Comeback falls short as Northeastern’s Beanpot Drought Reaches 29th Year

By: Dan McLoone

BOSTON – The Northeastern men’s hockey team will have to wait to end its other championship drought. Seeking their fifth Beanpot title of all time and first since 1988, the Huskies (11-12-5, 5-9-3) saw a late rally fall short, as they fell to Harvard at the TD Garden on Monday, 4-3.

There was not much action early on, as the two teams combined to log just 11 shots in a scoreless first period. Harvard captain Alexander Kerfoot ended the stalemate with 6:10 left in the second period, getting a stick up to redirect a shot from the blue line past Ryan Ruck in net. The Huskies tied it up at one with 1:52 left in the period when Adam Gaudette poked home a Zach Aston-Reese pass on the power play.

Coming into the third period with momentum, the wheels came off quickly for Northeastern, as constant Harvard offensive pressure forced Ruck to make several big saves. The Crimson broke through 7:39 into the frame when Clay Anderson netted his second of the year, and Tyler Moy extended the lead to 3-1 just two minutes later in a goal that was initially ruled a save but was overturned upon review.

Trailing by two, the Huskies had a chance to cut into the lead on a power play opportunity with eight minutes left, but Luke Esposito pounced on a rebound that Ruck misplayed and slotted it home to make it 4-1.

Facing a three-goal deficit with less than eight minutes to go, Nolan Stevens cut the lead to 4-2 with a power play goal in his first game action since late October. Gaudette got his second of the game and 19th of the year with 1:33 left, and had a beautiful chance on the doorstep in the waning seconds of the game, but Crimson netminder Merrick Madsen made the saves that he needed to and finished with 27 saves to preserve the win.

The Huskies will take on the loser of the Boston College-Boston University game next Monday at the TD Garden in the Beanpot consolation game, with puck drop scheduled for 4:30 p.m.. Josh Brown, Dan McLoone and Christian Skroce will have complete coverage on WRBB beginning at 4:15 p.m.

 

Northeastern drops fifth consecutive road contest with 73-69 setback to James Madison

By: Michael Petillo

Without the services of T.J. Williams Northeastern’s road struggles continued Saturday afternoon as they dropped another game away from the friendly confines of Matthews Arena, this time to the James Madison Dukes by a score of 73-69.

Williams missed the game with an undisclosed injury which is believed to be minor as he should be back for NU’s next game on Thursday at Charleston.

The undermanned Huskies struggled out of the gate and were down by as many as 13 in the first half as JMU got off to a hot start powered by senior swingman Jackson Kent. Kent recorded 11 points in the first half on his way to 25 on the game.

Northeastern was able to claw back, however, and went into the half down just five thanks to some hot shooting by freshman Bolden Brace, who scored a career-high 21. This effort by Brace comes on the heels on a 20 point outing on Thursday against William and Mary.

The second half was hotly contested and Northeastern claimed their first lead of the game at the 8:29 mark following another deep bomb from Brace.

While Huskies held that lead for a mere 14 seconds, they remained in the game and with 22 seconds left had the ball down 71-69 after sophomore JMU guard Vince Holmes missed 2 foul shots.

On the ensuing possession Northeastern’s junior guard Devon Begley missed a step-back 3 point try that would have put Northeastern up one.

“I don’t second guess my players,” said Coach Coen, “but I think if you asked Devon he would like that possession back.”

Northeastern next takes the court on Thursday in Charleston when they take on the Cougars. Listen live at http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/.

Huskies allow three in third, fall to No. 10 UMass Lowell

By Josh Brown

BOSTON – Riding a five-game unbeaten streak into Friday night’s game against No. 10 UMass Lowell, Northeastern looked unbeatable for the first 15 minutes courtesy of early goals from Adam Gaudette and Matt Filipe. Not only was the offense putting the puck in the back of the net, but the Huskies did not even allow a shot for nearly 15 minutes.

Losers of four straight and slipping down the Hockey East standings, Norm Bazin’s squad was desperate. So when Dylan Zink netted his ninth of the season to cut the Huskies lead to 2-1 late in the first, Lowell caught its second wind.

Northeastern would take a 3-1 lead just over a minute into the second via Gaudette’s second power play goal of the game, but from there Lowell would score three unanswered with C.J. Smith (power play), Jake Kamrass and Connor Wilson lighting the lamp in a span that lasted from 2:30 into the second period to 8:49 left in the third.

Filipe would score his second of the game just moments after Lowell took the lead to tie the game up, but Ryan Dmowski and Kenny Hausinger (empty net) proved to be too much and the River Hawks (16-9-3, 8-7-1) escaped Matthews Arena with a 6-4 win.

