Broncos Kick Huskies in OT

Western Michigan punches ticket to Worcester Regional Final for the first time. Worcester, MA –Sudden death wasn’t so sudden at the DCU Center on Friday afternoon. The Western Michigan Broncos and Northeastern Huskies skated to a 1-1 tie after 60 minutes of regulation play. The NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Regional game would need extra time and an official review to determine an… Continue reading Broncos Kick Huskies in OT

2021-22 Worcester Regional Preview

Reading, Ma- The Worcester Regional begins on Friday at noon EST at the DCU Center. The third overall seed Western Michigan University Broncos will face off against the fourteenth seeded Northeastern University Huskies in the opening game. The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers will take on the defending National Champion University of Massachusetts Minutemen at 6:00 pm EST.

The winner of this region will face the winner of the Albany Regional at Boston’s TD Garden on Thursday, April 7, 2022, in the Frozen Four.

(1) Western Michigan Broncos (25-11-1) vs. (4) Northeastern Huskies (25-12-1)

A battle of first-year head coaches awaits WMU’s Pat Ferschweiler and NU’s Jerry Keefe in Worcester. Each team comes into Friday’s game having experienced a letdown of sorts; both had solid chances to, in NU’s case, advance to the conference finals and in WMU’s to win the conference final.

The Huskies are back-stopped by one of college hockey’s premier goalies this season, Devon Levi. The sophomore from Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, is at or near the top in all statistical categories. Levi sits for sixth in wins, third in GAA with a 1.52 average, first in SV% on .952, and second with ten shutouts. The 6′-0″ Levi missed six games while participating in the Beijing Olympics for Team Canada.

“It’ll be fun to go up against an opponent like that,” said Levi of the Broncos. “It will definitely be a challenge but it’s one that we’re all excited for.”

Junior Brandon Bussi, who’s having a career year, handles the Broncos net. The 6′-5″ Sound Beach, NY., native is 25-11-1, with a 2.60 GAA, .910 SV%, and four shutouts.

The Huskies average 2.58 goals per game while the Broncos average 3.68. Defensively they are flipped, with NU giving up 1.74 a game and WMU allowing 2.62. The Broncos are slightly older, bigger, and heavier than the Huskies. Northeastern has eight NHL prospects to two on Western Michigan.

Against the tournament field, the Broncos are 9-10-1, as they play four qualifying teams in NCHC play. Western Michigan is 8-9-1 against their three conference foes that qualified for the NCAAs.  WMU is 6-3 at home and 1-7-1 away from Lawson Ice Arena. 1-1 is the neutral site record for the Broncos. They are 1-1 against non-conference opponents.

“We’re battle-tested from being in the NCHC,” said Ferschweiler. “We have the number three overall seed for a team that was picked to finish sixth in our own conference.”

“It should be a highly entertaining game and up and down the ice is what I would expect,” added the Broncos coach.

Northeastern has only lined up against three schools that made the big dance. The Huskies are a combined 2-4 against the field. 1-2 at home and 1-2 away. NU is 1-0 in non-con action against the field.

The Broncos are paced offensively by Hobey Baker Award nominee Ethan Frank and his 38 points, 26 goals, and 12 assists. Fellow senior Drew Worrad (9-35-44) is the leading point-getter for WMU. Defensemen Ronnie Attard and Michael Joyaux follow up with 36 and 32 points. The Broncos are a balanced mix of upperclassmen and freshmen and are the fourth leading goal-scoring team in the NCAA.

NU’s focal point is junior Aidan McDonough (24-14-38), Sam Colangelo (12-14-26), and Jack Hughes (7-9-16). The second line of Jakov Novak, Justin Hryckowian, and Gunnarwolfe Fontaine are almost equally as dangerous, combining for 23 goals and 36 assists.

The Huskies are a solid defensive team led by a pair of Montreal Canadiens picks, Jordan Harris and Jayden Struble. Jeremie Bucheler, Tommy Miller, and Julian Kislin give the blue line some physical pop.

