A Beanpot sweep is just the beginning for Northeastern hockey

Craig Pantano, named top goaltender of the 68th Beanpot, and Chloe Aurard, MVP of the 42nd Women’s Beanpot, celebrate the Huskies’ victories—the first time in 32 years that Northeastern has swept both championships. Photos by Matthew Modoono and Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

The trophy from the 68th men’s Beanpot sat in a corner of the hockey locker room at Matthews Arena. It was surprisingly heavy to lift, and the name of its 2020 champion had yet to be inscribed. The Huskies’ victories—in both the men’s and women’s tournaments—were still altogether fresh and, by the terms of their coincidences, unfathomable.

Northeastern’s two hockey programs had swept both Beanpots for the first time since 1988. But even more impressive were the common details of their achievements.

The Northeastern women won theirs on Tuesday with a dramatic double-overtime 4-3 victory against Boston University. 

The Huskies men won theirs on Monday with a dramatic double-overtime 5-4 victory against Boston University.

In both cases, the Huskies surrendered an equalizing goal in the final seconds of regulation. Each team of players had to gather themselves and fight off the natural feelings of discouragement in order to reclaim their dream.

“They had all the momentum they wanted,” said Northeastern captain Ryan Shea of the BU Terriers at the end of regulation on both nights.

Shea’s rousing speech to his teammates galvanized them before the second overtime at TD Garden. He and his fellow Huskies returned to the ice determined to not surrender another goal, much as the women would do one night later. 

“That was probably the funnest hockey game I’ve been a part of,” Shea said.

But it wasn’t always fun, of course, for either Huskies team. The results could have gone the other way, as Zach Solow realized while watching the Northeastern women’s response to BU’s overtime-forcing goal on Tuesday. He and his teammates groaned as they instantly relived their own immediate disappointment of one night earlier.

“We were all like, ‘Oh my goodness, no!’” said Solow, the MVP of the men’s Beanpot. “But then we were saying, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK, they’re going to regroup.’”

After watching his players celebrate their winning goal by Lauren MacInnis in the second overtime of the 42nd Women’s Beanpot, coach Dave Flint joked that his team had channeled the men. But there was a shared truth to be drawn from the two championship games. Both teams revealed a competitive stubbornness that could lead to further breakthroughs later this season.

“It showed a lot of resolve for our women’s program, because they hadn’t won it since 2013,” men’s coach Jim Madigan said. “And then they were playing the winning team of last year [BU]. It showed character and leadership by the coaching staff and the older players to just get it done.”

Both teams are hoping that these midseason titles will inspire them to take the next step nationally. Madigan’s Huskies (15-8-3) are No. 12 nationally in the PairWise rankings, which mimic the selections for the 16-team NCAA Tournament. A strong showing over their final eight games in Hockey East, followed by a deep run in the conference tournament, should elevate them into the NCAA Tournament field for a third straight year.

Flint’s team is aiming to reach the Frozen Four next month at BU’s Agganis Arena—which would give Northeastern a form of home-ice advantage against the best opponents nationally. His Huskies (25-3-2) have already wrapped up the Hockey East regular-season title. They’re No. 4 in the PairWise rankings and are undefeated in their last 11 games. 

Their victories under enormous pressure in the single-elimination Beanpot should only help both Huskies teams as they approach their end-of-year goals.

“The Beanpot comes at a good time of year,” Flint said. “It gives you a ton of momentum, and it can catapult you into the conference tournament.”

And beyond, both teams hope.

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