The Huskies (11-11-5, 5-9-3) will be back in action Monday afternoon when they take on Harvard in the semifinals of the Beanpot at 5 p.m.. Josh Brown, Dan McLoone and Christian Skroce will have the call from the TD Garden beginning at 4:45.

William & Mary offense too strong for Northeastern

By: Mike Petillo

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Northeastern’s road woes continued Thursday night in Kaplan Arena as NU fell to William & Mary 94-69 in a game where the Tribe led wire-to-wire.  The loss dropped the Huskies to 13-10 (6-5 CAA) on the year and just 1-4 on the road in CAA play.

 A high-scoring first half culminated with a 49-38 William & Mary lead.  Freshman swingman Bolden Brace was the main reason the Huskies were in the game at the half.  Brace knocked down all four of his three point attempts as NU struggled to keep pace with the blistering offensive pace of William and Mary.

For the Tribe, their early attack was led by senior Daniel Dixon who poured in 18 first half points en route to a game-high 28 to pair with seven rebounds and four assists.

After the game, Northeastern head coach Bill Coen had nothing but praise for the senior wing.

“He’s an outstanding player and you could just see he’s got that senior calmness about him,” Coen said.

“He’s not hurried by the shot clock ticking down and he’s got a great internal clock. He’s got a great sense of the moment and has developed a great post game and in between game. He’s got the complete package.”

 Northeastern was able to find consistent offense for a large portion of the game but they struggled to defend the Tribe’s high powered attack, which had scored over 90 points in each of its previous two games.  Northeastern allowed William and Mary to shoot a blistering 64% from the field and 53% from beyond the arc.

For Northeastern, Brace led in the scoring column with a career-high 20 points and  point guard T.J. Williams put in 18 to go with four rebounds and four assists.

Northeastern’s next game is this Saturday February 4th in Harrisonburg,VA when they take on the James Madison Dukes.  Listen live at http://www.wrbbsports.com/listen-live/.

By the Numbers: Halfway through CAA play

Senior point guard T.J. Williams (10) is leading the CAA with 21.5 points per game (Image Credit: Northeastern Athletics).
Senior point guard T.J. Williams (10) is leading the CAA with 21.5 points per game (Image Credit: Northeastern Athletics).

By: Matt MacCormack

Anytime you graduate four seniors and lose 70% of your scoring from the year before, the next season is bound to be rife with uncertainty. That’s just what’s transpired for Bill Coen’s Northeastern Huskies in the 2016-17 season.

Calling the Huskies’ season a “roller coaster ride” is an understatement. NU’s 13-9 record might not seem remarkable, but the path they took to achieve it is.

The highs have been incredible, with wins at UConn and at Michigan State, as well as an eight-game win streak that stretched from early December to mid-January. Senior point guard T.J. Williams has exploded into a mid-major superstar after a junior season plagued with injury and inconsistency.

But every coin has two sides, and the Huskies have had their share of difficulties this season, as well. One can’t forget losses to BU, LIU-Brooklyn, Cornell and Stony Brook, or the recent four-game conference losing streak where the Huskies looked incapable of winning away from Matthews Arena.

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 10.57.43 AMWe’re just past the halfway point of league play in the Colonial Athletic Association, and the Huskies find themselves amidst a crowded CAA middle class. UNCW and College of Charleston separated themselves at the top of the leaderboard, but NU is one of three teams tied for third with 6-4 conference records.

A tough schedule looms, with away games at William & Mary and James Madison this week, and four games total remaining against the top dogs of UNCW and C of C. Another losing streak will likely correspond with a drastic fall down in the standings.

Just past the halfway point of the CAA play, we’re taking the opportunity to look at four key numbers from the Huskies season, and analyze their importance moving forward:

14.7

Difference in T.J. Williams’ points per game from this year to last

Last season, Williams averaged 6.8 ppg and started just 19 games for a Husky team that relied more on its four seniors than anyone else. This season, Williams (21.5 ppg, 5.2 assts, 4.8 rebs) has arguably made the biggest leap of any player in the country, leading the nation in year-over-year scoring difference. Williams can thank his ability to get to the free throw line, as the senior is 5th in the country with 141 points via free throws this season. The Huskies go as Williams goes, and the likely CAA Player of the Year will have to continue his dominance for Northeastern to close the year strong.

2

Number of day-one starters lost to injury

The Huskies have remained competitive without sophomore guard Donnell Gresham (wrist/hand) and sophomore center and preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention Jeremy Miller (leg). Gresham is done for the season, and doubts linger over whether Miller will be back in time for the CAA tournament. One can only imagine how the Huskies’ season would’ve gone with the two standout sophomores. In their place junior guard Devon Begley, who leads the CAA in steals, and sophomore center Anthony Green have stepped up admirably, particularly on the defense end. But will the Huskies have enough firepower to make a run down two dependable contributors?

