The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

Men’s hockey looks to extend hot streak into Beanpot tournament

Jack+Williams+skates+down+the+ice+in+the+2023+Beanpot+finals.+Williams+is+the+Huskies+points+leader+this+season+with+30+points+%2814+goals%2C+16+assists%29.
Colette Pollauf
Jack Williams skates down the ice in the 2023 Beanpot finals. Williams is the Huskies’ points leader this season with 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists).

The men’s Beanpot tournament kicks off at TD Garden Monday night. Reigning champion Northeastern will seek to defend its trophy, and what seemed like a daunting task at the beginning of the season looks much more promising now. 

Northeastern comes into the tournament on a four-game winning streak, including massive victories against two top 10 teams. After sweeping Merrimack College last weekend, the Huskies defeated No. 3 Boston University 4-3 in overtime Jan. 30 and earned a 6-3 regulation victory against No. 6 University of Maine Feb. 2. 

“We’re pumped,” said senior forward Michael Outzen. “I think we’re really finding our stride here, which is something that we’ve been looking for, and I think we’ve found it at the perfect time. There’s no bigger games than the ones coming up and the trophies are still in front of us and they’re there for the taking.”

Now, the Huskies will seek to extend their winning streak to five when they face Harvard University in the Beanpot semifinals, a rematch of last year’s championship game. However, this season’s Crimson squad is in a much different place. 

Throughout the 2022-23 season, Harvard was a top 10 team, so the unranked Huskies’ Beanpot victory came as a surprise to the city and a welcome one to the legions of Northeastern fans in attendance.

This season, along with having more fan support, Northeastern also has better footing. Harvard has racked up a measly four wins this season, all of them in-conference, where they rank tenth of 12 ECAC teams. Meanwhile, the Huskies have climbed up to eighth in Hockey East, the most difficult conference in the country this season, and 19th in the nation.

“Any opponent, no matter who it is, we’re not going to take them lightly and we owe a lot of respect for Harvard as well,” said graduate student forward Pito Walton. “They’re a great program and, coming from Princeton, I played them for the past four years so I know their game a little bit and they definitely are a talented group, but I think if we focus on the things we need to focus on and just sort of take one period, one shift at a time, I think the result will work out at the end of the day.”

With its weak record and low scoring, and not a single player above the 20-point mark, Harvard shouldn’t be much of a threat to the Huskies — but it will be a much different story for Northeastern in the second round. Whether the Huskies are playing in the championship or the consolation, they’ll be facing one of the top teams in the country: No. 1 Boston College or No. 3 BU. 

The Hryckowian brothers work together to score in a game against Merrimack College. Justin and Dylan Hryckowian were recently promoted to the top line together and hold 23 and 20 points on the season, respectively. (Val O’Neill)

While Northeastern’s been on its way up, BU has suffered an opposite fate. Despite beating the University of New Hampshire Wildcats Feb. 2, the Terriers lost the three previous games, all against Beanpot rivals. The Terriers were swept in the “Battle of Comm. Ave,” losing their number-one ranking to the Boston College Eagles in the process, and then fell to the then-unranked Huskies just a few nights later. 

The Terriers and Huskies have faced each other twice this season and both games were decided in overtime, so it’s likely to be a tight matchup if they end up on opposite sides of the ice once again.

Meanwhile, BC has been on top of the world this whole season. The Eagles picked up a good chunk of the United States’ world juniors roster, including freshman forwards Ryan Leonard, Gabe Perreault and Will Smith, who are three of the team’s four points leaders, the fourth being sophomore forward Cutter Gauthier. Those four players are responsible for half of the Eagles’ points this season, contributing more than 30 apiece for a collective 141, so they’ll be players to watch in this year’s Beanpot. 

However, Northeastern has held them at bay before — one of BC’s four losses this season came from Northeastern. The Huskies split a home-and-home series against the Eagles in December, a huge upset for the Chestnut Hill team. 

