By Calli Remillard, news staff
After losing their four-game winning streak last week, the Northeastern University (NU) men’s hockey team is looking to get back on track, and they’re off to a good start. The Huskies took a 6-2 win over the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst at home on Friday, followed by a 4-2 comeback win in the Beanpot consolation game against Boston College (BC), earning the NU men bronze in the 2017 tournament.
“We’re looking at this as a way to jumpstart our team through these last four games,” said head coach Jim Madigan of the win over BC. “We did it last year at this time against Harvard, and we’re hoping that tonight’s game has that same type of effect.”
NU maintained control of the game against UMass Amherst last Friday from start to finish. Junior forward Nolan Stevens put the Huskies on the board just 16 seconds into the game, scoring his fifth goal of the season. The first period saw three more Husky goals from sophomore forward Adam Gaudette, junior forward Dylan Sikura and another goal from Stevens. The UMass Minutemen scored one goal from freshman Jake McLaughlin with 1:20 left to play in the first.
Griff Jeszka scored UMass’ second and final goal less than three minutes into the second. Senior forward Zach Aston-Reese took control from there, scoring shorthanded, followed by a power play goal to give NU a four goal lead over UMass.
Friday was a night of milestones for the Huskies, with Aston-Reese becoming the first player to record 50 points in a season since 1989-90. Aston-Reese also scored his fourth shorthanded goal of the season tying the school record for most in a season.
Along with Aston-Reese, Gaudette scored his 20th goal of the season, making them the first pair of 20-goal scorers the team has seen since 2001-02. In addition, Sikura became the first Husky with 30 assists in a single season since 2004-05. The Northeastern power play unit now has 45 goals on the man advantage this year, which is the most in the nation.
Madigan praised the team’s offensive stars for their performance this season.
“This year we’ve had three guys who’ve been consistent all the way through offensively, and it’s been [Aston-]Reese, Sikura and Gaudette,” he said. “All of them, at a different time, have taken turns leading us and being the go-to guy.”
The Huskies rode their offensive firepower into the Beanpot consolation game at TD Garden Monday night against the Boston College Eagles.
Despite putting up 20 shots in the first period, NU was unable to reach the back of the net. It was BC that drew first blood, scoring the first goal of the game with 2:29 left to play in the first. Back on the ice in the second, NU couldn’t capitalize on either of their power play advantages, but freshman forward Matt Filipe gave the Huskies their first goal of the game with 7:24 left to play. Sophomore goalie Ryan Ruck stopped 11 shots in the second, keeping the teams tied 1-1 heading into the locker rooms after the second.
Eight minutes into the third, Filipe scored his second goal of the game, giving the Huskies a one point lead over the Eagles. BC struck back a few minutes later, tying it up 2-2 with 6:31 left in regulation. Both teams put forth a number of shots in an effort to break the nearly game-long deadlock. With a little over one minute to go in the game, the puck fell lose during a pileup in the crease and BC potted a goal, which was deemed no good due to goalie interference when the play was reviewed.
Sikura gave the Huskies a one point lead with 42 seconds left to play, followed by a empty-net goal from Gaudette as the Eagles pulled their goalie with 28 seconds remaining. The NU men outplayed BC in the third with an exhilarating comeback late in the game, the final score being 4-2.
Monday night’s game was the first in 18 consecutive games that the Huskies did not score a power play goal.
“We had a couple of good looks, but we just didn’t execute is basically what it comes down to,” Madigan said of the power plays.
The team’s late in the game comeback win proved to be a morale booster, hopefully carrying them through the rest of their season.
“I liked their resiliency,” Madigan said. “I liked how we just stuck with it and found a way to get the win.”
The Huskies resume Hockey East play and will head to Hartford, Connecticut, on Friday for a matchup against the University of Connecticut.
Photo by Alex Melagrano