Kamga out, Pusica in for Husky basketball

Northeastern will welcome former San Diego guard Vasilije Pusica for the 2017-18 season. (Image courtesy of USD)

by Justin Littman

Northeastern freshman Brandon Kamga has announced via Twitter that he will be transferring from the school.

The 6’5 guard from Reston, Virginia played sparingly during his inaugural season, averaging 3.0 points per game while converting nearly 46 percent of his field goals. Kamga will continue his playing career at High Point University.

Though Northeastern lost Kamga, the Huskies are set to benefit from another transfer.

Vasilije (pronounced: “Vasa”) Pusica will be transferring to Northeastern from the University of San Diego.

A 6’5 combo guard, Pusica averaged 8.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.5 assists as a sophomore for the Toreros last season. He shot 44 percent from the field and nearly 39 percent from three-point range.

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Pusica will have to sit out the upcoming season.

Pusica was born in Belgrade, Serbia and is a current member of the Serbian Junior National Team. He has two remaining years of eligibility and will be considered a junior at the start of the 2017-18 season.

Northeastern Baseball Swept By William & Mary

By: Ravi Pandya

The Huskies entered this series with a 7-4 record (19-16) overall. The William & Mary Tribe had a 6-5 record (17-20 overall). The Huskies appeared to have the advantage in their starting pitching matchups. On Friday, Huskies ace Aaron Civale faced off against Nick Brown. On Saturday, James Mulry faced Bodie Sheehan. On Sunday, Dustin Hunt pitched against Dan Powers. All three of the pitchers for the Huskies had a significantly better ERA than the three Tribe starting pitchers. In fact, all three of the starting pitchers for the Tribe had an ERA over 5. Coming off of a two game losing streak, this matchup looked like exactly what the Huskies needed in order to get back on track.

On Friday, Civale and Nick Brown had a great pitching duel going on. Neither of them allowed a run through the first seven innings. The Tribe left six men on base through the first seven innings, and the Huskies left three men on base. In the top of the 8th inning, Cullen Large and Charley Gould hit back-to-back two out singles off of Civale. Then, with runners on first and third, and Ryder Miconi at the plate, Josh Treff had a passed ball which caused Large to score the first run of the game. In the top of the 9th inning, Josh Smith hit an opposite field solo homerun off of Tyler Robinson. After eight strong shutout innings from Nick Brown, Joseph Gaouette struck out the side to get his seventh save of the season.

On Saturday, Mulry performed below expectations for the Huskies. He allowed four runs (two earned) in 4.1 innings.  In the top of the third inning, Cullen Large hit a two run homerun off of him. In the top of the fifth inning, a costly error by Max Burt allowed two more runs to cross the plate. Unlike Friday, the Huskies batters did fight back. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Huskies scored five runs off of a Cam Walsh two-run single, a Charlie McConnell RBI single, a Mason Koppens bunt RBI single, and a Keith Kelly RBI single. Unfortunately for the Huskies, Andrew Misiaszek and Mike Fitzgerald proceeded to give up two runs each in the 7th and 8th innings respectively to give the Tribe an 8-5 lead. After Bodie Sheehan gave up five runs to the Huskies in the fifth inning, Mitchell Aker did a good job in bridging the game to their closer without giving up a run. Gaouette then came and got his eighth save of the season without giving up a hit.

On Sunday, Dustin Hunt and Dan Powers had another pitching duel. Through six innings, neither pitcher allowed a run. In the top of the seventh inning, Josh Smith hit a two-run homerun off of Hunt. In the top of the 9th inning, Smith got another RBI, this time a single off of Tyler Robinson. After seven strong innings from Powers, Charlier Fletcher and Robert White pitched a shutout inning each to clinch the sweep against the Huskies

The Huskies look to end their five-game losing streak against Central Connecticut State next weekend at Friedman Diamond.

Northeastern Baseball Drops Two Of Three To Elon

By: Ravi Pandya

Coming off of a thrilling Beanpot win against Harvard, the Huskies looked to keep the momentum going with a weekend series against Elon. Northeastern came into the series with a 14-12 record overall and a 3-2 record against CAA opponents.