The two teams last met in 2013, a 1-1 tie, in the Shillelagh Tournament at Notre Dame. Northeastern holds the edge in the overall series 3-0-1.

 

(2) Minnesota Golden Gophers (24-12-0) vs. (3) Massachusetts Minutemen (22-12-2)

The Massachusetts Minutemen are the reigning champs and seem to be putting their best hockey in front of them at the right time. Having blown a chance at the Hockey East regular-season title in the last weekend of conference play might have been the team’s wake-up call. Three straight wins in the Hockey East tourney led to a celebration on the TD Garden ice, the goal all season, but more so in April than in March. This past Saturday, the Minnesota Golden Gophers lost the Big Ten championship game against Michigan 4-3. So they’ll come into Worcester with a fire in their belly.

As the season played out, both squads have been in the top half of the rankings. Each has faced adversity and is here where many expected they would be.

“I kind of like that we’re going in as the underdog,” said Massachusetts coach Greg Carvel. “But at the same time, we’re the defendant champions and we’re going to do everything we can to defend our title.”

“I’m just excited to have the opportunity to defend,” added the sixth-year coach. “It’s hard when you come back after winning, and everybody’s gunning for you. But when it got to the end of the year, when things got real serious, our team started to rise, and we played some really good defensive hockey. We played some really good, hard, heavy hockey against two good, hard, heavy teams.”

“It strengthened us to go into the NCAA tournament,” said Carvel. “I feel like our identity really, really showed through the Hockey East playoffs.”

The Minutemen and Gophers last faced each other in 2016-17, Massachusetts Carvel’s first season, during the Mariucci Classic at Minnesota. The Gophers won 4-1. The Gophers are 4-0 all-time against Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is 3-4-1 against the field and 0-4 against non-con opponents. Minnesota is 7-8 against the tourney teams and 3-4 against those not in the Big Ten. The Minutemen are 3-2 at home, 1-2-1 on the road, and 1-0 at neutral sites. The Golden Gophers are 3-4 at home and 4-4 away.

As defending champs, the Minutemen have had the target on their backs all season and have gotten every team’s best punch night in and night out. Massachusetts has experience up and down their lineup. The senior class has experienced the highs and lows of NCAA tournament success. Bobby Trivigno leads the Minutemen, the 5′-8″ Hobey Baker Award hopeful with 20 goals and 28 assists for the team-leading 48 points, third-best in the NCAA. His 20 goals are fifth-best, and his assists are sixth-best overall.

When it comes to Trivigno, it’s more than just the numbers.

“He’s the most unique kid I’ve ever coached. It’s not even close,” said Carvel of Trivigno. “He never gets tired, he never has a bad attitude, and he never gets out-willed. Never, never, never. Every single day. He’s the hardest-working kid. He has a fire inside him. On match, not even close. Unbelievable.”

 

Junior Ben Meyers (16-21-37), senior Blake McLaughlin (12-20-32), and freshman Matthew Knies (12-17-29) lead the Gophers. Minnesota has 14 NHL draft picks on their roster, the most of any school. The Minutemen have six.

Minnesota’s roster is loaded with talent and can roll four lines, three with high-end talent. Massachusetts goalie Matt Murray will have his hands full on Friday night.

Murray, a graduate student, isn’t flashy and doesn’t get the attention that he deserves. The 6′-1″ St. Albert, Alberta native, is the career leader in wins (73) for the Minutemen and the record holder for shutouts with 14. This season Murray has started all but one game. He is 21-11-2 with a 2.27 GAA and a .919 SV%.

Bob Motzko’s team was 12-8 in early January when goalie Jack LaFontaine, a three-year starter in goal, left the team for the NHL. Junior Justen Close has gone 12-4 in the interim.

In his previous two years, Close had three starts. He now sits with a 1.89 GAA and a .928 SV%. in 16 games this season. The Gophers have rallied as a team since Close took over the netminding duties.

