Liveblog: Northeastern Men’s Hockey Goes To NCAA Tournament

The Northeastern men’s hockey team is headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009, and news@Northeastern is traveling with the Huskies to Cincinnati to cover the action and capture all the excitement from the road.

Live Behind the Scenes With The Team

The Northeastern men’s hockey team is headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009, and news@Northeastern is traveling with the Huskies to Cincinnati to cover the action and capture all the excitement from the road.


Coach Madigan: ‘They raised the bar for Northeastern hockey’

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Photo by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

The North­eastern men’s hockey team fin­ished the 2015–16 season with a 22–14-5 record, fol­lowing a dif­fi­cult 6–2 loss to North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA tour­na­ment. But this team won’t be remem­bered for that out­come. This team will be remem­bered for its grit and deter­mi­na­tion, for an improb­able season turn­around that fea­tured a 13-​​game win­ning streak and 20 wins over the final 24 games, for win­ning the school’s first Hockey East cham­pi­onship in nearly three decades, and for returning to the NCAA tour­na­ment for the first time since 2009.

They raised the bar for North­eastern hockey,” head coach Jim Madigan said of his players in a post-​​game press conference.

The Huskies bat­tled the North Dakota Fighting Hawks for 60 min­utes in their opening-​​round NCAA matchup on Friday after­noon. Madigan cred­ited North Dakota, which he said fea­tures a strong blend of speed and phys­i­cality and played at a faster pace Friday. He said his team pre­pared well and played with grit, but strug­gled to settle in during the first period, as North­eastern fell behind 3–1. “Our guys gave it every­thing we had,” he said. “We just didn’t have enough.”

Madigan praised the team’s tremen­dous senior lead­er­ship and its effort throughout the season. “They rep­re­sented our insti­tu­tion with pride, class, and dig­nity,” he said.

For a com­plete game recap, visit GoNU​.com.

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Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University


History-​​making season comes to a close

And it’s a final here in Cincin­nati: North Dakota 6, North­eastern 2. The Huskies struck first in the third period on a goal from Matt Ben­ning, assisted by Mike McMurtry and Kevin Roy, at 5:25. North Dakota though closed out the scoring with a late goal at 16:28. In an ironic twist, the 6–2 final matches the score from the last time North­eastern and North Dakota met in the NCAA tour­na­ment. That was in 1982.

Fol­lowing the tra­di­tional hand­shake line, the Huskies raised their sticks in the air, acknowl­edging the North­eastern fans who stood and cheered, before leaving the ice for the locker room.

Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

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Update at second intermission

North Dakota added to its advan­tage with two more goals, and leads the Huskies, 5–1, after two periods. North­eastern went on the power play midway through the period and car­ried much of the action from that point on with sev­eral strong chances but couldn’t con­vert. The Huskies seemed to find a bit of a rhythm in the latter half of the period and will look to carry that into the third period.

Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University_D3A4992_D3A4967_D3A4972_D3A5009_D3A4984_D3A4944

 


On campus: Students pack the Curry Student Center to cheer on the Huskies

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Photos by Adam Glanzman/​Northeastern University

While mem­bers of the news@Northeastern team are on the ground in Cincin­nati pro­viding live updates from the Northeastern-​​North Dakota game, we’re also cap­turing reac­tion at the Curry Stu­dent Center, where hun­dreds of stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff have gath­ered to watch the national TV broad­cast of the game.

Many of them are wielding pom-​​poms and decked out in North­eastern sweaters embla­zoned with the Husky logo. And when Nolan Stevens gave the Huskies a 1–0 lead just three min­utes into the game, they exploded, cheering and jumping out of their seats.

That was a nice shot,” said Nick Bes­necker, DMSB’19, a die-​​hard fan who has gone to nearly every home game this season. “That’s Stevens’ go-​​to shot. He’s prob­ably one our most explo­sive scorers.”

