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 Fizzles Against BU

By Adam Doucette

BOSTON — Northeastern began their Friday night hopeful that they could beat Boston University on home ice, then go to Agganis Arena the next day and overtake the Terriers in the Hockey East standings. They ended the night realizing that wasn’t going to happen. 

The Terriers came to Matthews Arena Friday night and thoroughly beat the Huskies, 3–0. After surviving an up-tempo first period, Northeastern conceded a goal to BU’s Patrick Curry with 7:11 elapsed in the second period. Husky goaltender Craig Pantano stuffed the initial shot by BU center Jake Wise, but Curry slid the rebound under Pantano’s pads.

The Huskies attempted to rebound but instead conceded again, this time to a Cam Crotty redirect with 14:26 gone in the second.

“We had a decent first period, and then second and third period we didn’t generate much offense,” Northeastern coach Jim Madigan observed. “They got up 2–0; we didn’t respond well enough.”

The Huskies went into the second intermission down two goals and in desperate need of a better offensive effort. That didn’t happen, as Terrier center Wilmer Skoog put one past Pantano to give BU a 3–0 advantage.

Northeastern simply lacked the offense to cut into the deficit. While senior forward Grant Jozefek returned after missing last week’s doubleheader due to injury, the continued absence of leading goal scorer Tyler Madden (day-to-day with a hand injury) was noticeable. Madigan, however, refused to blame Madden’s absence for the team’s offensive struggles.

“Other guys need to step up,” he said before channeling his inner Rick Pitino. “Tyler Madden, he’s not walking through the doors right now . . . we’ve got enough in that room to create some offense; it’s up to those guys to create offense.”

On the opposite side of the puck, David Farrance continued his run of dominance. The star defenseman played well all night and notched an assist on all three BU goals. 

Despite the disappointing loss, Northeastern still controls its own playoff destiny. If the Huskies beat BU on Saturday in their last regular-season game, they guarantee themselves a spot in the Hockey East Tournament. If they don’t, they will make the tournament only if Boston College beats or ties New Hampshire tomorrow.

Christian Skroce and Adam Doucette will call the game from Agganis Arena, with coverage beginning around 3:45 PM EST.

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 BEANPOT SWEEP!

By Dale Desantis

BOSTON — It was déjà vu in the best way for the Huskies.

Twenty-four hours after Jordan Harris’ game-winner propelled the men’s team to a Beanpot championship, Lauren MacInnis, refusing to let Harris be the only #2-wearing Husky defender to sink Boston University with a double-overtime goal, ended the night.

It was the Huskies 17th Beanpot title, their first since 2013, and the first time since 1988 that both Northeastern teams held the title simultaneously.

The Huskies and Terriers had squared off three times this year, and although Tuesday night’s game had no Hockey East repercussions, the two foes were physical throughout, knowing the gravity of what was at stake. A record crowd of 1,790 at Walter Brown Arena knew it too. After the drama of the men’s game the night before, expectations were high.

BU opened the scoring early. BU’s Kristina Schuler blew by Brooke Hobson in neutral ice to dip and dunk on Aerin Frankel with unbelievable pace. The No. 9/9 Terriers were the underdogs against the No. 2/3 Huskies, so the opening goal was vital against the stout Husky defense.

It was all BU for most of the opening period as the Huskies looked flat. BU Goalie Corinne Schroeder looked comfortable in the net and defenders Abby Cook and Alex Allan were aggressive on everything coming into their zone. Finally, Northeastern caught a break in the waning minutes of the first as Chloe Aurard ripped one five-hole on a two-on-one breakaway, bringing the Huskies even.

After the break, it seemed like Northeastern would take control of the game. They started to settle the puck more, with Alina Mueller’s tremendous handling creating great opportunities. Eventually lightning struck twice, as Chloe Aurard, the eventual MVP, put away her second goal of the game and third of the tournament with 13:26 left.

Then all hell broke loose. Two minutes after Aurard’s goal, NU’s Skylar Fontaine was assessed a game misconduct after getting into it with Breanna Scarpaci in front of the net. Scarpaci was hit with a two-minute cross-checking minor, but Fontaine’s contact-to-the-head roughing penalty deprived Northeastern of its best all-around skater for the rest of the game.

