Northeastern men’s hockey snaps a three-game losing streak in a thriller against UVM


Kayla Shiao

Team captain and left defenseman, Jordan Harris, handles the puck.

Eli Curwin, news staff

In a 5-4 victory against the unranked University of Vermont Catamounts Feb. 4, the Northeastern University Huskies turned their offense around late, scoring four out of their five goals in the third period. 

Coming off of two tough losses to University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a nail-biter against University of Massachusetts Lowell, the prospects for the No. 15 men’s hockey team looked grim heading into the Beanpot tournament. With one game left before the tournament, Northeastern faced a struggling Vermont team. Northeastern had defeated Vermont 4-0 Jan. 18, but prior to the Feb. 4 matchup, the Huskies had lost all three games since last facing the Catamounts. 

Northeastern was also without headliner sophomore goalie Devon Levi, as he continues to practice with Team Canada in Beijing. Levi had 27 saves against Vermont in their previous matchup, but without him, the Huskies turned to freshman goalie TJ Semptimphelter for his second start of the season. 

Semptimphelter’s first game was against UMass Lowell, and despite a strong outing, the Huskies lost. The freshman earned his first win against Vermont, just three days before the first round of Beanpot Feb. 7, where he would make his third career start. 

As Vermont won the initial faceoff, the Huskies’ offense looked more calculated and patient than in previous games. The beginning of the first period was a back and forth battle, with both teams spending time in the opposing zone, and mustering several shots. 

Semptimphelter started the game strong, with 16 saves in the first 15 minutes. 

As the period continued, the Huskies’ offense  regressed back to its poor transitions, finding it difficult to maintain possession and get off shots. The Catamounts were able to withstand a poking and prodding Huskies defense, as they controlled the puck the majority of the period.

Even with their offensive troubles, a steal deep in Vermont’s zone 18 minutes into the period by sophomore forward Sam Colangelo and a quick pass in front of the crease from freshman forward Justin Hryckowian set junior forward Aidan McDonough up for the easy goal. The goal gave McDonough his 17th of the season and broke a three-game scoring drought. 

With a Husky lead, the Catamounts immediately began hunting for the equalizer. Twenty-five seconds later, they would get it. After a fight for the puck on the boards, it escaped to center ice, where Catamount senior defenseman Robbie Stucker sniped it towards the goal. On its way, Vermont freshman forward Simon Jellus tipped and redirected the shot into the goal. 

The period ended 1-1, with both goals being scored in the final two minutes. Although the score was even, the Huskies’ offense struggled, being outshot 18-6.

The second period was focused on the defenses, with no goals scored through 20 minutes of play. Despite being unable to score, the Huskies’ offense played with pace and patience, passing the puck effectively around the zone. Accumulating more shots, but more importantly, better shots would set the tone for the Huskies offense in the third period. However, the Huskies were not able to find the back of the net in the second period due to strong play from Vermont sophomore goalie Gabe Carriere. 

The Huskies’ defense also played well throughout the entire second period, only allowing four shots on goal. Vital transition defense from junior defenseman Tyler Spott that prevented the Catamounts from scoring on multiple occasions. Husky senior defenseman and team captain Jordan Harris also played scrappy defense, mustering several steals and pushing the puck in transition.  

After a high sticking penalty called on Huskies junior defenseman Jeremie Bucheler, UVM had a chance to take the lead with an extra skater. Yet, with the best penalty kill percentage in the Hockey East at 91.7, Northeastern was able to mitigate the advantage. Then, following a hooking penalty on UVM, Northeastern had their chance at a power play. With crucial play from Vermont’s defense, blocking several shots, Northeastern was unable to light the lamp. 

With tenacious play in goal and defense from both teams, the third period began with neither team able to take the lead.

If the first period was a healthy mix of offense and defense, and the defenses were the stars of the second period, then the third period was where both teams’ offenses stole the show. With a total of seven goals scored in the third period, the pace of the game changed quickly on both sides.

Two minutes into the period, Vermont took the lead with a screen shot goal from the team’s top scorer, senior forward Philip Lagunov. In a little more than a minute, a deep shot a few feet inside of the blue line by Harris miraculously found the back of the net through several Vermont defenders, many of whom had been screening the goal. Hryckowian and Colangelo both received their second assists with the game tying goal.

The tied game did not last long, though. Within two minutes of the previous goal, Northeastern junior forward Riley Hughes rushed the puck from deep in the Northeastern zone all the way to the crease. With a graceful move, Hughes found the back of the net. 

Leading the game by one, the offense kept their foot on the gas, eventually scoring their third consecutive goal. Hughes took the puck up the ice and fed a leading pass to sophomore forward Ty Jackson. Jackson flung a beautiful pass from behind the goal into the stick of senior forward Jakov Novak, who scored the fourth goal of the night for the Huskies with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Now a 4-2 lead, Northeastern continued to keep up the pressure on offense, taking several more high-quality shots. However, Vermont answered with a late goal of their own. After passing the puck around Northeastern’s zone, a wide-open look rebounded off of Septimphleter’s pad into Catamount junior forward Jacques Bouquot’s awaiting stick. Bouquot maneuvered the puck around Semptimphelter into the goal, cutting the Huskies lead to one, with only seven minutes left. 

With just around two minutes left, and following a Northeastern penalty kill, a game-winning goal from Colangelo put the game away. Assisted by Harris and junior forward Matt Demelis, Colangelo initially whiffed, but recovered the puck through several Vermont defenders and scored the fifth goal of the game for the Huskies. With two assists and the game-winning goal, Colangelo had three points for the evening. Including the Huskies’ win against Vermont, Colangelo had 15 points in his last 10 games. 

While Vermont managed to score once again in the final 30 seconds of the game, it was not enough to overcome the Huskies two-goal lead. The 5-4 victory snaps Northeastern’s three-game losing streak and marks Semptimphelter’s first NCAA career win.

Following the loss, Vermont was defeated by Merrimack 4-1 and Providence College 4-1. They shutout New Hampshire 3-0 in between the two losses. Vermont will play Merrimack again in a home weekend series on Feb. 18 and Feb 19

In a high-intensity match on Feb. 7 against Boston College in the first round of Beanpot, Northeastern won 3-1. Then, the Huskies beat the top team in Hockey East, Umass Lowell 4-2 on Feb. 11. On Monday, the Huskies will play in the finals against Boston University at TD Garden, where they look to win their fourth Beanpot title in a row.