Northeastern Tops BU, Clinches Playoff Spot

By Christian Skroce

BOSTON — It was do or die time for Northeastern as they took a five-game losing streak into their regular season finale against Boston University. And to no one’s surprise, things were tense (and a little weird) from the very beginning.

The Huskies began the game on the penalty kill after backup goalie Curtis Frye was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Frye lifted a cross-ice shot during warmups that struck a BU player, which caused the referees to review the “play” just before puck drop. Because of the penalty call, senior forward Grant Jozefek spent the first two minutes on the sin bin while BU started the game on the power play. Despite a less than ideal start, the Huskies responded well in the first period and easily killed off the penalty.

Northeastern responded in a big way just six minutes after the penalty kill, as a well-constructed power play goal gave them the early lead. The Huskies combined excellent puck movement with great positioning as Aidan McDonough finished off a pass from Grant Jozefek. Northeastern controlled play for the rest of the period and headed into the first intermission with a one-goal advantage.

Despite some nice Northeastern chances throughout the second period, BU controlled the majority of play. The best chance for Northeastern came about 15 minutes into the period, as Matt Filipe nearly found fellow forward Neil Shea on a breakaway, though the pass trickled just wide of Shea’s stick.

The Huskies held their lead after two periods despite a late-period scare. With just 20 seconds left in the frame, BU forward Trevor Zegras sent a long-range shot on Pantano, who had difficulty holding onto the puck. With both teams fighting for the puck to the immediate right of Pantano, BU defenseman Cam Crotty eventually redirected the puck into the net. However, it was determined after a lengthy review that Crotty interfered with Pantano, causing the goal to be waved off and allowing NU to escape the second frame with the 1–0 lead.

After an admittedly sluggish second period, the Huskies found their grove once again just 43 seconds into the third frame, as Matt Filipe finished a rebound off a long-range drive from defenseman Ryan Shea.

The Huskies’ momentum was short-lived, however. BU responded with their own goal just three minutes later when senior forward Patrick Harper sent in a bullet from the near face-off dot. Despite the goal light going off, play continued for the next two minutes with the referees saying the shot had not gone in. A review of the play determined what everyone already knew — the Husky lead was down to one.

With their season on the line, Northeastern did what they do best: block shots and clog shooting lanes. Despite some nice chances for BU, the Huskies maintained their lead for the rest of regulation. Northeastern combined impressive defense with timely offense, as the Huskies enjoyed several stretches of offensive zone time to further drain the clock.

BU would not go quietly, however, as with just 1:44 left Northeastern was called for a tripping penalty, giving BU a man advantage for the rest of regulation. The Terriers turned it into a two-man advantage, playing the entire power play with goalie Sam Tucker on the bench. Despite the six-on-four Terrier advantage, Northeastern held its own defensively, as BU would have virtually no chances on the power play. Matt Filipe cleared the puck for the final time as the Husky bench celebrated the breaking of a five-game losing skid with an intense 2–1 victory over their crosstown rivals.

“I thought our kids played a gutty, tough, and determined game,” coach Jim Madigan said. “We wanted to make sure that we earned our way into the playoffs and just not backed into it and tonight’s win was that.”

Captain Ryan Shea echoed his coach’s thoughts, saying, “We didn’t want to leave it up to chance. We didn’t want to risk our season and watch them [UNH] at 7 o’clock . . . We just wanted to get the job done ourselves.”

“This is a building we haven’t had much success in over the years,” Madigan said of Agganis Arena. The Huskies avenged their 6–3 defeat at Agganis earlier this year while playing in front of one of the Terriers’ largest crowds this season.

On Pantano’s performance, Madigan explained, “I thought he was really dialed in today. He was tracking pucks well and getting the puck out of the crease. I also thought our guys defended well, getting in front of shots and limiting BU’s opportunities.” Madigan said the team understood how dominant Boston University can be offensively, noting “With these guys [Patrick Harper, Trevor Zegras, Patrick Curry] you can just try to contain them and hope that they don’t get the opportunities where they can get going.”

The win places Northeastern (18–13–3, 11–12–1 HEA) in seventh place in Hockey East to finish the regular season and gives them a spot in the Hockey East Tournament. Northeastern will have a quarterfinals series away at UMASS Amherst next weekend, with the game times still to be announced. The Huskies are 1–2 against the Minutemen this season, with both losses coming on the road. Northeastern will have its work cut out for them if they are going to truly turn their season around, though this win gives them the confidence boost they will need to have any chance.

Men’s Hockey Stumbles Against Vermont

By Milton Posner

It was a game Northeastern could hardly afford to lose, and they just might pay dearly for it.

The Huskies took the ice Friday night fully aware of the stakes that awaited them. They sat tied for seventh place in the tightest playoff race Hockey East has ever seen, with just four games left to ensure a top-eight finish and the resulting playoff berth. They looked to rebound from their worst beatdown since 1992, a 10–1 shellacking from Boston College in their last game.

They didn’t. If anything, Friday’s loss might have been more disappointing. Against the Vermont Catamounts, the only winless team in a Hockey East season of record parity, the Huskies faltered, dropping the contest 4–2.

The Catamounts didn’t even wait two minutes before recording the game’s first tally, with Alex Esposito beating Husky goalie Craig Pantano top shelf off a feed from Matt Alvaro.

The rest of the first period belonged to Stefanos Lekkas, Vermont’s senior goaltender. Alex Mella and Matt Thomson try to stuff shots home? Nope. Matt Filipe smoothly swerves from the neutral zone to the doorstep for a point-blank look? Nope. Zach Solow on a breakaway 10 seconds later? Stuffed.

Jordan Harris wrister? Point-blank push from John Picking? Numerous passes tossed into the slot and a pair of two-on-ones? No, no, no, and no.