After two minutes of four-on-four play, the Huskies still had three minutes of disadvantage to kill. They managed just one, as Abby Cook launched an absolute rocket from the blue line to bring the Terriers back in the game.

It looked as though the opportunity was starting to slip away from Northeastern, but as they have all season, they fought back. Late in the third period, Jess Schryver converted the Huskies’ first power-play goal of the night. Mueller’s wrister rebounded perfectly to the freshman forward as she shoved it between Schroeder’s legs to regain the lead with five minutes to play.

But as we learned on Monday night, no one raises the trophy until the final whistle blows. BU pulled its goalie around the two-minute mark, accelerating their offense. They put bodies in front of Frankel, clogging the doorstep and dumping pucks in from all angles. With only twenty-two seconds on the clock, a Nadia Mattivi slap shot trickled behind Frankel, where BU captain Sammy Davis gave it a little tap in to tie the game.

The hockey gods were laughing at Northeastern. It felt way too much like the night before. But the Huskies were about to be blessed for the second time in 24 hours. After five minutes of one overtime and 16 minutes of another, after the game had, for record and statistical purposes, ceased to count, after the only purpose was pride and glory, MacInnis stepped into the spotlight.

With Fontaine gone, head coach Dave Flint sent extra minutes MacInnis’ way. On her first power play of the season, after playing more minutes than she had all year, MacInnis fired a rebound into the back of the net and etched her name into Beanpot lore.

Flint explained that MacInnis has spent many hours in practice on the scout power play facing the team’s legendary penalty kill, and thus was prepared for the moment.

The team will now look forward to Hockey East playoffs and potentially a Frozen Four appearance at Agganis Arena in a few weeks. But for now, they can bask in the glory of a trophy that eluded several talented classes. For the first time since 2013, they are the Queens of the Beans.

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.

Women’s Hockey Tops No. 8 BU

By Catherine Morrison

BOSTON — Northeastern’s Tuesday game against rival Boston University was a nail-biter from start to finish. BU started out strong with a first-period goal from Deziray De Sousa.

Northeastern is rarely behind at all, much less in the opening frame, and leads the nation with 42 first-period goals this season. However, the Huskies seemed off their game in the first, perhaps due to Chloe Aurard — the conference’s second-leading scorer with 17 goals — hitting the goalpost and hurting her wrist. (Aurard continued to play.)

In the second period the Huskies returned to form. Four minutes in, Northeastern goalie Aerin Frankel was called for tripping after she stuck her stick out. Gill Foote served the penalty, and a power play began for BU. However, luck wasn’t on the Terriers’ side as Alina Mueller broke away after getting the puck from Mia Brown and tied the game with a shorthanded goal.

Five minutes later, Veronika Pettey was called for hooking, giving BU a chance to pull ahead. Northeastern’s penalty kill was ready, and quickly took control of the puck. Mueller looked like she was going to score her second goal of the night, but was blocked by goaltender Corinne Schroeder. Matti Hartman took the rebound and looked like she might get the puck in, but it was blocked yet again. In an astounding move, defenseman Skylar Fontaine got the rebound and fired it in to give Northeastern the lead.

During the third period the Huskies were aggressive, blocking shots and checking players. Multiple BU players fell to the ice as the two teams battled for the puck, with each team getting just nine shots. With a few minutes remaining, Northeastern’s Katy Knoll earned a five-minute major penalty and, upon review, a ten-minute game misconduct after her body check from behind sent a BU player into the wall. Both players, albeit for different reasons, left the rink. Northeastern spent the rest of the game on the penalty kill and responded beautifully, ending the game at 2–1.

Northeastern’s penalty kill unit is one of the strongest in the nation. Their aggressive strategy of pursuing and controlling the puck quickly has earned them more shorthanded goals (six) than power-play goals (five) this season.

“It’s nice we can destroy their power play,” Mueller said.

Fontaine added, “Once we got that first one, with the PK, we got the momentum going and kept going and we ended up getting a second.”

Northeastern will look to extend their seven-game winning on Friday at home against the University of Connecticut.

Women’s Hockey Shuts out Boston College for Second Straight Game

By Matt Neiser

BOSTON — Boston College and Northeastern. Cross-town rivals. The top two teams in Women’s Hockey East. Any time these two squads face off, it’s must-watch action.

