By Gordon Weigers, news correspondent
The national stage and Northeastern were not meant for each other this year.
The NU men’s club hockey team, which competes at the Division II level, lost all three of its pool-play games in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) National Championship Tournament over the weekend.
The tournament was hosted by the University of Utah from March 20 to 24 in Salt Lake City. With the top-four teams from each of the four ACHA divisions making the tournament, the Huskies earned the fourth-seed in the Northeast Division.
NU took on Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), Missouri State University (MSU) and the University of Utah. The Huskies fell to FGCU 5-3, MSU 6-4 and Utah 5-3.
NU’s club team (20-5-2) has become a force to be reckoned with across the nation in the last few years. Led by senior Captain Justin Evangelista and junior Team President Jake Jaeger, the Huskies headed across the country for their fourth consecutive appearance in the Division II National Championships.
“Making it back to nationals for a fourth straight time wasn’t easy, but we had guys step up in places that they were needed,” Jaeger said. “There was a big question mark in goal after last year and that was answered by [middlers] Zach Webert and Dan Prawdzik.”
This year’s tournament performance was similar to that of the last three years as the Huskies continue to struggle to win in pool play.
“The guys who were here last year [played] with a chip on their shoulder,” Jaeger said.
FGCU was ranked No. 1 in NU’s pool. The Huskies were familiar with FGCU when they entered the tournament, having played them twice already this November in Fort Meyers, Fla.
“The important thing is the environment of those games,” Miller said when asked if teams like FGCU intimidate NU. “We have a better time when we play better teams.”
Big games are nothing new for the Huskies, who compete in the Boston Club Hockey Beanpot tournament each year. This year, they dismantled the Boston College Eagles by a score of 5-1 in the first round before beating the Boston University Terriers 5-2 in the finals.
“We were on a hot streak coming into the Beanpot,” Daly said. “We lost in overtime to Boston College last year, so it was nice to bring it back here.”
This is the third time in the last four seasons that the club hockey team has won the Beanpot. For freshman forward Graham Doherty, winning the Beanpot in his first season with the team was a special experience.
“We don’t get too many fans at our games,” Doherty said. “For the Beanpot championship, we had at least 30 people there, not including parents.”
While they may not break any records for attendance, the Huskies feed off of the energy generated within their team.
“Overall, it was a successful season,” Jaeger said. “We were led by three great seniors who will leave a big hole to fill. These guys were around for a long time and played a major role in why we’ve been so successful over the last few years.”
Photo courtesy Northeastern men’s club hockey