Some chances were worse than others, but there were chances, and Lekkas erased them. After one momentum-killing save with 2:39 to go, he laid flat on his back on the goal line, hands by his head, as if to catch his breath. He saved 12 shots in the period to Pantano’s nine, and despite Northeastern leading by two in shots, they trailed 1–0 after the first period.

Lekkas entered the evening with 3,816 career saves, the most in Hockey East history. During Friday’s game he moved into eighth place on the NCAA’s all-time list. But he wasn’t invincible, and Huskies cracked him almost immediately after the first intermission.

A little more than a minute in, a scramble for the puck behind Lekkas drew five skaters below the goal line and de-congested the offensive zone. When Aidan McDonough won the scrum and forced the puck through to Matt DeMelis in the high slot, Lekkas went to his knees anticipating a DeMelis one-timer. But DeMelis had other ideas, sliding a pass to a wide open Biagio Lerario at the bottom of the right dot for the one-timer that evened the score.

Vermont, not content with a tie, upped its aggressiveness and pushed into the Huskies’ zone. After a Pantano save had the puck sitting loose in the crease for what seemed like an eternity, Vermont’s Andrew Lucas tried to stuff it home and thought he had, but the puck just barely stayed off the goal line.

No matter; a faceoff in the Catamounts’ offensive zone led to Esposito’s second goal of the night — and fifth of the season — just ten seconds later.

Two minutes later came another. Frequent turnovers by both teams in the neutral zone led to a Vermont rush before Northeastern could set its defense. William Lemay fielded the puck at the center of the left dot and rifled it to captain Derek Lodermeier, who launched a missile past Pantano to make it 3–1.

Vermont’s passing was crisp, their movement smooth, their aggression apparent. When the Huskies turned up their aggression in the back half of the period, it backfired. A point-blank shot by Northeastern’s Tyler Spott was met by a full-body save from Lekkas, at which point most Husky skaters were deep toward the goal. The Catamounts sprung into transition; Ace Cowans moved largely unimpeded through the neutral zone to the left dot before slapping the puck into the top corner for Vermont’s fourth score.

About a minute later, what had been a strikingly calm, clean, penalty-free game took a sharp turn when a puck in close resulted in most of the players on the ice rushing the goal as Pantano threw his body on the puck. The pileup yielded a bit of extracurricular shoving, and McDonough and Vermont’s Max Kaufman headed to the penalty box with coincidental penalties for hitting after the whistle. Matt Alvaro also drew a roughing penalty, giving the Huskies the evening’s first power play with two minutes to go in the period.

Northeastern subbed in its top line for the man advantage but attempted just two shots, neither of which had much of a chance. The Huskies moved deliberately and struggled to open up passing angles. The Catamounts outshot the Huskies by just one in the second period, but the gigantic disparity in shot quality yielded a 3–1 scoring margin and a 4–1 lead.

The third period began on a strong foot for the Huskies, as McDonough chased down a loose puck in the corner and fed a cutting DeMelis for a nifty score.

The Huskies were aggressive in stretches during the third period but tried just eight shots and didn’t put any past Lekkas’ pads. Besides a couple of narrowly avoided Vermont empty-net goals, the third period passed without incident.

“Disappointing game for us. We didn’t have the consistent 60-minute game,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan observed. Madigan also spoke of the Huskies’ failure to execute their “identity plays.”

“Chipping pucks in below their goal line. We turned two pucks over at the blue line because we didn’t want to put it down low,” he said. “We blew a faceoff play assignment that we just went over at meal today. When you have those mental mistakes, and there was three of them . . . you’re going to come out on the short end.”

Pantano allowed four goals for the second straight game, and the 34–33 shot margin would seem to implicate him heavily in the loss. But he can hardly be blamed for letting in some of the uncontested rockets Vermont launched his way.

Northeastern’s third consecutive loss dropped them to 17–11–3 (10–10–1 HEA) and kept them tied for seventh place in Hockey East, albeit with one less game in hand. Vermont’s first conference win was their first of 2020 and their fourth of the season. The teams rematch Saturday at 7 PM EST, with the stakes still sky-high.

“We’re running out of runway here,” Madigan remarked. “We’ve got three games left and we’re in a playoff battle and I don’t know if the guys have understood the sense of urgency we’re at. They’ve heard it enough, but they’re not reacting and responding enough to the urgency of the situation we’re in.

“If I’m a player and I see where we are in the standings and I’m a senior and my career is winding down, there’s a sense of urgency. So they’ve got to take some stock in themselves and as a group we’ve got to come together tomorrow night.”

Northeastern’s Beanpot Dynasty

By Christian Skroce

“From 30 years, to three in a row, Northeastern is a Beanpot dynasty.”

That was our final call on air Monday night as the Northeastern Huskies raised the Beanpot trophy for the third time in as many years. It was a moment that Husky players, coaches, fans, and yes, even radio guys, will never forget, and it just might be the greatest moment in Northeastern hockey history.

Northeastern is not the first team to win three Beanpots in a row; that honor goes to the 1963–65 Boston College squads. Nor is the Huskies’ streak the longest; for that we look to Boston University’s six consecutive titles from 1995 to 2000. Northeastern’s three-peat is the ninth in Beanpot history and the first by a team not named BC or BU. But make no mistake, this hat trick is as historic as they come, and its countless moments remind us why we love sports and why we love calling games for this team.

Northeastern broke its 30-year Beanpot drought in 2018, pulling out victories against perennial powerhouses BC and BU. The Huskies were led by the best top line in the country, and possibly team history — Nolan Stevens, Dylan Sikura, and eventual Hobey Baker winner Adam Gaudette. The trio showed up in the biggest game of their lives, and a hat trick from Gaudette propelled the Huskies to a 5–2 win over their cross-town rivals and sent TD Garden into a frenzy.