When the Fighting Hawks took a late first period 3–1 lead on a power play goal, one stu­dent tossed a noise­maker in the air out of sheer exas­per­a­tion. Another student—Mike Davis, BHS’16, the leader of the DogHouse—jumps up and out of his seat and fills a paper plate with chicken nuggets. Com­fort food.

I’m a lot more tense now,” says Sam Cia­ranca, S’18, wearing a Hockey East Cham­pions hat and speaking just after the buzzer sounded, sig­naling the end of the first period. “But at the same time, they’ve come back from steeper deficits in the past and you still have to have faith.”

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Update at first intermission

We’re at the first inter­mis­sion here at U.S. Bank Arena, with the score 3–1. The Huskies struck first at 3:07 with a goal from Nolan Stevens, assisted by Garret Cock­erill, leading the North­eastern fans to erupt in cel­e­bra­tion. But North Dakota answered less than three min­utes later with a goal by Johnny Simonson and took the lead at 10:22 with a goal from Tucker Poolman. The Fighting Hawks extended their lead to 3–1 with a power play goal from Luke Johnson at 16:55. North Dakota is out­shooting North­eastern 17 to 6.

There’s still a lot of hockey left to play.

Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern UniversityDSC_8180DSC_8133DSC_8139_D3A4769_D3A4776_D3A4786_D3A4888_D3A4872_D3A4824_D3A4862


The pep band is in the house

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Photo by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

The Huskies will hear a familiar sound when they take the ice this after­noon. That would be the NU Pep Band, which trav­eled with the team to Cincin­nati and will be pro­viding its sig­na­ture game-​​day energy along with the rest of the North­eastern fans in atten­dance at U.S. Bank Arena.

The pep band held a rehearsal Friday morning to get orga­nized, and as pres­i­dent Matt Tate put it, “get focused on the music.” The size of pep bands is lim­ited during NCAA tour­na­ments, so the NU Pep Band will have 25 mem­bers per­forming at the game, rather than the 40–50 mem­bers or more that reg­u­larly per­form at Matthews Arena. The pep band will also be using a dif­ferent drum setup. But not to worry: Tate said these changes won’t pre­vent the band from playing its most pop­ular songs. And yes, that mean’s “All Hail, North­eastern” and the crowd favorite and North­eastern hockey staple “Stacy’s Mom.”

On a per­sonal level, Tate is a fifth-​​year senior and is thrilled to be here expe­ri­encing the Huskies’ exciting post-​​season run. “It’s great to see team have so much suc­cess,” he said.

DSC_8089Photo by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University


Alumni, DogHouse fired up for the game

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Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

Dog­House mem­bers Michael Downie and Ashley Demi­rali left Boston at 11 p.m. Thursday night for the long drive to Cincin­nati in Demirali’s Honda Civic. I caught up with them by phone around 10:30 a.m. as they passed through Columbus, Ohio.

This is unbe­liev­able,” said Demi­rali, who has been going to Huskies’ games since child­hood. Her father is a North­eastern alumnus, and at Friday’s game she’ll be sporting a spe­cial piece of North­eastern apparel: Her father’s 1982 Frozen Four North­eastern T-​​shirt, which is now faded from black to gray, and has shrunk from large to small.

As these North­eastern stu­dents made their way to Cincin­nati, alumni from gen­er­a­tions new and old con­vened at the Yard House Cincin­nati – The Banks for the pre-​​game gath­ering hosted by the Huskies Club and Alumni Rela­tions. Among them were four mem­bers of the Class of 2013 reuniting for the game: David Markham, Eric Jacobson, Dylan Nichols, and Conor Murphy. Markham flew in from Orlando, while Murphy and Nichols flew to Chicago to meet Jacobson and then the trio drove to Cincin­nati this morning.

Their travel plans started taking shape after the Huskies won the Hockey East cham­pi­onship. “It took 24 hours to realize this was all really hap­pening,” Markham said.

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The Huskies have arrived

The players and staff arrived U.S. Bank Arena just before noon for today’s 2 p.m. show­down with North Dakota.

Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University_D3A4642_D3A4629_D3A4608_D3A4450


Behind the scenes with the team’s equipment manager

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Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University 

Rob Moura is a huge hockey fan and will be among the North­eastern faithful watching the Huskies com­pete in the NCAA tour­na­ment Friday after­noon. But he’ll be watching the game in a much dif­ferent way than the crowd at U.S. Bank Arena, and most cer­tainly viewers watching at home. In fact, he’ll be doing more than watching—he’ll also be lis­tening, very closely.

Moura is the men’s hockey team’s equip­ment man­ager, and one of his many roles is to quickly handle equip­ment issues the Huskies encounter during games. And he’s come to know the sounds to listen for. If a player goes to stop and his skate chat­ters against the ice rather than slides, Moura imme­di­ately knows something’s up. If he hears a cer­tain “ping” when a puck hits a stick, he knows the stick might require atten­tion. And if a player snaps a stick, he hears the crack and is ready to grab a replacement.

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Moura is in his sixth season at North­eastern, and his first full season as head equip­ment man­ager for men’s ice hockey. As we spoke during Thursday’s prac­tice, he out­lined his work during tour­na­ments like this one. After prac­tice, he pre­pares the locker room for game day. He does all the laundry, gets the skates sharp­ened to each player’s pref­er­ence (he knows all 25 by memory), replaces or repairs any equip­ment needing atten­tion, and puts out the game jer­seys and socks.

My job is to have them walk into the same setup every game, whether we’re at home or on the road, and come into the locker room and not have to ask me for any­thing,” he said. “I just want them to focus on winning.”

What are the crit­ical fac­tors to doing his job well? Rep­e­ti­tion, prepa­ra­tion, and time man­age­ment, he said. And his job hardly begins at the arena. It’s well before­hand, by making sure all the team’s equip­ment is ready for the trip. For road games, that means bringing and keeping track of 130 sticks, 50 pairs of skates and laces, 24 rolls of tape, extra gloves and pads, and even a needle and thread.

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And Moura is well orga­nized, and insists on over­seeing every aspect of the pre-​​game equip­ment preparations.

One of my biggest fears, espe­cially when we’re flying, is leaving some­thing behind,” he said. “All the guys are great. They always ask if I need any help. And I just tell them it’s nothing per­sonal, but it’s going to be a long flight if I’m not the one who does it.”

Yes, this work can get tedious at times, and the hours crazy. But Moura takes great pride in putting in the time and effort required to help the Huskies be as suc­cessful as they can be. He said he loves being part of the team. But he’s the guy behind the scenes, and that’s just fine with him.

You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “My goal is to be pre­pared for every­thing and hope for the best.”

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It’s game day! Here’s where to watch, how to watch, and who to follow

Friday’s game between North­eastern and North Dakota begins at 2 p.m. EST. (Cincin­nati is in the Eastern time zone, by the way.) The game will air on ESPNU and will also be avail­able via live stream through the Watch­ESPN app. Stu­dents in res­i­dence halls will also be able to watch through Husky­Cable HD, as ESPNU will be made tem­porarily avail­able for the game on channel 82. The game will also be avail­able on DirecTV channel 208 and DISH Net­work channel 141, as well as on TSN2 in Canada.

North­eastern will host a viewing party in the Curry Stu­dent Center Indoor Quad, and atten­dees are encour­aged to arrive early to get a seat. The viewing party will include free food and giveaways.

If you’re in the Cincin­nati area, there will be a pre-​​game cel­e­bra­tion at the Yard House Cincinnati—which is across the street from the U.S. Bank Arena—from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appe­tizers will be served and a cash bar will be avail­able. It is $10 to attend. Reg­is­tra­tions will be accepted at the door in cash only. Visit GoNU​.com/​N​C​A​A​e​v​ent to register.

And keep up with the Huskies on Twitter. Follow the men’s hockey team at @GoNUmhockey and use the hash­tags #GoNU and #Red­Black­OnePack. There will also be updates on @GoNUathletics and @Northeastern, so follow those, too. Oh, and you can also follow me, @gstmartinNU, for updates, amazing obser­va­tions, and hope­fully lots of cel­e­bra­tory photos of the Huskies and their fans.


