By Matt Noonan
BOSTON, Mass. – For the second straight year, Northeastern will compete for the Beanpot trophy as the Huskies skated past Harvard, 6-0, in the first contest of Monday’s double-header at the TD Garden.
Northeastern hasn’t claimed the tournament crown since defeating Boston University in 1988. They appeared in the championship game last season, but lost to Boston College, 6-3. They also fell to the Eagles in the 2011 title match in overtime.
“Well, obviously happy with the win,” said Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan.
“This first game is the game that gives you the opportunity to win the Beanpot and I know our guys were really prepared coming in.”
Mike Szmatula registered three points in his team’s win, one goal and two assists. He recorded back-to-back helpers in the second period by setting up both Torin Snydeman and Braden Pimm, two players that helped Northeastern balloon its first period lead into a 4-0 advantage after two periods.
Dalen Hedges provided Northeastern with the lead for good in the opening session by firing home a shot from the far left circle before Kevin Roy doubled his team’s advantage with a power play goal.
Roy, who was the most valuable player (MVP) of last year’s tournament, has now registered six goals in three tournament games, including his first period strike.
“I just thought our guys were really ready to go,” said Madigan. “When you have the confidence that we were playing with because of our goaltending it allows us to do some things offensively and continue to get some pucks to the net, so overall obviously happy with the win (because) it gives us an opportunity to be in the championship against either a good BU or BC team.”
Northeastern finished the contest with 38 shots, while Harvard recorded 27. Both teams combined for 76 penalty minutes, which is the most penalty minutes in a tournament game since BC and Harvard combined for 74 minutes in 2010.
Clay Witt, who has started in 22 games this season for the Huskies, earned his fourth-career shutout by deflecting 27 shots. Harvard’s Raphael Girard finished with 21 saves.
“Give Northeastern credit, they played a simple, strong game (and we) never really (were) able to get anything going,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “We lost battles all over the ice.”
Northeastern will skate against the winner of Boston College-Boston University next Monday at 7:30 p.m., while Harvard will face-off against the losing squad at 4:30 p.m.