Women’s Hockey Bests Providence, 4–1

By Jack Sinclair

The Huskies have planted themselves atop the Hockey East standings and brought the Beanpot home, but their goals hardly end there. As the third-ranked team in the nation with one of the best defenses in the nation, the best goalie in the nation, and one of the best forwards in the nation, the Huskies’ aspirations extend beyond the Beanpot and beyond Hockey East. Their campaign to an NCAA Frozen Four continued today, as the Huskies rematched the Providence Friars a day after the Friars handed the Huskies their first loss in 11 games.

Providence Forward Sara Hjalmarsson struck first, weaving her way through the Northeastern defense and slipping the puck past freshman goaltender Gwyn Phillips after a nifty move to get her out of position. 

The remainder of the first period saw Northeastern gain their footing on defense, and the beginning of their onslaught of shots on Providence goalie Sandra Abstreiter. Before the period ended, they fired nine shots on net to swing the momentum their way.

The start of the second period saw the puck spend a considerable amount of time on the Providence end of the ice. The Friars generated a couple of transition chances through the neutral zone, but the Huskies made sure that they couldn’t establish themselves on their end. Four minutes into the period, Skylar Fontaine slipped the puck to Alina Mueller on the edge of the crease and the nation’s second-leading scorer wasted no time, deking out the Friar netminder and scoring her 21st goal of the season.

Six minutes and one Husky power play later, Katy Knoll forced a turnover on the Providence end, took advantage of poor positioning on the part of the Providence pipe protector, and broke the tie.

The second period saw some good looks on goal for Providence, as the Huskies struggled to stop their transition offense through the neutral zone. But Phillips, along with the defenders in front of her, held fast, preserving the 2–1 lead.

The third period saw Providence dig deeper into their bag of tricks, as they worked into some three-on-two and two-on-one situations on offense, but Phillips made some huge stops to avoid a tie.

By this point, the NU offense was really rolling. The puck snapped from stick to stick and cycled up and down the rink, and the Friars could not get the puck out of their end. Five minutes into the period, Lauren MacInnis, the double-overtime hero from the Huskies’ Beanpot win, found herself with a good look at the Providence goal. Mia Brown screened the Providence netminder well, blocking her view of the puck, and MacInnis sniped the top right corner from the edge of the left circle, putting Northeastern up, 3–1. 

The third period rolled on, with Providence getting a few more chances to score — mainly because Northeastern head coach Dave Flint gave ice time to some younger players — but the Huskies held their lead. Providence pulled their goalie with just over three minutes to go in the period, desperate to spark their offense. Unlike the last time the Huskies defended a six-on-five, they did not allow a goal, and Katy Knoll broke through the neutral zone for her easiest goal of the season. 

Northeastern’s 4–1 win is their first against Providence this season after two losses. The Huskies will close their regular season with a home-and-home against Merrimack College before the Hockey East tournament the following week.

Women’s Hockey Falls to Providence on OT Winner

By Milton Posner and Rae Deer

BOSTON — Northeastern has dominated the entire season.

They’ve won 25 games, shut out their opponents for 315 consecutive minutes, and clinched the top spot in the Hockey East Standings in January.

But there’s one team in Hockey East that doesn’t seem scared of the Huskies, and on Friday night they stormed into Matthews Arena and emerged victorious. For the second time this season, the Providence Friars bested the Northeastern Huskies, as the Huskies followed their dramatic double-overtime Beanpot win with a 2–1 overtime loss.

Almost right away, it seemed like the game would follow a different story, that the momentum from Tuesday night’s victory would carry over. Less than a minute into the game, after an early Husky line change, freshman forward Katy Knoll received the puck in the neutral zone, crossed over, and carried the puck to the doorstep. After her first shot was deflected, Knoll slapped the rebound past Friar goaltender Sandra Abstreiter to kick off the scoring.

Nearly two full periods would pass before another puck found the back of the net. The intervening time saw both teams push the pace in an attempt to put pressure on the other’s defense, with a number of long-distance, rushed passes missing their targets. Both teams seemed to have trouble communicating, leading to frequent turnovers and preventing either squad from building momentum.

The turnovers and quick pace also decreased the quality of each team’s shots. Neither Abstreiter nor Husky goalie Aerin Frankel dealt with many dangerous shots in the first two periods. Other than Skylar Fontaine faking Hayley Lunny back to Providence, Northeastern’s offense didn’t get much going after Knoll’s score.

“We had some good looks, but they did a good job keeping us outside and they blocked a lot of shots and weren’t letting us get inside,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint observed. “I think Alina [Mueller] got robbed twice in tight, but other than that we didn’t have a ton of good looks at the net. A lot of them were perimeter shots outside. It was the same thing when we lost 1–0 there earlier in the year.”

In the second period, the activity become aggression. After just one penalty in the opening frame, the teams drew four in the second. Though Avery Fransoo and Brooke Hobson’s offsetting roughing penalties fizzled without a goal, the Huskies wouldn’t be so lucky after Knoll’s hitting from behind penalty with about four minutes to play. Providence defender Lauren DeBlois waited all of four seconds to make Northeastern pay, curving toward the middle and slinging the puck by Frankel.