 

UConn Moves On to Hockey East Finals

Connecticut’s Huskies Topple Northeastern, Advance in Postseason Play Boston, MA – The Connecticut Huskies punched their ticket to Saturday’s Hockey East Finals with a convincing 4-1 win over the top-seeded Northeastern Huskies at TD Garden. UConn is making the most of their best postseason since joining Hockey East.  Connecticut beat Boston University 3-1 in Hartford, CT, to notch their first-ever playoff win… Continue reading UConn Moves On to Hockey East Finals

Hockey East Semifinal Preview

Reading, MA. – The Hockey East Championship returns to TD Garden after a two-year COVID hiatus. The quartet vying for the Lamoriello Trophy are all capable of winning the tournament and securing the automatic NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey tourney bid. Three of the last four schools to win the tournament are back representing their institutions; the Massachusetts Minutemen: the two seed and defending Champs, the Northeastern Huskies: the 2019 winner and the number one seed, and the UMass-Lowell River Hawks: the three seed and three-time winner in the 2010s. The newcomer to the TD Garden party is the Connecticut Huskies. UConn won its first HEA playoff game last weekend, 3-1 over Boston University, to earn their first trip to Garden.

Six of the Top 10 scoring leaders in the conference are still playing this weekend. League leader Bobby Trivigno of Massachusetts, the reigning HEA Player of the Year, has a 14-18-32 statline. Second place belongs to UConn’s Ryan Tverberg 11-15-26, while Northeastern’s Aidan McDonough is third on 16-9-25. Minutemen defenseman Scott Morrow is fourth with 11-12-23. UConn’s Jachym Kondelik and Massachusetts Ryan Ufko tied for fifth with 22 points each. Kondelik has 7G-15A and Ufko has 3G-19A. The River Hawks might not be top ten points-wise but have a pair of forwards lurking just below, Andre Lee and Carl Berglund. The two Swedes tied on 19 points. Lee has 13G-6A and Berglund has 4G-15A. 

The beauty of this weekend is that any game can just as quickly be an offensive shootout as it can be a pair of goalies trading save for save in a 1-0 thriller. 

Three of the top goalies statistically speaking are remaining as well. In HEA action, Devon Levi of Northeastern leads all with a 1.64 GAA and .951 SV%. UMass-Lowell’s Owen Savory is second with a 1.81 GAA and a .931 SV%. Matt Murray is fifth overall for the Minutemen on 2.19 and .920. Like the scoring race, UConn’s Darion Hanson sits just below the top five in sixth with a 2.35 GAA and .919 SV%. 

Of the four schools, UConn needs to win the title to advance to NCAA play. Massachusetts should be ok with a loss; Northeastern and UMass-Lowell are on the bubble but wins on Friday certainly help further cement a spot. 

Connecticut Huskies 19-15-0 (HEA 14-10-0-2-1-0) vs. Northeastern Huskies 25-11-1 (HEA 15-8-1-1-1-1)                                                       

The Northeastern variant of Huskies won the season series two games to one. In October, the Connecticut strain won the first game 5-3 at Matthews Arena, while NU swept the weekend home-and-home in late February, 3-1 and 5-2. Sorry, COVID speak has taken over so much these last few years. Is it better than a Huskies joke?

Aidan McDonough had solid numbers against UConn in the three games. He netted a hat-trick in the last meeting. The junior from Milton, Ma. has five goals and four assists in the three meetings between the teams. Expect more of the same as McDonough plays well at TD Garden, 1G-3A in four games. 

Aidan McDonough beats Hugo Ollas with 9.6 seconds remaining to clinch the Hockey East regular season title for the Northeastern Huskies over the Merrimack Warriors on March 5, 2022.

“I’m really excited for our group,” said Northeastern Head Coach Jerry Keefe. “It’s hard to get back to the Boston Garden. You have to earn that and I’m proud of them to beat a really good BC team here in the first round of the playoffs.” 

“We know them (UConn) very well. They know us very well,” said the reigning Hockey East Coach of the Year when asked about the familiarity of the two teams that have recently played. “You know tendencies; it’s not too tough to find teaching clips because we just played them twice. They’re a good team. We’re going to have to prepare. This time of year, you have to play your best hockey.”

