Northeastern’s season seemed poised to spiral before Monday’s Beanpot title.
The No. 14 Huskies had lost the momentum of back-to-back wins against Maine and, despite splitting two games with now-No. 3 Massachusetts, lost five of their past seven. Opponents outscored Northeastern a combined 21-9. Four different games saw the Huskies score one goal or fewer.
But that early-season Northeastern offense that scored close to four per game before the turn of the new year showed up against Boston College. The Huskies scored four goals, including two in the third period, and behind goalie Cayden Primeau’s Beanpot tournament MVP performance, beat the Eagles, 4-2.
It was Northeastern’s second-straight Beanpot championship and the team’s sixth in program history.
“All night guys were doing (the little things),” Primeau told reporters after the game. “They were bought in and they showed a commitment to do the little things. That’s what makes teams successful. That’s what makes us successful. When we’re doing that kind of stuff we’re coming out on top. It’s just keep doing those things and we’re just going to keep rolling.”
Now, instead staring down a seven-game stretch against conference opponents that closes out the regular season with a losing streak in tow, the Huskies were able to wake up Tuesday energized by this victory.
Just look back to last season when Northeastern struggled in the few games before the Beanpot and then won the tournament. The Huskies followed that with a four-game winning streak to end the regular season and two wins in the Hockey East conference tournament before a one-goal loss in the semifinals and another in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
Left this season for Northeastern are two games against Vermont, which the Huskies have beaten once this season, three against a New Hampshire team it’s tied with for fifth in the conference, and two more against Boston College. All are winnable games. And a similar stretch to that of the end of the 2017-18 season could propel the Huskies to a top-three spot in the Hockey East standings. It could ensure its spot in the NCAA tournament isn’t used elsewhere, too.
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Northeastern hasn’t won a NCAA Division I championship before. It can’t even point back to a runner-up appearance. But now it’s fired up with the emotions of back-to-back Beanpot tournament titles.
Before last season, the Huskies hadn’t won a Beanpot tournament since 1988 — and now it has two in a row. Last season, Jim Madigan led Northeastern to the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years for the first time program history. Now it’s poised for a third trip in four years.
Primeau told reporters Monday after winning the Beanpot, “There’s an adrenaline high right now. Don’t know how long it’s going to be until we come off that.”
This team has two wins against No. 10 UMass Lowell. It has a win against No. 1 St. Cloud State. It has that win against Massachusetts. Take that potential and the effect a Beanpot tournament win can have on the Huskies, and this team becomes a tough out in March and possibly April. Primeau in net, a defense with the confidence to stay on the attack and make plays because Primeau will get stops and a balanced offensive attack.
“We need to use this as a springboard,” Madigan told reporters. “I’m hoping our season isn’t just defined by this event here tonight. Believe me, this is a great event, there’s no better tournament in college hockey the way the Garden runs it. The people here, this is the best. But I want this to be a springboard. This isn’t defining our season. We’ve got a lot more quality hockey left and a lot of good tournaments still to come.”