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.

Men’s Hockey Knocks Off No. 11 UMass Lowell

By Alex Bensley

LOWELL, Mass. — The Beanpot hangover did not make an appearance at the Tsongas Center in Lowell on Friday night.

Four days after the No. 12 Northeastern Huskies won their third consecutive Beanpot title, Jim Madigan’s group shut down No. 11 UMass Lowell to move up to sixth place in the conference standings.

“We talked to our older guys about that on Wednesday and they delivered the message to the rest of the group,” Madigan said. “We’re in a playoff hunt. We can’t afford a Beanpot hangover. In fact, we try not to use the word that begins with a B and ends with a T and focus in on what’s at hand here.”

The Huskies came out focused and cashed in on a power play seven minutes into the first period. Tyler Madden found the back of the net for his team-leading 19th goal of the season.

From there, it was dominance marked by crisp puck movement, defensive prowess, and smothering goaltending by Craig Pantano.

“I like the way our team competed and battled,” head coach Jim Madigan said. “I think it was probably our best defensive game of the year in terms of how we checked.”

Following Madden’s goal, Northeastern center Zach Solow left the game with an injury. But he returned later in the next period and was all over the ice, bringing an energy that the Huskies sustained the rest of the game.

“We got banged up early in that game,” Madigan said. “I thought our kids showed a lot of resilience.”

Ryan Shea scored his fifth goal on an assist by Neil Shea six minutes into the second period.

Meanwhile, Craig Pantano built a brick wall in net and recorded his first shutout since November 29. Pantano set aside 24 shots; his counterpart Tyler Wall made 19 saves for the Riverhawks. Grant Jozefek netted his eighth goal of the season on an empty net goal with one second remaining.

The teams will make the trip to Matthews Arena, where they will rematch Saturday. Matt Neiser, Jack Sinclair, and Rae Deer will have the call for WRBB, with coverage beginning at 7:45 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 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 Tops Harvard to Open Beanpot

By Matt Neiser

BOSTON — Finally, the day college hockey fans in Massachusetts have waited for since the season started in October. The Beanpot is back for its 68th iteration, and the two-time defending champion Northeastern men’s hockey team kicked the festivities off on Monday against the Harvard Crimson in the early game.

Harvard came into the game with the third-best offense in the nation at 3.9 goals per game, and fresh off an eight-goal performance in a win against Union Friday. Unperturbed, the Northeastern defense held strong, allowing just one goal on the night. Adding three of their own on offense, the Huskies skated away with a 3–1 victory to advance to next week’s championship game for the third year in a row.

On Monday, the Huskies will face the Boston University Terriers, who outlasted Boston College in a double-overtime thriller. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 PM EST but may start later if the consolation game goes long. Follow @wrbbsports on Twitter to stay up to date on any delays. Once again, Christian Skroce, Matt Neiser, and Dale Desantis will be on the call.

Special teams were bound to be a factor in this one, with the Crimson boasting the best power play in the nation (.307) and the Huskies countering with the fourth-best penalty kill (.892). That showed early when Harvard drew a tripping call on Northeastern defenseman Jordan Harris. Jack Drury converted on the ensuing man advantage, taking a feed from Nick Abruzzese and flipping it past Husky netminder Craig Pantano just five minutes into the game.

Northeastern fought back on a power play of their own later in the period, needing just 22 seconds from the time of the whistle to put the puck into the Crimson net. Senior captain Ryan Shea blasted a one-timer at the goal off a feed from Tyler Madden, and Zach Solow positioned himself in the perfect spot to redirect the drive past Mitchell Gibson.

Both teams struggled to find their footing out of the gate in the second period, trading possessions without many shots. After a failed power play earlier in the frame, the Huskies once again found themselves on the five-on-four after Harvard’s Austin Wong was called for an elbowing minor. The PP technically yielded no goal, but the situation it created allowed Northeastern to jump out in front.

Just as the minor expired, freshman Riley Hughes helped the puck along to Grant Jozefek in the right corner of the Crimson zone. Seeing this develop, grad transfer Brendan van Riemsdyk drifted his way in front of the opposing net. Jozefek rewarded him for the move, feeding a perfect pass to his teammate who gladly redirected into the net for his second goal of the season.

The Huskies were forced to defend that lead under dire circumstances to start the third period, as a cross-checking penalty 15 seconds in — following a tripping call as time expired in the previous frame — put Harvard on a five-on-three power play for nearly two minutes. The stellar Northeastern PK unit weathered the storm with aplomb, combining a series of blocked passes with three essential saves from Pantano to ward off the top-ranked Crimson power play squad.