That said, there’s been a sizeable gap between the teams this season. Entering Sunday afternoon’s duel at Matthews Arena, the No. 3 Huskies had outscored the Eagles a combined 9–0 over two shutout wins on Boston College’s home turf. Northeastern already carried a five-point lead in the standings over BC — with two games in hand at that.

The Huskies’ dominance of the rivalry series continued into round three. The Eagles had no answer for the home team, falling 3–0 to Northeastern as the Huskies capped off a statement regular season sweep of Boston College.

“The goals didn’t come as easily as Friday,” head coach Dave Flint said. “It was a tough game. I like how we ground it out and battled for three periods.”

It took less than two minutes for Northeastern (17–3–1, 14–2–0 WHEA) to jump out in front. Matti Hartman took the puck into the slot on a counterattack and fired a wrister over the shoulder of Boston College (11–9–2, 10–7–1 WHEA) goaltender Kelly Pickreign for her fifth goal and 10th point of the season.

The Eagles had plenty of chances to respond in the first. The Huskies were called for three penalties, but stifled Boston College’s ensuing power plays. Shifting bodies in shooting lanes and constantly clearing pucks, they held the Eagles to three shots on net on those opportunities.

Northeastern killed off a fourth consecutive penalty halfway through the second frame before the whistles started blowing the other way. Boston College was called for four penalties over the final 11 minutes of the period, but Northeastern failed to convert. A defensive lapse even allowed the Eagles a clean shorthanded breakaway, but goaltender Aerin Frankel stonewalled Delaney Belinskas on the shot to bail out the Huskies.

The final penalty of the second period bled 17 seconds over to the third. Northeastern needed just 10 of those seconds to double their lead. Alina Mueller skated to the left side of the zone after winning the faceoff at center ice and received a pass from Skylar Fontaine. The Swiss sensation then did what she does best, threading the needle through three Boston College defensemen to find an open Katy Knoll on the weak side. The freshman tucked home her sixth goal of the season, extending the Huskies’ lead to 2–0.

After Boston College was called for yet another penalty three minutes later, Northeastern went on the power play again. Just like the one before it, this one ended with a puck in the back of the Eagles’ net. This time the culprit was Fontaine, who slotted home her ninth tally of the season off a feed from Chloe Aurard to put the game out of reach at 3–0. The Huskies held course the rest of the way, killing off one last penalty for good measure as time ran out.

The story of the game was the Northeastern penalty kill, which was a perfect five-for-five. The Huskies have allowed just five goals all season on the penalty kill in 64 opponent opportunities (7.8 percent).

Fontaine, a key part of the four-on-five, lit up when asked about the PK unit’s performance: “It makes us really proud. We put a lot of work in in practice for PKs, so it’s great to see it turn out on the ice.”

“Our PK forecheck is really good; they execute it to a tee every time,” said Flint. “We apply pressure when we need to apply pressure, and it’s tough for teams to get anything going against us. We’ve got kids out there willing to block shots, and your best penalty killer needs to be your goalie — and [Frankel’s] a pretty good penalty killer.”

Frankel added, “I can confidently say the entire year our penalty kill has been really strong, so that’s really nice to see and it’s helpful to our game.”

Frankel’s play against the Eagles this season has been historically dominant. No team has ever shut out BC three times in one season, and Frankel has blanked the Eagles more times this season than every other NCAA goalie in the last five years combined. She followed up her 26-save performance on Friday with 25 saves on Sunday, and recorded her sixth shutout of the season.

“I think it’s really big for the program in general,” Frankel said of the team’s dominance over BC. “Over the past decade it’s always been a really intense rivalry, but I think over the past couple years we’ve had the upper hand on them . . . I think it says a lot about how far this program’s come and I’m really proud of this team.”

Northeastern resumes play on Friday when Hockey East foe UConn visits Matthews Arena for a 6 PM matchup.

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.

Women’s Hockey Sweeps BU

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Catherine Morrison

Coming off a 2–1 victory the night before, Northeastern’s women’s hockey looked to complete the sweep against rivals Boston University on Sunday afternoon. 

BU controlled the puck in the first period, with nine shots on goal to Northeastern’s four. But goalie Aerin Frankel saved all nine, including a particularly impressive block on a wrister from BU’s Courtney Correia. After Frankel’s save, freshman forward Katy Knoll, lying face-down on the ice, cleared the puck away from the goal.

