By James Garrison
The return of the Winter Classic to Boston saw outdoor hockey return to America’s most historic ballpark. With that, the idea of outdoor college hockey could not be removed from the mind of almost every college hockey fan in the New England area and beyond.
Friday featured a women’s doubleheader, with Quinnipiac defeating Harvard and Holy Cross defeating Boston University by scores of 3-1 and 3-2, respectively.
The men took center stage Saturday. Northeastern collected a much needed 4-1 victory over UConn, and Boston College defeated UMass 4-2.
Follow along as we dive into the weekend that saw college hockey return to Fenway Park for the first time since 2017.
Harvard vs. Quinnipiac: Steigauf bats one home
Is there a more perfect goal to score at Frozen Fenway?
Junior forward Nina Steigauf, committing fully to the baseball bit, doubled Quinnipiac’s lead with a highlight reel tally in the second period.
“She really finishes up on things and she gets that one in,” Graduate goaltender Logan Angers said. “I feel like I can picture Nina doing that pretty regularly.”
Jess Schryver curled behind the goal line and flipped the puck back to the front of the net, where Steigauf was able to bat the puck out of midair, finishing off the Milano-to-Zegras-like sequence.
Bobcats’ defense, goaltending stands tall
Backed by a veteran-heavy back end, the goaltending tandem of Catie Boudiette and Angers have put up some ridiculous numbers so far this season.
Angers felt a light workload while under the bright lights of Fenway, only having to stop 15 pucks en route to her 12th win of the season.
The Bobcats imposed their will on Harvard defensively, showing exactly why they are in the national conversation.
“We do such a good job of blocking shots and having good sticks,” Angers said following the victory. “I think [it’s] a huge part of our team’s success as a whole. We get so many god sticks that deny so many opportunities to get pucks on net for the other team.”
UConn vs. Northeastern: Northeastern grabs some much needed momentum
It has not been the season Northeastern had been hoping for so far.
The Huskies, ranked sixth nationally at the beginning of the year, have battled injuries and inconsistent play. An 8-4 loss against Harvard on New Year’s Day saw their record dip below .500 for the first time this season.
“Sometimes all it takes is just finding a way to win one,” Northeastern Head Coach Jerry Keefe said following the victory. “Just to see in a big game, the [buy in] to play the right way, to win the way that we know we have to win.”
Under the bright lights, the Huskies washed out the bad taste of prior losses against Bentley and Harvard and gave themselves a reason to be optimistic early in the second half of the season.
Devon Levi holds down the fort
Halfway through just his second season as a Husky, Devon Levi’s resume speaks for itself.
During Northeastern’s midseason woes, Levi’s performance has remained a constant during a stretch of unpredictability. While not matching last year’s otherworldly stat line, Levi has put up a more than respectable .920 save percentage and a 2.53 goals against average.
Levi made 29 saves Saturday afternoon and held off a UConn attack searching for the equalizer while down 2-1 in the third period. A bounce-back performance was of utmost importance for Levi after surrendering eight goals on New Year’s Day.
“[Levi] knows how to respond to anything,” Keefe said. “He took it as a challenge and went out there today and played a great game…he was strong in the net; you could tell he was seeing pucks.”
BC vs. UMass: Hometown Burke snaps goal drought
It’s been an interesting ride for Boston College graduate forward Cam Burke.
The 1999-born Burke seems to have found a home in Chestnut Hill after struggling to find consistent offensive production after four years with Notre Dame.
Riding the momentum of a career high 19 points in his senior season with the Irish, Burke has settled into a depth role with the Eagles. Even though scoring had Burke, for 17 games, the 24-year-old chose the perfect stage to vanquish the drought.
On Saturday, the Boxborough native scored twice in the Eagles’ 4-2 victory over UMass.
“Had a bunch of family and friends here,” Burke said. “To score in front of them is always special, never mind to do it at such a spectacular event like this. This is one we obviously had circled on the calendar for a long time.”
Fresh off a bronze metal, Ufko and Gauthier face off
Just two days before facing off under the bright lights of Fenway, Cutter Gauthier and Ryan Ufko were collecting their bronze metals together in Halifax.
Since the announcement of Frozen Fenway on Sept. 12, very little was going to keep anyone involved away from such an incredible opportunity, especially the two star players of each side.
Gauthier figured in early on the offense, collecting the opening goal just 2:25 into action. Gauthier added an assist on Eamon Powell’s empty-netter.
Gauthier’s impact on the Eagles offense, which was lacking the prior weekend in Arizona, was wholly welcomed back by his team, especially Head Coach Greg Brown.
“Just the offensive presence he has,” Brown said. “I thought we played very well out in Arizona –– both games –– but we couldn’t convert on some chances and Cutter doesn’t need many chances to convert. It’s always nice to have him around.”