The whole night was unforgettable, but perhaps the most popular image was of a fan in the crowd holding a sign — it turned out to be an XXXXL t-shirt — that simply read, “I can graduate in peace.” Flashes of Gaudette parading the Beanpot trophy around TD Garden danced through the minds of Husky fans for weeks to come after that first Beanpot win. None of them could fathom the run that was to come.

A year later, Northeastern flexed its muscles and asserted itself as one of the premier programs in college hockey. It began in the semifinal against BU, when, less than a minute into overtime, Tyler Madden arrived in dramatic fashion.

In the post-game press conference, I grabbed a mic and sheepishly asked the freshman forward, “How were you able to stay so calm with everything on the line?” At the podium, Madden simply nodded, leaned forward, and announced, “Well, there were bright lights out there tonight, and I shine in those.” Thus was born the legend of Mr. Bright Lights.

A week later, Northeastern retained their trophy with a win over BC. Despite leaping out to a 3–0 lead, Northeastern, ever content to give its fans a show, let Boston College storm back in the third period to make the score 3–2 late in regulation. But the Huskies had been here before. Struggling to maintain their narrow lead, the Huskies found another gear, and with a late push and an even later goal, hung on to become back-to-back Beanpot champions.

Northeastern goalie and future NHL player Cayden Primeau shone during the 2019 tournament, allowing just three goals in two games between the pipes and winning the Eberly Award and Tournament MVP. The team went on to secure the Hockey East title and break the Northeastern single-season win record.

But the Huskies weren’t done, as just a year later, they found themselves in the Beanpot Championship again after a 3–1 semifinal victory over Harvard. The final promised to be a heated affair, as Northeastern faced a BU team fresh off a thrilling 5–4 overtime upset victory over BC in the semifinal.

It was a nightmare start for the Huskies, as BU forwards Jake Wise and Trevor Zegras each scored in the first eight minutes to stun the Huskies right out of the gate. The score held for the next 12 minutes, and the Huskies headed to the locker room searching for answers.

They found them.

Northeastern came out buzzing in the second period, as sophomore forward Tyler Madden brought NU within one with a perfectly placed wrister from the slot. Talented freshman Aidan McDonough evened the game just three minutes later, but the Huskies weren’t done there.

With eight minutes gone, consecutive BU penalties gave Northeastern a five-on-three. After a remarkable passing display, junior forward Zach Solow scored to give Northeastern a 3–2 lead, all on the first power play, meaning NU would kept a man advantage after the goal.

And they took full advantage. One minute after Solow’s goal, senior forward Grant Jozefek notched Northeastern’s fourth straight goal after an incredible individual effort. 4–2 Northeastern.

Despite taking full control of the game, Northeastern didn’t let up in the second period and brought a whole new meaning to “close but no cigar.” One of the craziest plays of the game came just minutes after the Huskies’ fourth goal, as Zach Solow found himself with the puck and an open net just in front of him. While facing away from the net, Solow attempted a backhanded shot that ricocheted off the near post, somehow crossed the goal-line to hit the second post, and ricocheted out of the crease. Husky fans’ mouths dropped as the TD Garden replay showed the puck soaring perfectly over the goal-line while remaining nanometers away from counting as a goal.

A second near-miss came a few minutes later, as Northeastern again found themselves on a breakaway. A close-range shot from Madden was popped into the air, deflected twice, and seemed destined to float over BU goalie Sam Tucker for Northeastern’s fifth score of the period. But freshman forward Robert Mastrosimone came to the Terriers’ rescue and batted the midair puck out of the crease.

Eventually the hectic second period ended, and both teams headed to their locker rooms to prepare for a third period that no one could have anticipated.

Just two minutes into the third, BU began its comeback with David Farrance’s brilliantly placed shot from the left dot. With the lead shrunk to one, both teams desperately tried to grab the palpable momentum that pervaded the game, and in one of the most insane regulation finishes in Beanpot history, the hockey gods had one more trick up their sleeves.

With just a minute remaining in the third period, BU pulled its goalie to give them a man advantage. The Terriers used it well, peppering Northeastern netminder Craig Pantano with shot after shot. Despite the rapid opportunities, the NU defense remained strong, turning away chance after chance. That is, until Trevor Zegras struck again.

With just 1.2 seconds remaining, Zegras found the puck just to the right of Pantano and threw everything he had into a backhanded shot that wound up in the back of the net. With bated breath, Husky fans quickly turned their gaze from BU celebrating to the clock overhead that showed a few tenths left, and although many didn’t want to admit it, everyone in the stadium knew that the Beanpot final would be headed to overtime.

After the game, Northeastern players were asked about their thoughts when BU tied the game. Head coach Jim Madigan interjected, “Well, the coaches were saying WTF . . .”

The teams returned to the ice for an initial five-minute overtime period. The Terriers kept the momentum from Zegras’ goal, earning chance after chance, but Northeastern’s defense stayed strong enough to keep the game even and give both teams a much-needed break before the 20-minute second overtime.

“I looked around the locker room and saw no panicked faces,” senior defenseman and team captain Ryan Shea said. “Everyone was just focused on their game and was ready to go.”

The overtime was a defensive struggle, with both teams trading chances. That is, until Shea pulled off a remarkable hustle play to draw a holding penalty with just about six minutes remaining in the overtime frame to give the Huskies a two-minute power play. And that was all they needed.

With 5:27 to go and under 30 seconds remaining on the power play, sophomore defenseman Jordan Harris collected the puck near the blue line in the offensive zone. With his eyes fixed on the goal and the trophy, Harris coolly skated into the slot and let a shot fly. With Zach Solow planted in front of BU goalie Sam Tucker, the puck soared through the air, through the crowd, and into the back of the net.

