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 No. 10 Providence

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Neiser

After a blazing 4–1–0 start to the season, the No. 14 Northeastern men’s hockey team has been reeling a bit lately. Their next four games saw them go 0–3–1, including a 1–1 tie against Merrimack — the team Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan picked to finish last in Hockey East in the preseason coaches poll — that culminated in a heart-to-heart team meeting, per Mike McMahon of College Hockey News.

With the No. 10 Providence Friars waiting Friday in the first game of a home-and-home set, the Huskies looked to build on a dominating win over Merrimack the day of the meeting. But they faltered again, falling 3–2 to the Friars at Schneider Arena Friday night.

The Friars controlled the first period, especially early on. Providence recorded eight of the first nine shots on net, including the first six. Thankfully for Northeastern, goaltender Craig Pantano stood tall in net, racking up 17 saves and keeping the home team off the board. The Merrimack grad transfer has singlehandedly kept the Huskies in multiple games this season.

Though Providence provided much of the offense, Northeastern wasn’t without chances in the first frame. Freshman Aidan McDonough, fresh off his first career two-goal game against Merrimack, had a pair of early shots saved by Providence’s Michael Lackey. Matt DeMelis threaded a pass through to Zach Solow later in the period, but the junior couldn’t put the puck home. The Huskies had a few other half-chances — mostly off of Friar turnovers — but the 17–7 Providence shot advantage tells the tale of first-period domination.

At the end of a penalty kill early in the second period, Northeastern had their best chance of the evening on a Matt Filipe breakaway. The senior broke ahead of the pack with the puck, but was denied by Lackey as he tried to slip the shot between the netminder’s legs.

Providence broke the deadlock with about four minutes to go in the second frame. Albin Nilsson found his way behind the Husky defense before playing a pass out in front from behind the net. The pass found Jamie Engelbert waiting in the crease, and the freshman wasted no time slotting a shot past Pantano to give the Friars a 1–0 lead.

Six minutes into the third period, Tyler Madden evened things up with his team-leading seventh goal of the season. Though Madden scored the goal, it was Filipe who made the play happen. Skating into the Friar zone on the left side, the senior assistant captain shook off two separate hits along the boards as he got the puck to McDonough behind the net. McDonough backhanded it out in front of the net, hitting a streaking Madden for the one-time finish.

The game stayed deadlocked until Providence retook the lead with six and a half minutes to play. Northeastern had a chance on the other end but couldn’t put it away, leading to a Providence rush and a Spenser Young shot from the point. The shot was redirected by Tyce Thompson in the slot, causing the puck to take flight and arc perfectly over Pantano’s head into the net.

Between the officials’ initial review and Madigan’s offsides zone entry challenge, the goal was questioned for five minutes. It stood.

The Friars struck again less than two minutes later with what would prove the decider, though it was less a Providence goal than a Husky own goal. Providence junior Jason O’Neill skated in close to Pantano, who attempted to swat the puck away with his stick. He succeeded in swatting it . . . straight into O’Neill’s body, which caused it to ricochet past Pantano into the net.

A slashing penalty on Providence with 90 seconds to go in regulation gave the Huskies some hope, and defenseman Jordan Harris capitalized with a shot from the point that deflected off a skate and past Lackey to make it a one-goal game with 42 seconds remaining. Northeastern didn’t generate another chance. The Friars won, 3–2.

Northeastern played well at times, but Providence boasts one of the best offenses in college hockey. Coming into the night, the Friars led the nation in goals and assists.

The Huskies forced turnovers and generated chances off of them. They flexed their penalty kill muscles with a three-for-three night on the man disadvantage. But the red and black lacked Providence’s offensive polish and it showed in the time of possession and quality of chances generated.

These teams rematch on Saturday at Matthews Arena. Christian Skroce and Matt Neiser will be on the call, with puck drop scheduled for 8 PM.

These teams rematch on Saturday at Matthews Arena. Christian Skroce and Matt Neiser will be on the call, with puck drop scheduled for 8 PM.

Men’s Hockey Falls to UMass

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Neiser

BOSTON — Returning from Minnesota after a two-game set against St. Cloud State last weekend, the No. 10 Northeastern men’s hockey team hosted the No. 3 UMass Minutemen at Matthews Arena for the second time this season. The Huskies jumped out to an early lead with a pair of first-period goals, but five unanswered goals from the Minutemen propelled UMass to a 6–3 win.

Northeastern opened the game on the front foot, taking it to the Minutemen and controlling the play offensively. Before long, their efforts paid off, as grad transfer Brendan van Riemsdyk deflected a pass from Jordan Harris into the back of the net just three minutes into the game. Senior Grant Jozefek doubled Northeastern’s lead a few minutes later, taking the puck into the zone himself on a two-on-one break and sniping a shot past UMass’ Filip Lindberg.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The Minutemen snagged one back with less than three minutes to go in the first period. Bobby Trivigno collected an errant pass from a Husky defenseman and slid a shot by Craig Pantano, halving the Northeastern lead.

A penalty by freshman Julian Kislin with five seconds left in the first period gave UMass a power play to start the second. A cross-check from Jeremie Bucheler 15 seconds into the frame turned it into a five-on-three, and the Minutemen wasted no time evening the game at 2–2. The visiting team scored three more goals in the period, making it five unanswered goals since the Huskies’ pair early in the first frame.

