After a 29-year drought in Boston’s blue-blood college hockey tournament, Madigan’s Huskies are the two-time defending champions as they enter their semifinal against Harvard at 5 p.m. on Monday at TD Garden. But there is no sense of entitlement, self-satisfaction, or looking down their noses at their three Boston rivals.
“If you’re a competitor, you want to win the ultimate prize, and the Beanpot is an ultimate prize,” Madigan said in a Facebook Live interview on Thursday. “So the hunger is there.
“We’re a program that talks about firsts. This would be a first for us, being able to have a three-peat. That’s what will drive our group, and the ability to again be the city champions and have those bragging rights for a third year.”
The women’s team—ranked No. 4 nationally and contenders for the national championship—enter the Beanpot as favorites to win it for the first time since 2013. They open on Tuesday at 5 p.m. against Harvard at the Walter Brown Arena at Boston University.
“When you go into the Beanpot, the rankings and records—you might as well throw them out the window,” Madigan said. “They don’t really matter at all, because it’s such an emotional high playing in this tournament, and it brings out the best in every player.”
The Northeastern men (14-7-2) have maintained a No. 11 ranking nationally, even though they lost several stars from last year’s team, including a couple of All-Americans in goaltender Cayden Primeau—Most Valuable Player of the Beanpot last year—and defenseman Jeremy Davies. Craig Pantano, a fifth-year transfer from Merrimack College, has provided reliable goaltending while averaging 2.41 goals per game. Sophomore Tyler Madden leads the Huskies with 17 goals and 33 points overall.
The Harvard men won their first seven games this season with explosive offense. They’ve gone 3-6-4 since then, but are still ranked No. 18 in the nation around the scoring of Jack Drury, Casey Dornbach, and Nick Abruzzese, who have accounted for 33 goals and 82 points overall. The Crimson’s smart, attacking style is a reflection of coach Ted Donato, who as a Harvard player won an NCAA title before playing in the NHL for 13 years.
“They’ve got an excellent power play, they’re solid in nets, they’ve got really good defensemen, and they’ve got balance and depth up front,” Madigan said. “I expect a close game.”
Madigan is preaching a defense-first approach that suits the Huskies, who are 10-1-2 when keeping the opponent under two goals.
“The forecheck is a calling card for us, because that gives us some offensive-zone possession time,” Madigan said. “And when we defend fast and quick, then we’re breaking pucks out of our own zone.”
The Northeastern women (23-3-1) are also expecting a tight match against No. 10 Harvard. Madigan has watched coach Dave Flint build his program into one of the best in the country around goaltender Aerin Frankel (1.06 goals against) and Alina Mueller, Chloe Aurard, and Skylar Fontaine, who have combined for 47 goals and 112 points.
“They are a legitimate contender for a national championship, as well as for the Beanpot,” Madigan said. “They have done a tremendous job at keeping their program at a high level, which is not easy to do.
“You can tell they’re having fun playing the game. They play a good style, they move pucks, they’ve got skill. And if they’re off a little bit in one game—and they haven’t been off many times this year—they rebound the next game, and that’s because they’ve got some good leadership in the program.”