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 — Down 3–1 with minutes left in regulation, the Northeastern men’s hockey team pulled netminder Connor Murphy to get an extra attacker on the ice and make their last offensive stand against UMass Lowell.
That man advantage went about as well as the Huskies’ three power plays. Shorthanded, UMass Lowell cleared the puck out of their defensive zone and set up a shot from the point by Seth Barton straight into the empty net.
It was a depressing end to a depressing game for the Huskies. After starting out on fire, Northeastern (8–6–2) fell apart and lost to UMass Lowell (5–7–0) by a score of 4–1.
Northeastern’s start was unmistakably strong. Seventy-one seconds into the game, Dylan Jackson received a pass from fellow forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine and rifled it straight into the net. The combination of Fontaine and twins Dylan and Ty Jackson on the same line proved difficult for Lowell to handle right out of the gate.
But there were still 58 minutes left. Later in the first, Lowell scored twice in quick succession, courtesy of center Connor Sodergren and right wing Charlie Levesque.
Up 2–1, the River Hawks kept control for the rest of the game, with Levesque scoring again in the third period and Barton notching the aforementioned empty-netter. Husky netminder Connor Murphy made some nice saves throughout the game, but ultimately came up short in some key situations.
The Huskies consistently struggled to win key faceoffs and puck battles along the boards. UMass Lowell played incredibly physical hockey and continuously sent the puck down the boards trusting that they would win it. The Huskies could not match the River Hawks’ speed, and by the third period it was clear that Northeastern skaters were lagging behind. After the opening three minutes, they mustered just 13 shots on goal.
Forceful collisions at the boards and some tough hits created a palpable tension. After a particularly rough scrum, Northeastern winger Grant Jozefek was left down on the ice in visible pain. Though he limped off the ice with the trainer, he rejoined the action in the third period; head coach Jim Madigan said he was hopeful Jozefek could play tomorrow. Madigan, who just got forward Sam Colangelo and defenseman Jayden Struble back in his lineup, also confirmed that defensemen Jordan Harris and Jeremie Bucheler — who missed Friday’s game — will not play on Saturday.
Friday night’s game was supposed to build upon Northeastern’s sweep of New Hampshire last week, a sweep that started to reestablish their offensive identity after a COVID hiatus. Instead, the team took a step backward against the team directly behind them in the Hockey East standings.
Whether the Huskies can speed up and adjust their attack will be determined tomorrow, when they rematch the River Hawks in Lowell. Mike Puzzanghera and Rae Deer will call that game for WRBB, with coverage commencing at about 5:50 PM Eastern.
BOSTON — For most of the game, the Huskies weren’t headed for a blowout.
Their first goal, skilled as it was, was a quick punch on the penalty kill. Their next two, both late in the second period, came on the man advantage. With 45 minutes played, it looked a fairly typical — if not fiercely competitive — contest.
And then the dam collapsed. Four unassisted Northeastern goals within five-and-a-half minutes turned Matthews Arena into a slaughterhouse. The Huskies (6–3–2) left the ice Wednesday night with a 7–0 win over New Hampshire (3–5–1).
Each team exited their locker rooms with a different agenda. For Northeastern, it was out-skating their opponents all over the ice. For New Hampshire, it was setting the physical tone of the game with heavy hits. The Wildcats made sure to finish every check, while the Huskies used the spacious ice of Matthews Arena to spread themselves out and use their speed.
There was no better example of this plan coming to fruition than the play leading to the Huskies’ first goal. After James Davenport interfered with a Wildcat forward in the Northeastern defensive zone, Husky captain Zach Solow received the puck from Grant Jozefek in the Huskies’ zone, flew behind the Wildcats’ defense, and cooly finished with a backhand for Northeastern’s first short-handed goal of the season.
“I thought that the draw got scrummed up a little bit, and I was just sealing the wall,” Solow recalled. “The puck squirted to me, I saw that the D jumped down in the corner of my eye . . . I just took it to the middle, I beat them, and then on the two-on-one I was looking through [the goalie’s] triangle. I couldn’t really make the play and saw him turn his toes towards me, so I went to my backhand, got the goalie moving, and put it five-hole.”