“They’re a physical team,” added Keefe about UConn and their size. “They finish checks. They have some big, big bodies, especially up front that are good on the forecheck that will finish hits.”

“They’re a heavy team, they got to the net really hard,” Keefe said. “We need to make sure that we’re boxing out early and we’re hard to play against in front of our own net.”

The players echoed Keefe’s thoughts in facing UConn’s forwards.

“I think defensively we have to be in the right positions at the right time,” said senior co-captain Julian Kislin. “Just stay in front of the guys, we’re not going to be able to move big guys as easily, but, playing the right D in the right spots and making the right reads will carry us through the game.”

“There are some big boys. They’re heavy down low,” added fellow senior co-captain, Jordan Harris. “It’s nice to be able to practice against, every day; we have some big boys down low that can hold on to the puck and shield the puck. We practice it every day. You learn some different things. They’re going to shoot the puck from everywhere. They had like 100 shots when they played us, over two games, so it’s not easy. They’re a good team.”

“It’s going to be a good game,” added Kislin.

Jachym Kondelik, a 6′-5″ forward from the Czech Republic, led UConn in scoring during the season. The Nashville Predators pick 12 goals and 21 assists for 33 points on the season. Connecticut will need more from him than what he did against NU during the regular season. NU limited Kondelik to a goal and two assists for a point per game. More importantly for UConn, they need sophomore Ryan Tverbeg to get on the board. A few weeks ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect was held pointless in the two-game series. NU won both. 

The most significant factor will be can UConn get to Levi. They did in October, but NU isn’t the same team it was back then. Levi had 100 saves in two games in February and allowed only three goals in the weekend sweep. 

Prediction: No knock on UConn; it’s just that Northeastern gets it done. They had unfinished business at TD Garden after losing the Beanpot Final in February. 

UMass-Lowell River Hawks 21-9-3 (HEA 15-8-1-1-0-1) vs. Massachusetts Minutemen 20-12-2 (HEA 14-8-2-2-3-1)

The Battle of Massachusetts has become one of Hockey East’s best-kept rivalries and secrets. After Friday, the secret will be out. The two University of Massachusetts schools have played several close games over the last few seasons, none bigger than last year’s 1-0 Championship game at the Mullins Center, giving the Minutemen their first-ever tournament championship.

This year the season series was just as tight. The first game was a 4-4 tie at Tsongas Center on December 3, 2021. The River Hawks won when Carl Berglund scored the only goal in the shootout. The Minutemen won the next night at home 3-2 and closed out the regular season series 4-3 back in Lowell on January 30, 2022.

“UMass-Lowell are well-coached, have an identity, get kids who compete, and their play is very predictable in their style of play,” said Minutemen head coach Greg Carvel on what makes UMass-Lowell tough to play. “They play the game simple and hard, they get pucks to the net, and they try to out-compete you. I view our teams as pretty similar.”

“We played them in the championship last year. We played them three hard fought games this year,” said Carvel. “I think we’re two teams that know each other quite well. It’s become a big rivalry, which is great for our state, and our university system. It’s going to be hard-fought. We’ll pull out the old big boy hockey game. It’s going to be on a different stage that both teams are unaccoustumed too. We haven’t has the joy of playing in front of a big full stadium in a long time.”

“A lot of these guys, believe it or not, with COVID haven’t had a chance to play too much playoff hockey,” said UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin. “Giving these guys an opportunity to play at the Garden is a big deal for our program. We want to keep that going forward.”

“We’re just excited to be playing playoff hockey. We’re excited to be moving on and seeing the Garden,” added Bazin. “Giving these kids an opportunity to play at the Garden is a big deal. For some, it’s going to be one of the highlights of their career highlights. It’s exciting to play for a Hockey East Championship and we want to keep this going.”

“It means you are one of the best four teams in the conference, and you’re playing for a championship,” said Bazin. “And you’re still in it.”