On Friday, the Huskies won in relatively easy fashion as they beat the Phoenix 6-3 behind an Aaron Civale quality start and runs batted in from Charlie McConnell, Max Burt, Cam Walsh, Josh Treff, and Mason Koppens. After eight solid innings from Civale, which included six strikeouts, and three earned runs allowed, the Huskies turned it over to Mike Fitzgerald to finish the game. Fitzgerald did not disappoint as he retired the three batters he faced without any trouble.

The second game of the series proved to be the toughest pitching matchup for the Huskies. James Mulry pitched well, and only gave up one run off of a Tyler McVicar RBI single in the fourth inning. In the seventh inning, Andrew Misiaszek gave up an RBI single to Ryne Ogren. Misiaszek proceeded to finish the game without allowing any further damage. Unfortunately for the Huskies, those two runs were all that the Elon pitching staff needed. Michael Elefante pitched 8 innings of fast-paced shutout baseball. He constantly kept hitters off balance and only allowed two hits in his outing.  After those eight innings, Elon closer Chris Hall quickly ended the game on 11 pitches and picked up his sixth save of the year.

The rubber match of the series appeared on paper to be a relatively easy win for the Huskies. However, the game played on the field proved that it would not be the case. Elon’s starting pitcher, Jordan Barrett, came into the game with an ERA over 7. On the other hand, potential future draft MLB draft pick Dustin Hunt was on the mound for the Huskies. After escaping trouble in the first couple of innings, Barrett was able to settle into the game and pitch 6 innings with two runs allowed. Those runs came off of a Zach Perry RBI double in the 1st and a Nolan Lang sac fly in the 6th.  Dustin Hunt cruised through the first six innings, and only allowed an RBI single to Kory Shumate. However, he did allow an opposite field homerun to Tyler McVicar that was heavily carried by the wind. After Hunt allowed two runs in 7 innings, Tyler Robinson came in for relief and did not allow a hit in either of the two innings that he pitched. After Barrett left the game for the Phoenix after six innings, Chris Hall pitched four shutout innings including an extra inning in the tenth. In the top of the tenth inning, Mike Fitzgerald allowed an RBI single to Shumate that ended up being the game-winning run for the Phoenix. Chris Hall won his second game of the season after completing the game for Elon.

The Huskies’ next week consists of a Wednesday game against Quinnipiac and a weekend series at Delaware.

 

Huskies Down Harvard 3-2 in Semifinals of Baseball Beanpot

By: Mack Krell

Northeastern (14-12) and Harvard (7-15) faced off on Wednesday at 3:30 at Friedman Diamond in the Beanpot Semifinals. This is the 26th year of the Beanpot Tournament, which Northeastern has won 5 times and Harvard has won 4 times. Nate Borges started on the mound for the Huskies and Simon Rosenblum-Larson started for the Harvard Crimson.

After a quiet first inning, Northeastern got the scoring started in the 2nd inning on a Jake Farrell triple to center field. Cam Walsh and Zach Perry scored on the hit off of starter Rosenblum-Larson. Jake Farrell finished the game 2-3 with 2 RBI’s and one strikeout.

Harvard responded in the bottom of the third inning on two singles by Trent Bryan and John Fallon. After Drew Reid reached on a throwing error and Mitch Klug reached after being hit by a pitch, Bryan hit a single to score Reid and moved Klug to third. Fallon then followed that hit up with another single that scored Bryan after he stole second base. Bryan and Fallon both finished the game 1-4 with 1 hit and 1 RBI.

With the score 2-2, Northeastern pushed across the winning run in the top of the 5th inning. Max Burt hit a ground rule double to right-center field, and then scored on a Cam Walsh single up the middle of the infield. Cam Walsh finished the game 2-4 with 1 run scored and the winning RBI.

Northeastern used four different pitchers in the game. Nate Borges started the game and threw for 2.2 innings while giving up 2 runs and striking out 1 in the process. Will Jahn (1-1), who ultimately received the win for Northeastern, pitched 3.2 innings while striking out 3 and giving up 3 hits. Jahn didn’t allow any runs in his efforts. Mike Fitzgerald was credited with the save for Northeastern, his 4th of the season. He pitched the 9th inning and struck out 2. Rosenblum-Larson started the game for Harvard and pitched 4 innings for the Crimson while giving up 3 hits and 2 earned runs. Kevin Rex (0-1) was credited with the loss for Crimson despite only pitching 1 inning and giving up 1 earned run.