After the goal, Northeastern handled the pressure from the Wildcats’ power-play unit and held on to their one-goal lead. Their speed produced an aggressive, targeted forecheck that kept the puck in New Hampshire’s zone and forced them to rely on the occasional rush to create chances. A few more scoring opportunities came the Huskies’ way, mainly created by dynamic freshmen forwards Ty Jackson, Dylan Jackson, and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine. All three leveraged their speed to skate behind the Wildcats’ defense and create quality looks. New Hampshire goaltender Mike Robinson stood fast, though, keeping the deficit at one, after one.
In the second period, the Wildcats displayed more aggression, tighter passes, and cleaner zone entries than they did in the first. Then Northeastern’s penalty bug struck again. First it was Mike Kesselring for interference. Right after the Huskies killed it off, Solow went to the box . . . again for interference. The Huskies’ penalty killers kept the center of the ice clear, and Connor Murphy’s positioning in net did 90 percent of the job.
“We talked about it every TV timeout,” associate head coach Jerry Keefe said of the team’s many penalties. “Our guys recognize it. There’s a couple times tonight I thought we were a little unlucky — so to speak — on a couple of calls. I thought we were playing hard and maybe they were penalties, but I didn’t think they were reckless penalties, which is a good start . . . But there’s no question that we have to be disciplined. It takes you out of your rhythm.”
Nikolai Jenson was sent to the box soon after for hooking. The Northeastern power-play unit took the ice and quickly made their presence felt. Jozefek passed left and drew defenders as he charged toward the net, leaving Harris to blast an unobstructed one-timer to Robinson’s glove side. Northeastern led 2–0.
A few minutes later, Wildcat Charlie Kelleher found himself in the sin bin, yielding another Northeastern power play that would spell “DOOM” for New Hampshire. Sam Colangelo, in just his third college game, charged into the zone and snapped a pass to Jozefek, who was open on the back side. It was Colangelo’s first point as a Husky and Jozefek’s third goal of the year.
“We had the attack mindset,” Solow said of the power play. “We didn’t really generate enough against Merrimack. So the days that we could prep, we were focused on getting shots through and trying to create more chances that way, and clearly it helped out tonight big time.”
The Wildcats started the third period clawing at any chance to get back into the game. Line tweaks allowed them to get more time in the offensive zone, but Connor Murphy stood strong en route to his first career shutout.
“The guys in front of me did a hell of a job getting pucks outside the dots and keeping the shots where I could control them,” Murphy said. “Makes my job a lot easier.”
And then came the five-and-a-half minute stretch in the middle of the third where Northeastern made the Wildcats look like kittens. First, a Jayden Struble screamer caromed off Robinson and right onto Gunnarwolfe Fontaine’s stick.
Less than a minute later, Zach Solow mounted a similar rush to his short-handed goal in the first and beat Robinson five-hole again.
“His 200-foot game has been outstanding the last few games,” Keefe gushed. “He hasn’t really got on the scoresheet as much as he used to and it hasn’t changed his game at all. Tonight was a great way for him to get rewarded for playing the right way.”
The replacement of Mike Robinson in net with Ty Taylor produced some quiet . . . for four minutes. Then Julian Kislin justified his spot in the top defensive pairing by dropping Eric Esposito to his knees . . .
. . . and firing a shot at Robinson. The netminder coughed up a rebound, and Ty Jackson — who was hanging out at the edge of the crease — didn’t need to be asked twice.
Fifteen seconds later, Jayden Struble got as uninhibited a path to the goal as anyone had all night and put it home to yield the 7–0 final score, the largest blowout of the season for the Huskies.
The Huskies looked energetic all game, while the Wildcats looked energetic only in stretches. By the time the Huskies reeled off four goals in the middle of the third, the Wildcats looked dead. And despite a 37–29 Wildcat shot advantage, the Huskies had many more quality looks.
“We’re not a big shot-taking team. We haven’t been built that way for years,” Keefe noted. “There’s going to be a lot of games where we might be out shot . . . If we’re not giving up grade As, I’m fine with it . . . We like to try to wear you down. We like to hold on to the puck, and we like to look for quality [over] quantity.”