“It’s exciting. That’s why you play all year long,” said the eleven-year bench boss. “Play for a Hockey East Championship and then get an NCAA bid. We’ll take it one step at time.”

The Minutemen have a lot of experience in big games. Five players remain from the 2018-19 NCAA runner-ups and seventeen from the National Champion squad. On offense, they’ve added fire-power to their line-up in freshmen Ryan Lautenbach and Lucas Mercuri. Never mind that freshmen defensemen Scott Morrow and Ryan Ufko are already two of the best in the game. 

Morrow is a beast. A 6′-2″ Carolina Hurricanes second round pick, he has 13 goals and 19 assists. Ufko isn’t as big but he’s equally proficient. The 5′-10″ Nashville Predators prospect has five goals and 24 assists and is quietly getting better each game.

Look for seniors Bobby Trivigno and Anthony Del Gaizo to have big games on Friday. They are exceptional players that pick up their games in big moments.

Prediction: The Battle of Massachusetts has become a serious rivalry. The Minutemen have the most recent trophies, which won’t change on Friday. 

Terriers “All Rad” in Dramatic Beanpot Final

Boston, MA – It would not be the Beanpot without some drama. The 69th Annual Beanpot Tournament didn’t disappoint as the Boston University Terriers broke a scoreless tie, and numerous Northeastern University Huskies’ hearts, with 2:48 remaining in the third period. Sophomore Dylan Peterson tapped in a Jamie Armstrong two-on-one pass past Huskies goalie T.J. Semptimphelter… Continue reading Terriers “All Rad” in Dramatic Beanpot Final

Northeastern Edges UMass-Lowell 4-2

Lowell, MA – The Northeastern University Huskies pulled the plug on a third-period surge by the UMass-Lowell River Hawks in front of 4,344 at Tsongas Center Arena to earn three points in Hockey East play on Friday night. The Huskies blew a two-goal first-period lead throughout the second and early third periods only to pull ahead on a four-on-four Tommy Miller snipe halfway through the third. … Continue reading Northeastern Edges UMass-Lowell 4-2

# 14 River Hawks Nip # 15 Huskies 2-1

Boston, MA – The first-place UMass-Lowell River Hawks and third-place Northeastern Huskies came into Friday night’s Hockey East showdown riding two-game losing streaks. The visiting River Hawks came away with two points on 26 saves by senior goalie Owen Savory. UMass’ scoring came on the first NCAA goal for freshman Stefan Owens and the game-winning goal by Matt Crasa in the second period, which widened their lead on second-place Massachusetts.  “Getting… Continue reading # 14 River Hawks Nip # 15 Huskies 2-1

Huskies Finish Strong vs. RPI

Boston, MA- Two goals in the third period powered the Northeastern Huskies past the visiting RPI Engineers Sunday afternoon. Aidan McDonough and Matt Choupani‘s goals capped off the weekend sweep of the Engineers in a pair of 2-1 wins. Devon Levi turned back 20 shots to notch his 11th win. In the first few minutes of action, the Huskies and Engineers heralded… Continue reading Huskies Finish Strong vs. RPI

UML tops NU in OT, 2-1

Lowell, MA –The shot total and the low word count of this story doesn’t do justice to the game between the Northeastern Huskies and the UMass-Lowell River Hawks. The River Hawks picked up the extra point in overtime when sophomore defenseman Ben Meehan banged in a Zach Kaiser pass from below the goal line at 1:26, giving the hosts a 2-1 come… Continue reading UML tops NU in OT, 2-1

BC Outlasts NU in Hockey East Opener

Chestnut Hill, MA. – College hockey returned to Conte Forum on the Boston College campus on Friday night. The Eagles and visiting Northeastern Huskies traded the lead in each period as BC prevailed 5-3 to kick off the two schools’ 2021-22 Hockey East campaigns. Colby Ambrosio‘s third-period goal broke the deadlock while Patrick Giles’s strike forty-five seconds later proved to be the game-winner. With fans in attendance for… Continue reading BC Outlasts NU in Hockey East Opener