Story by Samuel Kirshman
Photos by Sarah Olender
BOSTON – The Huskies came out strong today in their opener against a revenge-seeking Bentley today, winning by a tally of 4-0. This year former Bentley star Jakov Novak took the ice for Northeastern, so it was only fitting that his opening game was against his old team.
New goaltender Devon Levi shined as the first star, recording a shutout in his first start at Northeastern. This is absolutely in part due to a killer performance from Northeastern’s defensive core, with the Huskies tallying nine blocks and looking solid throughout the game in the neutral zone, defensive zone, and while on the PK. The offense also shined in today’s match, with the line of Ty Jackson, Dylan Jackson, and Aidan McDonough producing two goals, both scored by McDonough.
Bentley came out lacking in the first period. As head coach Ryan Soderquist put it, the Huskies “came off the bus ready, we didn’t.” Their offense couldn’t set up a rush to save their lives in the first period. They kept up with Northeastern well, yet had trouble holding the zone. This allowed for Northeastern to maintain control of the puck, and hold a lot of time in the offensive zone. The Huskies tallied 19 shots in the first, while the Falcons had just nine. The Huskies were calm and collected in the zone throughout the whole night, but especially in the first. An excellent set-up while on the transition allowed Aidan McDonough to put one home shorthanded to open the scoring.
The Huskies would strike again that period, this time on the powerplay.
Sophomore Sam Colangelo had his first goal of his Husky career off an excellent pass from the back wall by Gunnarwolfe Fontaine. These types of passes were common for the Huskies in the first period, as Bentley was allowing just about anything to come through the middle of the ice.
Colangelo’s first goal comes after a scoreless previous season, where Husky fans expected a big presence from Colangelo. He came back from World Juniors and jumped onto the Husky roster mid-season, where he was never able to gel with the team or adapt.
The second period started out much the same as the first, with Northeastern seeming collected and Bentley looking frazzled. Agility was big in the beginning here, with the puck spending a lot of time in the neutral zone. When the Huskies were able to push, they were able to make the Falcons slide around and open up some great shots.
Bentley goaltender Nicholas Grabko was working hard all night, and showing some great resilience despite seeing a ton of shots. His coach called him the “best competitor on the ice,” and that’s definitely a fair assessment looking at his statline. The Huskies pressured him for most of the second period, until they were finally able to break through with a one-time shot from McDonough.
Meanwhile, Northeastern’s goaltender, Devon Levi, looked absolutely fantastic. His glove was flashing, and his blocker was deflecting the puck in all the right directions. Towards the end of the game, it could be seen that the Huskies started to rally around him. Forward McDonough stated that Levi’s shutout was “in our mind,” and that their attitude was to “do it for Dev.” Levi’s performance impressed his coach, Jerry Keefe.
“No question, he’s special,” Keefe said.
His twenty-nine save shutout was impressive through and through, especially considering this was first college hockey action.
Levi, a sophomore, missed all of the last Northeastern season due to a broken rib injury sustained at World Juniors. While he got the injury early on in that tournament, he played through to the end of it, where his team lost in the championship. His performance throughout that tournament also remained stellar, showing his mental toughness and perseverance, and the Huskies saw that kind of fortitude Saturday night.
The final period became very defensive and chippy. It was clear that the two squads were getting tired of one another, with shoving occurring more frequently after the whistle. Defenseman Jayden Struble shined in this period, with multiple hits while simultaneously showing his leadership ability. He ended the night with a cross-ice empty net goal from his own red line, to bring his total to three points for the night, and the score up 4-0. Keefe complimented him, saying he “picked his spots well tonight” and “kept the game simple.”
Bentley showed improvement throughout the night, and it almost came to fruition in the third. Despite not recording a goal, they spent much more time in the offensive zone, and stopped all those center ice passes they had been letting up before. Northeastern’s offense suffered in the third, mostly due to Bentley’s improved defense.
Overall, the Huskies looked fantastic tonight. But one of the biggest shoutouts is for the fans. The Dog House was as loud as could be, with every seat taken up around the arena. Saturday’s season opener hopefully can set a precedent for both the team and the fans!
The men’s hockey team will be back in action on Friday when they play Holy Cross in the Ice Breaker Tournament in Worcester at the DCU Center. Mike Puzzanghera and Rae Deer will be on the call for the game at 7:30.