Harris and his teammates flung their gloves and sticks into the air and sprinted down to the other end to mob Pantano. TD Garden erupted, and I mean erupted. Twelve full sections of Northeastern students and countless more in the arena screamed and cheered as the improbability of the Huskies’ accomplishment sank in.

“Coaches said that if we get the puck near the blue line to push it to the middle and get a shot on net,” Harris said. “Hopefully a lane opens up, which it did, and I took my opportunity, and luckily it paid off.”

The Eberly Award for best goaltender of the tournament went to Pantano, who recorded 40 saves in the championship game. Pantano grew up watching the Beanpot as a local Massachusetts kid, and continued to watch during his time just north of us at Merrimack College. This was his only opportunity to make his own mark on this historic tournament, and when it mattered most, he didn’t blink.

Zach Solow was crowned MVP for his two-goal performance. Though his stats speak for themselves, it’s Solow’s on-ice tenacity and off-ice leadership that have impressed Husky fans and coaches.

But perhaps his greatest trait is this: he doesn’t know what it means to lose a Beanpot game. None of Northeastern’s juniors do either. After three decades of heartbreaking losses, gutsy performances to no avail, and seeing another team lift that pot of beans, Northeastern has achieved all-time greatness in Boston’s most personal and meaningful sports tournament.

The heart-attack Huskies had the added benefit of pulling out their improbable win in front of 17,850 fans, the largest crowd in Beanpot history. BU fans made their mark, but it was the Northeastern faithful who truly took over TD Garden (as they have for years) and made it Northeastern’s home away from home. In the past three seasons, Northeastern is 8–1 there. The bright lights were out on Monday night, and the Huskies shine in those.

“It was a great Beanpot game; I’ve seen a lot of them over the years,” Madigan said. “Congratulations to our players . . . they’ve set the bar incredibly high for this program and they’ve represented the school well.”

“The winning culture that we’ve built — along with the guys before us — has been everything,” Shea noted. “I came to Northeastern to win a Beanpot, and now we’ve got three of them.”

There was a distinct theme throughout the postgame press conference: “Never forgot their roots.” Northeastern has 14 Massachusetts natives on its roster, all of whom grew up watching the Beanpot and dreamt of winning it someday. Milton, Massachusetts resident Jim Madigan praised two Huskies who also grew up there — Ryan Shea and Aidan McDonough, who had an impressive four-point performance in the Championship game.

“I had [McDonough] at my house during the Stanley Cup when he was nine,” said Madigan. “I’ve known him a long time and he’s grown into a great young man, and an even better hockey player . . . we’re a Mass team now.

“These young men have separated themselves from every other team in the 90-year history of this program,” Madigan said. When asked about a potential four-peat, Madigan smiled, shook his head, and said, “I think we’re just going to enjoy tonight.”

On a personal note, thank you to everyone involved with Northeastern hockey. This has been a truly incredible ride that thousands of people — alumni old and new, current freshmen, family — have loved being a part of.

And to my WRBB Sports family, thank you for everything. There are so many people who deserve to be a part of this run, and I like to believe that everyone at WRBB, past and present, was a crucial part of this broadcast. Like Jim Madigan said, I think I’m just going to enjoy this for a little while.

IT’S A THREE-PEAT!

By Christian Skroce

BOSTON — The heart-attack Huskies just couldn’t help themselves.

In a Beanpot final for the ages, one that lasted late into Monday night, it took two overtime periods to crown a 2020 champion, and the game of the decade did not disappoint.

Boston University — which qualified for the game after another double-overtime thriller against Boston College in the semifinal — grabbed the lead off a Jake Wise backhander just three minutes into the contest. After a Craig Pantano spill in front of the Northeastern net, Wise was perfectly positioned to finish off the first goal of the game.

BU followed up with a second goal just five minutes later, as Trevor Zegras put a simple wrister past Pantano on the power play.

And then Northeastern kicked it into high gear.

The first period intermission was kind to the Huskies, as they bounced back with a four-goal second period to seize control of the game. Tyler Madden and Aidan McDonough got the scoring going, tying it up after great individual efforts just six minutes into the period. The scoring continued for Northeastern as Zach Solow put the puck in the back of the net on a five-on-three.

After taking the 3–2 lead, Northeastern continued to pressure BU, with Grant Jozefek burying one from distance on the power play to cap the Husky blitz.

After foiling a Northeastern power play to begin the third period, the Terriers began their climb by converting on a power play of their own with a great mid-range shot from defenseman David Farrance.

The squads battled throughout the third, with Northeastern barely clinging to their 4–3 lead. With just seconds remaining in regulation, BU mustered all their might toward a final offensive onslaught, and with just 1.2 seconds remaining, freshman forward Trevor Zegras scored the biggest goal of his career — a backhander past Pantano to send the Beanpot final into overtime.

The teams played to an even first five minutes of overtime, with Northeastern escaping to the locker room after BU forced them onto their heels. Because a normal, non-Beanpot game would have ended after one overtime, Monday’s contest goes down in the books as a 4–4 tie. Officially, the game was decided. But for the players on the ice and the fans in the stands, there was still a score to settle.

Northeastern entered the second overtime with as much energy as they could muster. After trading blows, the Huskies finally gained a momentum advantage when a BU tripping penalty gave the Huskies a power play they couldn’t afford to waste.

With 5:30 left to go, Jordan Harris collected the puck near the blue line. With eyes on goal, Harris wound up and fired his shot toward the BU net. With Zach Solow planted in front of BU goaltender Sam Tucker, the puck sailed through the air and miraculously found the back of the net. In a split second, the crowd of 17,850 — the largest showing in the 68-year history of the Beanpot — erupted into a deafening roar. After going 30 years without a Beanpot trophy, the Huskies had their first-ever three-peat.

An ecstatic Jim Madigan praised his team after the game saying, “They pushed, we pushed, they pushed back. It was a great Beanpot game. Congratulations to our players on three in a row. These young men have separated themselves from every other team in the 90-year history of this program.”