Northeastern now moves on to play in the Beanpot finals on April 20th. Northeastern’s next game is Friday, April 8th against Elon at Friedman Diamond.

Huskies Magical Season Ends With 6-2 Loss Against North Dakota in NCAA Tournament

By: Josh Brown and Dan McLoone

CINCINNATI- It was a sequence so familiar it would be hard-pressed for Huskies fans to not have it ingrained in their brains by now.

Less than four minutes into Northeastern’s NCAA Tournament opener against North Dakota, Nolan Stevens, who finished his sophomore season with 10 goals and 13 assists in the final 14 games, had the puck with nobody but North Dakota goaltender Cam Johnson in his way.

Stevens took a couple strides into the offensive zone and unleashed a wrister over the shoulder of Johnson to give Northeastern the early 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for the hundred or so Huskies fans who made the trek to Cincinnati and the thousands watching on campus, from that point forward it was all North Dakota.

Behind five unanswered goals that spanned from the 5:43 mark of the first through the first eight minutes of the second period, the Fighting Hawks put the game handily away, defeating Northeastern 6-2 to end a magical run that saw Northeastern go from 1-11-2 to Hockey East Champions last weekend.

“The one thing I just told our players is that they raised the bar for Northeastern hockey,” said Northeastern University coach Jim Madigan. “It’s a bar that we have to retain next year and hopefully advance into the third round. I’m very proud of our guys for how they battled all year long, and for the ride they took me and our coaching staff on from the first half of the season to where we got to.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased and happy for them, and I am glad to be part of Northeastern hockey with them. They have done a great job and represented our institution with pride and class.”

North Dakota, who dictated the pace of play for much of the game, came roaring right back after Stevens’ tally. Just under three minutes after conceding, the offensive pressure of the Fighting Hawks broke through the back line, as Johnny Simonson poked home a pass from Brock Boeser to tie the game at one.

Simonson’s goal opened the floodgates for North Dakota, as subsequent goals from Tucker Poolman and Luke Johnson gave the Fighting Hawks a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. Goals from Bryn Chyzyk and Brock Boeser in the first seven minutes of the second period pushed the Northeastern deficit to 5-1.

“We were off a little bit,” said Madigan. “You want to get back into it as quickly as you can, and you want to keep the game close. We just couldn’t get there, and you can’t chase games against a team like North Dakota.”

Down by four with 20 minutes to go, the Huskies came out for the third period with new life. Madigan’s squad pushed the tempo and tested Fighting Hawks sophomore goalie Cam Johnson. Northeastern cut the lead to 5-2 with 15 minutes to go when Matt Benning fired home a shot from the top of the right circle.

It was too little, too late for the Huskies, however, who were forced to take a lot of offensive chances, leaving them susceptible on the defensive end. North Dakota capitalized with under eight minutes to go as Drake Caggiula sticked a puck past Ryan Ruck to extend the lead back to four.

The loss ends the Northeastern hockey career of seniors Dustin Darou, Jarrett Fennell, Mike McMurtry, Kevin Roy, Colton Saucerman and potentially Derick Roy as well. The class, which was Madigan’s first recruiting class as head coach, played a large role in bringing Northeastern their first Hockey East Championship since 1988.

“That’s the tough part because we have had tremendous leadership with our seniors and tremendous efforts from all the players all year long,” said Madigan. “The fact that we’re not going to have some of those players back in the locker room next year is sad, but they are moving on with graduation.”

Hardware on Huntington: Huskies Continue Torrid Pace, Win First Hockey East Title Since 1988

By: Dan McLoone

BOSTON-  A late power play goal from Zach Aston-Reese proved to be enough for the Northeastern men’s ice hockey team, as the Huskies ended a 28-year Hockey East title drought on Huntington Avenue with a 3-2 win over the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Riverhawks at the TD Garden on Saturday. Northeastern captured its first Hockey East crown since 1988, and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009, where they will meet top-seeded North Dakota in Cincinnati.

“Obviously this is a great night,” said Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan. “I’m so thrilled and proud of our whole team. They’ve battled hard and they’ve shown a lot of resiliency and resolve over the course of the year.”

