By Bailey Putnam, deputy sports editor
The Northeastern University (NU) men’s hockey team accomplished in its opening weekend what it failed to do for eight straight games last year: earn its first win. The Huskies surged past No. 20 Colgate University in the season-opener at Matthews Arena on Saturday night.
Brothers Nolan and John Stevens were the heroes of the night, notching a goal apiece, including younger brother Nolan’s highlight reel game-winner midway through the third period.
Going into the game, the Huskies held the memory of two mid-October shutout losses to the Raiders looming in their minds. This time around, NU was relentless offensively, peppering Colgate junior goalie Charlie Finn with 43 shots while the defense held the visitors to just 17.
After a scoreless first frame, the Huskies were the first to strike with 7:51 remaining in the second period. Freshman defenseman Eric Williams took a pass from senior D-partner Jarrett Fennell and blasted a slapshot from the point. The shot was tipped past Finn by a waiting John Stevens in front of the crease.
The formidable Raider offense was quick to return with a score of its own just two minutes later. Senior Tyson Spink proved to be the only one able to beat redshirt junior goalie Derick Roy when he netted one from the slot off a feed from his twin brother Tylor.
With the score knotted at 1-1 to start the third period, the tiebreaking and eventual game-winning goal did not come until almost 12 minutes into the frame. Nolan Stevens took a feed from senior defenseman Colton Saucerman near center ice and proceeded to undress three Raider players before tucking it underneath Finn’s left leg.
“I got some speed and had a lot of room so, [Saucerman] passed it to me,” Stevens said as he described the play. “It was a great pass and the defenseman’s gap was close to me, so I thought I could make a move. I ended up getting by one guy and reacted to the next guy and luckily got by him and poked it in.”
Although he noted some areas worth improving for the Huskies, Head Coach Jim Madigan was pleased with his team’s performance after the 2-1 win.
“I liked the way we played for the first game of the year,” he said. “Certainly there are areas where we’re going to have to get a lot better, but I thought we pressured the puck. I thought the puck pursuit was pretty good.”
Madigan also gave a shout-out to the Husky faithfuls who made it to Matthews for support.
“It’s great, obviously, to start the season off with a real good win like that,” he said. “We had a real good crowd. Hats off to our Doghouse and students. On a long weekend, they mobilized really well and were loud and got us going and created some momentum for our team.”
Madigan also discussed the freshmen on the roster, several of whom were thrown into penalty killing rolls in their first outing.
“They’re part of the 20-man roster that we dress, and we have confidence in all of our players,” he said. “If we put them on the ice, we expect them to do a job and when they’re out there they’re not freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors. They’re Northeastern hockey players, so the expectation is just as high for them as it is for the upperclassmen.”
The Huskies take on Bentley University in a home-and-home series for Parent’s Weekend, with a 7 p.m. matchup at Matthews Arena on Friday night and a 7:05 p.m. game on Saturday in Waltham.
Photo by Ethan Kaley