The Huskies pulled off the rout with several notable absences. Freshman goaltender Devon Levi, who has yet to play for Northeastern after a magnificent run for Team Canada in World Juniors, remains out with an upper body injury and no timetable to return. Jeremie Bucheler was out after sustaining an injury against Merrimack. And head coach Jim Madigan was absent after a close contact with a non-player who tested positive for COVID-19; Keefe has the reins at least until the end of the week.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking just because you don’t want to mess it up,” Keefe said. “We all miss Coach Madigan . . . I think the whole staff felt that way.”
The Huskies will face the #3 Boston College Eagles in a home-and-home, with games at 7 PM on Friday and Saturday. Mike Puzzanghera and Sarah Olender will call the Friday game for WRBB, with coverage commencing a few minutes before puck drop.
“They’re dangerous in transition,” Keefe said of the Eagles. “So a lot of the messaging that we talked to our group about heading into today’s game is not going to change against BC. If you don’t check against BC you’re not going to give yourself a chance.”
“This is a big series,” Solow said. “We know what BC is capable of. We know who they have. They got us last year in a regular season game, so we’re going to come out flying. They’re a good team, but I think we can match that.”
BOSTON — In Merrimack’s last series, which was nearly a month ago, they lost to Northeastern. Or, more accurately, Northeastern obliterated them, sweeping the series by a combined 14–5 score.
“They didn’t believe me when I said it’s not going to be a 6–3 or 8–3 game,” Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan said of Saturday night’s contest.
The Warriors hadn’t played a game in nearly a month. The Huskies had established themselves as the dominant team and were even getting Sam Colangelo back from World Juniors, as the second-round NHL draftee had just won gold with Team USA.
The Huskies went in confident, but quickly realized that Madigan was right. Expecting Merrimack to be rusty, Northeastern came in sluggish, relaxed, lazy, and even sloppy. They missed passes, found themselves in the penalty box far too often, and created few offensive opportunities.
It wasn’t long before Merrimack made them pay. Filip Forsmark caught a rebound that Northeastern goaltender Connor Murphy couldn’t control. He knocked it into the net and Northeastern ended the first period down 1–0.
In the second period, Northeastern didn’t improve their lackluster performance much. They remained slow, lazy, and they made, for lack of a better word, stupid plays. With their lack of presence on both sides of the ice, it took barely any effort for Merrimack to put another tally on the board. Chase Gresock tipped a pass from Mac Welsher right behind Murphy to double the lead.
The Huskies started the third period a little better, and responded well when Ty Jackson was given a penalty for goalie interference. On the penalty kill, Northeastern’s Grant Jozefek rushed into the offensive zone on a break out; Patrick Holway caught up to him and slashed Jozefek’s stick to prevent a goal. The slash cost Merrimack a penalty, and since Jozefek was on a prime scoring opportunity, he got a penalty shot. After 45 minutes of play, the Huskies finally made it onto the board.
“We were out of sync, Madigan said. “He gave us life there.”
“When [Jozefek] got that breakaway and he had that penalty shot, we got a lot of momentum from that,” said Dylan Jackson. “When someone scores, it just gives everyone energy on the bench.”
Soon after that, Madigan changed up the lines. His risky choice to pair Gunnarwolfe Fontaine with the Jackson twins paid off, as the Jacksons fed Fontaine a pass and he shot a bar down goal right behind Borgiel. At the end of the third, the game was tied 2–2.
“Once we started getting our legs, we started getting more chances, and you try to carry that,” Dylan Jackson said.
Northeastern entered overtime with all the momentum, plus a power play after a Forsmark goalie interference penalty at the end of the third. Zach Solow, Aidan McDonough, Jordan Harris, and Fontaine generated some good opportunities but didn’t capitalize. At this point, Merrimack had run out of steam and was barely making an offensive effort. They were in survival mode.
As the penalty expired and three-on-three hockey commenced, the Jackson twins took the ice with Jayden Struble. The twins broke out on a two-on-one, passed back and forth in front to knock Borgiel out of position, and ended the game when Dylan Jackson found the back of the net.
