Men’s Hockey Swept by Vermont

By Jack Sinclair

BURLINGTON, VT — Every season, every team, no matter the sport, goes through ups and downs. The 2007 Patriots rode high for 18 games, then fell in the Super Bowl. The 73–9 Golden State Warriors’ high lasted until the last three games of the NBA finals.

The 2019–20 Northeastern men’s hockey team is no different. They began the season with five straight wins, then laid some eggs, like the 6–3 loss on home ice to UMass where the Huskies allowed six unanswered goals. The team went on to experience one of the highest highs possible in college hockey, with an epic comeback win in the Beanpot Final.

The Huskies entered tonight’s match in Burlington, Vermont riding the lowest of lows. A tough loss at home to Boston College, followed by the Huskies’ worst loss since 1992 — a 10-1 thrashing at the hands of BC — was the prelude for what would happen Friday in Burlington. A 4–2 loss to Vermont, the Catamounts’ first conference win this season, may be the most embarrassing loss of this unholy trinity. 

Despite this, the Huskies had an opportunity on Saturday. The mark of a truly great team is not how high their highest point is, but how well they bounce back from their lowest of lows.

The Huskies wasted no time in rebounding from their previous efforts, coming right out of the gates with an energy that had been missing as of late. With Grant Jozefek and Tyler Madden sitting out, forwards Neil Shea, John Picking, and Brendan Van Riemsdyk performed admirably, flying to every loose puck and putting loads of pressure on the forward and back check. Northeastern dominated the first 20 minutes, outshooting Vermont 12–7. Vermont netminder Stefano Lekkas was more than up to the task, as he stopped all 12 of the Huskies’ efforts.

The Huskies carried their first-period momentum into the second. Just under two minutes into the frame, a Riley Hughes pass down the boards found a surging Matt Filipe who, as he has several times, took his space behind Vermont goal and tucked away a lovely wraparound shot, giving the Huskies a much-needed lead.

Had the Huskies exorcised their second-period demons? Could we finally look away from the barn fire of the past three games to the greener pastures of victories to come?

No, they had not. And no, we couldn’t.

Less than a minute later, Vermont forgot they were a one-conference-win team playing the reigning Hockey East champions, and fought through the neutral zone into the Huskies’ end. The Catamounts forced Craig Pantano out of his crease to make a tough save and, in the defensive disarray, poked the puck into the empty net. Whether the failed puck clearance was due to poor sticks on Northeastern’s part or excellent ones by Vermont is almost beside the point. Gutterson Fieldhouse erupted, and Junior Bryce Misley skated away to celebrate. 

The goal took all the wind out of the Huskies’ sail, and Vermont took advantage by pressing up the ice. The Catamounts had a couple of dangerously close chances, but Pantano held fast, undeterred by the change of momentum. The Northeastern defense is known for extremely disciplined and steady sticks when defending five-on-five situations, but this time they were wild, allowing the Catamounts to carry the puck through the Northeastern defensive zone with little-to-no resistance.

As the second period continued, the Huskies struggled to pass the puck tape to tape, with overpassing and underpassing resulting in several neutral zone turnovers. A costly turnover only a few minutes after the first Vermont goal resulted in a loose puck in the slot. Once again, the Huskies couldn’t clear the puck away from danger, and Vermont snuck a point-blank shot between the legs of Pantano to take a 2–1 lead.

The Huskies’ play did not improve from there. The Huskies saw barely any offensive zone time, and when they did, they were quick to turn the puck over and give Vermont loads of space to skate. The period couldn’t have ended soon enough, and it ended with the opposite result that the end of the first period would have indicated. Northeastern was outshot 11–4. 

The final 20 minutes of the game were a complete shot in the dark. Which Huskies team would we see? The aggressive, fast-paced team that executed with precision in the first period, or the sluggish, uninspiring team from the second?

Northeastern captain Ryan Shea came out of the locker room and tried desperately to get something started. He skated around the Vermont goal three times, looking for any sort of opening. However, his teammates were not on the same page as him. The Huskies that weren’t handling the puck looked look statues. No one moved to create a shooting lane for Shea, or to get open and cycle the puck around. Shea eventually found someone to pass it to — no doubt he was dizzy from circling the net so much — and there were a few opportunities, but Lekkas stood on his head between the pipes and made several ridiculous saves.

When Vermont regained the puck, the most glaring flaw in the Huskies game became apparent: neutral zone defense. To call the it swiss cheese is an insult to the dairy product. Whether it was a single Catamount carrying the puck towards the Husky zone or an even-man rush after a lengthy buildup on the Vermont end, the Huskies couldn’t challenge.

As a result, Pantano would decide the game. Vermont had free passage into his zone, and shots resulting from the biblical parting of the Northeastern back check would need to be covered up to prevent an unlucky rebound from winding up in the back of the net. Pantano finished with 24 saves, and for most of the night he covered the puck or deflected it away.

But his luck ran out when a shot bounced off his pad and stayed in the crease. Vermont pounced on the gift like an excited kid on Christmas morning and potted their third goal of the game. From then on, Vermont stopped trying to score, opting to pin the puck on the boards and let the clock wind down. This strategy change gave Northeastern a few glimpses at Lekkas, but Hockey East’s all-time saves leader flashed his glove and prevented all of Northeastern’s efforts. 