Scouting report: North Dakota

Northeastern’s oppo­nent on Friday is North Dakota, which heads into the NCAA tour­na­ment with a record of 30–6-4, and nearly double the number of goals scored (142) than goals allowed (74). The Fighting Hawks are one of the nation’s top teams, drawing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tour­na­ment and being ranked No. 3 nation­ally in both the USCHO​.com and USA Today/​USA Hockey Mag­a­zine polls.

Here’s what North­eastern head coach Jim Madigan told our writer Jason Korn­witz ear­lier this week in a wide-​​ranging Q&A:

They’re a hard team to play against. They have a good blend of skill and grit and phys­i­cality. And they can beat you in a number of ways, whether in a high scoring game or tight checking 2–1 type of game. There’s no doubt about it—we’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game on Friday. As I told the players ear­lier in the week, while we haven’t played North Dakota this year, we have played North Dakota-​​like teams all season long and have had success.”

And here’s more insight from Madigan from Thursday, when he was asked about North Dakota during a post-​​practice press conference:

There’s been some common char­ac­ter­is­tics of North Dakota teams over the years. They are skilled, tough, gritty, and phys­ical teams. That is cer­tainly the case again with this year’s team. … They can defend and they have been get­ting great goal­tending. So, in all three phases of the game, they are very good and they are battle-​​tested. A lot of these young men went to the tour­na­ment last year and into the Frozen Four. We know we have got our hands full with them because they are a sea­soned and vet­eran team. They play the game the right way. They play hard, they are tough and they can beat you in many ways. At the same time, we are excited about what our team is and our identity.”


He was down, but far from out

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Photo by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

It’s been well doc­u­mented that the Huskies’ 2015–16 cam­paign has been a tale of two sea­sons. North­eastern started out with a record of 1–11-2, but is now headed into the NCAA tour­na­ment unbeaten in 22 of its past 23 games.

For senior Dustin Darou, the season has mir­rored this dra­matic swing from one extreme to the other.

Darou, a 6-​​foot-​​1-​​inch defenseman, broke his tibia and dis­lo­cated his ankle at the Travis Roy Foundation’s charity Whiffle ball game over the summer—injuries he suf­fered sliding into the third base that put him out for six months.

This was not how Darou wanted his senior season to begin, missing the team’s first 19 games before returning on Jan. 8. But he focused on staying upbeat about his recovery and bringing a pos­i­tive energy to the locker room during that early rough patch when he was side­lined and the team was strug­gling. “It was a tough time for every­body,” he said, “but I think we as a team knew where we could be.”

Where they could be was com­peting in the NCAA tour­na­ment. Now the Huskies are there, and playing their best hockey of the season.

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Photo by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University


A welcome return to this Ohio city

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Photo by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

The Huskies’ thrilling run to the NCAA tour­na­ment in Cincin­nati marks a wel­come return for Northeastern’s Jerry Keefe.

Keefe, who is in his second season as asso­ciate head coach and his fifth season overall behind the bench, began his pro­fes­sional hockey career with the Cincin­nati Mighty Ducks of the Amer­ican Hockey League during the 1999–2000 season.

Fol­lowing the Huskies’ prac­tice on Thursday after­noon, Keefe looked back fondly on that expe­ri­ence and the city itself. “ Being a young kid coming out of col­lege, I was just learning how to be a pro,” he said.

It’s a great city. I’m a big base­ball fan, and the Reds are huge around here,” he said, adding that he caught the team in action at the old River­front Sta­dium during his time in Cincinnati.

The Mighty Ducks played at the Cincin­nati Gar­dens, an arena located about seven miles north of the U.S. Bank Arena where the Huskies will play Friday. For his part, Keefe’s pro career lasted five years, including a pair of sea­sons in Europe. In fact, Keefe played one season for the Belfast Giants, and he also returned to Northern Ire­land this season when the Huskies played in the Friend­ship Four tour­na­ment there.

