5 reasons why Northeastern upset Boston University in the Beanpot semifinals

Northeastern University men’s hockey battles Boston University during the Beanpot semi at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The Northeastern Huskies upset third-ranked Boston University, 3-1, on Monday night at TD Garden to advance to their fifth straight Beanpot final.

Northeastern and Harvard will meet in the men’s championship for the first time in the tournament’s 70-year history at 7:30 p.m. next Monday.

Here are five reasons why the Huskies prevailed:

Devon Levi the best? You bet!

Northeastern junior Devon Levi is the best goalie in college hockey, according to Northeastern coach Jerry Keefe. On Monday night, he showed why with a 33-save victory in his Beanpot debut.

Matt Brown’s goal with 1:51 left spoiled Levi’s shutout.

Levi has played in 58 games for the Huskies, but missed last year’s tournament while representing Canada in the Beijing Olympics.

The Terriers have never beaten Levi in regulation time. With Levi between the pipes, Northeastern has defeated BU, 1-0, 2-0 and 3-1, tied the Terriers, 2-2, and lost in overtime, 4-3.

Levi was especially sharp early on, stopping BU’s Tristan Amonte’s first-period breakaway. His third-period, point-blank save of a Wilmer Skoog shot was probably his best of the night.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in him and you can see our guys want to play in front of him too,” Keefe said. “We know he’s always there and he has our backs.”

Aidan McDonough, does it again

Just as he did in Northeastern’s win over UConn at Fenway Park, Huskies senior captain Aidan McDonough opened the scoring with 6 minutes left in the first period. All that was missing was the snow, eye black and baseball-swing celebration.

McDonough took a right-to-left pass from defenseman Vinny Borgesi just inside the hash marks and beat BU goalie Drew Commesso over his blocker.

As a freshman in 2020, McDonough had a goal and two assists in Northeastern’s 5-4 win over BU in the Beanpot final.

A Hughes family reunion

After playing on the fourth line in Northeastern’s OT loss to UConn on Friday night, senior right wing Riley Hughes was elevated to the third line alongside his brother, sophomore center Jack Hughes. 

Jakov Novak played the left wing and scored 1:48 into the second period to give Northeastern a 2-0 lead.

Jack Hughes assisted on the rebound goal, which was set up by defenseman Jeremie Bucheler’s low shot.

Riley Hughes almost made it 3-0, but couldn’t quite finish a 3-on-2 break near the end of the second

Defense, defense and the PK

Boston University took 34 shots, but Northeastern blueliners Bucheler, Borgesi, Jayden Struble, Hunter McDonald, Jackson Dorrington, Tyler Spott and Braden Doyle kept the Terriers’ quality chances to a minimum.

“To win big games, to win trophies, you have to make a commitment to defending. And our guys know that,” Keefe said.

The Huskies killed all four Terrier power plays, including two in the second period.

McDonald, a freshman, scored Northeastern’s final goal—the first of his college career—into the empty net with 30.2 seconds left. He also blocked six BU shots, while Dorrington stepped in front of three.

“I think the guys really bought in when it comes to blocking shots,” McDonough said.

Love those red jerseys

Northeastern lost to BU, 1-0, in last year’s Beanpot final wearing their black jerseys. On Monday night, the Huskies switched to red, coincidentally the same color they wore when they beat the Terriers, 6-3, in the 1988 final.

David Nordman is executive editor of Northeastern Global News. Follow him on Twitter @davenordman.