Solow was crowned the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after scoring a goal apiece against Harvard and BU. Craig Pantano went home with the Eberly Award, given to the player with the highest save percentage across both games. Pantano saved 40 shots in the championship game.

This season has presented its fair share of challenges for the Huskies, and they haven’t always shone under the spotlight. But under the biggest college hockey spotlight in a sports-crazed city, as the cheers of the Doghouse rained down on the ice at TD Garden, there was no mistaking the sight — the Huskies were champions again.

The Northeastern women’s hockey team will face BU in their Beanpot final Tuesday night. Dale Desantis and Alex Bensley will be on the call; follows @wrbbsports on Twitter for updates on start time. WRBB will also upload a more in-depth story on the three-peat later in the week.

Men’s Hockey Prevails, Pushing Past Providence

By Jack Sinclair

BOSTON — An extra week off of the ice usually results in one of two things. Either the team returns rested and with fewer injuries, or they look sluggish and uneasy.

Northeastern came off their 12-day break with nothing but benefits. They were rested, and the return of Julian Kislin after a four-week absence gave the Husky defense added depth.

Friday’s contest against Providence was critical in determining Northeastern’s destiny in Hockey East and NCAA as a whole. The Friars are always a fierce opponent, and they entered Matthews Arena with only one road loss. That the loss came by four goals against Northeastern guaranteed nothing for Friday night’s game.

Providence sat tied for second in the Hockey East; the Huskies, while only three points behind, sat tied for sixth. If the last few weeks of Hockey East action have taught us anything, it’s that nothing, nothing, is certain. With bottom feeders like UConn and UNH surging, and previous leaders like Northeastern and BU faltering against easier opponents, Hockey East is as wide open as ever.

The game started off slowly for both teams, with no fantastic chances for either side. After about 10 minutes, the Huskies found their footing in the dynamic of the game, and their forward check came into full swing. Northeastern, with the help of Matt Filipe and Zach Solow, put considerable pressure on Providence and its goaltender Mike Lackey. The puck rarely made its way to Northeastern’s side of the ice, and Providence began to tire. That fatigue became most apparent when Tyler Madden forced a turnover in the neutral zone and carried the puck all the way to the goal, putting the Huskies up 1–0. 

The Huskies continued to dominate the physical and mental tempo of the game. Only four minutes after Madden’s breakaway goal, Matt Filipe and Matt DeMelis found themselves in a two-on-one rush, and netted another goal for the Huskies.

The period ended with both teams receiving penalties, resulting in a four-on-four that only saw more Northeastern dominance over the puck. The period ended with the Huskies holding onto their 2–0 lead.

As tame as the start of the first period was, the second period was insane. Providence came out with some good looks on net, but Craig Pantano had absolutely none of it, making some difficult saves look trivial.

When two quick Northeastern penalties gave Providence a five-on-three, Mike Kesselring displayed his spectacular stick skills on the penalty kill and willingly put his body on the line. He took a scorching shot high off the arm and was clearly in considerable pain, but fought through until the best opportunity for him to make a change.

Kesselring did not return to the ice for the duration of the kill, and that is perhaps what led to Providence breaking through and putting themselves on the score sheet. Tensions ran high between the two teams, with forwards Greg Printz and Zach Solow exchanging pushes and what could only have been the most pleasant of compliments.

The physicality of the game skyrocketed, with both teams exchanging savage stick slaps and brutal body blows. This culminated with Biagio Lerario’s massive check against Printz right in front of the Providence bench, which drew a five-minute major penalty against and Lerario’s ejection.

The Northeastern penalty kill took the ice and took no prisoners. It didn’t even feel like a penalty kill, as they held Providence to a grand total of zero shots for the first 4:40. The whole PK unit skated their butts off, beating every Friar they could to the puck and making Pantano’s job between the pipes easier. This momentum carried into five-on-five play after the penalty, as Aidan McDonough netted his ninth goal of the season less than a minute later. 

McDonough’s goal only made the Friars upset, as they played most of the rest of the period on Northeastern’s side of the ice. Patrick Moynihan forced a turnover right in front of the goal on the forward check, spun, and slipped the puck past Pantano. The tumultuous second period concluded with the Huskies leading 3–2. 

Providence dominated the beginning of the third period. The only thing keeping the Friars from tying the game was an admirable performance by Pantano, who went so far as to lay across the ice to keep the puck out of the net. But Jack Dugan made the most of a Providence faceoff win on their offensive side, pounding the puck past Pantano to tie the game. 

Northeastern soon went to the power play, but unlike those earlier in the game, the top line of McDonough, Madden, and Jozefek was unable to get things done, and almost allowed a shorthanded goal. The unceremonious power play resulted in the return of Providence dominance, and more amazing saves from Pantano.

With only a quarter of the period remaining, Providence’s Parker Ford was sent to the penalty box for hooking. This Northeastern power play began much like their last, but about halfway through it, they worked the puck into the offensive zone. This kicked off a beautiful sequence of about 20 passes where the power play unit methodically broke down the Friars’ defense, slowly applying pressure and working the puck closer and closer to the net.

Finally, the breakthrough came. Zach Solow found himself, and more importantly, the puck, right in front of the net, after a precise pass by McDonough right to his stick. Solow’s job was made easy and he executed perfectly, placing the puck into the bottom left of the cage, giving the Huskies the lead with only five minutes remaining. 

After the game, Providence head coach Nate Leaman expressed his displeasure with his team’s physicality, saying that it “hardly felt like [they] checked anybody all night.” On the flip side of the hockey coin, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan expressed his pleasure with his team’s approach to the game.

“You can’t sit back and wait for goals to happen,” he said. “You have to go out and earn them against a team like this.”

