Huskies sweep cats into the bag as Northeastern shuts out UVM 5-0


Ali Caudle

Junior forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine battles against the University of Vermont Saturday at Matthews Arena.

Eli Curwin, news staff

The Northeastern men’s hockey team (3-0-0, 2-0-0 HE) defeated the University of Vermont Catamounts (0-4-0, 0-4-0 HE) 5-0 Oct. 8. Led by senior forward and captain Aidan McDonough’s four points, sophomore forward Justin Hryckowian’s two goals and a record-tying shutout performance from junior goalie Devon Levi, the Huskies swept the Catamounts, securing the top seed in Hockey East

The night before, Northeastern routed the Catamounts 5-2 in a decisive win. On the second night of back-to-back conference play against UVM, Northeastern’s offense and defense looked poised and intentional the entire game, a point of emphasis for head coach Jerry Keefe. 

“I really liked how we came out. We want to establish a certain kind of play, and I felt we did that in the first period. And I liked how we closed the game out in the third,” Keefe said. “We wanted to make sure that we were playing the right way, and I felt we did that.”

While Northeastern struggled in the first period on Friday, the Huskies started the opening period on Saturday confidently, matching the Catamounts’ revenge-driven aggression. A boarding penalty on Vermont senior forward Jacques Bouquot gave the Huskies an early advantage, but a swarming UVM defense prevented Northeastern from converting.

Following the power play, the period continued as a feisty back-and-forth, with both teams mustering opportunities in transition but unable to score. However, after another Vermont penalty, Northeastern would make up for its initial power play woes with a beautiful tip-in goal from Hryckowian, assisted by McDonough and junior forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine. 

Down one score, Vermont’s offense found much-needed life, attempting six shots in two minutes. Perfect play in net from Levi mitigated the high energy Catamounts, keeping the Huskies’ lead.

A Vermont power play following a Northeastern holding penalty put the Huskies at an apparent disadvantage, but Northeastern’s penalty kill, or PK, was impenetrable, dumping the puck across the ice, forcing UVM to scramble into its advantage.

Killing the advantage, Northeastern’s offense began firing on all cylinders, but could not seem to get past UVM graduate student goaltender Oskar Autio. Deflecting an onslaught of shots, Autio kept Northeastern’s fast-paced transition offense from the back of the net.

However, as the roaring offense berated Autio with shots, Northeastern graduate student forward Liam Walsh nearly scored on a breakaway. Corralling his rebound, freshman defenseman Jackson Dorrington whipped a pretty pass to freshman forward Cam Lund, who found McDonough for his second point of the night. 

The period ended with a two-score lead for Northeastern, but also with more penalties for both teams, an omen of the heaps of whistles to come.

Momentum from the first period carried over for the Huskies, as the team found the net early in the second. After a Vermont 3-on-2 shot attempt soared over Northeastern’s net, a trio of Huskies, led by sophomore forward Jack Hughes, rushed across the ice. Hughes sent the puck across the ice to McDonough, who found Fontaine in the middle for the one-timer goal.

For the Huskies, everything seemed to be clicking. Aggressive defense led to fast and efficient offense, and UVM could not seem to handle the roaring Huskies. It would be the stripes that would hamper the Huskies’ energy.

Five minutes into the period, a hooking penalty on Lund put the Huskies at a disadvantage. Thirty seconds later, a slashing penalty on Vermont sophomore forward Simon Jellúš put both teams down a skater. 

With Lund freed from the box, Northeastern would have a 30 second advantage, though the team would not be able to capitalize. After another 30 seconds, Hryckowian was sent to the box for interference, putting the Huskies down a skater again. 

Northeastern’s penalty kill remained strong, a theme for the night, and the Huskies’ ability to dump the puck and force errant passes allowed them to gain momentum, overcoming any frustration the referees may have caused.

“I thought [our PK] was excellent,” Keefe said. “If we are blocking shots and we got great sticks, we are going to be effective on the PK, and that gives our entire team a big boost.”

After one more penalty on sophomore defenseman Braden Doyle, the Huskies were finally able to get all six skaters on the ice for the first time in nearly seven minutes.

Here, Northeastern’s offense caught fire, attempting eight shots in three minutes. While Autio was able to stave off the Huskies fourth goal of the night temporarily, a second tip-in from Hyrckowian off a Doyle shot gave the Huskies a near insurmountable lead.

Heading into the third period, the Catamount coaches had seen enough of Autio, replacing him with junior goalie Gabe Carriere, who started the first three minutes of the period well.

However, much like Autio, Carriere simply could not handle the assailing Northeastern offense, giving Northeastern its fifth goal of the night. Following a faceoff win, Dorrington looked to set up the Husky offense, passing to senior defenseman Jeremie Bucheler. Bucheler cruised a bewildering pass across the ice to McDonough, who weaved around the goalie for the backhand goal. Dorrington and Bucheler both got assists on the game-winner, and McDonough’s second goal earned him his fourth point of the night.

The rest of the period continued with an impressive Northeastern offensive showing, as quick passing and movement nearly gave them another score. While the team was unable to convert another goal, the Huskies ended the game with the same aggression and energy it started with. The victory marks the third win in a row for the undefeated Huskies.

While Levi had played well in his first two games, he hadn’t looked like the shot-snatching savant from last season. Tonight, however, Levi’s shiftiness in front of the net and quick glove and pad saves seemed like the Mike Richter award winner he was last season. In addition to finding his groove, Levi tied Northeastern’s shutout record, 11 shutout games, in only 35 outings. The record was previously set in 2012 by Chris Rawlings, who set the record in 123 games.  

Northeastern will look to continue its hot streak against Providence College 7:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at Matthews Arena.