The Huskies ran through a gauntlet of Hockey East powers to win the title, sweeping Maine and Notre Dame before beating Boston College and UMass Lowell at the TD Garden. In the process, they became the first six seed to ever win the conference, and were also the highest seed to capture the Lamoriello Trophy.

“I think coming into this year we knew we could do it and whatever start we got it didn’t matter to us and I think that’s what made us win,” said senior captain Kevin Roy, who returned for his final season hoping to win a title. “After the first win at home against Maine we just felt confident to keep moving forward, just win one game by one and slowly make our way here. It’s not easy to make it to the Garden and much harder to win, but we did it as a group and everyone stepped up.”

Northeastern never trailed against the Riverhawks, and improve to 20-1-2 over the last 23 games after a 1-11-2 start. The Huskies struck first just 1:12 into the game, as Dylan Sikura fed the puck to Mike McMurtry at the top of the left circle, who immediately slotted it over to freshman Adam Gaudette at the back post for a one-timer past goalie Kevin Boyle and into the back of the net. It was the 12th goal of the season and 2nd of the weekend for Gaudette.

The Riverhawks leveled the score just two minutes later, as John Edwardh collected a rebound and fired it over Ryan Ruck’s shoulder from a near-impossible angle to tie the game at one. Like they had throughout the Hockey East Tournament, the Huskies responded. John Stevens flung a shot on net on the power play, and Nolan Stevens managed to tip the puck over a screened Kevin Boyle, where it hit a defender’s glove before bouncing into the net to give Northeastern a 2-1 lead heading into the locker room. The goal was Stevens’ 19th of the year, and the first power play score that Lowell had allowed since February 19th.

“There were several things that we didn’t adjust to as quickly as I would’ve liked,” said UMass Lowell head coach Norm Bazin, whose Riverhawks were coming off of a triple overtime win against Providence in the semifinals on Friday night. “I think that the biggest thing is that when fatigue happens, your game breaks down a little bit. What was most apparent to me as a coach was that we couldn’t make those adjustments quickly enough throughout the game.”

The Riverhawks controlled the pace of the second period, coming out with intensity and creating numerous chances to level the score. They managed to tie it up with just under seven minutes left in the frame, as Adam Chapie snuck a wraparound shot past Ruck and into the net. Despite threatening to take the lead, Lowell wasn’t able to get another one past Ruck, and the two teams remained deadlocked at two after 40 minutes of hockey.

“I thought that Lowell came at us hard in the second period,” said Madigan, who was an assistant coach on the 1988 Northeastern team that won a Hockey East title. “They pushed us and their pace and tempo were much more than ours. We were on our heels and we got out of it, 2-2, which was actually a good thing for us.”

The Huskies weathered continuous pressure throughout the third period, and were finally able to reclaim the lead with just under nine minutes to play on yet another power play goal. John Stevens tried to take a slapshot from the blue line, but broke his stick and instead sent a weak pass to Zach Aston-Reese on top of the crease. With Boyle slightly out of position, Aston-Reese was able to grab the puck and backhand it under the goalie’s glove to give Northeastern the lead for good. With the goal, Northeastern finished a conference-best 7-for-21 on the power play in the Hockey East Tournament, and have now scored on the man advantage in three straight games.

“We’ve got a lot on confidence on the power play,” said Madigan. “We’re getting a lot of good looks, we’re moving the pucks well, we’re clean with our puck movement and we’re finding the open guy. There’s fluidity to both power play units. We’ve got two units going, so teams can’t prepare for just one power play unit, and both units are scoring.”

Despite heavy pressure down the stretch, Northeastern’s defense managed to hold on for a 13th consecutive win, making it an even more impressive feat in what looked like a lost season back in December. The Huskies battled past injuries to key players like Dustin Darou, Trevor Owens, Dalen Hedges and captain Kevin Roy, turning their season around.

After being picked to finish 4th in the preseason coaches’ poll, a 1-11-2 start and 0-7-2 record in conference play had Northeastern mired at the bottom of Hockey East. Madigan never lost the locker room, as his players continued to believe they were a championship team and can now raise a new banner in Matthews Arena.

“In the past years, in the Beanpot Finals or close to getting in the tournament my sophomore year, we always seemed to come up just a little short,” said Roy. “And I think the players that have been here were tired of that, and that helped us moving forward. That’s the main reason I came back this year, to accomplish something. At the beginning of the year, when things were not going right, times were harder, but with character, you can overcome a lot. Coming back and doing this, it’s pretty special.”