Bill Coen has his team right in the mix in the CAA with eight games to play. (Image Credit: Northeastern Athletics)
Bill Coen has his team right in the mix in the CAA with eight games to play. (Image Credit: Northeastern Athletics)

4.2

Average margin of defeat in Northeastern’s nine losses

Say what you want about this NU team; they’ve been in every contest they’ve played this season, losing their average game by just two possessions. The bonus number is 7, as in the Huskies haven’t lost a game this year by more than seven points. It could be because their three freshman (Bolden Brace, Max Boursiquot, Shawn Occeus) each play 20 minutes a game, or because there’s a host of other players getting used to new roles, especially taking into account the injuries.

“We’ve been competitive in each and every game,” Coen said in Tuesday’s CAA teleconference. “There’s been execution flaws on offense and defense that have prevented us from winning at a high level.”

The Huskies can count on being in more close games down the stretch, and you can be sure Coach Coen is hoping to close the gap late in games.

254

The Huskies’ national rank in free throw percentage (out of 347 teams)

It’s no secret; Northeastern struggles in capitalizing on the “charity” part of the charity stripe. At 67%, the Huskies’ free throw percentage ranks close to the bottom quarter of the country. While Williams has converted his freebies at an impressive clip (141/188, or 75%), the rest of the Huskies combine to shoot under 62%. To make matters worse, all of the Huskies’ losses have been by single digits; their losses have come by a total of 38 points, and in those losses they’ve missed 69 free throws. Make even half of those misses, and NU’s season outlook would be drastically different.

Aston-Reese, Sikura named candidates for Hobey Baker Award

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Photo courtesy of Northeastern Athletics

By: James Duffy

Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese and Dylan Sikura were named as candidates for the Hobey Baker Award on Monday, given to the top college hockey player of the year.

Aston-Reese and Sikura have been two of the most dominant offensive players in the nation this season, each having tallied 41 points, tied for fifth most in the country. Of the Huskies 88 goals this season, Aston-Reese and Sikura have combined for 38. Both are having career years, and have already or are on pace to set career-highs in every offensive category.

In his final season at NU, Aston-Reese leads all Division I players with 22 goals this season, propelled by a run from Nov. 18 to Jan. 14 where he recorded 16 goals and 11 assists in 11 games. He also leads all skaters with 11 power play goals, and is tied for the lead in shorthanded goals with three.

Sikura has already shattered his career high in points, goals and assists. After tallying 10 goals and 18 assists in 39 games last season, the junior has been a force this season with 16 goals and 25 assists through just 25 games.

The Huskies duo were two of the 66 players given the honor, and fans can vote for any of the candidates between now and March 5, before the selection committee will shrink the field to 10 nominees.

To vote for Aston-Reese and Sikura click here.

MBB snaps four-game skid with win over Towson

BOSTON — It was a back-and-forth game Saturday night at Matthews Arena, but Northeastern emerged with a 69-62 victory over the visiting Towson Tigers to snap a four-game losing streak and improve their standing in a loaded CAA leaderboard.

The Huskies (13-9, 6-4 CAA) were led by senior guard T.J. Williams, who overcame early free throw struggles to contribute 23 points, five rebounds and four assists. Williams’ 20 free throw attempts were the third-most in a single game in Northeastern history, as the senior connected on 13 shots from the charity stripe. Senior forward Alex Murphy chipped in 16 points and six boards.

The game featured eight ties and four lead changes. Northeastern took the lead for good with a 15-5 run that turned a 40-35 deficit into a 50-45 lead, starting at the 11:22 mark in the second half. Murphy had eight points in the stretch, including two three-pointers.

The Tigers (13-9, 5-5 CAA) had five players contribute eight points more, and Deshaun Morman was the high-man with 11. NU was able to hold Towson to eight offensive rebounds, five below their conference average. The Huskies also won the turnover battle, with just 10 mishaps to the Tiger’s 12.

Freshman forward Max Boursiquot left the game late with injury, and was seen with crutches post-game. If he’s unable to play next week, the Huskies could be limited to just seven active players.

Up next for NU is a pair of road contests: at William & Mary on Thursday and at James Madison on Saturday. Jeremy Leopold and Mike Petillo will have the call for both games on WRBB.

Sikura heroics leads Northeastern past No. 7 UMass Lowell

By: Dan McLoone

LOWELL, Mass – With the Northeastern hockey team trailing 3-1 in the third period, Dylan Sikura netted three late goals, including the game-winner with 16.3 seconds left, to lift the Huskies to a 4-3 comeback win over No. 7 UMass Lowell at the Tsongas Center on Friday night.

