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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

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Another thrilling come-from-behind win seals Northeastern’s second straight Beanpot sweep

Captain+Justin+Hryckowian+hoists+the+Beanpot+trophy+over+his+head.+Northeastern+defeated+BU+4-3+in+overtime+in+the+71st+Beanpot+tournament.+
Sofia Sawchuk
Captain Justin Hryckowian hoists the Beanpot trophy over his head. Northeastern defeated BU 4-3 in overtime in the 71st Beanpot tournament.

History is bound to repeat itself. 

Northeastern and Boston University take it to a 4-3 overtime finish, senior forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine scores a game-winning overtime goal, the Huskies claim a Beanpot sweep. 

If the Huskies do one thing well, it’s win Beanpots. Although BU came into the game the No. 3 team in the country after upsetting No. 1 Boston College for a slot in the title game, while Northeastern could barely defeat the struggling Harvard Crimson in the Feb. 6 semifinal, the Huskies still claimed the championship win Monday night. 

“When [Athletic Director Jim Madigan and I] got into this tournament over the last six or seven years, we expected to win,” said head coach Jerry Keefe. “We didn’t feel like the underdog. I think our program’s at a spot now that when we go out, we feel like we play our game, we should win. It’s important for our guys to feel that way when they’re walking off the bus. You’re not hoping to win. It’s knowing that if you go out and play your game, you should win.”

Jack Williams lifts his arms to the crowd in celebration of his power-play goal. Williams was one of four scorers for the Huskies in the Beanpot championship, each of them part of Northeastern men’s hockey’s leadership team. (Sofia Sawchuk)

Northeastern had been leading up to this moment for weeks, riding a five-game winning streak into the championship match-up and finally developing some much-needed consistency. And while they had to claw their way to the finish tooth and nail, the Huskies were able to scrape out a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime win to earn their second straight Beanpot title.

On paper, the Terriers were the dominant team, but they’re not the ones holding a trophy. BU outshot Northeastern a drastic 36-17 across nearly 65 minutes of play, but the Huskies made their chances count, squeezing out four goals for a nearly 25% success rate. 

While the Huskies strung together series after series of clean passes, solidly maintaining possession, they struggled to get past the neutral zone in the first period and BU pounced on every mistake their rivals made. 

In fact, BU’s first goal was a Northeastern mistake at its worst — a defensive turnover reminiscent of an era of this season the Huskies would much rather leave behind. 

With five minutes left in the first period, graduate student defender Pito Walton whiffed on his attempt to clear the puck from the zone with BU’s top line hot on his heels. Left 2-on-0 in front of the crease, freshman goalie Cameron Whitehead stood no chance against electric freshman forwards Jack Harvey and Macklin Celebrini. Stealing the puck off Walton, Harvey flicked it over to Celebrini in the low slot, and the 17-year-old had no problem finding the back of the net to put the Terriers up 1-0.

Although the Huskies were able to break out of the zone in the latter half of the opening frame, they couldn’t find the right angle. Northeastern whipped plenty of shots toward BU junior goaltender Mathieu Caron, but a mere three of them made it into his crease, and the Brown University transfer skated off the ice far too relaxed after the first 20 minutes of play.

The Terriers came out in the second period with the same attack as the first, relentlessly taking shots on goal. In the sixth minute, BU fired the puck at Northeastern’s goal, but it deflected off the crossbar, a missed opportunity to double its lead.

Northeastern then quickly gained momentum and possession of the puck, working as a collective unit to beat BU into its zone. Developing a 3-on-1, the Huskies found their opportunity.

Sophomore forward Cam Lund glided with the puck toward Boston University’s net, but instead of shooting, he passed to Fontaine. Receiving the puck on the opposite side of the net, Fontaine proceeded to redirect it across the crease, bouncing the puck off of Caron. Graduate student forward Matt DeMelis, in the right place at the right time, connected with the puck and sent it into the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1 and tallying his second goal of the season.

Whitehead continued to deliver for the Huskies as BU applied pressure in the offensive zone, firing off multiple shots. There was nothing he could do, however, when sophomore defender Vinny Borgesi stumbled on ice, turning over the puck in the offensive zone. A 2-on-1 developed the other way, as the Terriers raced across the ice toward Northeastern’s net. Sophomore forward Devin Kaplan attempted a pass to graduate forward Sam Stevens, but sophomore defender Hunter McDonald’s stick intercepted the puck as it bounced over Whitehead and into the net. The unfortunate play for the Huskies put the Terriers up 2-1 in the 10th minute of the period.

But Northeastern didn’t let BU’s lead extend any further. Thirty seconds later, freshman forward Dylan Hryckowian passed the puck to his brother, captain and junior forward Justin Hryckowian, who took it down the ice by himself. After his initial shot was blocked, ricocheting off of the boards, Justin Hryckowian picked up his own rebound and then shot the puck between Caron’s legs, retying the game 2-2.

