Story by Khalin Kapoor
Photos by Sarah Olender
BOSTON, MA – In front of a sold-out crowd on Saturday night at the historic Matthews Arena, the Northeastern Huskies (3-2-0) won a thriller against the Colorado College Tigers (1-3-2), 1-0.
It was a scoreless game for 54 straight minutes until Northeastern forward Jack Hughes put one in off of a rebound to break the tie. Northeastern netminder Devon Levi recorded his third shutout of the young season, making 25 saves, including four at the end of the game when CC had an extra attacker on the ice. It was a tough win for a Northeastern team that was desperately looking to right the ship after a couple of tough losses against Quinnipiac and BC.
“I’m really happy for our guys,” Northeastern coach Jerry Keefe remarked after the game. “That’s a gritty win, that’s a greasy win… but I like our mentality to stick through it and find a way.”
Even though there was only one total goal scored, the game had nonstop end-to-end action, with both teams playing fast and generating plenty of scoring chances. Levi was solid in net as usual for Northeastern, but CC netminder Dominic Basse was fantastic as well, making great saves throughout the first two and a half periods.
However, Northeastern came into the third period in a 0-0 tie with ferocity, quickly killing off a penalty and playing faster and stronger than CC for the entire frame. They looked like a team that knew they had the talent to go out there and win the game.
“We definitely expected to win,” remarked Keefe when asked about their start to the third. “If we’re doing the right things, we’re going to eventually get rewarded… I thought thats what happened tonight.”
The biggest challenge for Northeastern came in the very beginning of the third period, when they had to kill off a Sam Colangelo roughing penalty. True to form, the Northeastern penalty kill was top notch, keeping the puck clear from Levi and setting up a solid rush at the end of the penalty that culminated in a few solid scoring opportunities. After that kill, Northeastern had the momentum, leading to extended offensive zone time and eventually the Hughes goal.
“We knew we had to get that killed,” remarked Keefe. “After that kill… we just looked like that team that we were hoping to be.”
Northeastern looked like a much-improved team in this game. First off, their faceoff performance was fantastic, an area of the game that they had struggled with all season long. They ended up winning the faceoff battle 31-20, a marked improvement after losing to BC 40-27 in faceoffs. They also looked much tighter in their defensive zone. There were fewer turnovers and d-zone possession increased with the extra faceoff wins that Northeastern accrued.
“Faceoff intensity was a big thing that we worked on this week,” said Keefe. “It’s funny how that works, because we end up scoring off the faceoff to win the game.”
One Northeastern standout that didn’t find the stat sheet for Northeastern was freshman forward Justin Hryckowian. Centering a line with star forwards Sam Colangelo and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, he was all over the ice in this game. He won 12 of 15 faceoffs and was a contributor to a lot of Northeastern’s offensive zone pressure.
“He has developed tremendous detail for a young player,” remarked Keefe about Hryckowian. “Those are the guys you win with and the team has a ton of respect for him.”
This was a statement win for Northeastern. After losing a rough game against BC, they came home and beat a CC team that had just defeated BC the night before. With this win, Northeastern puts the last two losses in their rearview mirror and can now shift focus on improving going into their game against UConn on Tuesday.