Rookie goalie Semptimphelter dominates at Beanpot


Quillan Anderson

TJ Semptimphelter covered the net in both games of the Beanpot tournament and made an impressive show.

Lauren Thomas, news staff

After Northeastern men’s ice hockey (25-13-1) starting goalie sophomore Devon Levi left in January to play in the 2022 Olympics, freshman goaltender TJ Semptimphelter took advantage of his opportunity to defend the net.

At his Northeastern hockey debut Jan. 22, Semptimphelter took to the ice after Levi and sophomore goalie Evan Fear failed to hold off University of Massachusetts Amherst’s (22-13-2) offense in the first two periods. Semptimphelter made 11 saves to shut out the Minutemen in the third period, but the damage was already done and the Huskies fell 6-0.

“I knew that I did everything to set myself up for success for that opportunity. That’s why I put all the work in behind closed doors,” Semptimphelter said. “Obviously, [head coach Jerry Keefe] had a lot of faith in me, so it was good to know that I had support behind me, and all the guys were super excited for me, so it was very exciting.”  

In his first start of the season against University of Massachusetts Lowell (21-11-3) Jan. 28, Semptimphelter racked up 30 saves, but failed to stop the River Hawks from defeating NU 2-1. 

To mentally and physically prepare for his first start, Semptimphelter said he followed his usual pregame routines.  

“I talked to [assistant coach Mike] Condon a lot this year about meditation and deep breathing, and that just kind of helps calm me down and lets your body know that, even though there’s so much chaos going on, everything’s fine,” Semptimphelter said. “I like to just listen to my own music, juggle my tennis balls and just get mentally prepared and tell myself ‘it’s just another game, and you’re playing the game of hockey that you love.’” 

Semptimphelter said his parents played a large role in getting him to this point in his hockey career.  

“They’re obviously super supportive and all the sacrifices that they’ve made to allow me to be here today — it’s unbelievable,” Semptimphelter said. “When I told [my parents] that I was going to be getting my first start they were extremely excited for me. I tell them about all of the days staying late at the rink and working out late, so they know I put the work in, and I set myself up for the best opportunity to have success, and they were excited to watch.” 

As the team entered the 2022 Beanpot in February, the players faced the added pressure of trying to win the tournament for the fourth consecutive year. Semptimphelter covered the net in both games of the tournament and made an impressive show, allowing just one goal from each team faced. 

“There’s so much energy in that environment that everyone’s playing very aggressively, on top of pucks and skating as hard as they can,” Semptimphelter said. “I think the fans are really what makes the Beanpot — just having all the support from the students and the other people in Boston that show out and support.” 

Despite being just his third career start in collegiate hockey, the rookie goalie dominated in the Beanpot semifinals Feb. 7, where the Huskies beat the Boston College Eagles (15-18-5) with a score of 3-1. The win was due largely to Semptimphelter’s 41 saves — the most by any Northeastern goalie in the past 10 Beanpots.

“I knew with [Levi] leaving it was a big opportunity for the team and for me, and my goal is just to be the best version of myself and give my team a chance to win every time I’m in there,” Semptimphelter said.

Throughout the game, BC racked up three penalties. Semptimphelter felt the force of the Eagles’ aggression, losing his helmet and blocker several times.

“Obviously, everybody wants to score and win so bad that the guys are willing to do anything,” Semptimphelter said. “You just have to play through it. That stuff doesn’t really phase me during games, but after the fact, looking back it’s kind of funny to see people’s reactions.” 

After his performance in the Beanpot semifinals, Semptimphelter received plenty of attention from the media, fans and former Northeastern players.

“I did get a nice post from Cayden Primeau after the first win. He shouted out me and Jordan Harris, and said ‘Good luck for the four-peat,’” Semptimphelter said. “It was really awesome to have that support from alumni and guys that have gone through it before.”

In the Beanpot Championship game Feb. 14, Northeastern fell to Boston University (19-13-3) with a final score of 1-0. Semptimphelter shut out BU until the final three minutes, ending the game with 28 saves.  

“Hockey East is such a competitive conference that every game you go out there you know you can win or lose — you can’t take anyone lightly,” Semptimphelter said. “It definitely was exciting and very intense, playing in the Beanpot.” 

With a save percentage of .972 in the tournament, Semptimphelter was the 12th Northeastern goalie to earn the Eberly Award for the highest save percentage in the Beanpot. The award is named after Glen and Dan Eberly; the latter was a Northeastern goalie from 1969 to 1972.

“For me, it was more about just showing that I can play at this level and proving to my teammates and the coaching staff that I have what it takes,” Semptimphelter said. “[The coaches] were awesome, and they had all the belief in the world in me and, as a player, as a freshman, to have that kind of support behind you going into the net is unbelievable.” 

Semptimphelter said senior defenseman Julian Kislin in particular made sure he knew he had faith in him. 

“Julian pulled me aside one night before my first game and he just said ‘Hey, man. You do extremely well in practice, you dominate the game-like situations, you’re gonna do great. There’s no reason to have any pressure, any nerves going into that first game,’” Semptimphelter said. “For a guy like that to pull me aside — it was unbelievable, and it just goes to show you the kind of leadership that we have on this team that just helps us be so successful.” 

“It was awesome to be able to play in the Beanpot as a freshman, and it’s obviously a dream come true,” Semptimphelter said. “That’s why you go to Northeastern and that’s why a lot of guys love all the Boston schools, and it was awesome to be a part of that. I look forward to participating in the future and hopefully winning it, so that’s the goal.” 

The Huskies ended their season with a winning record of 25-13-1. Semptimphelter said he attributes much of the team’s success to the strong leadership dynamic. 

“Whether you play or not, I think everybody in the locker room has an integral role,” Semptimphelter said. “We’re a really tight knit group and I think the leadership, and all the guys taking ownership of what they can and doing the little things, I think that’s what’s making our guys have so much success this year.”