged the call saying there was interference, but the call stood. The win moved Northeastern to 5–3–2 (2–2–1 HEA) and dropped Merrimack to 2–7–1 (1–3–1 HEA). The Huskies continue play with a home-and-home against Providence Friday and Saturday.

Men’s Hockey Falls to UMass

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Neiser

BOSTON — Returning from Minnesota after a two-game set against St. Cloud State last weekend, the No. 10 Northeastern men’s hockey team hosted the No. 3 UMass Minutemen at Matthews Arena for the second time this season. The Huskies jumped out to an early lead with a pair of first-period goals, but five unanswered goals from the Minutemen propelled UMass to a 6–3 win.

Northeastern opened the game on the front foot, taking it to the Minutemen and controlling the play offensively. Before long, their efforts paid off, as grad transfer Brendan van Riemsdyk deflected a pass from Jordan Harris into the back of the net just three minutes into the game. Senior Grant Jozefek doubled Northeastern’s lead a few minutes later, taking the puck into the zone himself on a two-on-one break and sniping a shot past UMass’ Filip Lindberg.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The Minutemen snagged one back with less than three minutes to go in the first period. Bobby Trivigno collected an errant pass from a Husky defenseman and slid a shot by Craig Pantano, halving the Northeastern lead.

A penalty by freshman Julian Kislin with five seconds left in the first period gave UMass a power play to start the second. A cross-check from Jeremie Bucheler 15 seconds into the frame turned it into a five-on-three, and the Minutemen wasted no time evening the game at 2–2. The visiting team scored three more goals in the period, making it five unanswered goals since the Huskies’ pair early in the first frame.

Photo by Sarah Olender

A slick goal from reigning Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week T.J. Walsh early in the final frame gave Northeastern a brief spark, but their momentum went no further. A late empty-netter from the Minutemen extended their lead to 6–3 and put the game out of reach.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan pulled Pantano from the game after two periods, handing freshman Connor Murphy the reigns for the final 20 minutes. Of the change, Madigan said, “I didn’t think Craig had a lot of help back there. You try and create a little spurt, see if you can get a little momentum.” Murphy saved both of the shots he faced while between the pipes.

Photo by Sarah Olender

After the game, Madigan implored the team to be more consistent. “Every night you gotta come to play, and every shift, every puck is important. As a group we’re still trying to understand that . . . You gotta play with urgency all the time, and we didn’t play with enough urgency.”

The Huskies will seek revenge tomorrow when the two teams will face off again on Saturday in Amherst, Massachusetts. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 PM, with Matt Neiser and Matt Cunha on the call.