Northeastern fans have been fortunate to watch some of the program’s all-time great players come through Matthews Arena in the last decade. Their names will forever be in the record books, and fans will repeat their names and their exploits for years to come: Manson. Roy. Gaudette. Sikura. Aston-Reese. Primeau. Madden. Harris.
Aidan McDonough committed to Northeastern on March 8th, 2017, while playing at Thayer Academy. One evaluator compared him to the former Huskies player Zach Aston-Reese. In his commitment article, I wrote “If McDonough can have a career anywhere near what Aston-Reese has produced, Huskies fans will be thrilled.”
This past Monday, just over six years to the date of his commitment to Northeastern, Aidan McDonough signed his first NHL contract, inking a two-year entry-level deal with the Vancouver Canucks, the same team that drafted McDonough in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Draft. Looking back on the last four years and what McDonough accomplished while wearing the Huskies’ uniform, it’s safe to say that fans, teammates, coaches, and anyone who watched Northeastern have to be way more than simply “thrilled.”
The accolades are staggering. Aidan McDonough finished his Northeastern career with 124 points, tied with JF Aube for 28th on the all-time scoring list, and he did so in 124 career games, a perfect 1 point per game player. Had the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons not be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, he would likely have settled in the top 20 of career games played. His 66 career goals ties him, fittingly, with Zach Aston-Reese for 13th-most all time. He scored 29 powerplay goals, fourth-best all time. As a senior in 2022-23, he was the active NCAA leader in goals and powerplay goals. He was the first player since Adam Gaudette and Dylan Sikura in 2016-18 to have back-to-back 20 goal seasons, and only the third Husky to do it since Aube did it in 1993-95.
He was a member of two Beanpot-winning teams, scoring goals in both Beanpot finals games, including the eventual game-winning goal in the shootout during the 2023 Beanpot, which also proved to be the only goal scored on five attempts. In 2020’s Beanpot championship, he scored the game-tying goal to even the game at two, as Northeastern went on to win in overtime. He scored the game-winning goal at Merrimack with ten seconds left in regulation to clinch the program’s first Hockey East regular season championship in 2021-22. He helped the team back to the NCAA Tournament in 2022, scoring the game-tying goal late in the third period. He was named an All-American in 2022 and likely will be again in 2023; a Hockey East All Star twice; a two-time Hobey Baker Award nominee; a three time Hockey East All-Academic Team selection; program Rookie of the Year in 2020; program Unsung Hero in 2021; program MVP in 2022. A career that most players can only dream of was the reality for the Milton native, proving time and again that he was built for the biggest stages, and proving time and again he was the player whose stick you wanted the puck on when it mattered most.
Beyond the accolades and accomplishments, it was evident from his freshman season how much Aidan McDonough loved playing for Northeastern University. Sometimes it’s visible in the goal celebrations. Other times, it’s in the comments to media, whether postgame press conferences or discussion with NHL-adjacent interviews. No matter where or when, McDonough never changed who he was. He was humble. He was down to earth. He praised his teammates, never trying to be the center of attention, the most iconic example being after clinching that regular season title. When asked how the play developed, he first mentioned Sam Colangelo’s forecheck, then highlighted Jack Hughes’ skill and pass, before saying “I just kinda whacked at it and it went in,” which is one of the biggest undersells of a program milestone goal ever, but it encapsulates who McDonough is. He’s a team-first player, a teammate-first kind of leader. He’s the kind of player that every game, every season, you want to root for, which also makes it easy to see why he was a fan favorite amongst The DogHouse and alumni for four years.
McDonough has also heaped credit onto the coaching staff and the experience at Northeastern when talking about his development. Recruited when Jim Madigan was still Head Coach, McDonough has become a showcase model for the Northeastern development model, making strides every year to continue to push his and the program’s ceiling. In his most recent interview after signing, he talks about coming back as a senior, despite being offered an NHL contract last season, and using that extra year to grow his game, improve both his elite skills like his shot and the skills that needed refinement, like his skating and physicality. It’s that workman’s mindset that allowed McDonough to be a premier player for four years, and the same mentality that will allow him to have a long professional career.
Young hockey players dream about having college careers like the one Aidan McDonough had. College hockey programs dream about having players like Aidan McDonough is. He leaves the Northeastern Men’s Hockey program in a better state now than when he came in, helping to continuously push the Huskies towards the next mountaintop, and setting the standard for what excellence at the school is. A model player, a model leader, and a model Northeastern Husky through and through, Northeastern University is better because Aidan McDonough spent four years here, and his is a name that will not be forgotten among Northeastern fans.
To Aidan McDonough- thank you for everything you gave to this school and this team for four years. We cannot wait to watch you in Vancouver and watch your professional career take off.
As always, go Huskies.