Photo by Sarah Olender

A slick goal from reigning Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week T.J. Walsh early in the final frame gave Northeastern a brief spark, but their momentum went no further. A late empty-netter from the Minutemen extended their lead to 6–3 and put the game out of reach.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan pulled Pantano from the game after two periods, handing freshman Connor Murphy the reigns for the final 20 minutes. Of the change, Madigan said, “I didn’t think Craig had a lot of help back there. You try and create a little spurt, see if you can get a little momentum.” Murphy saved both of the shots he faced while between the pipes.

Photo by Sarah Olender

After the game, Madigan implored the team to be more consistent. “Every night you gotta come to play, and every shift, every puck is important. As a group we’re still trying to understand that . . . You gotta play with urgency all the time, and we didn’t play with enough urgency.”

The Huskies will seek revenge tomorrow when the two teams will face off again on Saturday in Amherst, Massachusetts. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 PM, with Matt Neiser and Matt Cunha on the call.

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.

Men’s Hockey Upsets No. 4 UMass

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Dale Desantis

BOSTON — Tuesday night’s showdown between the Northeastern Huskies and the UMass Minutemen was a chippy, defensive affair. The teams combined for 15 penalties, then failed to score on every one of the resulting power plays.

The Huskies triumphed in their home opener, topping the fourth-ranked Minutemen 3–1 behind the efforts of their freshmen and their grad transfer goalie. The Huskies have won their first three games and limited their opponents to a single goal in each one.

The game was scoreless well into the second period before the Huskies struck. With 9:23 remaining, freshman forward Matt DeMelis converted a wrister over the head of UMass goalie Matt Murray. The decisive goal opened play for both teams in what had been a stagnant offensive game.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The Huskies added to their lead later in the period after UMass defender Philip Lagunov was whistled for slashing Northeastern’s Jordan Harris on a two-on-one breakaway. The freshman defender took advantage of the penalty shot, confidently bearing down on Murray and flicking the puck over his right shoulder. It was Harris’ second goal of the young season.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The third period was electric. Just as the Northeastern defense looked unassailable, UMass freshman Matt Kessel drove a dagger from the blue line past Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano to make the score 2–1. A dogfight ensued, culminating in a five-minute spearing penalty against Northeastern’s Brendan Van Reimsdyk with three minutes to play. The Husky defense held fast, and Zach Solow notched an empty-net insurance goal with 12 seconds to play.

Pantano shone brightest, steering 34 shots away from the net and reassuring those who doubted the Huskies’ depth in goal before the season. He looked comfortable anchoring a team that heavily featured two freshman defenders in Mike Kesselring and Jeremie Bucheler.

“He gives you calmness, poise, and leadership,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said of Pantano. “He’s been in every building and has won.”

Photo by Sarah Olender

Tune in Sunday at 3 PM when the Huskies take on Holy Cross at Matthews Arena. Matt Cuhna and Adam Doucette will be on the call.

Men’s Hockey Tops Union in Season Opener

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Matt Neiser

Schenectady, NY — The Northeastern men’s hockey team traveled to Schenectady, NY on Friday night, opening their 2019–20 campaign with a matchup against the Union Dutchmen. Despite a shaky beginning that saw them fall behind early, the Huskies battled back with goals from sophomore Jordan Harris and junior Grant Jozefek to secure a 2–1 victory.

Northeastern (1–0–0) was rusty early on, with errant passes and missed defensive assignments all over the place. This was to be expected; the Huskies hadn’t played since March 30 and Union already had two games under their belt from last weekend.

The Dutchmen (0–3–0) took advantage of that rust in the first period, capitalizing on an uncharacteristic mistake from Husky captain Ryan Shea. Looking to clear the puck from behind his own net, Shea launched the puck directly into the path of Union freshman Liam Robertson, who sent a one-timer past Craig Pantano to make it 1–0.

The Huskies began to find their form in the second period, taking advantage of a continued power play from the first frame to get on the front foot offensively. After knocking on the door for a while, Northeastern finally found paydirt with six minutes left when a loose rebound fell right at the feet of Harris, who slotted the puck home to tie the game.

Northeastern completed the comeback with a goal in the third period, and boy was it a beauty. After a puck was dumped in behind his net, Pantano came out to collect. He slid the puck to freshman defenseman Jeremie Bucheler, who threaded a brilliant breakout pass to free Jozefek in the Union zone. Jozefek put on a quick half-move before firing top shelf, beating Union goaltender Darion Hanson.

Among Northeastern standouts was freshman Mike Kesselring. In his first collegiate game, the 6’ 4” defenseman put together a complete two-way game. He used his size on defense, breaking up multiple dangerous Union attacks. Kesselring was confident and decisive on offense as well, playing precise passes and unleashing a few firecracker shots from the point.

In fact, the entire Husky defensive core was excellent. Shea, Bucheler, Harris, Kesselring, and Julian Kislin showcased the blue line’s insane two-way potential, making countless plays on both offense and defense.

Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan credited the squad’s veterans as key to the team’s decisive third period: “Those older guys really stepped up in the third period and led our team and found a way to win. That’s a good team in the other room.”

The Huskies and the Dutchmen face off again Saturday at 4 PM. Matt Neiser and Christian Skroce will be on the call.