BC faces BU in the first round of the Beanpot, the pair’s third game in a week and a half. The Eagles swept that first series, and with BU also falling to the Huskies this week, the later semifinal game is likely to swing in BC’s favor.

One thing that’s crucial for Northeastern in this Beanpot tournament is to stay out of the box, especially in the first round. Harvard has the third-best power-play unit in the country, and BU and BC aren’t far behind at eighth and 10th, respectively. 

Rivalry games get aggressive, with not just a trophy, but citywide glory on the line, so these games could heat up quickly. 

After facing a slew of injuries — including captain and junior forward Justin Hryckowian, leading scorer and sophomore forward Jack Williams and star sophomore star defender Hunter McDonald — in the first half of the season, Northeastern finally returned at full strength for the Merrimack series and hasn’t lost a game since. The Huskies need to stay healthy. 

One benefit to all that turnover, however, has been that a lot of guys have gotten ice time and will be ready for anything the Beanpot throws their way. 

Cameron Whitehead watches the puck skitter just wide of his net. Whitehead started 24 games so far this season and accumulated a .911 save percentage. (Sofia Sawchuk)

“I feel like my role is just whatever the team needs,” said graduate student forward Brett Edwards, who won a national tournament at TD Garden with the University of Denver in 2022. “I’m back on the fourth line right now, and I was fortunate enough to get a little bit more time there when guys were out. But now guys are back and we seem to be rolling.”

Between freshmen and transfers, Northeastern gained 13 new players at the beginning of the season, so the Beanpot will be a new experience for many of them, including freshman goaltender Cameron Whitehead, who’s hit his stride in recent games. Whitehead holds a .911 save percentage across 24 games. 

“Every player’s a little bit different,” head coach Jerry Keefe said. “You want to enjoy the moment. I think if you’re an elite player and you’re someone who loves challenges, this is a great opportunity, and I know [Whitehead]’s like that, so for him it’s just kinda getting settled into the game just like all of our young guys, and once you do that, it is just another game. 

Just happens to be in a bigger venue with a lot more people. But for me, [Whitehead]’s played in some hostile environments this year on the road and has played well, so I think he’s the type of player to rise to the occasion,” Keefe added. 

The Beanpot is Boston’s most highly-anticipated college hockey tournament and in just seven short days, a new champion will be crowned for the 71st edition of the contest.

Competition begins 5 p.m. Monday night with Northeastern taking on Harvard before BC and BU take to the ice at 8 p.m. The following Monday, the consolation game is slated for 4:30 p.m., and the sure-to-be electric championship commences at 7:30 p.m.

After the women’s team hoisted the trophy in TD Garden last weekend, the men hope to do the same and repeat last year’s sweep. 

“We’ve known that we’re a really good team all year, but obviously getting the results that we need right now at this specific time before Beanpot, before this week, just sort of gives you the confidence and mentally just sort of makes you feel the right way going into a big weekend,” Walton said.

About the Contributors
Amelia Ballingall, Sports Editor
Amelia Ballingall is a third-year speech language pathology and audiology major. She is sports editor for The News and previously served as deputy sports editor and deputy design editor. She is also Vice President of Membership Development for Delta Phi Epsilon, the social media manager for Speech and Hearing Club, and a Student Success Guide on campus. Amelia is looking forward to another great semester with The News!
Colette Pollauf, Deputy Photo Editor
Colette Pollauf, deputy photo editor of The News, is a second-year journalism major with minors in political science and photojournalism. She currently works as a staff writer and photographer for The Scope: Boston, and has worked for Woof Magazine in the past. She is excited for her second semester as deputy photo editor and third semester with The News as she begins her first co-op at Nicole Chan Photography in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @ColettePollauf for updates.
Val O'Neill, Deputy Campus Editor
Val O’Neill is a third-year journalism major with a minor in photography, and one of the deputy campus editors. She has previously been a staff writer and staff photographer, and is excited to bring new ideas and continue her participation on The News. You can follow her on X/Twitter at @vqon717.
More to Discover