Once in the second period and once in third, the Huskies had goals ripped from their grasp. Mueller and Matti Hartman both scored to give the Huskies the lead, but each goal was snatched away after official reviews confirmed an offsides entry.

Catalyzed by another five penalties, both teams fired 14 shots on goal in the third, easily the most of any period. Abstreiter and Frankel withstood the test, and the Huskies headed to overtime for the second time this week.

But a Megan Carter holding penalty would soon spell doom for the Huskies. Halfway through the power play, assisted by the same two teammates who aided her first goal, DeBlois fired one past Frankel to end the night. Providence had punctured Northeastern’s elite penalty kill for the second time.

“Our PK has been great all year, but our complete level wasn’t where it needed to be,” Flint said. “We’ve got to stop taking penalties late in games. It finally came back and bit us in the butt.”

The win dropped Northeastern to 25–4–2 (21–3–0 HEAW). Though the standings mean little to them now that they’ve clinched, Flint admits that the game held another importance.

“This is a setback,” he admitted, “but a loss is OK because it brings them back down to reality a little bit like, ‘Hey, we can lose; anyone can beat us.’ So hopefully that’s a little wakeup call for us and we’ll be better down the stretch.”

Men’s Hockey Prevails, Pushing Past Providence

By Jack Sinclair

BOSTON — An extra week off of the ice usually results in one of two things. Either the team returns rested and with fewer injuries, or they look sluggish and uneasy.

Northeastern came off their 12-day break with nothing but benefits. They were rested, and the return of Julian Kislin after a four-week absence gave the Husky defense added depth.

Friday’s contest against Providence was critical in determining Northeastern’s destiny in Hockey East and NCAA as a whole. The Friars are always a fierce opponent, and they entered Matthews Arena with only one road loss. That the loss came by four goals against Northeastern guaranteed nothing for Friday night’s game.

Providence sat tied for second in the Hockey East; the Huskies, while only three points behind, sat tied for sixth. If the last few weeks of Hockey East action have taught us anything, it’s that nothing, nothing, is certain. With bottom feeders like UConn and UNH surging, and previous leaders like Northeastern and BU faltering against easier opponents, Hockey East is as wide open as ever.

The game started off slowly for both teams, with no fantastic chances for either side. After about 10 minutes, the Huskies found their footing in the dynamic of the game, and their forward check came into full swing. Northeastern, with the help of Matt Filipe and Zach Solow, put considerable pressure on Providence and its goaltender Mike Lackey. The puck rarely made its way to Northeastern’s side of the ice, and Providence began to tire. That fatigue became most apparent when Tyler Madden forced a turnover in the neutral zone and carried the puck all the way to the goal, putting the Huskies up 1–0. 

The Huskies continued to dominate the physical and mental tempo of the game. Only four minutes after Madden’s breakaway goal, Matt Filipe and Matt DeMelis found themselves in a two-on-one rush, and netted another goal for the Huskies.

The period ended with both teams receiving penalties, resulting in a four-on-four that only saw more Northeastern dominance over the puck. The period ended with the Huskies holding onto their 2–0 lead.

As tame as the start of the first period was, the second period was insane. Providence came out with some good looks on net, but Craig Pantano had absolutely none of it, making some difficult saves look trivial.

When two quick Northeastern penalties gave Providence a five-on-three, Mike Kesselring displayed his spectacular stick skills on the penalty kill and willingly put his body on the line. He took a scorching shot high off the arm and was clearly in considerable pain, but fought through until the best opportunity for him to make a change.

Kesselring did not return to the ice for the duration of the kill, and that is perhaps what led to Providence breaking through and putting themselves on the score sheet. Tensions ran high between the two teams, with forwards Greg Printz and Zach Solow exchanging pushes and what could only have been the most pleasant of compliments.

The physicality of the game skyrocketed, with both teams exchanging savage stick slaps and brutal body blows. This culminated with Biagio Lerario’s massive check against Printz right in front of the Providence bench, which drew a five-minute major penalty against and Lerario’s ejection.

The Northeastern penalty kill took the ice and took no prisoners. It didn’t even feel like a penalty kill, as they held Providence to a grand total of zero shots for the first 4:40. The whole PK unit skated their butts off, beating every Friar they could to the puck and making Pantano’s job between the pipes easier. This momentum carried into five-on-five play after the penalty, as Aidan McDonough netted his ninth goal of the season less than a minute later. 

McDonough’s goal only made the Friars upset, as they played most of the rest of the period on Northeastern’s side of the ice. Patrick Moynihan forced a turnover right in front of the goal on the forward check, spun, and slipped the puck past Pantano. The tumultuous second period concluded with the Huskies leading 3–2. 

Providence dominated the beginning of the third period. The only thing keeping the Friars from tying the game was an admirable performance by Pantano, who went so far as to lay across the ice to keep the puck out of the net. But Jack Dugan made the most of a Providence faceoff win on their offensive side, pounding the puck past Pantano to tie the game. 

Northeastern soon went to the power play, but unlike those earlier in the game, the top line of McDonough, Madden, and Jozefek was unable to get things done, and almost allowed a shorthanded goal. The unceremonious power play resulted in the return of Providence dominance, and more amazing saves from Pantano.

With only a quarter of the period remaining, Providence’s Parker Ford was sent to the penalty box for hooking. This Northeastern power play began much like their last, but about halfway through it, they worked the puck into the offensive zone. This kicked off a beautiful sequence of about 20 passes where the power play unit methodically broke down the Friars’ defense, slowly applying pressure and working the puck closer and closer to the net.

Finally, the breakthrough came. Zach Solow found himself, and more importantly, the puck, right in front of the net, after a precise pass by McDonough right to his stick. Solow’s job was made easy and he executed perfectly, placing the puck into the bottom left of the cage, giving the Huskies the lead with only five minutes remaining. 

After the game, Providence head coach Nate Leaman expressed his displeasure with his team’s physicality, saying that it “hardly felt like [they] checked anybody all night.” On the flip side of the hockey coin, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan expressed his pleasure with his team’s approach to the game.

“You can’t sit back and wait for goals to happen,” he said. “You have to go out and earn them against a team like this.”

The Huskies head to TD Garden this Monday to face Harvard in the first game of the Beanpot. Christian Skroce, Matt Neiser, and Dale Desantis will call that one, with coverage beginning at 4:45 PM EST.

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.

Hockey East Preview: Providence Friars

Last Season: 24–12–6 (14–7–3 HE, second place); lost in HE quarterfinals to Boston College; lost in NCAA semifinal to Minnesota Duluth

Head Coach: Nate Leaman (eighth season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Third

Losses

  • G Hayden Hawkey
  • DJon Barry
  • D Jacob Bryson
  • D Vincent Desharnais
  • F Scott Conway
  • F Bryan Lemos
  • F Ryan Tait
  • F Brandon Duhaime
  • F Josh Wilkins
  • F Kasper Björkqvist
  • F Jay O’Brien

Additions

  • G Jake Kucharski
  • G Michael Lackey (transfer from Harvard)
  • D Max Crozier
  • D Luke Johnson
  • D Cam McDonald
  • F Garrett Devine
  • F Jamie Engelbert
  • F Parker Ford
  • F Jerry Harding
  • F Patrick Moynihan
  • F Craig Needham
  • F Albin Nilsson
  • F Caleb Rule

By Matt Neiser

The Providence Friars continued their run of success in 2018–19, finishing second in the Hockey East standings and earning their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. The Friars pulled off two straight upsets over No. 3 overall seed Minnesota State and Cornell to advance to the Frozen Four, where they were defeated by eventual champions Minnesota Duluth.

The squad’s going to look a little different in 2019–20 though. Much of the talent that brought Providence so far last season has left the program. Hockey East All-Stars Josh Wilkins (first team), Jacob Bryson (second team), and Brandon Duhaime (third team), all juniors last season, forewent their last season of NCAA eligibility to sign NHL contracts. Star goaltender Hayden Hawkey (.921 SV%, 1.88 GAA) graduated — taking with him arguably the best name in the sport.

A host of other important names graduated or left early for the NHL as well. The top four goalscorers and five of the top six point-getters from last season won’t be on the squad this year, including Wilkins, their leader in both categories. The Friars lost 78 of the 133 goals (about 60 percent) they scored as a team last season.

But enough about who isn’t here. Head coach Nate Leaman has plenty to work with this season. The roster includes seven NHL draftees, five of whom were chosen in the first five rounds of their respective drafts. 

The standout of the group is sophomore forward Jack Dugan, who notched 10 goals and a team-leading 29 assists en route to a Hockey East All-Rookie Team selection. The 6’ 2” Vegas Golden Knights prospect has plenty of opportunity to shine this season, and he’s primed to take full advantage. A physical wing with excellent distribution, Dugan is the perfect player for Leaman’s system.

Besides Dugan, look for sophomore New Jersey Devils draftee Tyce Thompson (8 goals, 17 assists) and junior Greg Printz (11 goals, 7 assists) to step into bigger roles on offense this season.

Leaman has turned Providence into a perennial defensive powerhouse. His squad allowed just two goals per game last season, tied for fifth best in the nation. The Friars are physical, smart, and well-drilled on the blue line, led by senior Spenser Young, junior Ben Mirageas, and sophomore Michael Callaway.

The departure of Hawkey left many concerned about the Friars’ goaltending situation — netminders not named Hayden Hawkey played just 54 minutes last season for Providence — but the addition of graduate transfer Michael Lackey has allayed worries. Lackey posted a 14–8–3 record in his senior year with Harvard, compiling a 2.34 GAA and .918 save percentage while backstopping the Crimson to an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Bottom Line: Providence lost A LOT of talent this offseason, but the Friars have reinforcements waiting to step up and fill the holes. If Nate Leaman can maintain the defensive excellence that has become the trademark of his teams, Providence should be right back in the mix for a top-four spot in Hockey East.