Men’s Hockey Media Day

By Milton Posner

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for the Huskies. After losing star sophomore forward Tyler Madden to injury, the Huskies dropped two games against first-place Boston College, including their worst loss since 1992. After losing senior Grant Jozefek to injury in the second BC game, the Huskies were swept by last-place Vermont.

The Huskies look to rebound with a home-and-home against Boston University this weekend. Both games are critical, as the Huskies — who sit in eighth place, one point ahead of New Hampshire — need to finish in the top eight to make the Hockey East Tournament.

The Friday game begins at 7 PM, the Saturday game at 4 PM. WRBB will call both games, with Matt Neiser and Adam Doucette on the Friday game and Christian Skroce and Adam Doucette on the Saturday contest. Both broadcasts will go live about 15 minutes before game time.

WRBB Sports caught up with head coach Jim Madigan and captain Ryan Shea at Northeastern’s Wednesday practice at Matthews Arena.

Jim Madigan

I saw in your postgame press conferences that you were down to ten forwards. How is Jozefek doing?

Jozefek is day-to-day and we’re hoping he can play on Friday. He skated yesterday, he skated today, he looks good. So he’s getting close. Madden’s getting close, but he probably won’t go on Friday.

How’s the morale of the team?

We’re not a fragile group. We’ve lost four in a row; we haven’t lost four in a row all season. And Vermont was an emotional game for them up there. It was their coach’s last weekend, their senior night, and they’d been playing well. We’re not looking at it as “we just lost two games to the last-place team.” They’re a good team. Every team in this league is a good team.

But I think when people see that we’ve lost four in a row and we lost to Vermont they think that it’s doom and gloom here. Certainly there are things we need to clean up and get better at, but we’ve had two real good practices here yesterday and today. We got back to some fundamentals and some basics yesterday and today and we’re excited about the opportunity to play on Friday. We still control our own destiny in terms of the playoffs. We’re a point ahead of New Hampshire for that eighth spot; we play BU here at home [which] is a very good team and is a rival for us. Expect our guys to be ready.

Was that the message this week to the team, that there’s still a lot in front of you despite the way things have gone the last couple games?

What happened the last two weekends is in the rearview mirror. [We need to] learn from those situations, but it’s all about what’s in front of us, the opportunity to make the playoffs, playing well this weekend, focus in on Friday and be ready to play BU. We’ve played well at home all season long.

And it’s BU. It’s going to be an emotional game. The last time we played them was the Beanpot. So we know they’re going to be hungry. They’re fighting for a playoff seeding more than a spot. We’re in a spot where we can not just sneak into the playoffs, but if we play well this weekend we could move up in the standings. So there’s a lot to play for.

You’ve talked a lot in the last couple of weeks about the leadership of your veteran guys at a time like this. What is it you’re expecting from them to push this team back to where it can go?

To lead. To let their actions show on the ice. Make sure that — there’s going to be adversity as there is in every game — they get us through those tougher times in a game. Be a difference maker. I thought last weekend on the back end Ryan Shea tried to be a difference maker. Matty Filipe scored a big goal for us to get us going on that second night. We can play better when we score that first goal. Last time we played BU we were down 2–0 after one and came back.

Those guys need to step up and show the way for the younger guys. Since the Lowell game they’ve been playoff-type games, so this is the biggest game of the season because it’s the second-to-last game of the regular season.

Looking ahead to BU, what have you seen from them since the last time you guys faced off, and what are some strengths and weaknesses you’re looking forward to?

Their strengths are — and we’ve seen them a couple of times on video since we played them — they’re great in transition. They’re fast, they want to play fast, they want to score off the rush. You can’t turn pucks over in the neutral zone because [Trevor] Zegras and some of their forwards are just too good in transition that way.

And they jump up into the play. [David] Farrance is leading the league [and the nation] in scoring from the defender [position]. He’s up in the play a lot. So we’ve got to manage pucks, we’ve got to play in their zone, we’ve got to get pucks below the goal line and make them defend, and forecheck as much as we can.

Ryan Shea

So what do you do as a senior right now? What are you trying to say to your teammates?

Everyone knows where we are right now. UNH is playing well — obviously they’ve got a tough opponent in BC — but my message is if we play the way we know how to play against BU — we beat them in the past and we played them well even when we lost — but we just gotta get to the playoffs because once you get to the playoffs it’s a whole new season.

Before I came in, when they won Hockey East the first time, they had to beat Notre Dame and they had to beat all these top teams and they beat UMass Lowell in the championship. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, being an underdog. I think that’s honestly a positive for us, because it’s kind of gives us a chip on our shoulder that we need right now that.

You mentioned you beat them before; that was a pretty emotional ending. Any concerns that you know they’ll be carrying into this weekend series?

