Last season, as most Hockey East teams battled for playoff spots entering the final weekend of the season, the Terriers were right in the thick of it. Despite an 8–8–6 start, BU performed well in the Beanpot losing a close game to Northeastern in the final. The Terriers continued to flutter around the .500 mark until the end of the season, when they scraped by with a playoff spot until COVID terminated the tournament.
One of the major themes of the Terriers’ season was a battle of goaltenders, as senior Sam Tucker and freshman Ashton Abel rotated between the pipes. However, with Tucker graduating, Abel will look to take over the starting spot this season.
He will not do so without competition.
The incoming class includes goaltender Drew Commesso, an 18-year-old US U18 Team star and second-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks. Commesso slotted an 18–7–1 record for the U18 Team with .920 save percentage and a 2.05 goals against average, which stands at second-best in program history. Commesso will be to Abel what Abel was to Tucker: a talented freshman with the capability to take over the starting spot if given the opportunity.
In addition to Commesso, the Terriers’ gained two more freshmen who were selected in the 2020 NHL Draft: forwards Luke Tuch and Dylan Peterson. Tuch also played for the NTDP U18 team and put up 53 points over two seasons before he enrolled at BU and was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round. Peterson, also a member of the US U18 team, was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the third round and shot for 28 points in the 2019–20 U18 season.
Tuch and Peterson will look to fill the void created by the loss of forward Trevor Zegras, who signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks in late March. The Terriers’ also lost defenseman Cam Crotty to a three-year entry-level deal with the Arizona Coyotes.
Finally, the Terriers will need to recover from the loss of team captain Patrick Curry, who graduated and signed a two-year deal with the Grand Rapid Griffins of the AHL. Curry led the Terriers with 19 goals scored last year, tied for second in the conference. Senior Logan Cockerill will replace Curry as captain.
Bottom Line: Major losses at the forward and goaltender positions place the Terriers in a tough spot. However, depending on the performance of some promising incoming freshman, they could improve over last year. This team should be interesting to watch throughout the season and will undoubtedly contend for a playoff spot.
— It was do or die time for Northeastern as they took a five-game losing streak
into their regular season finale against Boston University. And to no one’s
surprise, things were tense (and a little weird) from the very beginning.
The Huskies began the game on the penalty kill after backup goalie Curtis Frye was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Frye lifted a cross-ice shot during warmups that struck a BU player, which caused the referees to review the “play” just before puck drop. Because of the penalty call, senior forward Grant Jozefek spent the first two minutes on the sin bin while BU started the game on the power play. Despite a less than ideal start, the Huskies responded well in the first period and easily killed off the penalty.
responded in a big way just six minutes after the penalty kill, as a
well-constructed power play goal gave them the early lead. The Huskies combined
excellent puck movement with great positioning as Aidan McDonough finished off
a pass from Grant Jozefek. Northeastern controlled play for the rest of the
period and headed into the first intermission with a one-goal advantage.
some nice Northeastern chances throughout the second period, BU controlled the
majority of play. The best chance for Northeastern came about 15 minutes into
the period, as Matt Filipe nearly found fellow forward Neil Shea on a
breakaway, though the pass trickled just wide of Shea’s stick.
Huskies held their lead after two periods despite a late-period scare. With
just 20 seconds left in the frame, BU forward Trevor Zegras sent a long-range
shot on Pantano, who had difficulty holding onto the puck. With both teams
fighting for the puck to the immediate right of Pantano, BU defenseman Cam
Crotty eventually redirected the puck into the net. However, it was determined
after a lengthy review that Crotty interfered with Pantano, causing the goal to
be waved off and allowing NU to escape the second frame with the 1–0 lead.
an admittedly sluggish second period, the Huskies found their grove once again
just 43 seconds into the third frame, as Matt Filipe finished a rebound off a
long-range drive from defenseman Ryan Shea.
Huskies’ momentum was short-lived, however. BU responded with their own goal just
three minutes later when senior forward Patrick Harper sent in a bullet from
the near face-off dot. Despite the goal light going off, play continued for the
next two minutes with the referees saying the shot had not gone in. A review of
the play determined what everyone already knew — the Husky lead was down to one.
their season on the line, Northeastern did what they do best: block shots and
clog shooting lanes. Despite some nice chances for BU, the Huskies maintained
their lead for the rest of regulation. Northeastern combined impressive defense
with timely offense, as the Huskies enjoyed several stretches of offensive zone
time to further drain the clock.