As the clock neared triple zeroes and the reality of defeat set into the heavy Husky hearts, the extracurriculars began. Soon after Pantano gave way to an extra skater, Zach Solow got into a shoving match with a few Vermont defensemen. A gnarly cross check by Solow well after the whistle earned him a 10-minute game misconduct, and Alex Mella wound up in the box. This was an ugly end to an ugly 40 minutes of hockey, and in a way it felt fitting. The clock struck zero, and the Huskies had been swept. 

After the game, Jim Madigan praised the Huskies’ increased effort in comparison to their previous games. He chalked up the lack of execution to fatigue, saying that “running 10 forwards and going back to back caught up to us.” The fatigue was clear, as the offensive shifts were definitely shorter than usual without forwards Tyler Madden and Grant Jozefek in the lineup.

“We didn’t have quite enough in the tank, to be frank” said Madigan, adding that returning to Boston would provide an ample opportunity to “settle in, get a good week of practice in, and get ready for BU on Friday.”

When asked how the Huskies could return to their winning ways, Madigan expressed his confidence in his players’ ability to bounce back from the low point of their season, “knowing next weekend is the last weekend of the season if we don’t play well.”

“We have got enough guys who have played meaningful games and don’t want [the season] to end,” he continued, indicating that he expects the older players to step up and lead. The Huskies have a lot of experience on their roster, but they also have a lot of fresh faces. The guidance of veterans like Solow, Shea, Filipe, and Van Riemsdyk, many of whom have been on this Northeastern team for several years, will be essential in salvaging the season.

This loss, and a win by Providence over Maine, dropped the Huskies to eighth in Hockey East, the lowest playoff seed. New Hampshire is just one point behind Northeastern, so the Huskies need to hope for a BC sweep of the Wildcats or sweep Boston University themselves if they want to keep their tournament hopes alive. In the national pairwise rankings, the Huskies fell even further. They took the ice at 14th in the national polls, and left in 17th

The Huskies make a much-needed return to Matthews Arena this Friday for the first game of the season’s final home-and-home series. It is also the final regular-season game at Matthews Arena, and will include senior night celebrations honoring the team’s graduating seniors. Matt Neiser and Adam Doucette will call the game, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM EST.

Men’s Hockey Tops Dartmouth in Last Game of Decade

By Milton Posner

Photo by Sarah Olender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Men’s Hockey Succumbs to BU after Frantic Second Period

By Matt Neiser

Photo by Sarah Olender

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

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

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

Photo by Sarah Olender

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

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

Photo by Sarah Olender

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

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

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

Photo by Sarah Olender

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

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

Photo by Sarah Olender

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

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

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 Bounces No. 14 St. Cloud State 4–1

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Adam Doucette

ST. CLOUD, MN — The Huskies bounced back in a big way on Friday night in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

They looked nothing like the team that suffered a disappointing 2–2 tie against Holy Cross last Saturday. The intensity was there from the get-go — something coach Jim Madigan emphasized after the last game.

He called it “a great team effort,” and “a great response from last weekend’s game.”

The battle of the Huskies began with Northeastern imposing their will early in the first period. Center John Picking, a big net-front presence as of late, got the scoring going for Northeastern 8:32 into the first period.

In the final minute of the first period, St. Cloud mounted a furious attack. They created numerous offensive chances, but Northeastern’s defense and goaltender Craig Pantano stood strong and took a one-goal lead into the first break.

St. Cloud came out strong in the second period and center Sam Hentges notched the tying goal just 4:30 into the frame. It appeared that the momentum had swung in favor of St. Cloud and their raucous home crowd, but Northeastern would not let that happen.

Play evened out towards the middle of the period, and Tyler Madden put Northeastern back on top with a goal halfway through the second. He tacked on another with just 36 seconds remaining in the period, giving Northeastern a two-goal cushion. Madden has four goals in the team’s first five games.

The third period opened with relatively even play from the two Husky squads, but midway through the frame St. Cloud fed the puck to a streaking forward. What seemed like a one-on-one chance was negated when Northeastern defenseman Jordan Harris made a fantastic diving stop, laying out and poking the puck away while avoiding a penalty.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Northeastern defense weathered the St. Cloud storm in the final ten minutes. Goaltender David Hrenak was pulled with under two minutes remaining and Northeastern took advantage, icing the game with a Biagio Lerario empty-netter.

This marks Northeastern’s second game, and second win, against a nationally ranked opponent this season. The No. 11 Huskies sit at 4–0–1 (1–0–0 HEA). St. Cloud, playing its first game in two weeks, suffered its first loss of the season after two ties.

“We kind of went at our guys, and they really responded,” said Madigan on the coaching staff challenging the team.

The strong start was crucial, and the end result was exactly what they wanted.

Northeastern and St. Cloud face off again Saturday at 7 PM ET (6 PM Central). Matt Neiser and Adam Doucette will have the call beginning fifteen minutes before puck drop.