By Gordon Weigers, news staff
The surging Northeastern men’s ice hockey team finally cooled off after falling 3-1 to Boston University (BU) in the Beanpot semifinals Monday night.
The loss is Northeastern’s first since Dec. 6 and will result in the Huskies missing the Beanpot finals for the first time since 2012. The Huskies have endured a 28-year drought since their last Beanpot title in 1988.
After watching Boston College hold off Harvard in a 3-2 battle, the Huskies and Terriers squared off for the third time this season. Looking for their first win of the season against BU, the Huskies came out hard in the early goings, trying to test Terrier goalie Sean Maguire.
“We had a good effort, but we just didn’t have that second gear to our game,” head coach Jim Madigan said.
At the end of the first period, the Huskies found themselves with more shot attempts than BU, but in a 2-0 hole on the scoreboard. Goals from Robbie Baillargeon and Charlie McAvoy gave the Terriers a two-goal edge after the first frame. After a scoreless second period, Northeastern got on the board late in the third with a goal from assistant captain John Stevens. Junior Matt Benning and senior Colton Saucerman, both defensemen, drew the assists on the eighth goal of the season for Stevens.
With Huskies freshman goalie Ryan Ruck on the bench for the extra attacker, BU defenseman Doyle Somerby launched a shot down the ice into the empty net to clinch the 3-1 win.
“The guys battled hard,” Stevens said. “It just seemed like we were fighting it a little bit.”
Where Northeastern’s offense faltered, Ruck picked up the slack. The freshman goalie was rock-solid throughout his entire Beanpot debut as he finished with a career-best 31 saves. Ruck stopped all six of BU’s power play shots on goal, including a highlight-reel glove save on a one-timer from Matt Lane.
Northeastern captain Kevin Roy was kept in check by BU, failing to register a point in a Beanpot game for the first time in his collegiate career. The highly-touted captain, who scored a hat trick against BU in his Beanpot debut in 2013, will graduate this spring without a Beanpot title to his credit. Fellow seniors Mike McMurtry, Jarrett Fennell, Colton Saucerman and Dustin Darou will also complete their Husky careers without the coveted trophy.
“I’m disappointed for our seniors who have never had an opportunity to win this tournament,” Madigan said. “To not be able to walk away with a championship, I’m disappointed for them.”
Madigan also made note of his experience in the Beanpot, both as a player and as a coach. While Madigan was a part of winning teams in the tournament in the 1980s, he credits the losses that he has suffered in the Beanpot for serving as a platform to move forward with the season as a whole.
Prior to the Beanpot action, junior Zach Aston-Reese was nominated for the Walter Brown Award, an honor given to the best American-born college hockey player in New England. The Staten Island native leads the Huskies with 23 points this season.
The Huskies will shift their focus to Friday’s game against the No. 8 University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks at the Tsongas Center in Lowell before the Beanpot consolation game with No. 7 Harvard on Monday evening.
Gordo’s goal of the week:
It’s a good thing that John Stevens scored late against BU, or else the goal of the week would have gone to NHL All-Star Game MVP John Scott . Stevens tallied the lone Northeastern goal against the Terriers, and he couldn’t have done it without a good net-front presence.
Northeastern pulled Ruck for the extra skater with under four minutes left in a 2-0 game. After gaining some pressure in the BU zone, freshman Adam Gaudette found Benning at the point. Benning slid the puck across to Saucerman, who didn’t have a lane at the net. Saucerman passed back to Benning who unleashed a one-timer toward Maguire.
Stevens was standing right in Maguire’s kitchen, blocking his vision of Benning’s shot. The initial shot hit Maguire in the left pad, leaving a rebound at the top of the crease. Stevens turned his body toward the net and shoveled the puck past Maguire before he even knew where the biscuit was.
Stevens utilized his 6 foot 2 inch frame to screen Maguire and hold off any defenders who would try to clear him away from the front of the cage before burying the loose puck for a goal that gave Northeastern life late in the Beanpot.
Photo courtesy of Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.