Roy, along with fellow senior Colton Saucerman and sophomore Nolan Stevens, was named to the 2016 Hockey East All-Tournament Team. Roy finished with nine points in six games, including an overtime game-winner against Maine. Stevens has three goals and five assists, and Saucerman played excellent defense while also netting a goal and two assists.

Riding the longest active winning streak in the nation, Northeastern will head out to Cincinnati to take on North Dakota (30-6-4), who rank third in the nation, at 2 p.m. on Friday in the 1-versus-4 matchup of the Midwest Region. A win would face them up against either three seed Notre Dame or two seed Michigan, the Big 10 champions. Even though the Huskies are just a four seed, they are confident in their ability to continue the recent run a success.

“I look at our league, and we have six teams in the tournament,” said Madigan. “We haven’t played North Dakota this year, but we’ve played North Dakota-like teams all year long. Five of them are in Hockey East. We’ve played Quinnipiac, tied them. We’ve played Harvard. So we’ve played the top teams in the country this year. We have a lot of respect for North Dakota, but we’ve played their likeness with the strength of our schedule this year. Every team is a good team in the tournament, so whether you’re playing North Dakota or a different 1-seed team, you have to bring your best on the first night, and we’ll be ready to go.”

 

Northeastern Advances To First Hockey East Championship Since 1988 With 5-4 Win Over Boston College

By: Josh Brown

BOSTON- It seemed like a case of déjà vu.

For the second straight season Northeastern and Boston College had to wait in the TD Garden tunnels for several hours past the slated start time of their game for a barnburner in front of them to end.

Last year it was a double-overtime Beanpot semifinals game between Boston University and Harvard. This year, Providence and Umass-Lowell were doing battle for a right to go to the Hockey East championship in a game that went to triple overtime.

“Lucky for us we have a little experience with that with last year’s Beanpot,” said Northeastern sophomore forward Nolan Stevens. “We just tried to keep our mind off the game, just watch the game that was going on so we didn’t get too nervous or antsy waiting for our game to start.”

Both times the result ended up being the same.

Behind goals from five different players, Northeastern advanced to their first Hockey East Championship since 1988 with a nail-biting 5-4 win over Boston College.

“I thought it was a tremendous hockey game,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “I thought our kids played hard, they were resilient, they showed a lot of resolve.”

The Eagles came out of the gates soaring, getting on the board just 15 seconds into the game. Streaking through the neutral zone, Christopher Brown backhanded a pass to freshman Miles Wood who flew up the left wing and fired a shot through the legs of Northeastern goalie Ryan Ruck (21 saves).

Northeastern carried the pace of play from that point forward, getting two goals in the second half of the period to send them into the locker room with a 2-1 lead.

First, Zach Aston-Reese collected a Nolan Stevens pass in the neutral zone, skated into the Huskies offensive zone and beat Eagles goalie Thatcher Demko (27 saves).

Just over five minutes later, with just 0.9 seconds left in the first period, freshman Adam Gaudette floated all alone on the backdoor of Demko and easily tapped home Mike McMurtry’s cross-ice pass with the BC net-minder and defenseman way out of position.

Boston College would tie the score up just 1:10 into the second period courtesy of Colin White, who fired a shot from the slot over the glove of Ruck.

Less than two minutes later, with the Huskies on the power play due to a Steve Santini roughing penalty, Nolan Stevens toe dragged around a BC defender in the Huskies attacking zone, and launched a shot on net that beat Demko blocker side. Eight minutes later Northeastern would get another one on the power play. With Casey Fitzgerald off for holding, defenseman Eric Williams corralled the puck between the blue line and right circle, and unloaded on a puck that beat Demko above his glove.

Again, the Eagles responded quickly, this time also on the power play. With John Stevens off for slashing, Miles Wood took a Ryan Fitzgerald pass at the right side of the net and one-timed it under the right pad of Ruck.

The third period saw both teams find stretches of longevity in their attacking zone, with the Huskies upping their lead to 5-3 halfway through the frame. White, who was trying to one-touch a pass to Ian McCoshen in the Eagles defensive zone, didn’t see Northeastern forward Lincoln Griffin streaking to the net, and the freshman intercepted the puck, and skated in all alone, beating Demko with his backhand.