BU would not go quietly, however, as with just 1:44 left Northeastern was called for a tripping penalty, giving BU a man advantage for the rest of regulation. The Terriers turned it into a two-man advantage, playing the entire power play with goalie Sam Tucker on the bench. Despite the six-on-four Terrier advantage, Northeastern held its own defensively, as BU would have virtually no chances on the power play. Matt Filipe cleared the puck for the final time as the Husky bench celebrated the breaking of a five-game losing skid with an intense 2–1 victory over their crosstown rivals.
thought our kids played a gutty, tough, and determined game,” coach Jim Madigan
said. “We wanted to make sure that we earned our way into the playoffs and just
not backed into it and tonight’s win was that.”
Ryan Shea echoed his coach’s thoughts, saying, “We didn’t want to leave it up
to chance. We didn’t want to risk our season and watch them [UNH] at 7 o’clock
. . . We just wanted to get the job done ourselves.”
is a building we haven’t had much success in over the years,” Madigan said of
Agganis Arena. The Huskies avenged their 6–3 defeat at Agganis earlier this
year while playing in front of one of the Terriers’ largest crowds this season.
On Pantano’s performance, Madigan explained, “I thought he was really dialed in today. He was tracking pucks well and getting the puck out of the crease. I also thought our guys defended well, getting in front of shots and limiting BU’s opportunities.” Madigan said the team understood how dominant Boston University can be offensively, noting “With these guys [Patrick Harper, Trevor Zegras, Patrick Curry] you can just try to contain them and hope that they don’t get the opportunities where they can get going.”
win places Northeastern (18–13–3, 11–12–1 HEA) in seventh place in Hockey East
to finish the regular season and gives them a spot in the Hockey East
Tournament. Northeastern will have a quarterfinals series away at UMASS Amherst
next weekend, with the game times still to be announced. The Huskies are 1–2
against the Minutemen this season, with both losses coming on the road.
Northeastern will have its work cut out for them if they are going to truly
turn their season around, though this win gives them the confidence boost they
will need to have any chance.
30 years, to three in a row, Northeastern is a Beanpot dynasty.”
That was our final call on air Monday night as the Northeastern Huskies raised the Beanpot trophy for the third time in as many years. It was a moment that Husky players, coaches, fans, and yes, even radio guys, will never forget, and it just might be the greatest moment in Northeastern hockey history.
is not the first team to win three Beanpots in a row; that honor goes to the
1963–65 Boston College squads. Nor is the Huskies’ streak the longest; for that
we look to Boston University’s six consecutive titles from 1995 to 2000. Northeastern’s
three-peat is the ninth in Beanpot history and the first by a team not named BC
or BU. But make no mistake, this hat trick is as historic as they come, and its
countless moments remind us why we love sports and why we love calling games
for this team.
broke its 30-year Beanpot drought in 2018, pulling out victories against
perennial powerhouses BC and BU. The Huskies were led by the best top line in
the country, and possibly team history — Nolan Stevens, Dylan Sikura, and
eventual Hobey Baker winner Adam Gaudette. The trio showed up in the biggest
game of their lives, and a hat trick from Gaudette propelled the Huskies to a 5–2
win over their cross-town rivals and sent TD Garden into a frenzy.
whole night was unforgettable, but perhaps the most popular image was of a fan
in the crowd holding a sign — it turned out to be an XXXXL t-shirt — that simply
read, “I can graduate in peace.” Flashes of Gaudette parading the Beanpot
trophy around TD Garden danced through the minds of Husky fans for weeks to
come after that first Beanpot win. None of them could fathom the run that was
year later, Northeastern flexed its muscles and asserted itself as one of the
premier programs in college hockey. It began in the semifinal against BU, when,
less than a minute into overtime, Tyler Madden arrived in dramatic fashion.