“We’ve been playing together for 15 years now so we have that chemistry,” Jackson said. “We just kind of know where each other are going to be.”
The Huskies will face Merrimack again Sunday at 3 PM in North Andover.
BOSTON — In a Friday night game of oddities, Northeastern left a chance for a huge win go begging as they gave up two rebound goals in the third period to allow No. 9 UMass to waltz out of Matthews Arena with a 4–3 win.
No. 10 Northeastern (3–2–2) set up for the top-ten tilt against the Minutemen (7–3–1) without freshman forward Steven Agriogianis, who sustained an upper body injury. Agriogianis was one of Northeastern’s best players through the first three weeks of the season, with two goals and three assists to his name. Despite his absence, the Huskies started on the right foot.
It’s a new year, but it’s still the same Jordan Harris. The junior scored his third goal of the season with an excellent shot from the slot. This was the first oddity of the night: a shot from Aidan McDonough left UMass’ Cal Kiefiuk down in a heap in their own zone. The officials let the game continue, though, and Harris took advantage to give the Huskies the lead seven minutes in.
A few minutes later, Zach Solow took a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after shoving and jawing after the whistle, giving the Minutemen a chance to use their elite power-play unit. That unit had converted 12 goals in 46 tries entering Friday’s game, and it didn’t take them long to notch their 13th. The imposing Carson Gicewicz tapped in a loose puck twenty seconds into the power play. It was his seventh goal in the last six games, as the St. Lawrence transfer continued his torrid stretch.
Immediately after the UMass goal, Northeastern took another penalty for a bench minor (served by extra skater Michael Outzen in his first collegiate action). This allowed UMass to continue to build pressure, though nothing came of the power play.
The second period may have been Northeastern’s sloppiest of the season. The power play didn’t string passes together like they did in the first frame and UMass kept Northeastern on the back foot. The Minutemen took advantage, scoring another power-play goal through Garrett Wait. Husky goalie Connor Murphy was caught out of position as Wait strode up from behind the net and ripped his shot to the near post.
“We’ve got to bear down on our power plays and on their power-play goals, we didn’t defend well enough and we can’t go to the box as many times as we did,” Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan said.
Plenty of solid play came in the third period, as Ty Jackson scored his team-leading fifth goal of the year by flicking a pass off the back of UMass goalie Matt Murray to tie the game with 13 minutes to play.
Less than three minutes later, Harris once again gave Northeastern the lead, this time with a howitzer from the point. Ty Jackson won the puck along the boards and fed Harris, who struck it well and beat Murray glove side to give Northeastern the 3–2 lead.
But just as soon as they had taken the lead, they lost it. UMass scored two nearly identical goals off rebounds in front of Murphy. First, Josh Lopina locked up the game at three by diving to tap in a loose puck.
And a few minutes later, Oliver Chau did the same minus the dive to give the Minutemen the 4–3 advantage.
Northeastern kept the pressure up until Jayden Struble took a five-minute major for spearing with a minute to play. Northeastern couldn’t get the puck into the UMass zone, and they left the ice with the loss.
“We’re down 4–3 at the end against good teams like that, we’ve got too many penalties, some warranted, some weren’t, Madigan said. “Some good calls, some bad calls. But that’s the game of hockey. You’ve got to work with it, and we didn’t manage it well when we did get poor calls.”
The two teams tangle again tomorrow in Amherst at 6 PM.
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 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.
BOSTON — The Providence Friars and the Northeastern Huskies came into Saturday’s game filled with confidence, having bested opponents the week prior. The Friars won against UMass Lowell on Sunday and Northeastern won both games of a home-and-home against Merrimack.
The confidence was evident as both teams started the game off filled with energy. It took only three minutes for Northeastern’s Jayden Struble to fire a shot into the back of the net past Providence pipe protector Jaxson Stauber.
The Huskies played strong throughout the first half of the first period, barely letting Providence control the puck and beating them in most faceoffs.
