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.

Men’s Hockey Falls to UMass, Extends Skid to Three Games

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Cunha

AMHERST, MA — Though Northeastern fought its way out of a 2–0 hole, they ultimately succumbed to the UMass Minutemen 4–2 Saturday night at Matthews Arena.

The Minutemen (6–1–0, 2–1–0 HEA) dominated the first period with a 13–4 shot advantage. It appeared as though Northeastern would emerge unscathed.

“We wanted to play a smart, close-checking road game,” said Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan. “We did that in the first period.”

That was until a bad turnover led to a breakaway for UMass’ John Leonard. With just under 10 seconds left in the period, his goal gave the Minutemen the momentum. 

The momentum stuck around in the second period. Eight minutes in, UMass freshman Jeremy Davidson notched his first collegiate goal on a rebound as he beat a Northeastern defender to the puck.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Things looked bleak until Tyler Madden drew a penalty. On the ensuing power play, he assisted freshman Aidan McDonough’s first collegiate goal.

Before the goal, Northeastern’s Zach Solow took an elbow to the head from Matthew Kessel. Kessel’s ejection gave Northeastern five minutes of power-play time after the goal, but the Huskies couldn’t convert their chances. The power play was cut short when Brendan Van Riemsdyk took a slashing penalty.

But the second period ended on a high note. With just seven seconds remaining, Husky forward John Picking came away with a pass from Matt Filipe and notched a shorthanded goal. The game was tied 2–2 entering the third.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The Minutemen reasserted themselves just two minutes into the final period. Leonard zig-zagged through the defense and netted his second goal of the game to give UMass a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Northeastern spent much of the period defending in their zone. They shot just four times while the Minutemen racked up 20 shots on Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano.

“At the end of the day, we just have to be heavier over pucks,” said Madigan.  “We lost too many puck battles to them, and when you lose battles along the walls and in front of the net you usually lose the game, and that’s what happened.”

With under a minute remaining, after Northeastern pulled Pantano in a last-ditch effort to tie the game, UMass’ Mitchell Chaffe grabbed a rebound and cleared it across the full length of the ice into the empty net.

“We knew they were gonna push hard in the third,” Madigan. “We didn’t create enough offense for ourselves in the third to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Photo by Sarah Olender

Madigan confirmed after the game that forward Grant Jozefek missed tonight’s game due to a concussion sustained during yesterday’s game. Madigan also said a defenseman was injured early in the second period, and while he didn’t confirm who, Jayden Struble was the only blueliner who didn’t play in the third period.

The weekend sweep dropped Northeastern to 4–3–1 (1–2–0 HEA) and extended the team’s skid to three games. They will try to bounce back with a home-and-home against the Merrimack Warriors (1–6–0, 0–2–0 HEA) next weekend. The first game is at Merrimack Friday at 7 PM.

Men’s Hockey Suffers First Loss of Season

Image Credit: St. Cloud State Athletics

By Matt Neiser

ST. CLOUD, MN — In game two of a weekend set in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the No. 11 Northeastern men’s ice hockey team looked to sweep the No. 14 St. Cloud State Huskies after a 4–1 victory the night before. After jumping out to a 1–0 lead, Northeastern allowed two second-period goals and dropped the contest, 2–1, to split the two-game battle of the Huskies.

The theme of the season for Northeastern (4–1–1) has been slow starts, and tonight saw another one. St. Cloud (1–1–2) dominated play for much of the first period, compiling 11 shots on net to Northeastern’s six. The shot differential mattered not though, as Northeastern scored the lone goal of the first 20 minutes. After collecting a pass from junior Zach Solow on the power play, sophomore Tyler Madden spun away from a defenseman and shot from the left circle. The puck leaked by goaltender David Hrenak to make it 1–0 in favor of the away team.

Northeastern was much better to start the second period, moving the puck well and beginning to even out the shot total. Just under five minutes into the frame, St. Cloud cleared the puck down the ice to relieve pressure. It appeared icing would be called, as no one touched the puck and freshman Jayden Struble won the race down the ice. Yet, the officials thought otherwise and didn’t blow the play dead. With Northeastern switching off in anticipation of a whistle, St. Cloud forward Sam Hentges grabbed the puck and played it to a streaking Jack Poehling, who slotted it home to tie the game.

After the game, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan was none too pleased.

“They got their first goal on, basically, a bad call from the linesman,” he stated matter-of-factly. “We thought it was icing and it wasn’t. We didn’t get back fast enough, and they scored to make it 1–1 and gained some momentum from that.”

Later in the period, seconds after a potential Zach Solow goal was waved off by video review, St. Cloud raced down the ice and Hentges scored to give the home team a 2–1 lead. Northeastern pressed hard for an equalizer late in the game, but couldn’t find one.

Madden’s goal was his fifth in three games. After the Vancouver Canucks draftee went scoreless in the team’s first three games despite leading the team in shots, Madden broke the dry spell with two goals apiece against Holy Cross and St. Cloud before adding another tonight. With his assist on Madden’s goal, Solow (one goal, five assists) extended his point streak to six games.

Though he allowed two goals, Northeastern goaltender Craig Pantano was once again fantastic between the pipes. The Merrimack grad transfer saved 31 of 33 shots to keep his team within striking distance. Through six games, Pantano has anchored the defense with a 1.32 GAA and .947 save percentage.