Right now both teams are on losing streaks. They lost to UConn, Merrimack, and BC and we got swept the last two weekends, but they’re going to be pretty upset because of the Beanpot and especially how it ended with the power play in the OT. But that’s in the past for us. If I was in their locker room I’d be trying to take — not runs at people — but make sure you get an extra bump in or an extra slash. They don’t like us and, honestly, we don’t like them. So we I think we play two different types of styles, and I think if we stick to ours we’ll come out on the good side of it.

Are you feeling the sense of urgency from your teammates? Do they understand what they’re up against this this weekend?

Yeah for sure. Everyone was a little down after Vermont. We gave them their first two wins in Hockey East. We kind of had the look on our face like “the season’s over” and it’s not even close to being over. I know the seniors definitely don’t want to be over, and I think once some of the younger guys see like the reception we have on Senior Night and all the families coming out and how important these four years were to us, I think we’ll step up our play right away after that. There’s no better night to start then Senior Night.

In the Vermont game you came out in the third period and really tried to get people energized. How do you think your on-ice leadership will factor in Friday and Saturday against BU?

Just controlling our emotions. There’s going to be there’s going to be a lot of talking and chirping back and forth between the teams. We just got to stick to the way we play. We don’t need to worry about the refs, we don’t need to worry about their coaching, their coaching style, their top players. Every team’s got top players; it’s Division I hockey.

I think, especially on senior night, we’ve got to set an example. There’s no room for error. We’ve got to have our best game every game no matter if it’s two more games or we end up making it to the Hockey East Championship. Our seniors, older guys, and younger guys — they’re not freshmen anymore — everyone needs to have their best game. It’s like we’re playing the Beanpot championship every night. You don’t want to make that mistake that ends up costing the season.

How have you guys managed the workload and the fatigue given that you haven’t been at full strength for a little while?

That hasn’t been bad. [If] we have a hard weekend where we play a team that’s heavy and strong, we’ll have short practices, kind of more of a rehab-type week. I think they do a good job with that.

During the game, you got to kind of manage it within yourself. For me, it’s making sure you don’t take that extra-long shift that’s going to affect your next one because I might be out there the shift after. And same with a guy like Jordan Harris, and Solow, Filipe because Madden’s out and someone has to fill that extra center spot right now.

But like I said earlier, it’s a chip on your shoulder once Madden went down, everyone thought the world was over. We won a couple games and obviously we’re in a little slump right now but hopefully we have Jozefek back and Filipe’s already back, so that’s a positive.

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 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.

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 Pulls Away Late in Thriller vs. Bentley

By Matt Neiser

Tyler Madden began Monday with 14 goals and 12 assists, tied for third in the nation in goals and tied for fourth in points. The Vancouver Canucks prospect has been on fire as of late; in only his second college season, Madden has placed himself firmly in the Hobey Baker Award conversation.

The hot streak continued into Monday night, as he racked up another goal and a pair of assists en route to a 4–2 Northeastern victory over the visiting Bentley Falcons. In a game closer than the score suggests, Madden’s goal scoring and playmaking once again helped the Huskies tally a win.

“I don’t think it’s slowed down, I think I just understand it a little bit better,” Madden said when asked about the change in year two. “I think having a first year under your best helped me out a lot. [I’m] starting to get those areas where I score more and just play some good hockey.”

On the back of a 5–2 victory on the road against fellow Hockey East opponent UConn, sub-.500 Bentley (8–11–1) looked like a walk in the park for No. 11/13 Northeastern (13–5–2, 7–4–1 HEA). As it turns out, it was anything but for the Huskies.

Neither team gained any traction in the first period, with the two sides jostling back-and-forth for much of the frame. Bentley held the shot lead for the entire period, ending the first 20 minutes with an 8–7 advantage. Despite the discrepancy, it was Northeastern that got on the board first. As the clock ticked under two minutes, the Huskies went on the power play following a slashing call on the Falcons. As he does so often, Madden dictated play before sliding a perfect pass across the zone, finding freshman Aidan McDonough for a one-timer to take the lead.

McDonough has come on strong for the Huskies this season, proving to be the missing link on a power play unit that struggled to start the season. After sputtering early, the Huskies have brought their conversion percentage above 20 percent, placing them in the top-20 in the nation. Monday’s goal was McDonough’s eighth of the season, all on the man advantage. Those eight PP goals tie him for the lead nationally, no small feat for a freshman on the same unit as Madden and Zach Solow.

After just one penalty in the first frame, the second period turned into a whistle-fest. Starting at the 6:48 mark, three penalties were assessed in the next 10 minutes — two to Northeastern and one to Bentley. Neither team found paydirt on those opportunities, and Bentley even came close to converting on a breakaway as they killed off the Huskies’ first. A Falcon stretch pass found a streaking Matt Gosiewski, but grad transfer goaltender Craig Pantano saved the day with one of many outstanding saves on the night.

