No. 8 Northeastern Huskies crush the Catamounts 5-2 in first game of home series


Elizabeth Scholl

Senior forward Matt DeMelis faces off against UVM.

Ariana Ottrando, news staff

The Northeastern University men’s hockey team (2-0-0, 1-0-0 HE) secured its first conference win of the season Friday in the first game of the weekend’s home series versus the University of Vermont (0-3-0, 0-3-0 HE).

The game follows the Huskies’ first win of the season in last weekend’s home-opener versus Long Island University that finished 3-2 in overtime.

Although the team was coming off of a win, Northeastern started the game in catchup mode, falling 1-0 only a minute into regulation. Vermont’s Isak Walther, a sophomore forward, took a slapshot from the dot and sent the puck in the top-right corner past freshman defenseman Jackson Dorrington and starting junior goaltender Devon Levi. 

The best scoring chance of the period for Northeastern occurred four minutes in when the Huskies crashed the net, forcing a Vermont defenseman to save the puck from crossing the goal line behind junior goaltender Gabe Carriere. 

With the Catamounts maintaining pressure throughout the first period, the Huskies struggled to turn the game’s course in their favor. While the shot count to end the period was 11-5 Northeastern, the Huskies struggled to find the back of the net, and the score remained 1-0 Vermont going into the first intermission.

The Huskies may not have gotten on the board in the first period, but head coach Jerry Keefe said he was pleased with how the team played nevertheless. 

“We liked our first period. They scored early, and I still like how we played in the first period. We didn’t get a goal, so you’re down going into the second [period], but we just talked about sticking to it, more reattack on pucks,” Keefe said. 

Northeastern came into the second period hungry to reclaim the game. With a revived fire behind the breakout, the fourth-liners rushed into the offensive zone and sophomore forward Matt Choupani tipped it home to get the Huskies on the board. Freshman forward Jack Williams and senior defenseman and assistant captain Jayden Struble were credited with the assists. 

Not even three minutes later, Williams scored his first career goal by flipping the puck over Carriere glove-side, off a backdoor pass from senior forward Matt DeMelis. DeMelis and freshman defenseman Hunter McDonald made the assists. 

“Obviously it’s good to get [the first goal] off my chest, but it was a good win,” Williams said.

The chemistry on the ice between the veterans and freshmen is coming together quickly, especially on this fourth line, said junior forward Sam Colangelo.

“They’ve probably been our best line so far,” Colangelo said. “And maybe they don’t get the notoriety as some other guys, but every time they’re on the ice, they seem to make something happen, so good for them.”

Keefe agreed with Colangelo. “They’re not typical fourth-liners. There’s a lot of skill on that line. They’re playing really, really well right now,” Keefe said. 

Two and a half minutes after the Huskies first took the lead, the scoreboard read 3-1. Using the same setup now on the second line, Colangelo buried one in off a feed by sophomore forward Jack Hughes from behind the net. Hughes and junior forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine were credited with the assists.

Northeastern’s response in the second period led the team to a 3-1 game going into the last 20 minutes of play with the shot count 9-2 Northeastern for the period, and 20-7 Northeastern in total.

Continuing to take many strides, the Huskies created many scoring opportunities in the third period.

However, the Catamounts were able to get on the board next. After a tripping penalty called on Northeastern’s Williams, Vermont capitalized on the power play with a goal from junior forward Will Zapernick to make the game 3-2, closing in on Northeastern’s lead.

The tables quickly turned when Vermont then took a hooking penalty and Northeastern took advantage of the power play. 

Senior forward and captain Aidan McDonough launched the puck past Carriere on a one-timer in the dot to take back the two-goal lead. Fontaine and Colangelo recorded the assists.

With under three minutes left in regulation, Northeastern took another penalty and Vermont pulled Carriere for a shot at getting back in the game, but they were unsuccessful.

Graduate student forward and assistant captain Jakov Novak scored a short-handed empty-netter unassisted to seal the deal and secure Northeastern’s 5-2 win. The total shot count finished 32-17 Northeastern.

“The penalties didn’t help, they throw us off our rhythm, they give the other team momentum. [Vermont] gets the power play goal and we’re a little on our heels after playing really well and the game is 3-2,” Keefe said. “I thought we took a step tonight. Last week we did some good things, some things we needed to work on. And then tonight I thought we built on that, we were better tonight. And now [Saturday] we gotta be even better.”

The Huskies are back at Matthews Arena Saturday for game two of this weekend’s series with the Catamounts. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.