It doesn’t get any easier for Northeastern, as they turn around and take on the No. 3/5 UMass Minutemen in a home-and-home next weekend. Game one is Friday, November 1 at Matthews Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m., with Matt Neiser and Jonathan Golbert on the call.

Hockey East Preview: Northeastern Huskies

Last Season: 27–11–1 (15–8–1 in HE, third place); Beanpot Champions; Hockey East Champions; lost to Cornell in NCAA Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Jim Madigan (ninth season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Fourth

Losses

  • G Cayden Primeau
  • D Jeremy Davies
  • D Eric Williams
  • F Brandon Hawkins
  • F Lincoln Griffin
  • F Patrick Schule
  • F Liam Pecararo

Additions

  • G Connor Murphy
  • G Craig Pantano
  • D Jayden Struble
  • D Jeremie Bucheler
  • D Mike Kesselring
  • F Riley Hughes
  • F Aidan McDonough
  • F Brendan Van Riemsdyk

By Christian Skroce

“We’re the greatest team to wear the Husky logo, and that’s gonna be a feeling that’s going to last a lifetime.” Those were the final words junior forward Zach Solow spoke as he reflected on Northeastern’s 2018–19 season, and while they seemed bold at the time, it’s hard to argue them.

The Huskies finished the season with an overall record of 23–10–1, going 15–8–1 in Hockey East play to capture the third seed in the conference tournament. Along the way, Northeastern came up with massive wins, beating the number-one-ranked team in the country not once, but twice (St. Cloud State and UMass Amherst). The cherry atop the incredible regular season came during a little tournament in February, when the Huskies defeated Boston College 4–2 to capture their second consecutive Beanpot title, a feat the program hadn’t accomplished since 1985.

But the magic didn’t stop there for the Huskies. The team continued its momentum into the Hockey East tournament, rattling off three straight victories — including a 2–1 overtime win against Boston University — en route to another meeting with BC in the Hockey East Finals. Despite a strong showing from the Eagles, Northeastern came away with a 3–2 victory to win the program’s second conference title in four years. For the first time, Northeastern won the Beanpot and Hockey East Conference in the same season.

Coming off the high of winning their conference, the Huskies were awarded a second seed in the 2019 NCAA Hockey Tournament and a favorable matchup against third-seeded Cornell. Despite high hopes entering the matchup, the dream of reaching the program’s first Frozen Four came to a screeching halt as the Huskies suffered a 5–1 drubbing at the hands of Cornell’s massive skaters. Just like that, Northeastern’s historic season came to a depressing end, and while the success gave fans plenty to cheer for, the bad news continued into the offseason.

Shortly after the NCAA Tournament loss, sophomore netminder Cayden Primeau announced his intention to sign an entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadians, ending his career at Northeastern after just two seasons. Junior defenseman Jeremy Davies would follow his teammate to the NHL, signing an entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils (Davies was traded to the Nashville Predators in a package for P.K. Subban). The Huskies also lost several key seniors to graduation: defensive captain Eric Williams and impressive forwards Lincoln Griffin, Patrick Schule, Liam Pecararo, and Brandon Hawkins.

While the losses were heavy, the Husky faithful should expect great things, especially on the defensive end. Despite losing Primeau and Davies, the Northeastern defense should improve upon last year’s impressive season. Newly appointed captain Ryan Shea leads a deep defensive unit filled with unrivaled intelligence and athleticism. Returning along with Shea are sophomores Jordan Harris and Julian Kislin, both of whom impressed during their freshman campaigns, often looking like seasoned veterans.

But the biggest storyline for this defense will be the incoming freshmen class, which adds much-needed size and skill to the team. Headlining the commits is Jayden Struble, a second-round pick from this year’s NHL Draft who finished first in almost every drill at the NHL Draft combine. Joining Struble on the blue line are freshmen Jeremie Bucheler and Mike Kesselring, two physical, 6’4” skaters.

The defensive unit’s depth should make the goalkeeper’s job much easier, which is good news for a team trying to replace Cayden Primeau. In the long term, Husky coaches are hoping incoming freshman Connor Murphy will be the answer between the pipes. To help Murphy’s transition, the Huskies also brought in fifth-year goalie Craig Pantano, whose 57 games of experience at Merrimack should prove valuable, especially early in the season.

Without question, the most volatile unit will be the offense. While the Huskies did not lose any elite talent up front, the team’s depth will come into question. Northeastern is returning several skaters hoping to take massive leaps this season, particularly junior forward Zach Solow and sophomore forward Tyler “Mr. Bright Lights” Madden, who impressed with 28 points last season.

To counteract the loss of depth, the Huskies are bringing in several freshmen skaters, most notably Riley Hughes and Aidan McDonough. As seventh- and sixth-round draft picks respectively, Hughes and McDonough will look to add skill and size to the second and third lines. In addition, Northeastern is bringing in graduate transfer Brendan Van Riemsdyk, a 6’3” forward from the University of New Hampshire, whose four years of Hockey East experience will be valuable for the young Husky forwards.

Bottom Line: While many might see this as a rebuilding year for the Huskies, revamping is the preferred word. With the team’s best recruiting class in years, Northeastern is continuing to build themselves into a contender. While the losses of Davies and Primeau will not be easy to overcome, they just mean that other players will have to step up, particularly guys like Matt Filipe and John Picking. If the senior forwards step up in a similar way to last year’s class, this team’s mix of young studs and veterans skaters should allow them to once again finish in the top three of Hockey East and make another run at the conference title.