By the Numbers:
Record: 15-7-5 (11-5-3 Hockey East)
Goals For: 3.41 per game
Goals Against: 2.26 per game
Save Percentage: .914 (91.4 percent)
Power Play: 32-of-124 (25.8 percent)
Penalty Kill: 72-of-91 (79.1 percent)
The Huskies sit just a single point behind Hockey East-leading No. 16 Boston College, having ridden a scorching December and January to the top of the standings—going 8-2-3. Despite lying within striking distance of the ranked Eagles, Northeastern’s recent struggles—the Huskies have gone 1-2-2 in their last five contests—have pushed it outside the NCAA’s Top 20. Still, the remarkably balanced group boasts the best scoring offense in Hockey East (3.41 goals per game) and the second-best scoring defense (2.26 goals against per game). Only Harvard takes fewer penalties, while Boston University is the one team close to matching Northeastern’s conference-best power play. The Huskies’ penalty kill can be something of an Achilles’ heel, ranking second-to-last, but Northeastern’s net performance on special teams is the best of the Beanpot participants’ (plus-14 goal differential). For a team that is perennially the doormat in this tournament, the Huskies look primed to make a run to the title game.
Players to Watch:
1) Adam Gaudette
The Vancouver Canucks prospect leads Hockey East in the following categories: points (24), goals (14), power-play points (14), power-play goals (7), and game-winning goals (4). Gaudette is arguably Hockey East’s most dangerous offensive player, and every time he steps on the ice during the Beanpot, he’ll be the focus of his opponent’s defense.
2) Dylan Sikura
The Chicago Blackhawks prospect’s season has been overshadowed by his teammate, but Sikura has been nothing short of impressive. Second in Hockey East in points (20), he’s also the conference leader in assists (14) and shots on goal (85)—despite having played two less games than most of his colleagues. He’s second in power-play points (11) and, in general, the senior is a handful in the offensive zone.
3) Cayden Primeau
The 199th overall pick of last season’s NHL draft has shined in his freshman campaign. The Montreal Canadiens prospect snatched the starting job from senior Ryan Ruck on the back of a 43-save performance at Quinnipiac in October. He added a 33-save outing against Beanpot powerhouse BU at the beginning of November and currently boasts a .921 save percentage on the season, second-best in Hockey East.
Northeastern finished third in the tournament for the second year in a row. It opened with a loss against eventual champion Harvard and then knocked off BC controversially in the consolation, 4-2. Against the Crimson, Gaudette scored twice in the loss, while Sikura scored the game-winner against the Eagles one week later. Last year, Gaudette and Sikura starred alongside current Pittsburgh Penguin Zach Aston-Reese as the three combined to tally eight points in the two-game competition.
All-Time Beanpot Record: 39-91
Beanpot Championships: 4
Gaudette and Sikura shine, and Primeau and his backline hold strong to deliver Northeastern its first title in 30 years. Considering how good the Huskies have been at both ends of the ice this season, they have to look at this tournament as their best chance at a championship in years. And, despite the all-time .300 winning percentage, Northeastern isn’t a stranger to making a run.They came close from 2013 to 2015, falling to BC twice in the title game and then to BU in overtime. Primeau is probably the best goaltender the Huskies have started in the last half-decade, and his performance could be what puts Northeastern over the top. Even if he isn’t at his best, a historic tournament from Gaudette and Sikura—not unlikely judging by the seasons the two forwards are having—could be all the Huskies need to finally come out on top.
BC seems like the team best built to beat Northeastern. It has scored one more goal in conference play and only surrendered four more than the Huskies against Hockey East opponents. The two have split the season series, with the away team securing the victory both times, so it’s not hard to see Northeastern falling to the Eagles at a neutral site in the opening game of the tournament. Beyond that, even though the Huskies have defeated BU twice this season, the Terriers are the only team with an overall offense that has come close to keeping up with Northeastern. If Northeastern faced Harvard instead, the Crimson defense could hold the Huskies’ offense in check—Harvard has only surrendered 51 goals all season. It all comes down to whether the Northeastern of the last five games show up to the Beanpot—if so, it’ll likely struggle to reverse its historical fortunes.