‘Tis the season for college hockey!
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.