In the post-game press conference, I grabbed a mic and sheepishly asked the freshman forward, “How were you able to stay so calm with everything on the line?” At the podium, Madden simply nodded, leaned forward, and announced, “Well, there were bright lights out there tonight, and I shine in those.” Thus was born the legend of Mr. Bright Lights.
week later, Northeastern retained their trophy with a win over BC. Despite leaping
out to a 3–0 lead, Northeastern, ever content to give its fans a show, let
Boston College storm back in the third period to make the score 3–2 late in
regulation. But the Huskies had been here before. Struggling to maintain their
narrow lead, the Huskies found another gear, and with a late push and an even
later goal, hung on to become back-to-back Beanpot champions.
goalie and future NHL player Cayden Primeau shone during the 2019 tournament, allowing
just three goals in two games between the pipes and winning the Eberly Award
and Tournament MVP. The team went on to secure the Hockey East title and break
the Northeastern single-season win record.
the Huskies weren’t done, as just a year later, they found themselves in the
Beanpot Championship again after a 3–1 semifinal victory over Harvard. The
final promised to be a heated affair, as Northeastern faced a BU team fresh off
a thrilling 5–4 overtime upset victory over BC in the semifinal.
It was a nightmare start for the Huskies, as BU forwards Jake Wise and Trevor Zegras each scored in the first eight minutes to stun the Huskies right out of the gate. The score held for the next 12 minutes, and the Huskies headed to the locker room searching for answers.
came out buzzing in the second period, as sophomore forward Tyler Madden
brought NU within one with a perfectly placed wrister from the slot. Talented freshman
Aidan McDonough evened the game just three minutes later, but the Huskies
weren’t done there.
eight minutes gone, consecutive BU penalties gave Northeastern a five-on-three.
After a remarkable passing display, junior forward Zach Solow scored to give
Northeastern a 3–2 lead, all on the first power play, meaning NU would kept a
man advantage after the goal.
they took full advantage. One minute after Solow’s goal, senior forward Grant
Jozefek notched Northeastern’s fourth straight goal after an incredible
individual effort. 4–2 Northeastern.
taking full control of the game, Northeastern didn’t let up in the second
period and brought a whole new meaning to “close but no cigar.” One of the
craziest plays of the game came just minutes after the Huskies’ fourth goal, as
Zach Solow found himself with the puck and an open net just in front of him.
While facing away from the net, Solow attempted a backhanded shot that
ricocheted off the near post, somehow crossed the goal-line to hit the second
post, and ricocheted out of the crease. Husky fans’ mouths dropped as the TD
Garden replay showed the puck soaring perfectly over the goal-line while
remaining nanometers away from counting as a goal.
second near-miss came a few minutes later, as Northeastern again found
themselves on a breakaway. A close-range shot from Madden was popped into the
air, deflected twice, and seemed destined to float over BU goalie Sam Tucker
for Northeastern’s fifth score of the period. But freshman forward Robert
Mastrosimone came to the Terriers’ rescue and batted the midair puck out of the
the hectic second period ended, and both teams headed to their locker rooms to
prepare for a third period that no one could have anticipated.
two minutes into the third, BU began its comeback with David Farrance’s
brilliantly placed shot from the left dot. With the lead shrunk to one, both teams
desperately tried to grab the palpable momentum that pervaded the game, and in
one of the most insane regulation finishes in Beanpot history, the hockey gods
had one more trick up their sleeves.
just a minute remaining in the third period, BU pulled its goalie to give them
a man advantage. The Terriers used it well, peppering Northeastern netminder Craig
Pantano with shot after shot. Despite the rapid opportunities, the NU defense
remained strong, turning away chance after chance. That is, until Trevor Zegras
just 1.2 seconds remaining, Zegras found the puck just to the right of Pantano
and threw everything he had into a backhanded shot that wound up in the back of
the net. With bated breath, Husky fans quickly turned their gaze from BU
celebrating to the clock overhead that showed a few tenths left, and although many
didn’t want to admit it, everyone in the stadium knew that the Beanpot final
would be headed to overtime.
the game, Northeastern players were asked about their thoughts when BU tied the
game. Head coach Jim Madigan interjected, “Well, the coaches were saying WTF .
teams returned to the ice for an initial five-minute overtime period. The
Terriers kept the momentum from Zegras’ goal, earning chance after chance, but
Northeastern’s defense stayed strong enough to keep the game even and give both
teams a much-needed break before the 20-minute second overtime.
looked around the locker room and saw no panicked faces,” senior defenseman and
team captain Ryan Shea said. “Everyone was just focused on their game and was
ready to go.”
overtime was a defensive struggle, with both teams trading chances. That is,
until Shea pulled off a remarkable hustle play to draw a holding penalty with
just about six minutes remaining in the overtime frame to give the Huskies a two-minute
power play. And that was all they needed.