But then Providence had a scrappy play in front of the net, and one slipped by Husky goaltender Connor Murphy, tying the game. The goal was technically scored by Matt Koopman, although all five of the Friars on the ice had some hand in it.
Entering the second period Northeastern needed to regain the energy and speed they had at the start. But with Aidan McDonough serving out a slashing penalty, the team struggled to find its confidence. After spending too much time in their defensive zone, they couldn’t stop Providence forward Uula Ruikka from finding the back of the net and putting the Friars in front, 2–1.
This was the wake-up call the Huskies needed, and they answered with a textbook breakout. A pass from Struble to Matt DeMelis seamlessly found the tape on freshman Ty Jackson’s stick. Jackson weaved between the Friar defenders as if they were traffic cones, and fired a shot right into the back of the net to re-tie the score.
In order for the Huskies to stand a chance at winning the third period, they needed to get more shots on goal. And that’s exactly what they did. On multiple occasions, the Huskies shot rebound after rebound, hitting it directly to Stauber or getting unlucky as Stauber would save the puck or deflect it away from any Northeastern forwards.
But 17 minutes into the third period, Zach Solow finally beat Stauber, breaking the tie and taking back the lead for the first time since the first period. On the shot, Solow broke his stick and created a legendary celly, warming his hands over the tinder of his broken stick.
With only a minute left, Providence answered, pulling Stauber and adding another skater. They capitalized on a face-off win and snuck a puck by Murphy.
After a five-minute overtime, the score remained tied, so Bucheler, McDonough, and Solow all took a turn in a shootout. Bucheller fired it right at Stauber, McDonough found the back of the net with ease, and Solow, trying for his second goal of the day, took a fast approach to the shootout but shot it right into Stauber’s glove.
After a strong performance, it was only poetic that Murphy saved all three shots in the overtime shootout to seal the game.
The game goes down as a tie for record purposes, meaning Northeastern sits at 2–0–1 and Providence at 1–2–1. But the shootout win also counts as two points for Northeastern — as opposed to one for Providence and three for a regulation win.
Northeastern will travel to Providence tomorrow to finish the home-and-home in Schneider Arena. Puck drop is 3:30 PM Eastern.
The Northeastern Huskies notched an authoritative come-from-behind win Sunday evening at Merrimack College, winning the second game of the home-and-home, 6–3.
The Warriors (1–3–0) hosted the Huskies (2–0–0) at Lawler Rink, marking the Huskies’ first away game this season. Merrimack, fresh off of a split series with UMass, lost the first game in Matthews Arena, 8–2, and looked to turn things around on their home ice.
Merrimack opened the scoring, as Alex Jefferies put the puck past a well-screened Connor Murphy off of a feed from Pat Holway. The opportunity came during the power play after a tripping call against the Huskies. The Northeastern penalty kill unit couldn’t clear the puck out of their own zone, allowing Merrimack to work the puck around the perimeter before Jefferies found an opening.
Northeastern continued their slow start, struggling to penetrate the offensive zone as Merrimack took the game’s first seven shots. The Huskies didn’t make things any easier for themselves, either, earning three minor penalties within the first 10 minutes.
Time in the box cost Merrimack the previous night’s game, as Northeastern logged four power-play goals. It looked like the same fate would befall the Huskies, as once again Jeffries struck on the power play. This time it was a Logan Drevitch shot that rang the post and bounced to Jefferies. Connor Murphy couldn’t get to the other side of his crease in time, and Jefferies put the Warriors up 2–0.
“We weren’t giving ourselves a chance,” Northeastern Head Coach Jim Madigan said. “First five minutes we had two penalties, and they had one power-play goal. Then the penalties just kept on coming . . . We needed to play smarter.”
Northeastern was still without a single shot on goal when they finally got a power-play chance with just under seven minutes left in the opening period. The Huskies established a rhythm in the offensive zone, and with 10 seconds left on the penalty, Riley Hughes broke through the neutral zone and buried his second goal of the season.
“It gave us some life,” Madigan said. “We needed that goal. We talked about it in one of the timeouts, about cutting the lead in half. Riley had a real second effort there to make it 2–1.”
