By Khalin Kapoor

Last Season: 9-9-3

Head Coach: Jerry Keefe

Departures: D Billy Carrabino, G Curtis Frye, F Grant Jozefek, F Zach Solow, D Michael Kesselring, G Nick Scarpa, F TJ Walsh, G Connor Murphy

Additions: F Matt Choupani, D Cam Gaudette, F Justin Hryckowian, F Jack Hughes, F Chase Mcinnis, G TJ Semptimphelter, F Ryan St. Louis, G Evan Fear, D Tommy Miller, F Jakov Novak

We are just days away from the start of the 2021-2022 men’s hockey season. This is a new- team seeking to put last year’s overall 9-9-3 record in the rearview mirror. Northeastern  had to deal with many complications due to COVID-19 last season, including two separate instances where they were off for weeks at a time. Players and coaches both noted the lack of rhythm last season. 

“It will be nicer to know,” said sophomore Sam Colangelo. “We have our schedule now and we can plan for certain dates.”

Former head coach Jim Madigan has moved on to Athletic Director and longtime associate coach, Jerry Keefe, earned the promotion. 

Key departures from last season are captain Zach Solow, Mike Kesselring, Grant Jozevek, TJ Walsh, and Billy Carrabino. Kesselring leaves after signing a professional deal with the Oilers organization, and Zach Solow graduates after a historic campaign with Northeastern, securing three Beanpot championships, a Beanpot MVP, and reaching the 100-point mark in his senior season. In Solow, the Huskies are losing a prolific goal-scorer who was a stalwart on both their special teams units, leading the team in both power play and shorthanded scoring.

Taking the reins as captain will be defenseman Jordan Harris. Harris, a 2018 Montreal Canadiens draft pick and Hobey Baker nominee, averaged a point per game last year and runs point on the best power play in Hockey East. Harris mentioned that his main priorities as captain this year include “creating a team identity,” and that the lifting of restrictions, especially allowing teammates to work out together, has had a major impact on team chemistry thus far. Alternate captains for this season are Julian Kislin, Aidan McDonough, and Riley Hughes.

We can’t talk about the Huskies this year without bringing up presumed starting goaltender Devon Levi. 

Keefe has high expectations for Levi this year. 

“We have our starting goalie back healthy, and that’s a big difference,” Keefe said. “Levi is going to challenge to be the best goalie in the country.” 

The Quebec native was sidelined all of last year due to a broken rib injury sustained at World Juniors, where he lost in the championship to his Northeastern teammate, Sam Colangelo. For a Northeastern team that had its share of struggles last year due in part to only average goaltending, Levi’s return spells good things for this coming season.

The incoming freshmen this year are forwards Matt Choupani, Justin Hryckowian, Jack Hughes, Chase Mcinnis, Ryan St. Louis, Cam Gaudette, and goaltender TJ Semptimphelter. Transferringfrom Quinnipiac is goaltender Evan Fear, who projects to be the backup behind Levi. The scoring capabilities of these incoming freshmen will be very important when it comes to the success of this team. Jack Hughes projects to be a top NHL draft pick in 2022 and was named to the 2021 US under-18 Men’s National Team. The Westwood, Massachusetts native is the brother of current Northeastern forward and alternate captain, Riley Hughes. Ryan St. Louis is the son of NHL Hall of Famer, Martin St. Louis and both he and Hughes played two years in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

Headlining the additions are two top-tier transfers; defenseman Tommy Miller from MSU and forward Jakov Novak from Bentley. Miller, a former captain at MSU, will presumably slide right into Mike Kesselring’s spot on defense and will add some much needed size and physicality to the Northeastern blueline. At 6-2 and 195 pounds, Miller is an absolute presence in the defensive zone, tallying a Big Ten leading 71 blocks last season. He won’t add too many points, but his style of play will add some crucial support to starting goaltender Devon Levi. Novak, a 2018 Ottawa Senators draft pick and Hobey Baker award nominee, averaged over a point per game last year with Bentley. Listed at 6-3 and 210 pounds, Novak adds some serious size and talent to Northeastern’s forwards and projects to slide right into the top 6 at the beginning of the season. He will have his chance at a revenge game right off the rip in the beginning of the season, as Bentley will travel to Matthews for the home opener on October 2.

To begin practice for this season, Keefe has emphasized defense to be a key target to work on. Creating a team identity centered around defense and goaltending has been an early goal for the Huskies, and so far the players have been trying to expand their talents to all facets of the game. Forward Aidan McDonough has set himself the goal of becoming a more complete player, stating “I want to become a more complete player… and round out my game defensively and offensively. Be more of a guy who drives the line and doesn’t rely on other guys to get the puck for him.” McDonough exemplifies the “team first” mindset that captain Jordan Harris and Coach Keefe want to instill in all of the new faces this year.

Looking at the upcoming schedule, there are a couple of dates to circle. First, the Huskies are traveling to BC on October 15 for a key early matchup against the Eagles. Then, a home and home playoff rematch against UMass in late January. Also, the beanpot is back this year! Starting February 7, the beanpot will be back with fans in the stands at TD Garden. This season is going to be very exciting, and there are high expectations for Northeastern to succeed.

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