Boston College would get one back just over a minute later courtesy of Alex Tuch, but it did not prove to be enough, with the Eagles taking two critical penalties in the final three minutes of the game thwarting any hope of a comeback.

“I thought our club played well, but we weren’t really sharp,” said Boston College coach Jerry York. “Especially on our breakouts and coming through the neutral zone, I think that was kind of our Achilles heel. We had two real major turnovers during the course of the game that they capitalized on. Didn’t get enough shots on goal for our offense either.”

This article can also be found on USCHO.

Huskies Complete Sweep of Notre Dame, Advance to Hockey East Semifinals

By: Dan McLoone

The Northeastern men’s hockey team continued their torrid pace on Saturday night, completing a sweep of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. After a 3-1 win in game 1, the Huskies came away with a 6-4 victory to advance to their first semifinals appearance since 2011.

One night after taking just 22 shots, the Huskies (20-13-5) peppered Irish goalie Cal Petersen with 34 shots and forcing the sophomore to the bench late in the third period.

Despite the offensive barrage from the Huskies, it was Notre Dame who controlled the pace of play early on. The Irish struck first, as Luke Ripley smashed home a shot from the crease with just under six minutes left in the first period. After some back and forth play, Colton Saucerman leveled the score with 1:10 left in the period, wristing one from the blue line over Petersen’s shoulder.

“I thought, in the first period, we didn’t get a sustained fore-check going because of Notre Dame,” said head coach Jim Madigan. “They came at it…we knew they were going to have that approach. I thought we got off our game a little bit by getting worried a little too much about the over-aggressiveness. I like when our team plays aggressive but I thought we were a little over-aggressive and we were out of sync.”

As they have done so many times, the Huskies shifted into another offensive gear in the second period. Over a span of 3 minutes and 20 seconds, Northeastern added three goals to jump out to a 4-1 lead. After coming out of the locker room with a new burst of energy, Northeastern took the lead with Kevin Roy’s ninth goal of the year. In a 2-on-1 break, Sam Kurker patiently waited to draw over his defender before threading a pass to Roy, who slotted it past Petersen for a 2-1 lead. Just 1:07 later, Garret Cockerill sent home a loose puck in front of the net to extend the lead to two.

Just two minutes later, Irish forward Anders Bjork went to the penalty box for taking down Cockerill. Northeastern capitalized mere seconds afterwards, as Dylan Sikura took a pass from Saucerman and fired it past Petersen for a 4-1 lead.

The Fighting Irish got one back with five seconds left in the period, as Mario Lucia’s shot was blocked by Ruck, but deflected off of a Husky defender and into the net to bring the deficit to 4-2.

Notre Dame came out strong to start the third period looking to cut the lead in half, but the Huskies struck first. Kevin Roy netted his second goal of the game during 4-on-4 play, poking home a centering pass from Saucerman to extend the lead to 5-2. Northeastern made it 6-2 10 minutes later when Tanner pond scored his second goal of the weekend on a turnaround wrister in the crease.

“I thought our guys in that between periods were really composed and knew ‘hey it was a fluky bounce, it didn’t go our way,’” said Madigan. “But they showed a lot of poise and composure in the locker room and we got going in the third period quickly there.”

The Irish did not surrender, scoring two goals in the last four minutes to put some pressure on Northeastern. Thomas DiPauli took a gorgeous feed from Justin Wade and sent it past Ruck, while Lucia later netted his second of the game off of a face-off after Mike McMurtry was sent to the penalty box for hooking. The late surge was not enough, however, as the Huskies held on for the win.

“It’s a good group of young men and a group that has a strong quiet inner confidence,” said Madigan. “We’ve got some characters like any team does, but they just go about their job in a businesslike fashion. And you build confidence by having great habits and details and obviously preparation, and when [you do], that leads to wins like it has the last couple months here.”

John Stevens left the game with a lower body injury in the third period and did not return. He will be reevaluated once the team gets back to Boston.

The win was the 11th straight for Northeastern, who are 18-1-2 over the last 21 games after starting the year 2-12-3. The Huskies will move on to the Hockey East Semifinals next Friday at the TD Garden next weekend, where they will meet either Boston College or UMass Lowell depending on the result of Sunday’s matchup between BC and Vermont. Coverage of the semifinal matchup can be heard on WRBB.

