No. 13 men’s hockey upsets Providence in primetime, 4-3

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Sarah Olender

Demelis (and the puck) fly into the net for NU's second goal of the night.

George Barker, sports editor

In a game with major ramifications for playoff seeding, No. 13 men’s hockey picked up a big win over the visiting No. 8 Providence Friars, 4-3.

“For us it was a gut-check win, we needed to get over the hump tonight. We lost our last two in the league in overtime,” said NU head coach Jim Madigan. “For us, it was a big win we needed to get over the hump and this league is so tight from one through nine through ten right now, so two points is important. When you beat a quality team like Providence, it allows your team to build on it.”

The win gives the Huskies the chance to draw close to the Friars in total points on the year as the Huskies look to move into the top half of the playoff bracket. Goaltending made a big difference in the contest, as the Huskies were outshot 32-22. Fifth year senior Craig Pantano wasn’t flawless, but he stopped 32 of 35 shots he saw and he made a handful of impressive saves to keep NU in the contest. Providence graduate student goalie Michael Lackey struggled, allowing three goals on the first 12 shots he saw and made just 17 saves on the night. 

“Giving up four goals, I just thought we were too easy to play against tonight,” said Providence head coach Nate Leaman. “Three goals on the road, that’s enough to win. Four given up, that’s too easy to play against.” 

Sophomore centerman Tyler Madden impressed with two points, a goal and an assist, on two skillful scoring plays while freshman forward Aidan McDonough made a major impact with a goal of his own and a crisp assist on the game-winning goal from junior forward Zach Solow. 

The game started with a defensive battle and conditioning skate, as each team looked to dump-and-chase their way to some time on the attack. Both team defenses stood tall, and until about midway through the first period, neither team had much in the way of scoring chances. The period would end with a total of just 12 shots, eight from NU, four from Providence. 

Luckily for the Huskies, they didn’t need much in the way of setup for either of their goals, the first coming in the 15th minute of the game. 

Madden was the one to break the ice, as he flew down the ice after recovering from a hard check made by Providence freshman blueliner Cam McDonald. Madden intercepted a Providence pass, raced untouched through the Friar’s zone and beat Lackey with a swift drag and pop gloveside over Lackey’s pads. 

The next breakaway came in the 18th minute, courtesy of a smart play by junior forward Zach Solow, who stole the puck and just stayed onsides as he passed it back to senior forward Matt Filipe. Filipe drove hard to the net and sent the puck off Lackey’s stick and skittering towards the net, giving freshman forward Matt Demelis a chance to crash the net and guide the flying puck in for his fifth goal of the season. Filipe and Solow both picked up well-earned assists as the Huskies moved to a 2-0 lead. 

Providence didn’t roll over though, and during a five-on-three chance in the fourth minute, they finally broke through when NCAA’s leading point scorer Jack Dugan of Providence beat Pantano. The all-nation sophomore forward put an absolute laser past the Husky netminder’s shoulder to break the seal on NU’s otherwise stout defense. 

Sarah Olender
Pantano peers around a screen to keep his eye on the puck.

The Huskies would move back out by two goals for a brief time off another skilled play by Madden. As Madden was being taken to the boards, he was able to slide the puck to a quickly trailing Aidan McDonaugh. The freshman forward took Madden’s pass to the slot, where he beat a struggling Lackey for NU’s third marker of the night in the 14th minute of the second. 

NU’s 3-1 one lead would be short lived, as some chaos in front of the net in the 16th minute led to a fight for the puck between Pantano and Providence freshman forward Patrick Moynihan, which Moynihan won, giving him the chance to bring the Friars to within a goal. NCAA’s second leading scorer, Friar’s sophomore forward Tyce Thompson, earned his 21st assist of the season on the goal. 

“The game ebbed and flowed, we went up 2-0, 2-1, 3-1 then 3-3. For us, it’s a confidence builder for the kids in the room, not that we were lacking confidence, but we lost two overtime games in a row,” Madigan said. “To beat a team like Providence, who I have a lot of respect for… that will help with the confidence.”

While Dugan is usually more of a facilitator than a finisher, he flipped the script against the Huskies again early in the third period to tie the contest. A faceoff win by freshman center Parker Ford gave Dugan a chance to drag the puck toward the slot, where he outright beat a slightly screened Pantano. 

“Going into the third period it was let’s win the game, let’s not sit back, let’s not sit on our heels. Let’s go out and earn the win,” Madigan said. “I felt we had a couple good shifts early, but they scored. Dugan is a good player, a very good player. You don’t want to sit back and will your way, you got to go earn it.”

The game remained tied for most of the third, but with just over five minutes to play, NU took back control. On the power play, Solow made his mark again. McDonough sent a timely pass to Solow, who was parked just outside the crease. Solow had a near empty net to shoot at as Lackey found himself woefully unprepared for McDonough’s pass, and the Husky forward cashed in for the game winning goal. 

NU kept Providence off the board for the rest of the game, taking the “gut-check” win and an all important two points for the Huskies as the Beanpot approaches. Next up for NU is Harvard at 5 p.m. this Monday at TD Garden. 

“I was trying not to think about it until we got tonight over with. Now, I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep for the next few nights getting ready for the Beanpot,” said Massachusetts native McDonough. “I can’t count how many people I’ll know in the stands and how much it means to me. I’m really excited. Hopefully I’ll get the nerves out the first few shifts and after that it’ll just be hockey.”