By Calli Remillard, news staff
The Northeastern University (NU) men’s hockey team swept the University of Connecticut (UConn) in the first round of the Hockey East tournament with two consecutive wins, but their season came to an abrupt end last weekend with two losses to Boston University (BU) in the quarterfinals.
Starting the first round of the tournament at Matthews Arena on March 3, the Huskies were first to draw blood with senior defenseman Garret Cockerill scoring a power play goal midway through the opening period. Senior forward Brendan Collier scored his fourth of the season with 8:01 to go in the second period, extending NU’s lead to two.
UConn scored the first goal of the game with a six-on-four skating advantage with just 1:21 left in regulation, but strong defensive work from senior forward Zach Aston-Reese gave junior forward Nolan Stevens the momentum he needed to put away his ninth of the season in an empty net. The Huskies took the game with a final score of 3-1.
Aston-Reese’s third period assist earned him 60 points this season, making him the ninth player to do so in the team’s history. He also leads the nation in in both aggregate scoring and points per game.
Both Dylan Sikura and Aston-Reese were nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top NCAA men’s ice hockey player. Aston-Reese, who was named a top 10 finalist for the award, finished his career with sole possession of 12th place on both Northeastern’s all-time scoring list, with 148 points, and all-time goals list, with 66 goals. Aston-Reese also recently signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins, attributing his final decision to the team’s player development.
Matching up again at Matthews Arena the next night, NU swept UConn 6-2. Less than five minutes into the game, Collier got the Huskies up on the board. Aston-Reese gave the men their second tally of the game halfway through the second. Connecticut responded a few minutes later, bringing them within one before a power play goal from sophomore forward Adam Gaudette gave the Huskies another two-point lead. As the second period came to an end, UConn cut the deficit in half and brought the score to 3-2.
A five minute major to UConn in the third period played to Northeastern’s advantage as they scored three times in under four minutes. A pair of goals from senior forward John Stevens and one from freshman defenseman Jeremy Davies put the game away at 6-2.
“It’s nice when your captain, who’s battled injuries all year long, comes up and has a great game here tonight,” head coach Jim Madigan said of Stevens’ two goals.
The first game of the quarterfinals pit Northeastern against BU at Agganis Arena on March 10. Aston-Reese struck first, scoring his 31st goal of the season. Junior forward Dylan Sikura scored next, two minutes after Aston-Reese,, to give the Huskies a quick lead. An NU minor for tripping gave the Terriers an opening to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second frame.
BU leveled the score midway through the final period, sending the game into overtime. Sophomore goaltender Ryan Ruck made 32 saves, helping to keep his team in the contest. Less than two minutes into the extra frame, the Huskies were called for hooking, giving BU a power play advantage. BU’s sophomore forward Jordan Greenway capitalized on the advantage, and ended the game 3-2.
The Huskies came out the following night hungry for a win, bolting out to a two point advantage following freshman forward Biagio Lerario’s first collegiate goal and Nolan Stevens’ 10th of the season.
A power play strike from the Terriers with 5:22 remaining in the second brought them within one of the Huskies. BU struck again early in the third, putting the teams in a deadlock at two. With 24 seconds remaining in regulation, BU put away a third goal, winning them the game and eliminating NU from the Hockey East tournament.
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics