No. 13 men’s hockey dominates in 7-0 win over UNH

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Sarah Olender

The Huskies beat UNH 7-0 Wednesday despite absence from head coach Jim Madigan and freshman goaltender Devon Levi.

Erin Walsh, news correspondent

The No. 13 Northeastern men’s hockey team was victorious on Wednesday, defeating the University of New Hampshire 7-0, improving to 6-3-2 (6-3-2 HEA) on the season. 

“That’s a well-coached team,” associate head coach Jerry Keefe said about UNH. “We studied them on video and we knew we had to check tonight and I thought we bought into that. We got the lead and were able to have a strong finish to the third period. Really happy for our guys.”

The 2020-21 season has been all about adaptability, and NU certainly had to adapt on Wednesday evening. Head coach Jim Madigan was ruled out against New Hampshire after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Freshman goaltender Devon Levi also was ruled out with an upper-body injury. Both will miss this weekend’s series against Boston College, with Levi having no timetable to return. 

“It was definitely different. That was my first game without Coach Madigan in all my time here and it was different, but it was more serious,” senior forward and team captain Zach Solow said. “We knew that everyone was dialed in and we know how bad Coach wants to be back there and we knew that we needed to come out and have a strong performance just like he was there.” 

The Huskies got out to a solid start in the first period, dictating play through the opening moments of Wednesday’s contest. However, the Wildcats had an opportunity to shift the pace after freshman defenseman James Davenport was sent off for interference at 9:55. 

Solow wasn’t going to let that happen, though, scoring his fifth goal of the season at 10:06 with NU on the penalty kill. The Huskies hadn’t scored a shorthanded goal since the Friendship Four Championship game in Belfast, Ireland against Colgate University, Nov. 30, 2019, when former captain Ryan Shea scored while down a man in a 4-3 win. 

“I thought that the draw got scrummed up a little bit and the puck squirted to me. I saw that the defense jumped down out of the corner of my eye and I knew if I just took it to the middle that I could beat them,” Solow said. “On the two-on-one, I was looking through his triangle and I couldn’t really make the play, so I brought it to my backhand and got the goalie moving and put it five-hole.”

While Solow scored shorthanded, discipline continued to be an issue for the Huskies throughout the first period. Junior forward Austin Goldstein took a slashing penalty at 19:07, which allowed UNH to begin the second period on the man advantage. 

NU managed to kill the penalty at the start of the second period and was rewarded with their first power-play opportunity when UNH junior forward Filip Engaras was sent to the box for holding at 18:51. The Huskies weren’t able to find any solid scoring opportunities on the man advantage, with UNH effectively making the kill. 

Discipline issues continued into the second period for NU, with sophomore defenseman Michael Kesselring heading to the box at 5:00 for interference. Luckily, the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on their third power-play opportunity of the night. 

“We did talk about [the discipline issues] during T.V. timeouts and our guys recognize it,” Keefe said. “There was a couple of times tonight I thought we were a little unlucky on a couple of the calls. I thought we were playing hard, and maybe there were penalties, but I didn’t think they were reckless penalties, which is a good start.”

Solow committed NU’s fourth penalty of the game at 8:26 after freshman forward Sam Colangelo’s pass to the point in the offensive zone slipped past sophomore defenseman Jayden Struble. Struble recovered, stopping UNH from scoring two-on-one, but Solow was penalized for interference as nearly every NU defender was scrambling. The Huskies killed the penalty but the energy continued to shift in the Wildcats’ favor. 

“I think we were a little bit unlucky there, but there’s no question we have to be disciplined. It takes you out of your rhythm,” Keefe added. “We want to play five-on-five hockey and we feel like it’s a strength of ours.”

Luckily for NU, UNH freshman defender Nikolai Jenson was sent off for hooking at 13:09, allowing the Huskies to shift the game back in their favor. They did just that, with sophomore defenseman Jordan Harris scoring his fifth goal of the season on the man advantage at 14:26 to extend NU’s lead 2-0. It was NU’s first power-play goal since Jan. 2 against UMass. 

“We just had the attack mindset. We were just looking to get shots,” Solow said. “We didn’t really generate enough against Merrimack. So, the days that we could prep, we were just focusing on getting shots through and trying to create more chances that way. Clearly, it helped out tonight big time.”

The Huskies ended the period with another power-play goal from senior forward Grant Jozefek at 19:34 to extend their lead 3-0 following a hooking penalty to UNH senior forward Charlie Kelleher. Colangelo assisted on the goal for his first collegiate point. 

“Sam [Colangelo] is a great player,” Solow said. “He’s smart. He’s always talking on the bench and asking questions. He’s getting comfortable real fast and great to see him on the scoresheet tonight. He’s going to be a great player for us. I’m really excited to be playing with him.” 

UNH opened up the third period with the most fire they had shown all night, coaxing Jozefek into a cross-checking penalty at 00:54. The Wildcats were unable to capitalize, with sophomore goaltender Connor Murphy coming up big for the Huskies. 

NU used the penalty kill’s momentum to allow freshman forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine to score his fourth goal of the season at 6:27, extending the lead 4-0 and putting the game out of reach for the Wildcats. 

Solow put the game even further out of UNH’s grasp when he tallied his second goal of the night and sixth of the season at 7:28 to put the Huskies on top 5-0. 

“I’m really happy for Solow because he has been playing really, really well lately,” Keefe said. “His 200-foot game has been outstanding the last few games and he hasn’t really got on the scoresheet as much as he’s used to and it hasn’t changed his game at all. Tonight was a great way for him to get rewarded for playing the right way.” 

UNH forward Tyler Ward then took a hooking penalty at 7:42, allowing NU the opportunity to extend the lead even further, though the Huskies failed to capitalize despite several solid scoring chances. 

However, freshman forward Ty Jackson notched his sixth goal of the season at 11:32 to extend NU’s lead 6-0. Just seconds later, at 11:47, Struble scored his second of the season to extend the lead 7-0. 

Also at 11:47, Jenson took his second penalty of the game for boarding, putting NU back on the power play with the chance to do further damage. The Huskies failed to capitalize, with UNH holding the score. 

The final moments of the game were somewhat lackluster, with NU up 7-0. Both sides took penalties, but the score held as the Huskies went on to win their sixth game of the season. The win was Murphy’s first shutout of his collegiate career and NU’s first shutout since Feb. 2, 2020. He finished the game with 37 saves. 

“It feels good, but I can’t really give all the credit to myself,” Murphy said. “The guys in front of me did a heck of a job getting pucks outside the dots and keeping the shots to where I could control them. So, can’t take all the credit there.”

NU’s upcoming series against the No. 3 Boston College Eagles will be its toughest challenge yet, and Solow knows the team has to be ready if it hopes to better its record. 

“This is a big series, but we’re feeling good,” Solow said. “We know what BC is capable of. We know who they have. They got us last year in a regular-season game, so we’re going to come out flying. They’re a good team, but I think we can match that and hopefully come out on top.” 

NU will travel to Conte Forum on Friday, 7 p.m. to face Boston College before hosting the Eagles on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Matthews Arena.