The Huskies head to TD Garden this Monday to face Harvard in the first game of the Beanpot. Christian Skroce, Matt Neiser, and Dale Desantis will call that one, with coverage beginning at 4:45 PM EST.

Men’s Hockey Falls to UConn in OT

By Matt Cunha

BOSTON — Benjamin Freeman’s power-play rebound goal three minutes into overtime gave UConn (9–10–4, 6–7–2) a 3–2 win over Northeastern (13–7–2, 7–6–1 HEA) Saturday night at Matthews Arena. The outcome was a crucial one, coming amid a tight Hockey East playoff race in which the top seven teams — including Northeastern and UConn — are separated by just five points.

It was Northeastern’s second straight overtime loss. They will wait a few weeks for a chance to bounce back, with their next game coming January 31 at home against Providence. Christian Skroce and Matt Neiser will call that one, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM EST.

Freeman’s goal came as a result of a Jeremie Bucheler holding penalty with 2:22 to go in OT. UConn’s Vladislav Firstov, who had already scored twice, broke in on net after a Ryan Shea turnover in the neutral zone. Bucheler attempted to halt a Firstov breakaway before being whistled for the penalty.

Shortly afterward, the officials ruled that the puck flew into the Northeastern bench, giving UConn an attacking-zone face-off. UConn won it, then Freeman tallied the game-winner after Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano came up big on a Jake Flynn shot.

“They went on the power play and, to be frank with you, I thought Jeremie Bucheler did a great job defending their forward going to the net,” said head coach Jim Madigan. “That is how we teach it. He went to the box and they scored on the powerplay. We cleared the puck and the referee thought it went in our bench which never hit our bench. In-zone faceoff and they scored. We didn’t get the breaks.”

To start the game, it took UConn all of 89 seconds to get on the board after a Firstov breakaway split the NU defense. It worsened after a Jayden Struble penalty gave UConn a power play, which Northeastern killed off. Shortly after, Northeastern’s own penalty generated a flurry of chances that failed to get past UConn goalie Tomas Vomacka, who saved 35 shots on the evening. The first period ended with a 1–0 UConn lead.

At the end of the first period, five-minute major and 10-minute game misconduct penalties were assessed to Northeastern’s Riley Hughes (grasping the facemask) and UConn’s Jáchym Kondelík (boarding).

In the second period, Northeastern killed off a penalty before crawling back into the game. Grant Jozefek was hit hard around 5:30 into the period and stayed on the ice for a few seconds. A few minutes later, Aidan McDonough found Jozefek for a game-tying one-timer. Around seven minutes after that, Jozefek drove home a feed from Mike Kesselring for his sixth goal of the season and a 2–1 Northeastern lead.

UConn answered with just over three minutes left in the second period as Firstov, on a pass from Wyatt Newhouse, ripped his second of the night in front of Pantano with little NU defensive pressure.

In third period, both Pantano (41 saves) and Vomacka stood on their heads with plenty of chances both ways.

Early in overtime, the team went back and forth until Bucheler’s holding penalty.

“I feel bad for Jeremie Bucheler because he defended the play the right way and he got called for a penalty,” said Madigan. “We will have to re-group. We have two weeks off now to get ready for Providence and this is a tough loss, but we will re-group. This is a resilient group in there and we just keep battling and move forward.”

Men’s Hockey Pulls Away Late in Thriller vs. Bentley

By Matt Neiser

Tyler Madden began Monday with 14 goals and 12 assists, tied for third in the nation in goals and tied for fourth in points. The Vancouver Canucks prospect has been on fire as of late; in only his second college season, Madden has placed himself firmly in the Hobey Baker Award conversation.

The hot streak continued into Monday night, as he racked up another goal and a pair of assists en route to a 4–2 Northeastern victory over the visiting Bentley Falcons. In a game closer than the score suggests, Madden’s goal scoring and playmaking once again helped the Huskies tally a win.

“I don’t think it’s slowed down, I think I just understand it a little bit better,” Madden said when asked about the change in year two. “I think having a first year under your best helped me out a lot. [I’m] starting to get those areas where I score more and just play some good hockey.”

On the back of a 5–2 victory on the road against fellow Hockey East opponent UConn, sub-.500 Bentley (8–11–1) looked like a walk in the park for No. 11/13 Northeastern (13–5–2, 7–4–1 HEA). As it turns out, it was anything but for the Huskies.

Neither team gained any traction in the first period, with the two sides jostling back-and-forth for much of the frame. Bentley held the shot lead for the entire period, ending the first 20 minutes with an 8–7 advantage. Despite the discrepancy, it was Northeastern that got on the board first. As the clock ticked under two minutes, the Huskies went on the power play following a slashing call on the Falcons. As he does so often, Madden dictated play before sliding a perfect pass across the zone, finding freshman Aidan McDonough for a one-timer to take the lead.

McDonough has come on strong for the Huskies this season, proving to be the missing link on a power play unit that struggled to start the season. After sputtering early, the Huskies have brought their conversion percentage above 20 percent, placing them in the top-20 in the nation. Monday’s goal was McDonough’s eighth of the season, all on the man advantage. Those eight PP goals tie him for the lead nationally, no small feat for a freshman on the same unit as Madden and Zach Solow.

After just one penalty in the first frame, the second period turned into a whistle-fest. Starting at the 6:48 mark, three penalties were assessed in the next 10 minutes — two to Northeastern and one to Bentley. Neither team found paydirt on those opportunities, and Bentley even came close to converting on a breakaway as they killed off the Huskies’ first. A Falcon stretch pass found a streaking Matt Gosiewski, but grad transfer goaltender Craig Pantano saved the day with one of many outstanding saves on the night.

