Northeastern men’s hockey crushes Merrimack 6-1 in the team’s best game of the year


Taina Lorenzana

Northeastern University faced Merrimack, defeating them 6-1.

Eli Curwin, news staff

With the Hockey East regular season title on the line, Northeastern University wiped the floor with Merrimack, defeating them 6-1 in a crucial victory.

March 5 six-goal victory was the best game for the Huskies all season, reaching 40 shots for the first time since December 2020, scoring six goals and giving them a shot at the regular season title.

Before the final home game of the regular season, Northeastern was tied with Merrimack for the No. 2 seed in the Hockey East. The Huskies would play the Warriors twice in a home and home series. The Huskies hadn’t been ranked first since early December, and many assumed the team’s chances of reaching the one seed were slim. 

Northeastern and Merrimack appeared to be fighting for second place, as the University of Massachusetts Amherst remained confident in the No. 1 seed. For Northeastern to jump to the top spot, they needed to win both games against Merrimack, and UMass Amherst needed to lose both games in their weekend series against Boston College. 

With two crucial games on the horizon and a packed senior night at Matthews Arena, the anticipation was palpable as Northeastern won the initial face-off. NU started the game strong, moving the puck well and spending plenty of time in the Warriors’ zone. Taking several shots in the first five minutes, the Huskies nearly scored early with junior forward Riley Hughes’ shot, which clanged off the pipe and back into play. 

The Huskies defense was also impressive in the first period, with several shots blocked by sophomore forward Michael Outzen and strong play in goal from sophomore goalie Devon Levi.

Northeastern’s impenetrable defense clearly frustrated the Warriors, who instigated skirmishes and were called for roughing penalties early in the game. Midway through the first period, the Warriors were penalized for having too many men on the ice. Northeastern took advantage, moving the puck well against Merrimack’s four defenders. 

After passing it around the zone, senior defenseman and captain Jordan Harris whipped the puck across the ice to sophomore forward Sam Colangelo, setting him up for a shot. Firing a rocket in between the pipes, Colangelo’s shot coasted the goal line, but never crossed. However, freshman forward Jack Hughes was there to poke in the puck for the 1-0 lead. 

Following the Husky goal, Northeastern continued it’s aggressive offensive play, piling on shot after shot. Merrimack’s sophomore goalie Zachary Borgiel kept the Warriors within one, saving back-to-back-to-back shots from Northeastern’s wings. 

After a shot from Northeastern senior forward Jakov Novak, Merrimack rushed the puck down the ice. Corralling a spin-behind-the-back pass from Merrimack graduate student forward Steven Jandric, Merrimack’s graduate student forward Max Newton and junior defensemen Zach Uens had a two-on-one advantage. With only Levi left between Warriors and a tie game, Newton dropped a perfect pass for Uens in front of the goal, giving Merrimack the equalizer. 

With the score tied, Northeastern’s play turned sloppy. Subpar passing and unforced errors gave Merrimack ample time in the Huskies’ zone. Quick rotations prevented the Warriors from scoring, but a Jack Hughes’ hooking penalty as time ran out put the Huskies down a skater at the start of the third. With a tied score after 20 minutes of play, Northeastern was down a skater heading into the second period. 

With this advantage, the second period started with more Merrimack offense, winning three consecutive faceoffs in Northeastern’s zone. The brief period of Warrior offense quickly ended, giving way to an onslaught of Husky shots and goals. 

Northeastern’s offense kicked it into high gear after the penalty kill, taking 11 shots in six minutes. While Borgiel held off a Husky score for a while, Northeastern offense was simply too much. 

After a Merrimack possession, Jack Hughes wove the puck down the ice on the counter attack. As Northeastern senior defenseman Julian Kislin approached from the right, Hughes dropped a no-look backhand beauty onto his stick. Kislin attacked the net, maneuvering the puck through two Warriors, and scored the Husky’s second goal of the night. Kislin scored the first goal of his career early this season in February, and it was fitting that his only other goal would come on senior night. 

Thirty seconds after the Huskies’ second goal, they came roaring back. Setting up the offense and moving the puck around, the Huskies nearly scored. Junior defenseman Jayden Struble recovered the puck and passed it to Outzen next to the blue line. Outzen lined it up, and scored a deep shot for his first career goal and the third Husky goal of the night. 

Heading into the second half of the period with a two goal lead, many Husky fans were already describing this as the best played hockey game all season for Northeastern. 

In most cases, good defense leads to good offense, but here, Northeastern’s offense was moving the puck so well that the Huskies’ defense was essentially a non-factor. On the rare occasion that the Warriors brought the puck into the Huskies zone, Northeastern swarmed, forcing turnovers and heading right back to offense. 

That is exactly what happened as a McDonough steal and a Colangelo shot blew past through two Warriors and into the net for the 4-1 Husky lead with three minutes left in the period. 

Merrimack, however, came into the third looking to come back from the large deficit. Playing with an aggression not seen in the second period, the Warriors took 12 shots in the first six minutes. As per usual, Levi was in quintessential form between the pipes, diving on all fours twice to stop Merrimack from scoring. The momentum Merrimack built in the first six minutes came to a screeching halt when a Warrior tripping penalty gave Northeastern a power play. 

With 10 minutes left in the game, Merrimack killed the power play, poking the puck free and dumping it to the other end of the ice multiple times. After roughly a minute of quick back-and-forth offense, a shot from the right side from Struble slipped through Northeastern and Merrimack players and bounced into the top corner of the net. 

With the Husky’s fifth goal of the night, hope was almost gone for the Warriors. The nail in the coffin was a seemingly impossible one-on-four shot from Colangelo that miraculously made its way into the goal. 

On senior night, playing their best game of the season, the Huskies secured a near perfect win. Additionally, Boston College defeated UMass Amherst, opening the door for a regular season title for Northeastern. Though, this would only be possible with a Northeastern win at Merrimack and an UMass Amherst loss the next day.

This would come to pass as BC defeated UMass Amherst in a 4-3 shocker. UMass Amherst held a two point lead over the Huskies. A Northeastern regulation win would give them three points and the title, but an overtime win or shootout win would only give them two points — tied with Amherst. During the regular season, Northeastern lost both games to UMass, meaning Amherst held the tie breaker. Northeastern would need to win in regulation to secure the three points necessary to claim the regular season title.

Following the 6-1 victory, Northeastern played at Merrimack the next night. Northeastern scored the game winning goal with 10 seconds left, securing the trophy for the first time in program history.