With 4:36 left in the first, Husky forward Tessa Ward notched a deflection goal assisted by Megan Carter and Skylar Fontaine. The goal was Ward’s first of the season; the assist was Carter’s first collegiate point.

With just under four minutes left in the first period, Northeastern’s Brooke Hobson was whistled for interference when she knocked a BU player down. The Huskies handled the power play without a problem, and Frankel ended a shutout first period with the puck in her hand.

Northeastern came in hot in the second period. Five-and-a-half minutes in, after BU left her unattended in the slot, junior forward Veronika Pettey fielded a pass from Matti Hartman and punched home a one-timer for her third goal of the season.

Despite two second-period BU penalties (Emma Wuthrich’s roughing and Natasza Tarnowski’s high sticking), Northeastern couldn’t capitalize. The second period ended with a 9–6 Northeastern shot advantage and a 2–0 Northeastern lead.

The third period started with a power play in effect, but again, Northeastern couldn’t make anything happen against the shorthanded Terriers. With about eight minutes remaining, Knoll missed a shot, hit the ground, looked wobbly when she got up, and left her stick on the ice when she was subbed out.

A BU interference penalty handed the Huskies another power play, and again they couldn’t capitalize, taking just one shot. A Knoll attempt just after the end of the power play was redirected into the wall behind the net by BU goalie Corinne Schroeder. BU pulled Schroeder with two minutes to go but couldn’t sneak one by Frankel, who finished with twenty saves. 

Despite Northeastern shutting out BU, the game was a tight race for control of the puck. Northeastern had only 22 shots on goal, well below their average of 38. Mueller, recently named Hockey East Player of the Month, didn’t do much, registering only three shots.

The weekend sweep moved Northeastern to 7–1–0 (4–1–0 HEAW) and dropped BU to 5–2–1 (2–2–1 HEAW). The Huskies’ next game is against the winless Holy Cross crusaders on Friday at 1 PM at Matthews Arena.

Hockey East Preview: Boston University Terriers

Last Season: 16–18–4 (12–9–3 HE, fifth place); lost in HE semifinals

Head Coach: Albie O’Connell (second season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Fifth

Losses

  • G Jake Oettinger
  • G Max Prawdzik
  • D Dante Fabro
  • D Shane Switzer
  • D Chad Krys
  • F Joel Farabee
  • F Ryan Cloonan
  • F Mark Cheremeta
  • F Bobo Carpenter
  • F Shane Bowers
  • F Max Willman

Additions

  • G Sam Tucker
  • D Case McCarthy
  • D Alex Vlasic
  • D Domenick Fensore
  • D Sean Driscoll
  • F/D John Copeland
  • F Jamie Armstrong
  • F Trevor Zegras
  • F Markus Boguslavsky
  • F Robert Mastrosimone
  • F Sam Stevens
  • F Ethan Phillips
  • F Alex Brink

By Adam Doucette

The Boston University Terriers’ 2018–19 season was the first with coach Albie O’Connell at the helm. Other than the coaching change, it was not the most memorable season for the Terriers. They didn’t notch a Beanpot win, they didn’t make it to the Hockey East finals, and they didn’t make the NCAA tournament. Their overall record was below .500 for the first time since 2013–14.

While a team cannot be expected to be elite right away under a new coach, BU has gotten used to contending. However, the team with the most Beanpot titles under its belt won’t have an easy time climbing back to the top of college hockey.

The Terriers are losing four of their five top point scorers from a year ago, including goal leader Joel Farabee (17) and assist leader Dante Fabbro (26). They are also losing the services of Jake Oettinger, their star goaltender who made 47 saves in last year’s Beanpot final against Northeastern.

The Terriers picked up two graduate transfers for this season. One is Alex Brink, a 6’0” forward from Brown University; the other is Sam Tucker, a 6’3” goaltender from Yale University. The team will also hold onto Patrick Curry, the lone remaining top-five point scorer from last year. The senior forward will serve as team captain for the 2019–20 campaign while senior Patrick Harper and juniors Logan Cockerill and Cam Crotty have been named assistant captains.

Bottom Line: It won’t be easy for the Terriers to build on last season after losing so many top players. Second-year coach Albie O’Connell will have to learn on the fly and figure out how to best use the new players. Expectations may not be as high as they were in past years, but the program is confident that O’Connell can lead them back to the top.