Josh Brown contributed to this article.

 

Two First Period Goals Lead Northeastern to Game One Victory Over Notre Dame

By: Josh Brown

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A big debate in sports is whether a bye-week really helps a team come playoff time.

Not only do you face a team coming off a win with momentum on their side, but legs might be rusty having not played in-game action in two weeks.

Third seeded Notre Dame certainly felt the effects of their bye-week in the first 7 minutes in game one of the Hockey East quarterfinals, letting in two early goals en route to a 3-1 loss to sixth seeded Northeastern.

“What we expected is what we got,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan, “a hard fought game against a Notre Dame Coach Jackson team. They’re heavy on pucks, they’re disciplined, they push you and they brought the best out of us.

The win keeps Northeastern (19-13-5, 10-8-4) unbeaten in 19 of its last 20 games, the best stretch in program history, while also putting the Huskies just one win shy of the Hockey East semifinals at the TD Garden.

Although the shot totals were low, 22 for Northeastern, 21 for Notre Dame, the play of freshman goalie Ryan Ruck paced the Huskies all night.  The Irish (19-9-7, 15-5-2) got 21 saves from sophomore Cal Petersen.

Just 2:29 into the game Northeastern got on the board courtesy of freshman Lincoln Griffin.

With Patrick Schule, Tanner Pond and Griffin all cycling the puck in the offensive zone, Schule threw a hard shot towards net that was blocked down by an Irish skater. Luckily for Northeastern Griffin was right there to collect the rebound on the goal line, and tuck the puck past Petersen who was trying to shuffle himself to the post to seal off the angle.

Less than four minutes later Northeastern really silenced the Notre Dame faithful upping their lead to two.

In the Huskies attacking zone, junior Zach Aston-Reese brought the puck to the top of the right face-off circle and put a shot on net that was deflected wide. Assistant captain John Stevens was the first one to the rebound, collecting the puck and skating behind the net, eventually wrapping a backhand shot just inside the left post.

“I thought the start was really good,” said Madigan. “I think it was key to get a good start. We wanted to create some momentum in the first five to seven minutes and we were able to do that.”

“Getting a start in this building against this team is important. And even if it doesn’t result in goals, just feeling good about your game and playing to your identity, which we were able to do tonight.”

As most suspected Notre Dame would not rollover though, cutting the deficit to one just over a minute later.

With the always dangerous defenseman combo of Jordan Gross (9 goals, 22 assists) and Bobby Nardella (4 goals, 20 assists) moving the puck back-and-forth, Gross fired a shot on net that beat a barrage of traffic in front of the net and eventually Ruck.

The Huskies caught another bad break at the 10:04 mark of the first when defenseman Dustin Darou was given a game misconduct and ejected for an interference penalty that forced Jake Evans to temporarily leave the game. Northeastern was able to kill off the Notre Dame five-minute power play unscathed though to hold on to their lead.

“We needed to score on that power play,” said Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson. “That was a huge factor for us too, not taking advantage of a five-minute major and at least getting one. Part of it was Evans was the guy that got injured on that play and we had to break that unit up because we didn’t have him available.”

“I thought our five (defenseman) really stepped up real big,” said Madigan. “It’s one thing to lose a defenseman early in the first period, but the way this team plays, they pressure you, they come at you. It puts more pressure and burden on our five that were back there.”

The second and third period came in waves, with both teams controlling the tempo for periods of time, but Ruck and Petersen ultimately standing strong. Blocked shots proved to be huge, with the teams combining for 33 in the game (17 for Notre Dame, 16 for Northeastern).

With just 35 seconds left to go Tanner Pond scored an empty-netter to put the game away. Game two is Saturday at 7:05 with full coverage beginning on WRBB at 6:30.

“We fore-checked, we got in there to create some turnovers,” said Madigan. “Maybe we can get a few more shots to the net. Notre Dame did a great job blocking shots so we didn’t get so many shots to the net.”

“Conversely, I’d like us to block a few more shots. Their defensemen, particularly [Gross] and [Nardella] get pucks to the net. They’re really good, so you try to get shot angles a little better so that we can deny opportunities at our end.”

Dan McLoone contributed to this article.