“I think killing penalties gives us more motivation than scoring a power play goal,” Shea said. “Our compete level just went up five notches once that happened.”

Husky head coach Jim Madigan emphasized the importance of that kill after the game: “It really gave us momentum. If there’s a turning point in the game, it’s that point obviously.”

Pantano was immense throughout the final 20 minutes, saving all 14 shots he faced to hold the Huskies in front. The Merrimack graduate transfer tallied 27 saves on the night, allowing just one goal against a team that averaged almost four scored per game coming in.

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“I thought [Pantano] was the difference in the game. He made a lot of key stops for us . . . in this tournament you need great goaltending, and we got that here tonight,” said Madigan.

In desperate search of a late equalizer, Harvard pulled Mitchell with just over two minutes to play. Matt DeMelis almost notched an empty netter soon after, but his backhand attempt went wide. The Crimson pressed back into the Husky zone, but Shea wrestled the puck away and cleared it the length of the ice, slotting it perfectly into the vacant goal to seal the Husky victory.

“This is a big, emotional game for all our guys; any time you can get a win in this tournament, in this venue, it’s special . . . that was a real good hockey club we just played,” explained Madigan. “We had a bend, don’t break mentality and it served us well.”

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.”

Third-Period Comeback Falls Short as UNH Tops Men’s Hockey in OT

By Matt Neiser

DURHAM, New Hampshire — “That effort tonight was unacceptable.”

A clearly irritated Jim Madigan was none too happy with his team postgame, and for good reason. His Northeastern men’s hockey squad had just finished a Hockey East duel with New Hampshire in Durham, and suffice to say it certainly wasn’t their best performance of the season. Despite rallying to tie the game twice in the third period, the Huskies could not cap off the comeback as the Wildcats scored in overtime to claim a 5–4 victory.

Right from the start, Northeastern (13–6–2, 7–5–1 HEA) looked off their game. New Hampshire (11–8–1, 5–5–0 HEA) outplayed the away squad throughout the first period, outshooting them 11–6. The Huskies almost escaped the period unscathed, but a Wildcats goal with less than three minutes to go ensured that the better team went into the intermission with the lead. A flubbed power play one-timer from a teammate fell right to the feet of Eric MacAdams, who slotted home the puck to open the scoring.

If the energy in the first period was a little weird, the energy in the second was downright strange. The middle frame included eight penalties, four for each side, keeping either team from getting into any real rhythm. One of those eight penalties allowed Northeastern to tie the game a little under halfway through the period, as Grant Jozefek tucked home a rebound in front of the net on the man advantage.

The deadlock was short-lived, however, as a Patrick Grasso goal 54 seconds later put New Hampshire back in front.

Madigan said after the game that the officials apologized to him for missing a hitting to the head penalty against Northeastern in the play leading up to the goal. The officials went to video review to check the goal, which allowed them to see the missed call after the fact. “It resulted in a goal then penalty on us . . . so a two-goal swing against us,” Madigan said, putting extra emphasis on the last two words.

The second goal Madigan referred to happened after a wild flurry two minutes later, allowing the Wildcats to extend their lead. With the Huskies already on the penalty kill, freshman Jeremie Bucheler committed a tripping violation, allowing New Hampshire to clear out their goalie and create a six-on-four advantage on the delayed penalty. After moving the puck around for a solid 20–30 seconds, Angus Crookshank found an opening and scored his team-leading 10th goal of the season.

With 40 minutes gone, the Huskies looked dead in the water. They were thoroughly outskated in the first two periods, and a third-period comeback seemed unlikely. Defying expectations, Northeastern emerged with a renewed energy. Tyler Madden scored his 16th goal of the season less than two minutes in, and freshman Jayden Struble followed it up with a goal of his own a few minutes later to even the score.

New Hampshire quieted the run with a Kohei Sato goal at the 7:14 mark, but Matt Filipe answered just 37 seconds later to pull the Huskies back again. Neither team gained ground in the ensuing tug-of-war, sending the game to overtime.

When asked if it was a matter of effort that allowed his team to get back into the game in the third period, Madigan agreed and added that his players stuck to the game plan. “We had a lot of offensive zone possession time in there.”

The Wildcats came into the game with a nation-leading four overtime wins, and they showed why in the extra frame. Dominating much of the possession in the first half of overtime, New Hampshire eventually generated a clean chance as Liam Blackburn found Will MacKinnon streaking into the Northeastern zone down the slot. MacKinnon wasted no time, firing a one-timer past Husky goaltender Craig Pantano to win the game.