With 5:27 to go and under 30 seconds remaining on the power play, sophomore defenseman Jordan Harris collected the puck near the blue line in the offensive zone. With his eyes fixed on the goal and the trophy, Harris coolly skated into the slot and let a shot fly. With Zach Solow planted in front of BU goalie Sam Tucker, the puck soared through the air, through the crowd, and into the back of the net.
Harris and his teammates flung their gloves and sticks into the air and sprinted down to the other end to mob Pantano. TD Garden erupted, and I mean erupted. Twelve full sections of Northeastern students and countless more in the arena screamed and cheered as the improbability of the Huskies’ accomplishment sank in.
said that if we get the puck near the blue line to push it to the middle and
get a shot on net,” Harris said. “Hopefully a lane opens up, which it did, and
I took my opportunity, and luckily it paid off.”
The Eberly Award for best goaltender of the tournament went to Pantano, who recorded 40 saves in the championship game. Pantano grew up watching the Beanpot as a local Massachusetts kid, and continued to watch during his time just north of us at Merrimack College. This was his only opportunity to make his own mark on this historic tournament, and when it mattered most, he didn’t blink.
Solow was crowned MVP for his two-goal performance. Though his stats speak for
themselves, it’s Solow’s on-ice tenacity and off-ice leadership that have
impressed Husky fans and coaches.
perhaps his greatest trait is this: he doesn’t know what it means to lose a
Beanpot game. None of Northeastern’s juniors do either. After three decades of
heartbreaking losses, gutsy performances to no avail, and seeing another team lift
that pot of beans, Northeastern has achieved all-time greatness in Boston’s
most personal and meaningful sports tournament.
heart-attack Huskies had the added benefit of pulling out their improbable win
in front of 17,850 fans, the largest crowd in Beanpot history. BU fans made
their mark, but it was the Northeastern faithful who truly took over TD Garden
(as they have for years) and made it Northeastern’s home away from home. In the
past three seasons, Northeastern is 8–1 there. The bright lights were out on
Monday night, and the Huskies shine in those.
was a great Beanpot game; I’ve seen a lot of them over the years,” Madigan
said. “Congratulations to our players . . . they’ve set the bar incredibly high
for this program and they’ve represented the school well.”
“The winning culture that we’ve built — along with the guys before us — has been everything,” Shea noted. “I came to Northeastern to win a Beanpot, and now we’ve got three of them.”
was a distinct theme throughout the postgame press conference: “Never forgot their
roots.” Northeastern has 14 Massachusetts natives on its roster, all of whom
grew up watching the Beanpot and dreamt of winning it someday. Milton,
Massachusetts resident Jim Madigan praised two Huskies who also grew up there —
Ryan Shea and Aidan McDonough, who had an impressive four-point performance in
the Championship game.
“I had [McDonough] at my house during the Stanley Cup when he was nine,” said Madigan. “I’ve known him a long time and he’s grown into a great young man, and an even better hockey player . . . we’re a Mass team now.
young men have separated themselves from every other team in the 90-year
history of this program,” Madigan said. When asked about a potential four-peat,
Madigan smiled, shook his head, and said, “I think we’re just going to enjoy
a personal note, thank you to everyone involved with Northeastern hockey. This
has been a truly incredible ride that thousands of people — alumni old and new,
current freshmen, family — have loved being a part of.
And to my WRBB Sports family, thank you for everything. There are so many people who deserve to be a part of this run, and I like to believe that everyone at WRBB, past and present, was a crucial part of this broadcast. Like Jim Madigan said, I think I’m just going to enjoy this for a little while.