Both offenses were firing on all cylinders on the power play, as the River Hawks finished 3-4 on the man advantage, while the Huskies went 2-5. Ryan Lohin got the scoring going on the power play for the River Hawks nine minutes into the game, firing a shot from the faceoff dot past Ryan Ruck to take a 1-0 lead. The home team would double the lead eight minutes into the second, as Jake Kamrass netted another goal on the man advantage.

The Huskies would get a power play tally of their own with five minutes left in the second period, as Grant Jozefek potted his first collegiate goal to cut the River Hawk lead in half. John Edwardh would extend the lead back to two for Lowell at the start of the third period, poking home a puck in front of the net for the third power play tally of the night for the home team.

Trailing 3-1 with nine minutes to go, Sikura got to work offensively. He netted his first of the game with 8:29 to go, skating into the offensive zone and sniping a shot top-shelf past goalie Garrett Metcalf to cut the lead to 3-2. Just 1:16 later, the junior would tie the game up, firing a shot into Metcalf’s chest that the freshman netminder dropped and allowed to trickle between his legs for the game-tying score.

With both teams fighting for the winner, the River Hawks replaced Metcalf with regular starter Tyler Wall, but the change could not stop Sikura. With 16.3 seconds left, he pounced on an errant pass in front of the net, skated around Wall and easily deposited the puck in the back of the net to give the Huskies a 4-3 lead and the win.

The win is the third straight for the Huskies, who improve to 10-10-5 on the year and 4-8-3 in Hockey East. Northeastern will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to UMass Amherst for a 7 p.m.game. Full coverage will be provided by WRBB.

 

Northeastern drops fourth straight in 51-49 home loss to Elon

T.J. Williams’ streak 16+ point games ended in Thursday’s loss to Elon. (Image Credit: Hoops Habit).

By: Christian Skroce

TJ Williams’ last-second layup came up short as Northeastern fell to Elon, 51-49 Thursday night at Matthews Arena.

Tyler Seibring and Brian Dawkins carried the Phoenix (13-9, 5-4 CAA) with tough interior play, totaling 15 and 12 points respectively. The teams went back and forth during the final minutes of the contest before Elon took the lead for good on a Seibring layup with 1:26 to go. A layup from NU junior Devon Begley brought NU (12-9, 5-4 CAA) within a point, 50-49, with seven seconds to go. After a foul, Elon’s Dainan Swoope hit one of two from the line, giving Williams a final chance that he failed to convert.

The loss was Northeastern’s fourth in conference play and extended their losing streak to four games.

“I told our guys, I thought it was a winning effort,” Northeastern coach Bill Coen said post-game.

The scoreboard didn’t show it, but generally when you play harder than another team, you earn a victory, and I thought we played harder than them…That’s what makes it disappointing, because you know the effort was there. The execution has to be a little better.”

Both teams struggled to shoot the ball. Northeastern’s shooting woes began early and continued throughout the game, as the team finished 19-58 from the field and 7-32 from beyond the three-point line. Despite a late game push by Williams, the senior guard was unable to continue his streak scoring at least 16 points in every game this season. Williams was the only player in the country to score 16+ in every game this season.

Northeastern looks to end its losing streak in its next game, a home matchup with Towson on Saturday. Coverage will be on 104.9 WRBB and wrbbsports.com/listenlive starting at 6:45. Tipoff is set for 7 PM.

“They’re another really tough CAA opponent,” Coen said.

“A very physical bunch, great rebounding team. We’re going to have our hands full.”

 

Three power play goals lead Huskies to weekend sweep of Merrimack

By Josh Brown

NORTH ANDOVER, Ma – The jury is still out regarding the Huskies’ prospects of making a miraculous second half run, the likes of which we saw just a year ago. But if Northeastern is poised for the same fate, they took another step in the right direction on Saturday night.

Coming off a 4-1 win over Merrimack at Matthews Arena on Friday, the Huskies scored three power play goals on Saturday night at Lawler Rink to upend Merrimack (8-13-3, 2-7-3), 4-2. In addition to receiving goals from four different Huskies (9-10-5, 3-6-3), Ryan Ruck provided solid goaltending in net for the third straight game, stopping 33 of the 35 shots he faced.

Adam Gaudette got the party started, scoring his 13th of the season to give Northeastern a 1-0 lead 6:15 into the first period. Reeling for league wins of their own, Merrimack responded via tallies from Johnathan Kovacevic at the 16:05 mark in the first and Jace Hennig at 2:26 into the second period to give the Warriors a short-lived lead.

Just over four minutes later, Matt Filipe would net his fourth of the year, and Zach Aston-Reese would follow it up soon after with his nation-leading 22nd of the year to give the Huskies a 3-2 lead. Eric Williams would score an insurance goal midway through the third period to cement the Huskies win.

Northeastern will be back in action on Friday night when they travel to No. 5 UMass-Lowell. WRBB will have full coverage, with pregame getting underway at 5:45 p.m.