“We went into the game with a game plan and we didn’t stick to it,” Madigan lamented, adding that they didn’t play 60 minutes tonight and UNH took advantage. “If we want to get to where we need to get to as a team, we can’t be exchanging goals and giving up five goals in a game.”

Northeastern has a week off between games, with their next contest coming January 18 against UConn at Matthews Arena. Christian Skroce and Matt Cunha will call the game, with coverage beginning at 3:45 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 Buries Providence with Offensive Onslaught

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Christian Skroce

BOSTON —Providence coach Nate Leaman summed up tonight’s game the only way he could: “We got our butts kicked. That’s my opening statement.”

It had been three years since the Huskies had last beaten Providence, and it looked like that streak would continue tonight. After falling to the Friars in Providence last night, 3–2, Northeastern knew it had to pull off a win at Matthews Arena, especially given the muddled landscape of Hockey East early this season.

“Last night I thought that we weren’t physical; we let Providence dictate the game and their space, and we didn’t respond,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said after the game. “One of the things we said here tonight, ‘let’s punch them in the mouth before they punch us in the mouth,’ because they are a heavy, hard team to play against, and I thought we were a little too passive last night.”

Jason O’Neill got the scoring going for the Friars 17 minutes into the first period with a weak attempt that slid underneath Northeastern netminder Craig Pantano. The Providence lead did not last long, as just 38 seconds later, freshman defenseman Mike Kesselring netted his first collegiate goal to level the score at one. After a nice juke from the blue line, Kesselring slid a shot through the legs of Providence goalie Michael Lackey. Madigan praised the goal after the game, saying “I liked how we responded immediately after that first goal. It was important to make sure they didn’t get too comfortable.”

After the first-period stalemate, the Huskies came alive in the second frame, putting together their best period of the season. Grant Jozefek began the period by finishing off an excellent feed from sophomore defenseman Jordan Harris.

Harris was not done yet, as a minute later he fired a power-play shot from the blue line past Lackey to give the Huskies a two-goal lead.

Senior forward Matt Filipe extended the Husky lead to 4–1 soon after with an impressive breakaway finish off a neutral-zone feed from freshman defenseman Jayden Struble. The goal forced Lackey out of the game, as Leaman let junior goalie Gabe Mollot-Hill finish the game for Providence.

Providence got one back toward the end of the second frame with a Patrick Moynihan goal, but the Huskies didn’t panic. With two minutes remaining in the period, freshman defender Jeremie Bucheler put away his own blue-line shot for his first goal of the season, giving the Huskies a 5–2 lead. Northeastern scored four second-period goals, more than they’ve scored in all but one of their 11 games this year.

Providence rebounded nicely to begin the final period, pulling within two goals after a nice finish from forward Vimal Sukumaran. The Friars pushed forward during the first ten minutes of the frame and got two power play chances to bring the game within one goal. Despite numerous close calls, Northeastern killed off both power play chances. The second penalty kill of the final period turned out to be the difference, as the Providence players were visibly deflated after failing to cut the lead to one.

Northeastern continued its physical play for the final ten minutes, eventually earning a 7–3 win after empty-net goals from Tyler Madden (his eighth of the year) and Filipe (his second of the game and third point on the night).

Northeastern’s entire penalty kill unit was tonight’s MVP. The Huskies killed all four Providence power plays, including two in the third period.

“We’ve worked on that a lot in practice, and we’ve tried to build our identity on the penalty kill,” Filipe remarked. “We have a lot of guys who want to be out there on the kill, and it’s nice to be able to rotate guys throughout.” Filipe also complimented Pantano, who had two nice games this weekend.

It was a big night for Northeastern’s impressive freshman class, with two defensemen getting their first goals of the season and two more adding assists. Madigan noted that “[Struble, Bucheler, and Kesselring] have been incredible recently. [Providence] are a heavy team, and they’re a fast team, so we knew that some of our younger guys would have to step up.”

The Huskies also got important contributions from a significant second year player. In addition to his goal and assist, Jordan Harris made several key defensive plays, logging the best game of his career in arguably the Huskies’ most important early-season contest. Harris was key to stopping Providence’s Jack Dugan, the nation’s points leader. When asked about Dugan after the game, Madigan explained, “He’s such a good player, and they use him a lot. He’s coming over the boards, [it seems like] every shift there, and then with the TV timeouts you can really use that to your advantage. It’s kind of like how we used Gaudette and Sikura a couple years ago.”

The win boosted the Huskies to 6–4–2 (3–3–1 HEA) and sets the team up nicely for next weekend’s home series against Maine. WRBB will cover both contests, starting with Friday night’s game at Matthews Arena. Jonathan Golbert and Mack Krell will call the action, with coverage starting at 6:45 PM ET.