If it feels like you’ve read that sentence before, you probably have — Pantano has bailed out Northeastern with spectacular saves in many a game this season. Madden had high praise for his teammate, saying “He’s unbelievable. He’s definitely held us in a lot of games, especially here tonight. It easily could have been 4–4 at the end of that game, and he just came up big.”

The second period ended scoreless, but the final 20 minutes more than made up for that. Just under two minutes into the third, Bentley’s Jonathan Desbiens tucked home a rebound off a Pantano save to even the game at a goal apiece. Madden took matters into his own hands and responded less than three minutes later, sliding home a one-timer from the slot off a feed from sophomore Jordan Harris.

Bentley again brought the game to a dead heat 8:40 into the third with Jakov Novak’s team-leading 12th goal of the season, setting up a thrilling finish.

As the clock went under two minutes left in regulation, overtime looked like a foregone conclusion. Northeastern continued to press hard for the game-winner, and they eventually found it when freshman Matt DeMelis fed a pass into the slot for senior Matt Filipe, who beat the goaltender up high to give the Huskies the lead for good.

Adding insult to injury, Solow got on the end of a turnover and scored an insurance goal just 26 seconds later, bringing the final score to 4–2.

Senior captain Ryan Shea tallied three assists on the night, bringing his season total to a team-high 19. The helpers extended Shea’s point streak to 11 games, dating back to a game against Merrimack on November 9. Solow’s goal boosted his point streak to nine games. Pantano saved 26 of 28 Bentley shots, earning his 13th win of the season.

Husky head coach Jim Madigan praised his team’s ability to step up when it mattered most. “I thought Bentley played well, and they outplayed us and they outshot us for three periods . . . we’ve got a mature group in there, and those are the ones that stepped up and we found a way to win.”

Northeastern is back in action on Saturday, traveling north to Durham to take on the New Hampshire Wildcats. Matt Neiser and Dale DeSantis will be on the call, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM EST.

Men’s Hockey Triumphs in Battle of the Huskies

By Sarah Olender

In a battle between Hockey East’s two Husky teams at the Hartford XL Center on Friday night, Northeastern’s early-game dominance on both sides of the puck carried them to a 5–2 victory over UConn.

Within the team’s first 30 seconds of play in 2020, Northeastern’s Matt Filipe fired a shot into the back of the net on an assist from Ryan Shea.

After Filipe’s goal, play swung back and forth until 10:40 into the period, when Zach Solow’s unassisted goal gave Northeastern a 2–0 lead. Minutes later, Tyler Madden scored another goal, assisted by Aidan McDonough and Grant Jozefek.

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Photos by Sarah Olender

UConn struggled through the entire first period and most of the second, turning over the puck frequently and giving Northeastern many scoring opportunities.

Nearly twelve minutes into the second period, Solow put in another goal, assisted by McDonough and Madden. Northeastern’s score streak continued minutes later, their fifth goal courtesy of freshman Matt DeMelis, who put home a rebound from teammate Neil Shea. 

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UConn finally got on the board with a minute left in the second period, when Vladislav Firstov put home a rebound. Firstov’s goal trimmed the Northeastern lead to 5–1 entering the third period.

Though the final period featured UConn’s second goal (by Jonny Evans seven minutes in), it also brought increased aggression. With just under five minutes to play, McDonough was called for goalie interference. Simultaneously, freshman defender Mike Kesselring was hit with a five-minute major penalty (and a ten-minute game misconduct) for a violent cross-check, putting Northeastern at a disadvantage for the remainder of the game. 

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With nearly three minutes to go in the game, UConn pulled goalie Tomas Vomacka, leaving Northeastern in a three-on-five situation. Once McDonough’s penalty was over, Northeastern defended the more manageable four-on-five penalty kill. 

“We didn’t play as cleanly as I would have liked in the third period,” Madigan said, though he remarked that the “PK did a great job all night long.”

Northeastern netminder Craig Pantano also played a solid game, making 24 saves for a .923 save percentage. 

Northeastern will take on Bentley this Monday in Matthews Arena. Christian Skroce and Dale Desantis will call the game for WRBB, with coverage beginning at 6:45.

Men’s Hockey Tops Dartmouth in Last Game of Decade

By Milton Posner

Photo by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — Saturday afternoon’s game was, in many ways, similar to last Saturday’s contest against Boston University. Both games had chaotic second periods. In both, Northeastern netted three goals.

The difference today was the result; Northeastern walked off the ice with a 6–4 win over Dartmouth in their last game of the 2010s. The game was also reminiscent of the teams’ last meeting six years before, in which a furious offensive onslaught yielded an 8–8 tie.

For the first five minutes of tonight’s game, the puck darted around the ice like a wet bar of soap; neither team could hold it for more than a few seconds. But John Picking, who energized the Husky attack every time his skates hit the ice, eventually broke the seal, sneaking around the net and tapping home a gorgeous one-timer off a precise feed from Jordan Harris.

Harris kept the momentum going two minutes later, firing a long pass to Neil Shea out front. Shea shoveled it to Filipe; Filipe flipped it home.

With four minutes remaining in the period, a hooking penalty sent star Dartmouth forward Drew O’Connor to the penalty box. Freshman Husky forward Aidan McDonough, who has as good a nose for power play goals as a squirrel does for nuts, found himself alone at the base of the right dot. Tyler Madden slid him a pass through traffic and McDonough didn’t need to be told twice.

Though the Huskies 11–8 first-period shot advantage seems fairly insignificant, the quality of the shots shows the Husky dominance that pervaded the period. The Big Green forced a few attempts in the area of Northeastern netminder Craig Pantano, but few seriously threatened the fifth-year transfer’s territory.

The second period was a different story. The momentum swung less than a minute in, with Dartmouth’s Jeff Losurdo swooping in off the rebound to notch his third goal in as many games.

