Hockey East Report: Weekend of 1/2

By Mark Fraenkel

As the calendar switched over to 2023, here are the major storylines heading into the second semester of Hockey East play. 

No. 11 Providence wins Ledyard Classic with victories over Yale and No. 8 Merrimack

After a tough end to the first semester, the Providence College Friars (11-4-5, 6-1-5 Hockey East) rebounded with two great wins in the Ledyard Classic in Hanover, NH.  

A short-handed goal from senior forward Craig Needham early in the second period put the Friars up 1-0 against the Yale Bulldogs (2-10-1, 1-8-1 ECAC) on Friday, Dec. 30. Freshman forward Bennett Schimek and senior forward Parker Ford would each find the back of the net in the third period en route to a 3-0 win. Freshman goaltender Philip Svedeback made 20 saves and collected the win.

The Merrimack College Warriors (14-5-0, 9-2-0 HE) defeated the host Dartmouth Big Green (2-11-1-, 1-5-1 ECAC) on Friday setting up a matchup between two of Hockey East’s best teams.

Three goals in the first period including two from junior forward Nick Poisson helped PC get out to a 4-0 lead. Nate Leaman’s team wouldn’t look back, as Schimek would score his second goal of the game late in the third period. Providence would take the game with a final score of 6-1. 

The Friars will host the struggling University of New Hampshire Wildcats (4-16-1, 0-11-1 HE) on Friday night before traveling to New York to face the Army West Point Black Knights (6-10-2, 5-5-1 Atlantic Hockey) on Sunday.

Merrimack will host Yale and the Brown Bears (4-10-2, 1-7-2 ECAC) this weekend in North Andover.

The Friars and Warriors will rematch in a two-game set at Lawler Rink on Jan. 13 and 14. 

Alaska Anchorage sweeps No. 17 Lowell

The University of Massachusetts Lowell River Hawks (10-8-1, 5-4-1 HE) were swept by the University Alaska Anchorage Seawolves (4-12-0 Independent) this weekend at the Tsongas Center. 

Goals from freshman forward Owen Fowler and senior forward Brian Chambers helped UML establish a 2-1 lead through the second period on Friday night. But three unanswered goals in the third period from the visitors allowed the Seawolves to take game one. 

Lowell took the lead first once again on Saturday night. Sophomore defenseman Isac Jonsson scored less than three minutes into the game. But another set of three unanswered goals from the team from the 49th state helped Anchorage win 3-2.

The River Hawks will travel to Springfield next Saturday to face the American International College Yellow Jackets (10-8-5, 8-5-2 Atlantic Hockey) before heading to Orono for two games against the University of Maine Black Bears (6-9-2, 2-5-1 HE) the following weekend. 

Northeastern’s struggles continue with losses to Bentley and No. 10 Harvard

The Northeastern Huskies’ (8-9-3, 6-4-2 HE) struggles continued on Friday night in Waltham. The Huskies fell to the Bentley Falcons (5-13-0, 2-8-0 Atlantic Hockey) 3-1. Junior forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine scored the lone goal for Jerry Keefe’s team.

They took a short trip to Allston on Sunday afternoon to face the Harvard Crimson (9-3-1, 7-1-0 ECAC). 

Harvard’s sophomore forward Alex Gaffney opened up the scoring on New Year’s Day. Gaffney’s fourth goal of the season was assisted by junior forward Alex Laferriere and sophomore defenseman Christian Jimenez.

Just 1:22 later, junior forward Ryan Drkulec found the back of the net to give the home team a 2-0 lead. Harvard’s senior goaltender Mitchell Gibson was exceptional in the first period making 14 saves in the frame.

90 seconds into the second period, freshman forward Joe Miller blasted a goal past junior goaltender Devon Levi to make it a 3-0 Harvard lead. Northeastern would respond later in the period. Assisted by sophomore forward Jack Hughes, Fontaine would score a goal and reduce the Crimson lead to two. 

A scuffle in the Northeastern defensive zone led to Harvard’s Laferriere getting sent to the box for a two-minute minor for boarding. 14 seconds into the ensuing power play, senior forward Aidan McDonough brought the Huskies within one with a goal assisted by Fontaine and Hughes. 

Sophomore forward Matt Choupani would tie it up later in the second period. With 6:01 remaining in the second period, the Baie D’Urfe, Quebec native found the back of the net making it a 3-3 game. 

Two minutes later, Harvard responded. Off a pass from Laferriere, freshman forward Casey Severo netted one to give the Crimson a 4-3 lead. With 2:03 left in the period, Miller scored his second goal of the day to give Harvard a two-goal lead. 

Less than two minutes into the third period, Laferriere lifted one past Levi to give the Crimson a 6-3 lead. 

With 14:23 left in regulation, Northeastern’s junior forward Sam Colangelo was sent to the box for boarding. With one second remaining on the man-advantage, freshman forward Philip Tresca scored a goal. The Newton native’s first career goal gave Harvard a four-goal lead. 

Just over 30 seconds later, Hughes’ Michigan goal cut the Crimson lead to 7-4. With 4:38 left in the third period, Laferriere scored in a spectacular fashion to give the home team an 8-4 lead. 

That lead would hold and Ted Donato’s Harvard Crimson would win the game. The victory was a great rebound for the Crimson after falling to the No. 6 Boston University Terriers (12-5-0, 8-4-0 HE) in overtime on Friday night. It was also the first time Harvard had beaten Northeastern since February 2017.

The Huskies seek to rebound when they face the No. 9 University of Connecticut Huskies (13-5-3, 8-4-2 HE) at Fenway Park on Saturday. 

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