Story by Emma Sullivan
Photos by Sarah Olender
BOSTON – A come-from-behind victory for the Northeastern men’s hockey team allowed them to finish the Thanksgiving weekend with two wins over the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers. It was far from the prettiest victory the Huskies have had this season, however a strong performance in the third period allowed Northeastern to squeak out the win at Matthews Arena.
The main story for the Huskies are the injuries that continue to decimate the team as a whole. Going into this weekend, Northeastern has been without forwards Sam Colangelo, Riley Hughes, Ty Jackson, and Dylan Jackson for the last few weeks. Before puck drop it was revealed that both forward Steven Agriogianis and defenseman Jayden Struble would also be unavailable for today’s matchup.
During the second period, those losses upfront became even more apparent when forward Ryan St. Louis had to miss a few shifts after going down hard into the boards. The freshman was able to return to the ice, but just as he was able to get back into play, forward Justin Hryckowian also went down against the boards and eventually ended up leaving the game. Hryckowian did not return for the third period for the Huskies with what appeared to be an upper body injury.
After the game, head coach Jerry Keefe didn’t have much of an update on Hryckowian, but he did say that he wouldn’t “definitely be out next weekend. He’ll get evaluated in the morning.” The loss of Hryckowian would just add to the already depleted Northeastern forward group, especially the loss of his faceoff prowess. Over the course of the year, Hryckowian has been the most dependable in the faceoff circle, winning over 60% of his attempts.
Turning back to the game, the first period did end being a bit of a struggle for both teams to generate anything offensively. With only nine shots on goal for the Huskies and eight for the Engineers, neither team was able to get many chances on the opposing netminder. For both Huskies goaltender Devon Levi and Engineers goaltender Linden Marshall, the shots that were able to make it to their respective nets were handled easily. A lot of back and forth capped off the first 20 minutes, with the score knotted at zero as the buzzer went off.
The second period seemed to lean slightly in RPI’s favor. Just over 6:30 into the period, a bizarre sequence from the Huskies allowed for the puck to end up on forward Jack Brackett’s stick off of a pass from fellow forward James McIsaac. Brackett broke away from both Husky defenders Julian Kislin and Tommy Miller allowing for the Engineers to have a breakaway against Levi. Brackett slid the puck beneath Levi in the five hole to give RPI the 1-0 lead in the first half of the frame. It was Brackett’s first goal of his collegiate career and McIsaac’s first point of his career.
The rest of the second period remained quiet for both sides. Northeastern was able to get a few more shots at RPI’s goal, however none found their way to the back of the net.
Forward Aidan McDonough was able to give the Huskies some life as the final period began. Just 62 seconds into the third, McDonough took advantage of a nice play from forward Matt DeMelis to enter RPI’s zone and slapped a shot up and over Marshall’s right shoulder to tie the game at one. DeMelis and forward Matt Choupani were credited with the assists on McDonough’s 13th goal of the year. McDonough is now tied with Western Michigan University’s Ethen Frank for first in the nation in goals.
Northeastern continued to control the way the game was going offensively throughout the third. With a little over four minutes left to play, DeMelis made another strong play to keep the puck in the RPI zone. He then passed it to Choupani who made a brilliant play to get around RPI forward Nick Bowman before shooting it backhand through traffic in front to beat Marshall on the right side again. DeMelis was again credited with an assist with McDonough picking up the other.
“I saw my lane, and I kinda threw it on net hoping for the best bounce,” Choupani said of the goal, crediting DeMelis with helping to create the scoring chance.
“Playing with older guys like them, it’s really good,” Choupani, a freshman, said when asked about playing with McDonough and DeMelis, both juniors. “We haven’t played together that much, so it was good getting out with them. They move the puck well, and I felt like we played pretty well together.”
The only penalty that was called for the entire game was on Huskies’ forward Michael Outzen. Outzen went off for holding with a little under two minutes left to play in regulation. The Huskies were able to hold off the six Engineers who came onto the ice after RPI chose to pull Marshall for the extra attacker. A last second save made by Levi allowed the Huskies to finish the game with the win 2-1.
Keefe, while happy with the outcome of the games this weekend, did not seem too pleased with the overall product on ice from both games from his team.
“I thought it was an ugly hockey game to be honest. I thought both games were pretty ugly,” Keefe said. “But you don’t get graded on how pretty a win looks, so we’re gonna take the win and learn from it and just keep moving forward,” he added.
The Huskies next take the ice on Friday against Hockey East rival the Providence College Friars at Schneider Arena at 7 p.m. This will be the first game of a home-and-home series, the second game being played at 7 p.m. in Matthews Arena. WRBB will be on the call, with Mike Puzzanghera, Rae Deer, and Khalin Kapoor beginning coverage at 6:45 p.m.