The Huskies had another opportunity with the man advantage, but couldn’t beat Zachary Borgiel, who made a series of acrobatic stops on some excellent Northeastern shots. Soon before the end of the period, Drevitch found himself on the end of a hit from Northeastern’s Jayden Struble and had to be helped off of the ice by trainers, where he disappeared into the locker room. The Warriors had already lost Patrick Kramer to injury on Saturday night after an ugly collision with the boards. The period ended soon after, with Merrimack leading 2–1.
It didn’t take long before Northeastern ended up back in the penalty box. This time, It was TJ Walsh who was penalized for a slash. However, the Huskies penalty kill clearly made some adjustments during the intermission, as they were much more compact and effective at eating away the penalty time.
After NU killed off the penalty, Merrimack’s Ben Brar was sent into the box for slashing, giving Northeastern a third power-play opportunity. Aidan McDonough cycled the puck up to Jordan Harris at the point, who found a wide open Grant Jozefek lurking on Borgiel’s back post. Jozefek easily put the puck past a still-moving Borgiel, knotting the game up at two.
Just as they had the night before, Northeastern kept their foot on the gas and continued to pressure the Warriors. As a penalty against Merrimack’s Zach Lovett expired, Gunnarwolfe Fontaine dashed down the ice and cooly slid the puck to a following Zach Solow, who zipped the puck right through Borgiel’s five-hole.
Zach Solow was rewarded with not only a goal, but with a 10-minute game misconduct penalty for his actions after the goal. Whether he said something to the referee or one of the Merrimack players was disputed, but regardless, Solow spent the rest of the period in the box.
Northeastern’s defense continued to show out, and used their size to effectively control the neutral zone and keep Merrimack in their own half of the ice. Jeremie Bucheler was a standout physical contributor for the Huskies, as he threw around his 6’1” frame with ease, pinning Warriors skaters against the boards and shunting them off the puck like they were nothing.
After another stellar penalty-killing effort from the Huskies, Steven Agriogianis slid the puck across the ice to Aidan McDonough wide open in the slot with seconds to spare in the period. The sophomore Canucks prospect sniped the top right corner of the net to beat Borgiel glove side.
Early in the third period, Merrimack’s Dominic Dockery took a nasty spill into the boards after a tussle with Gunnarwolf Fontaine for the puck. Dockery was helped into the locker room, and Fontaine was given a five-minute major penalty and an ejection from the game. Northeastern’s penalty kill took this as a challenge, and they were more than up to the task. The Huskies did not allow the Warriors to put a single shot on net for the first two minutes of their power play. Then Merrimack’s Ryan Nolan was sent to the box for interfering with Connor Murphy, leaving both sides with four skaters. Ty Jackson scored his first collegiate point after Agriogianis collected his own rebound and dished the puck to Jackson on the back post.
Merrimack, despite allowing five unanswered goals, proved they were not out of the game yet. Less than thirty seconds after Jackson’s goal, Merrimack’s Conor Lovett scored after the Huskies abandoned him in the slot.
Merrimack sensed the Huskies sleeping on defense and upped the ante on their offensive efforts. Connor Murphy, still between the pipes for Northeastern in Devon Levi’s absence, stood on his head, keeping the lead at two. Merrimack pulled Borgiel with two minutes to go, and after a minute of offensive zone time, Aidan McDonough scored his second goal of the game on an empty net, icing the victory.
“I thought we played solid,” said Madigan of the third period, “Our lines were all jumbled up because of penalties . . . we killed off way too many penalties. We have to address that.” The Huskies were whistled for nine penalties overall, totaling 37 minutes in the box.
Northeastern’s success continues to come from all over the team. Senior captain Zach Solow is expected to produce, but players like Jackson, Fontaine, and Agriogianis, all freshmen, have been contributing too.
“[We were] down 2–0, there was no panic on the bench. The younger guys stuck with it, and the older guys led the way,” Madigan said. “From a coaching perspective, we learned a lot about our guys.”
Northeastern’s net scheduled game is an away series against Vermont on December 26 and 27, though it is possible a game is scheduled for this weekend.