Huskies win thrilling men’s Beanpot on 32 saves by Devon Levi and a shootout goal by Aidan McDonough

northeastern mens hockey player holds the beanpot trophy up in celebration
Tournament MVP Devon Levi hoists the Beanpot after Northeastern defeated Harvard in a shootout at TD Garden. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

A noisy and gritty night of Beanpot redemption ended as Aidan McDonough hoped it would. He scored the winning goal. And Devon Levi made it stand.

Northeastern won the men’s Beanpot for the fourth time in five tournaments with a 3-2 shootout victory over No. 10 Harvard on Monday night at TD Garden.

The Huskies’ recovery from a 2-1 deficit in the third period came less than six weeks after they had suffered a humiliating, 8-4 loss against the Crimson. In the end this title revolved around their two leaders occupying each end of the ice—McDonough and Levi.

After failing to get off a shot for two periods and finding other ways to contribute while teammate Gunnarwolfe Fontaine was scoring both of Northeastern’s goals in regulation, McDonough did what he does better than perhaps any other forward in college hockey.

The NCAA active leader in career goals produced the lone score in the post-overtime shootout—the first such shootout in a Beanpot championship game.

Levi was named Most Valuable Player as well as winner of the Eberly Award as the top goaltender of the tournament (an award swept by Northeastern goalies at the past five Beanpots). He contributed 32 saves in 65 minutes on Monday and saved 65 of 68 shots across the two rounds.

When he made the last of his three stops against Harvard stars Sean Farrell, Matthew Coronato (who scored both of Harvard’s goals in the second period) and Alex Laferriere, Levi pulled off his helmet with both hands and threw himself into the celebrating crowd of his bareheaded teammates, the ice littered with black helmets.

“I’m just really proud of these guys,” said Jerry Keefe, winner of the Beanpot in his second year as head coach. “Seeing them jump off the bench when Dev made that (final shootout) save and seeing them salute the fans, who were outstanding tonight. Our crowd was unbelievable. It just means a lot to the players, and it means a lot to our school and to our families.”

“Everyone says how big the Beanpot is, but I didn’t realize it until I was here,” said Levi, a junior who was making his Beanpot debut after missing the tournament last year while representing Canada in the Beijing Olympics. “The whole building is Northeastern fans going absolutely nuts. We did what we know how to do. The fans had a big part of that.”

Northeastern will have an opportunity to sweep both Beanpots when the Huskies visit Boston College at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday for the final of the Women’s Beanpot. The Huskies last swept both tournaments in 2020.

Northeastern has now won eight men’s Beanpot titles dating back to its breakthrough win in 1980. This 70th Beanpot came down to a first final between Northeastern and Harvard—a rematch that Levi had been hoping for following the Huskies’ 8-4 loss at Harvard on New Year’s Day.

“I wanted to see them in the finals again,” said Levi, who acknowledged rooting for Harvard (17-6-2) to win its semifinal over Boston College last week. “They put on a clinic against me and I wanted revenge. And the boys helped me get it tonight.”

That loss at Harvard last month was the culmination of an extended 1-6 drought that turns out to have brought out the best in the Huskies (14-10-5). With that humiliating defeat the Huskies had had enough. They’ve grown together, stubbornly, while going 7-1-1 to rise in the national rankings and the Hockey East standings.

The Huskies, playing in their fifth straight Beanpot final, scored the opening goal of the championship final 1:25 into the second period. The sequence began with a Fontaine from a harsh angle that ricocheted out to the blue line, enabling the Huskies to make a second charge. Sam Colangelo dumped a pass into the crease that Fontaine prevented Harvard from clearing as Harvard’s John Farinacci lost his footing and took down his goalie. The puck squirted free and seemed to be waiting peacefully to be claimed when Fontaine reached around and did just that, snapping it into the open net.

No sooner had he put Northeastern on the board than Harvard was being awarded a power play. 

Ninety-three seconds after falling behind, the Crimson were pulling back even thanks to a sweet circle-to-circle pass from Farrell that Coronato first-timed inside the near post.

With 11 minutes remaining in the period, the Crimson went up 2-1 as Coronato put away a rebound fluttering to Levi’s left for his second goal of the night and 18th of the season.

McDonough, who has scored so many crucial goals during the Huskies’ renaissance, was leading in other ways while going shotless over the first two periods. He delivered a mid-ice hit that relieved Laferriere of the puck and elicited a prolonged roar from the DogHouse upstairs. He ran a give-and-go in the waning moments of the second period in order to feed Justin Hryckowian (who led the Huskies with 8 shots on goal) at the near post. Harvard senior goalie Mitchell Gibson sticked away one of Northeastern’s better chances of the night.

The elite scorer was proving to be a complete player in the biggest game.

“I definitely wouldn’t say it was my best game personally,” McDonough said. “I was a little bit frustrated. It wasn’t really getting the touches that I normally get out there. They were being physical.

“I said in the locker room, ‘You never know which shift or what play could win you the Beanpot.’ So you’ve just got to stick with it and play for 60 minutes. I just kind of had a feeling that my time was coming.”

In the final period, switching sides, McDonough slalomed the right wing and drifted left for his first big challenge of the night. It appeared to inspire the Huskies, who were soon drawing even at 2-2 with 15:03 remaining when senior defenseman Jayden Struble patiently approached the Harvard goal. Gibson was falling as Fontaine spun away to the far post to turn Struble’s feed into his second goal.

Harvard, known for its comebacks, outshot the Huskies, 14-9, in the closing period but were unable to make up for Fontaine’s equalizer. Levi had his gloves full with Harvard’s attempts in the final minutes—including a double effort by Coronato, who recovered his first dangerous challenge and dinged the rebound off Levi’s left post with 3:36 remaining.

During the two minutes of intermission Levi knelt meditatively in his goalmouth, the ever loyal protector of the Husky hearth.

In the five-minute overtime, three-on-three chances for Vinny Borgesi, Colangelo and Hryckowian were knocked aside by Gibson (27 saves). But he was unable to stave off McDonough in the shootout.

“I don’t think it’s going to hit me for a little bit how amazing it is,” said McDonough, who scored a goal and assisted two others as a freshman when Northeastern won the 2020 Beanpot. “For the last four years to go to battle every day with my best friends, to have the best coaching staff and the best support staff in the country, in my opinion, it means everything.

“I told the guys before the game, it comes down to whoever wants it more. I think, looking around the building tonight, it meant a little bit more to us.”

Ian Thomsen is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @IanatNU.