Northeastern reclaims keys to Beantown in historic Beanpot shootout win over Harvard


Colette Pollauf

Captain and senior forward Aidan McDonough hoists the trophy above the Husky celebration. Thanks to a shootout goal from McDonough, Northeastern men’s hockey secured its eighth Beanpot title Monday night.

Julia Yohe and Amelia Ballingall

A sea of red and black shook TD Garden Monday night at the 70th Beanpot championship game, with thousands of fans flooding the stands to watch Northeastern and Harvard battle for the trophy for the first time in history. 

In Monday’s long-awaited matchup, the Huskies found their way to the top, coming back from a one-goal deficit in the third period and forcing the game to a shootout. Though the game will go into the books as a 2-2 tie, captain and senior forward Aidan McDonough’s heroic shootout goal gave the Huskies the championship title and city-wide bragging rights for the year to come.

In the last Northeastern-Harvard faceoff Jan. 1, the ninth-ranked Crimson (17-6-2, 14-4-0 ECAC) clobbered the unranked Huskies (14-10-5, 11-5-3 HE) in an 8-4 smackdown — the highest number of goals junior goaltender Devon Levi has ever allowed. 

In his first Beanpot, after missing last year’s tournament to represent Team Canada in the Olympics, the netminder was eager to return to his pack in Boston’s biggest college hockey tournament. 

“Everyone says how big the Beanpot is, but I didn’t realize it until I was here, standing on the ice and in my blue crease, looking around, seeing all the fans go crazy, seeing a packed NHL arena … it’s a dream,” Levi said. “My first experience with Northeastern was coming to watch Beanpot, and being here with the Beanpot in our hands is a crazy feeling.”

Out of the gate, Harvard seemed like the dominant team, outshooting the Huskies 12-7,  winning 60% of faceoffs in the first period and putting Levi to the test. However, Levi wasn’t alone in his efforts to protect the net. The team’s defensive wall was built by every Husky — 16 of the team’s 20 blocks that night were credited to forwards. 

Through a scoreless first period, the Huskies held strong defensively but struggled to land passes or generate much offensive momentum. As the clock wound down on the first frame, each team grew desperate to score, but their frantic attempts continued to miss the net — each goalie only needed to make a single save in the final four minutes of the period.

After a quick pep talk in the locker room, Northeastern’s frenzy turned into clarity. Just a minute and a half into the second frame, junior forward Sam Colangelo picked the puck up behind the net, dragged it up the right side of the sheet and fired a shot toward the Crimson net, drawing goalie Mitchell Gibson out of his crease. A tangle between Gibson and senior forward John Farinacci left a window open for junior forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine to poke in the puck off the rebound, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

But the Husky edge wouldn’t last for long. Less than a minute after Fontaine’s goal, Northeastern’s sole penalty of the night — a cross-checking minor against senior defenseman Tyler Spott — gave the Crimson the man-advantage they needed to tie the game. 

Sophomore defenseman Ian Moore started the cycle, passing the puck off to junior forward Sean Farrell at the right faceoff circle. Without a moment’s hesitation, Farrell passed across the zone to sophomore forward Matthew Coronato, Harvard’s leading scorer, who slapped it over Levi’s pad to put Harvard on the board.

As the score climbed, so did the fire on the ice. The two teams were aggressive, exchanging shoves between whistles and fighting voraciously for the puck.

Nine minutes into the second period, the Huskies got burned.

Senior defenseman Ryan Siedem zipped the puck through traffic, hitting Levi’s pads too quickly for him to get a glove on it. The puck bounced to the right of the net, where an eagerly awaiting Coronato chipped it into the top left corner to give Harvard the lead, earning his 18th goal of the season.

Though the Crimson maintained their lead through the latter half of the frame, for the first and only time that evening, Northeastern outshot Harvard 8-6. But with each team only notching single-digit shots, neither was able to keep consistent pressure on the opposing net.

After a slow opening in the third period, McDonough fired Northeastern’s first shot of the frame four and a half minutes in, flipping a switch and bringing his Huskies back to life. 

With a newfound offensive drive, Northeastern found the back of the net again with ease. 

Five minutes into the frame, senior forward Matt Demelis circled the puck up the boards and seamlessly handed it off to senior defenseman Jayden Struble. As Struble raced toward the net, Fontaine skittered backward to the opposite side of the crease, readying himself for a pass. Struble tapped the puck across the net to Fontaine on the doorstep. Fontaine took an easy backhand to tie the game at two and fill the Huskies with hope once again.

“We just needed to get one, and then it gives everybody a spark,” McDonough said. “For [Gunnarwolfe] to come out tonight and get one and then get the second one and keep us in [the game] is huge. When we get one, it gives our team energy, gives our team life, and usually, we’ll find a way.” 

Feeling the pressure, Harvard’s discipline began to slip. With 13:37 left in regulation, sophomore defenseman Jack Bar was sent to the box on an interference call, giving Northeastern the five-on-four advantage for the first time that night. 

Despite a heavy presence in Harvard’s zone, the Huskies were unable to develop a successful power play, only tacking on two shots during the two-minute advantage. 

Huskies and Crimson alike were able to create offensive opportunities once the game returned to even strength, but the score remained knotted at two. With 15 seconds left on the clock, each team took a timeout in a last-ditch effort to set up their final play, but to no avail, as regulation quickly ran out without another score on the board.

Throughout the five minutes of overtime play, Northeastern dominated possession. Early in the extra frame, freshman defender Vinny Borgesi was able to get a breakaway, but his attempt was swallowed up by Gibson. The Huskies then continued to pummel Gibson with shots, keeping Harvard on its heels and allowing the Crimson to take only one shot against Levi in the extra period.

Junior goaltender Devon Levi lines up to catch Harvard junior forward Sean Farrell’s shootout attempt. Levi earned the Eberly Award and tournament MVP by posting a .951 save percentage through both games. (Colette Pollauf)

After running down a full 65 minutes of play, the battle between the two teams turned into something unheard of — a Beanpot shootout. In 2020, the NCAA abolished the tournament’s extended overtime rule in favor of hockey’s typical tie-breaker.

With all three of Harvard’s attempts coming up empty-handed and a clean goal from McDonough, the Huskies secured the Beanpot win — and the Boston glory — for the fourth time in five years. 

The Huskies threw their gloves into the air and embraced across the ice in celebration of the victory; “Stacy’s Mom” rang through the arena, The DogHouse shaking the Garden with its triumph; and when the dust was settled, it was not just the Beanpot trophy thrust high in the air, but also two individual honors both awarded to Levi. 

In an on-ice ceremony, the goaltender, who saved 65 of 68 shots over two games, received the Eberly Award for his .951 save percentage, the best in the tournament and seventh-best of all time, and the MVP Award for the contributions to his team that continually filled the stadium with roaring appreciation.

And whether the fate of the pot is to be displayed on a mantle or used as a vessel for eating and drinking, rest assured it will spend the year lying securely in Northeastern arms until the next Beantown showdown.

“Harvard is an excellent team, and we knew it was going to be a battle tonight … [so I’m] really proud of the guys,” said head coach Jerry Keefe. “Seeing them jump off the bench as [Levi] made that save, and seeing them salute the fans — the crowd was unbelievable tonight — it just means a lot to the players.”