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.

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

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Cunha

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Sarah Olender

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

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

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

Photo by Sarah Olender

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

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

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

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

Photo by Sarah Olender

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

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

Men’s Hockey Suffers First Loss of Season

Image Credit: St. Cloud State Athletics

By Matt Neiser

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Notches Second Straight 2–1 Win Over Union

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Christian Skroce

SCHENECTADY, NY — It was another stressful outing for the young Huskies team, but Northeastern was again victorious in a come-from-behind effort against the Union College Dutchmen. The game started as a defensive slugfest, with the first two periods devoid of scoring and chock-full of penalties.

Union finally scored early in the third period. Union forward Anthony Rinaldi swooped in from the left wing and fired a poorly angled shot on goal. Despite a nice save from Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano, the puck remained untouched in the crease, and Morton — who entered the offensive zone from the penalty box just as Northeastern’s power play ended — put away the easy chance.

For a while Northeastern’s offense continued to struggle as they failed to capitalize on another power play. Then, with 11 minutes remaining in the third, freshman forward Riley Hughes came to the Huskies’ rescue. He stole the puck from a Union defender, earned a one-on-one breakaway against Union goalie Darion Hanson, and sent a shot through Hanson’s legs to even the score.

Northeastern didn’t take long to gain the upper hand. Just three minutes later, senior forward Biagio Lerario finished off a rebound from a long-range effort by fellow forward Zach Solow. The Huskies would not look back, as they fought their way to their second consecutive one-goal win during opening weekend.

“Well you’re playing with danger, you have to play well,” coach Jim Madigan said. “It’s good that we can find a way to win in a close game in the third period, and that shows resiliency and a mature team, but at the same time, there’s an identity we want to start playing to.”

While the Huskies were happy to come away with two weekend wins, there were clearly some growing pains for the team’s younger players. As Madigan pointed out, the coaches clearly have a plan for this team, and while it was a tough two games, the team held their own and begins its season undefeated.

Tune in Tuesday night at 7 PM when Northeastern returns to action against UMass Amherst; Matt Neiser and Dale Desantis will be on the call.

Hockey East Preview: Northeastern Huskies

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

Head Coach: Jim Madigan (ninth season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Fourth

Losses

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

Additions

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

By Christian Skroce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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