“That was a good battle by my brother to get [the puck] off the wall and get it to me,” Justin Hryckowian said. “I just wanted to get a shot on net … and luckily it squeaked through.”

The fight for the lead continued as BU dominated with shots on goal over the Huskies, but were unable to find the back of the net. 

With six minutes left in the period, the Terriers gained their first advantage of the night as graduate forward Liam Walsh was sent to the box for tripping. In the two-minute power play, BU had limited opportunities on goal as the Huskies successfully cleared its advances.

Possession was back-and-forth following the power play, with both teams desperate to secure a lead before the end of the period. In the end, it was BU that scored with just seven seconds remaining in the second period. Sophomore defenseman Lane Hutson squeezed a shot past Whitehead, securing his 11th goal of the season.

Despite the late-in-the-period BU goal, Northeastern came out in the third still ready to fight — in more ways than one. Finally outshooting the Terriers, leading 8-7 in attempts in the final frame, Northeastern took a penalty just two and a half minutes into the period. 

Although the Terriers found some chances this time, they still couldn’t break past Northeastern’s penalty kill unit.

But a little further down the line, with a 5-on-4 advantage of their own, Northeastern did. With BU captain and graduate student defender Case McCarthy in the box for holding, the Huskies dominated on the power play. For nearly a minute and a half, Northeastern never left the zone, wearing the Terriers’ skaters down as they collected rebound after rebound to set up a new attempt every time. 

On the left flank, sophomore forward Jack Williams was the Huskies’ main collector, fighting off BU’s penalty kill unit to keep the puck in possession, so it was only fair that he had the tying goal. 

From the top of the zone, Borgesi cycled the puck down to Williams at the left faceoff circle and Williams pounded in the one-timer with ferocity, blasting clean past Caron to knot it up at 3-3.

With regulation coming to a close, the Terriers seemed desperate to escape the same fate they’d seen with Northeastern all season — overtime. BU tightened around its offensive zone, creating dangerous chances at the net, but the Huskies swatted them away, staying alive through the buzzer.

Northeastern’s no stranger to overtime. Two of the Huskies’ previous three games have ended in 3-on-3 sudden death, and Northeastern won both times.

This one was a nail-biter until the very end. Although BU managed to get six shots on goal in the sudden death round, the Huskies only needed one to get it done, and it came with just 28 seconds left. 

Northeastern had the majority of possession in overtime, its passing game on point as it closed in on a winning finish. 

Breaking into the offensive zone 2-on-1, Justin Hryckowian and Fontaine knew just how to close out the night. After all, they did it last week against Harvard. 

From the goal line, Justin Hryckowian whisked the puck past a pair of BU skaters to an open Fontaine. Fontaine went top shelf, tucking the puck under the crossbar to win Northeastern’s fifth Beanpot in the last six years. 

“It’s another game where everyone is playing great around you and playing the right way,” Fontaine said. “Just two great plays out of Justin in those back-to-back overtimes. I owe a lot to him.”

For his dual game-winning overtime goals, the assistant captain was granted the title of MVP.

“I’m still not going to focus too much on myself. I’m just glad we won as a team out there,” Fontaine said. “Being a [three-time] Beanpot champion will stick with me for the rest of my life.”

Also incredibly deserving of his award was Whitehead, who nabbed the Eberly Award, Northeastern’s sixth in a row, for his top goaltending marks in the competition. The freshman netminder, who stopped 54 of 59 attempts for a tournament save percentage of .915, had a stellar performance against BU and played a large part in Northeastern’s win. 

“He just keeps getting better,” Keefe said. “That kid is dialed in, and he’s got a lot of confidence in himself, and obviously our group has a lot of confidence in him. To do it on the big stage as a freshman, that’s huge.”

Cameron Whitehead watched the puck float past his net. The freshman goaltender made 33 saves in the Beanpot title game against BU. (Sofia Sawchuk)

Northeastern may have the least Beanpot trophies of the tournament teams, with nine to their name in 71 iterations of the competition, but they’re winning where it matters: here and now. 

“It hasn’t been an easy year. We started off the season 2-7,” Keefe said. “You got to give that leadership group a ton of credit because they did not sway one ounce all year. They believed in each other and just kept focused on getting better every single day. Right now, I feel like we’re playing our best hockey of the year.”

In the last decade or so, the Huskies have made themselves a constant force to be reckoned with on the glistening ice of TD Garden, and they certainly aren’t slowing down. 

With not only two men’s Beanpot titles, but two Beanpot sweeps — as Northeastern’s women’s team was crowned just a few weeks ago — the Huskies have another year of glory ahead of them as their name hangs down from the rafters of the Garden, a modern dynasty.

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!
Sofia Garrett, Deputy Sports Editor
Sofia Garrett is a second-year journalism and media and screen studies major at Northeastern University. She previously edited her own documentary in London and managed the social media accounts for her town’s local bakery, along with working as the women’s soccer beat writer for The News. Now, she serves as the deputy sports editor and is on co-op with The Boston Globe.
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