Team of Destiny: Northeastern’s Surge Continues With Hockey East Championship

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

After beginning the season 1-11-2, the Northeastern Huskies began a historic surge towards the finish with just one loss since December 19th and going unbeaten in 13 straight contests. A 3-2 result on Saturday night over UMass Lowell propelled the Huskies into the NCAA tournament as an automatic bid as Northeastern finished the year 20-1-2. It was the first Northeastern Hockey East title since 1988.

In the opening 15 seconds of last night’s Hockey East semi finals contest, the Boston College Eagles jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Northeastern would eventually tie the score and then take the lead, winning the game and moving on to the Hockey East championship.

“With a program that hasn’t won since 1988 it [the championship] speaks a lot for the team,” said senior Kevin Roy after the game. “It’s pretty special.”

On Saturday night, the Huskies took a page out of the Eagles’ playbook with a goal scored a little more than one minute into the game. Adam Gaudette buried the puck past Lowell goalie, and eventually tournament MVP Kevin Boyle on a pass from Mike McMurty.

That isn’t to say the game was over, as the UMass Lowell River Hawks, coming off a marathon of a nearly six-period game, tied the score just two minutes later. John Edwarth lifted the puck past Ryan Ruck, the Northeastern goaltender.

Northeastern took a 2-1 lead, but Lowell tied the game again in the second period when Adam Chapie was able to get the puck on net, and it deflected off of Ruck’s blocker and underneath the crossbar glove side.

The go-ahead goal was scored with a little under nine minutes left in regulation when Zach Aston-Reese picked up the rebound off the pads of Boyle on a shot from John Stevens where he broke his stick. That was the third goal of the game for the Huskies, and it would stand until the end of the contest.

The Huskies scored two power play goals in the game, and in the playoffs went 7-for-20 with an extra man overall.

Northeastern was the hottest team in college hockey heading into the semi finals and championship contest, and without a win against Lowell last night, the Huskies might not have been able to make the NCAA tournament. Northeastern was ranked #14 headed into the night, the first time the team had been ranked all season.

“It’s like idiot radio and Tony from Southie or Eastie is calling in,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said of what people were saying about the team during the team’s cold streak early on in the season. “It stings when it’s some of your own people who don’t know if the puck is blown up or stuffed or what it’s made of but they feel like they want to comment.”

When Northeastern lost to Boston University at the Beanpot, the team’s record was 9-13-4. After that game, the Huskies defeated Harvard at the TD Garden, the last time they had played there. That win propelled Northeastern to 13-0-1 in that stretch. Now, all four Beanpot teams are projected to make the tournament.

The Huskies will find out who they will face in the first round of the NCAA playoffs on the selection show at 12 p.m. eastern time on ESPNU.

“The one area we needed to get better was our higher athletic programs.” Madigan said. “We’ve had glimpses of it, but we needed to get to this point, win a Beanpot or a Hockey East championship. We’ve done that, so it opens up the excellence in another area of the university. It means a lot.”

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