This trip marks the first time in about 15 years Keefe has returned to Cincin­nati, and he said there’s been no better way to come back than with the Huskies on col­lege hockey’s biggest stage. “It’s just awe­some to be here with North­eastern,” he said.


Scenes from the ice

North­eastern got its first look at the U.S. Bank Arena rink during this afternoon’s prac­tice, and then fielded ques­tions from mem­bers of the media. We’ll have more con­tent from those inter­views soon, but for now here are some photos from this after­noon to tide you over.

Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

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Huskies gearing up for practice

The Huskies arrived at U.S. Bank Arena on Thursday for an early-​​afternoon prac­tice. It’s almost time to hit the ice.

Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

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Guide to the NCAA tournament

OK, here’s a quick run­down: The men’s ice hockey NCAA tour­na­ment field con­sists of 16 teams from across the country. Tour­na­ment action begins on Friday, with games taking place in four dif­ferent geo­graphic regions. Each region includes four teams, seeded 1–4. The NCAA has pro­vided the offi­cial bracket (as well as a print­able ver­sion) for the tournament.

North­eastern will play in the Mid­west Regional, being held at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincin­nati. The Huskies earned a No. 4 seed, and will face the No. 1 seed North Dakota Fighting Hawks on Friday at 2 p.m. EST. The winner will advance to the quar­ter­fi­nals and play on Sat­urday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the Michigan-​​Notre Dame game.

Only one team will emerge from each of the four regionals. Those teams will advance to com­pete in the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida, on April 7–9, with the winner crowned national champion.

North­eastern secured an auto­matic bid to the NCAA tour­na­ment by win­ning the Hockey East cham­pi­onship. This year marks the fifth time the Huskies have reached the NCAA tour­na­ment, and the first time since 2009. North­eastern also reached the tour­na­ment in 1982, 1988, and 1994.


We’re on to Cincinnati

(I’ve been waiting to write that for sev­eral days now…)

Anyway, we’re here in the Queen City. The two-​​hour flight went smoothly, and the team is focused and loose. The guys kicked around a red and black soccer ball out­side the team bus prior to the flight out of Mass­a­chu­setts, and relaxed on the plane and also later on the air­port apron after landing as we waited for our trans­port buses to arrive.

And props to our hotel for a strong North­eastern greeting. The front desk fea­tured an assort­ment of red, black, and white bal­loons, as well as a hockey skate with flowers and North­eastern flags sprouting out. We’re already feeling the Husky love in Cincy!

Here are some photos from the trip from Boston to Cincin­nati, and look for plenty more con­tent on Thursday during our first full day here.  Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

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And they’re off

Stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff gath­ered out­side of Matthews Arena on Wednesday to send the men’s hockey team on its way to Cincin­nati for the Huskies’ NCAA tour­na­ment first-​​round matchup against North Dakota. Photos by Adam Glanzman/​Northeastern University

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Final practice at Matthews

The North­eastern men’s hockey team got in one final prac­tice at Matthews Area on Wednesday before departing for Cincin­nati, Ohio, for its NCAA tour­na­ment first round matchup with North Dakota. Photos by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University

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Welcome to the blog!

North­eastern is the hottest team in col­lege hockey. The Huskies are win­ners of 13 straight games, unbeaten in 22 of its past 23 games (20–1-2), and fresh off a thrilling Hockey East championship.

Now the team is on to the NCAA tour­na­ment, and news@Northeastern has launched this blog to cap­ture the excite­ment and cover the behind-​​the-​​scenes moments. On Wednesday after­noon, we’re trav­eling with the team to Cincin­nati to share sto­ries, photos, and much more from the road as the red-​​hot Huskies look to cap­ture their first-​​ever national cham­pi­onship. The first game is Friday at 2 p.m., when North­eastern faces off against North Dakota.

Stay tuned for reg­ular blog posts over the next few days!


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