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The season doesn’t end after the Beanpot. But nobody told that to the Northeastern men’s hockey team before they took to the ice at Tsongas Arena to start their weekend series against the UMass Lowell River Hawks Friday night. 

In a steep decline from their Monday night performance, the Huskies fell to Lowell 4-2 after their shakiest start in weeks, ending their six-game winning streak in disappointing fashion. 

“We talked about how important the game was, and we weren’t ready,” said head coach Jerry Keefe. “Lowell beat us to every puck early on, their sticks were better than ours, we weren’t running our 50/50 battles, and next thing you know, we’re down two-zip. Tough team to chase a game against.”

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After the River Hawks scored three goals in the first 30 minutes, Northeastern could never quite catch up. 

Both teams started out sloppy; nobody could connect on passes or stay upright, and the ice felt slow and stagnant. 

But on Lowell’s first opportunity, they scored. Freshman forward Jak Vaarwerk sent in the feed, sliding in from the blue line, and his linemate, graduate student forward Nick Granowicz put his stick down to deflect the puck past Whitehead and give Lowell the lead just 3:37 into the game. 

Four minutes later, sophomore forward Scout Truman doubled that lead with some deking and diving through Northeastern’s defense. Truman made it look easy as he flipped a backhand behind freshman goalie Cameron Whitehead and made it a two-goal game. 

Despite a locker room sojourn between periods, Northeastern skated out on the second with still the same errors. Time and time again, the Huskies turned over the puck to Lowell, falling to their overwhelming physicality, handing them easy chances, and sending their own netminder reeling to make challenging saves. 

But sophomore forward Jack Collins’ goal was nothing that tricky. A quick wrist shot from the left circle in the far-side top corner, but past a few bodies, and none of them doing much to block the puck, Whitehead’s visibility was limited and the puck sailed right past him. 

Lowell’s 3-0 lead only lasted for a moment, as junior forward Matt Choupani kept the Huskies in the game. Choupani, who hadn’t tallied a point since his goal in the UVM series Jan. 13, had some of Northeastern’s best looks of the night and was rewarded for it on a rebound finish. 

26 seconds after Collins’ score, senior forward Alex Campbell fed the puck into the crease, and Choupani and graduate student forward Matt DeMelis chipped away at it through a tangle of defenders. Choupani got the final touch, poking the puck free and knocking it in for Northeastern’s first goal of the game.

Although the Huskies had two power plays on the night, nothing got them fired up like Choupani’s goal. In fact, Northeastern’s once-fatal power play, with six power-play goals in the last four games, was limited to just two total chances on two opportunities. 

And without the Huskies effectively using the man-advantages to claw their way back up, the River Halks were able to extend their lead once more, 4-1. 

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They stuck with the puck, and when the rebound popped free, Truman chipped it over Whitehead’s left leg for his second goal of the game.

“I thought we had a couple chances to get it to 3-2, and we didn’t capitalize,” Keefe said. “Obviously, get it to 3-2, … whether or not you finish the job, it’s a different game.”

Despite facing a three-goal deficit, the third-period Huskies were a much different team than Northeastern had seen all night. After being outshot 23-13 through the first forty minutes, the Huskies rallied for a 16-attempt performance and held the River Hawks to just nine. 

However, with Lowell continuing to put up brute force against the Huskies and senior goaltender Henry Welsch making some quick snatches and sprawling saves, Northeastern’s sudden offensive-zone domination was just too late to dig themselves out of the hole they’d put themselves in.

“They made a push in the third period, but we weathered the storm,” said Lowell head coach Norm Bazin, who earned his 300th win as a coach with the River Hawks’ victory. “We bent, but we didn’t break in a lot of instances and that got us a win.”

Northeastern was only able to find one more goal, three minutes into the third period — a high-slot snipe from senior forward Brett Edwards, another bottom-six player proving his place on the lineup with some strong shifts against the River Hawks. 

In the final minutes of the game, Northeastern put on an offensive onslaught, but couldn’t find a way through, even with the extra attacker. 

After such a hot streak, with wins over some of the top teams in the country, the loss to Hockey East’s last-place team was a brutal one for the Huskies, but a good lesson. Saturday night, they face the River Hawks once more, this time at home, and they’ll know what they have to do — and, more importantly, what not to do. 

Matty Wasserman, Amelia Ballingall, and Breanna Adel will have the call on WRBB Sports+ when the second leg of this series kicks off with a 7 p.m. puck drop at Matthews Arena.