Men’s hockey ties Holy Cross, coach blasts lack of effort


File photo by Brian Bae

Sophomore defender Jordan Harris handles the puck against UMass on Oct. 15.

Charlie Wolfson, news staff

Northeastern men’s hockey tied Holy Cross Saturday night at home, 2-2, but the mood at Matthews Arena after the game felt more like a loss. The Huskies, ranked No. 15, were outshot through most of the game by the Crusaders, and for the fourth time in four games, NU didn’t score in the first half of regulation.

Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said the first two periods Saturday “might have been the worst two periods we’ve had in this building since [associate head coach Jerry Keefe] and I have been part of the staff.”

“It was just ugly through two periods. A little better in the third, but really unacceptable,” he said.

Tyler Madden, who scored both NU goals, referred to the game as a loss in passing — perhaps unintentionally. He said he hopes the two goals, his first of the season, could get his game into a higher gear.

“But as a team, we need to win tonight, and that’s all I’m looking at,” the sophomore center said. “[Goals] are something I don’t look at, especially after a loss.”

Madigan pinned the outcome entirely on his team’s mental state coming into the contest.

“I didn’t think that we gave our opponent enough respect,” Madigan said. “It’s one thing to play with confidence. I thought we played with arrogance … We’ve got to be held more accountable for that type of play. Go from Tuesday night playing a real good game in here against UMass to playing a real poor game tonight.”

Holy Cross (1-1-1) opened the scoring at 15:25 of the second on the power play, the Crusaders’ first power-play goal of the year and the first allowed by NU (3-0-1). Senior winger Neil Robinson sent a pass through the slot to junior forward Logan Ferguson, who knocked it into an open net from the right circle.

NU got a chance to respond right away with a power-play opportunity at 16:15. It was one of the best-looking NU power plays of the season so far (though that’s not saying much), and a scramble in front of the net resulted in Madden jamming the puck home from the right circle to tie the game at one.

Madden gave NU its first lead right off the hop in the third. At 1:12 of the frame, he darted down the right wing and got the edge on the Crusaders defender, then flicked a backhander past HC goalie Erik Gordon. It was Madden’s second goal of the season and 14th of his career.

NU’s lead lasted less than five minutes. At 5:15, senior defender Patrick O’Leary passed from behind the net to a wide open  Conner Jean right in front of the goal, and Jean one-timed a snap shot that just barely squeaked through Pantano and over the line to tie the game.

NU had a chance to win it in regulation after Madden drew a penalty with three minutes left in the third. The Huskies had control of the puck for virtually the entire two minutes, but five blocks by the Crusaders killed it off and got them to overtime.

“I thought we found sticks and shin pads really well here tonight, whether it be five on five or power play,” Madigan said. “We didn’t get enough pucks to the net, plain and simple. You’ve got to get your head up, look to your defense partner, or throw it down. That was one part of our problem, there were many parts.”

The overtime passed fairly uneventfully, though NU had a near miss at the beginning and Holy Cross missed on a breakaway in the final seconds.

Northeastern has yet to score in the first period of a game this year, and through four games, they’ve averaged just 5.25 shots on goal in the first period.

“We talk about starting on time,” Madigan said. “Meaning, don’t wait five or six or seven minutes to get going. It’s something we’ll just have to continue focusing in on. We need to string some shifts together early on … Thank god our goaltender played well and gave us a chance to win, and it ended up being a tie.”

The goaltender, Craig Pantano, has started all four games this year and quieted any thought that there would be significant sharing of goalie minutes. Madigan himself said in preseason that the position was wide open, but Pantano has stopped 105 of 110 shots to start the year and has been a steady presence in net.

There’s not much in the way of technique Madigan will look to stress following this game, except for maybe trying to avoid shot blocks on the power play. He said the problem Saturday was all mental.

“It’s not a physical approach, it’s mentally being ready to start,” he said. “You need your older guys to take the lead there. We’ve got some younger guys who played like freshmen. We’ve got to figure this thing out. We don’t have three months to figure it out.”