If it feels like you’ve read that sentence before, you probably have — Pantano has bailed out Northeastern with spectacular saves in many a game this season. Madden had high praise for his teammate, saying “He’s unbelievable. He’s definitely held us in a lot of games, especially here tonight. It easily could have been 4–4 at the end of that game, and he just came up big.”

The second period ended scoreless, but the final 20 minutes more than made up for that. Just under two minutes into the third, Bentley’s Jonathan Desbiens tucked home a rebound off a Pantano save to even the game at a goal apiece. Madden took matters into his own hands and responded less than three minutes later, sliding home a one-timer from the slot off a feed from sophomore Jordan Harris.

Bentley again brought the game to a dead heat 8:40 into the third with Jakov Novak’s team-leading 12th goal of the season, setting up a thrilling finish.

As the clock went under two minutes left in regulation, overtime looked like a foregone conclusion. Northeastern continued to press hard for the game-winner, and they eventually found it when freshman Matt DeMelis fed a pass into the slot for senior Matt Filipe, who beat the goaltender up high to give the Huskies the lead for good.

Adding insult to injury, Solow got on the end of a turnover and scored an insurance goal just 26 seconds later, bringing the final score to 4–2.

Senior captain Ryan Shea tallied three assists on the night, bringing his season total to a team-high 19. The helpers extended Shea’s point streak to 11 games, dating back to a game against Merrimack on November 9. Solow’s goal boosted his point streak to nine games. Pantano saved 26 of 28 Bentley shots, earning his 13th win of the season.

Husky head coach Jim Madigan praised his team’s ability to step up when it mattered most. “I thought Bentley played well, and they outplayed us and they outshot us for three periods . . . we’ve got a mature group in there, and those are the ones that stepped up and we found a way to win.”

Northeastern is back in action on Saturday, traveling north to Durham to take on the New Hampshire Wildcats. Matt Neiser and Dale DeSantis will be on the call, with coverage beginning at 6:45 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 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 Bests Merrimack in Fight-Filled Penalty Fest

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Catherine Morrison

Saturday night’s homecoming game was a tension filled dramafest. Multiple fights broke out. 23 penalties were called, with Merrimack’s 13 and Northeastern’s 10 both setting season highs. Three players were hit with 10-minute misconduct penalties.

And amid it all, Northeastern pulled out a 3–1 win.

NU’s Tyler Madden celebrated his 20th birthday by opening the scoring. Eight minutes into the first period, he fired a backhand shot into the top right corner of the goal for his sixth of the season. Only a great save by Merrimack goalie Jere Huhtamaa prevented a second Madden goal in the period.

Although there were no more first-period goals, the drama was still there as Northeastern’s Matt Filipe got into a scuffle with a Merrimack player behind the net. Filipe was called for cross checking, and Northeastern held down the fort while he was in the penalty box. Madden looked angry as he argued with the referee after the call, and was whistled shortly after when he got into it with Merrimack’s Liam Walsh. Both players were sent to the penalty box.

The second period started with two Northeastern players and one Merrimack player in the box. With thirty seconds left in the power play, Filipe joined them after he was called for hooking. Filipe slammed his stick against the glass as he skated in, drawing a whopping 10-minute penalty for misconduct.

Seven saves by Husky goalie Craig Pantano and an unsuccessful Merrimack penalty challenge helped Northeastern emerge unscathed. But the box wouldn’t remain empty for long. Northeastern’s Biagio Lerario and Merrimack’s Regan Kimins kept the seats warm after a heated faceoff yielded a dual unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Two minutes later, Merrimack’s Tyler Irvine was whistled for hooking. Before the PA announcer could finish announcing the penalty, Aidan McDonough slapped home a one-timer off an assist from Madden and Ryan Shea.

Shortly afterwards, Northeastern’s Zach Solow was aggressively knocked down and ate ice, but the refs didn’t call it, despite penalizing nearly everything else. The Huskies got their revenge when — after Merrimack’s Declan Carlile went to the box for interference — Aidan McDonough chipped in a floater for his second goal of the period.

The third period started with yet another power play after Northeastern’s TJ Walsh was called for tripping. With 11 minutes remaining, Lerario slammed into Merrimack’s Colin Murphy, flew over his head, and got into a scuffle on the side of the rink with some displeased Merrimack players. The fracas yielded an interference penalty for Lerario and a penalty apiece for Merrimack’s Logan Drevitch and Zach Vinnell. Northeastern failed to convert on the power play.

With five minutes remaining, Carlile finally put Merrimack on the board off an assist by Ryan Nolan and Liam Walsh. Northeastern challenged the call saying there was interference, but the call stood. The win moved Northeastern to 5–3–2 (2–2–1 HEA) and dropped Merrimack to 2–7–1 (1–3–1 HEA). The Huskies continue play with a home-and-home against Providence Friday and Saturday.