Eight minutes later, the Big Green dropped a sledgehammer, scoring two goals in 13 seconds to even the score. First Daniel Warpecha stuffed the puck in through traffic. Then Sam Hesler flung one home off the rebound after an ill-advised do-or-die reach by Neil Shea gave Dartmouth a three-on-two against Pantano.

“It was more in the neutral zone where we were turning pucks over, getting three or four guys caught on one side of the ice, and they counter,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said of the Dartmouth burst. “That top line of O’Connor, [Quin] Foreman, and [Will] Graber are really good and they transition pucks quickly. We just got to make sure in the neutral zone we manage pucks a lot better and we gave them a little bit too much in that regard today.”

A three-goal lead built over an entire period had been torn to pieces in nine minutes. Within eight minutes, it was fully restored.

McDonough — apparently not content with just one power play goal on the afternoon — slammed home another off Zach Solow and Ryan Shea’s assist. Shea — apparently tired of his goal–assist ratio leaning so far in the assist direction — scored a power play goal of his own a few minutes later when a scrambling Dartmouth defense let him get a running start to the front of the net.

When Tyler Madden stuffed home a rebound two minutes later for his 13th goal of the season, it completed the Huskies’ second three-goal second period in as many games.

The only third period scoring was a goal halfway through from Dartmouth’s Ryan Blankmeier. The Big Green tried to turn up their intensity and make a last-minute comeback, but that intensity only caused them problems.

With 80 seconds left, Dartmouth defender Jack Cameron went down on a puck chase and slammed into the wall underneath the boards. He remained writhing on the ice for a bit, then went immediately to the locker room with what Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet described as an upper-body injury that will sideline him for a while.

The ensuing scuffle yielded penalties, leaving the Big Green down two goals and two skaters. Northeastern calmly exhausted the clock.

Though hustle certainly factored plenty in a game chock full of puck chases and scrambles, the game was ultimately won and lost with advantages. Northeastern turned six power plays into three goals while negating all three of Dartmouth’s power plays.

“You can see the angling and the aggressiveness,” Gaudet said after the game. “That’s their trigger points where they decide to be aggressive. Sometimes it’s up-ice, a lot of the times it’s on a bobbled puck.

“They’re really quick. Their angling was really good and they got into lanes and took things away from us; I was really impressed with that . . . maybe we can steal a few things from Madigan.”

Three Huskies extended point streaks. Filipe’s goal brought his streak to five games, Solow’s three assists extended his to seven, and Ryan Shea’s goal and assists gave him a nine-game stretch. The win boosted Northeastern to 11–5–2 (6–4–1 HEA) and dropped Dartmouth to 4–4–2 (4–2–1 ECAC).

Northeastern will have a 19-day break before traveling to Connecticut for a January 3 matchup against the UConn Huskies. WRBB will not broadcast the game, but will upload coverage to the website.

WRBB will also publish various online content throughout Northeastern’s winter break. Our next broadcast is the January 2 basketball game against Elon. Milton Posner and Matt Neiser will call that one, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM EST.

Men’s Hockey Succumbs to BU after Frantic Second Period

By Matt Neiser

Photo by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — Fresh off a victory in the Belfast-based Friendship Four and riding a five-game winning streak, the No. 8/12 Northeastern men’s ice hockey team headed across town to rival Boston University for the teams’ first meeting this season.

Despite entering Saturday’s game with a losing record, the Terriers are chock full of talent. They showed that in this game, scoring four goals in the second period and six overall as they took down the Huskies, 6–3.

Northeastern (10–5–2, 6–4–1 HEA) got off to an encouraging start, generating 17 first-period shots on net to BU’s seven. But the Terriers (6–6–5, 4–3–4 HEA) emerged with the advantage after senior Patrick Harper capitalized on a defensive lapse by the Huskies to score the lone goal of the first 20 minutes.

Photo by Sarah Olender

After a relatively tame opening frame, all hell broke loose in the second. Goals from junior Zach Solow and senior John Picking — 12 seconds apart and both within the first minute of play — put the Huskies on top, but BU sophomore Jack DeBoer fired right back 40 seconds later, evening the game at two goals apiece.

Northeastern retook the lead on an Aidan McDonough goal 90 seconds after that, but the Terriers rattled off three unanswered goals from Harper, Robert Mastrosimone, and Domenick Fensore to take control heading into the final frame.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Despite holding possession for much of the third period and benefitting from four power plays, the Huskies couldn’t match the ridiculous production of the previous period. The Terriers held them scoreless and tacked on a shorthanded empty-net insurance goal to extend their lead to 6–3, securing victory over their Hockey East rivals.

Solow added an assist to his goal and finished as Northeastern’s only multi-point scorer. Jayden Struble, T.J. Walsh, Ryan Shea, and Matt Filipe all added assists. Goaltender Craig Pantano made 21 saves but allowed five goals.

Terrier goaltender Sam Tucker was fantastic in net, totaling 37 saves, including many tough stops, in the victory.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan didn’t mince words after the game, stating, “I don’t know how much there is to say. We played shitty hockey, and really bad defensively, and they took advantage of opportunities.” He repeated that choice two-word phrase multiple times throughout the post-game press conference.

“We were just turning pucks over. We knew what we needed to do, it wasn’t like they were hemming us in their own zone, we were just really sloppy with the puck,” Madigan added. The Husky head coach was spot-on with his analysis, as always. This was not a good game for the Northeastern skaters, whose sloppy play led to many of the Terriers’ opportunities and goals.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The loss halts the Huskies’ win streak at five, their longest of the season. They are tied with Massachusetts and UMass Lowell for second place in Hockey East; BU sits in fifth place, though they are just one point behind the Huskies.

The Huskies have a week to recoup, with their final matchup of 2019 coming on Saturday against Dartmouth College. Milton Posner and Alex Bensley will be on the call, with coverage starting at 3:45 PM EST.