Forward Ryan McGuire and Defenseman Jake Higgins Transfer to Northeastern

Transfer portal season is in fully swing, with nearly 250 players entering at this point across all of Division 1 hockey. Undergraduate players were able to enter starting Sunday 3/31, while graduate transfers (seniors graduating who have one more year of eligibility) were able to enter at season’s end. Northeastern saw senior forward Gunnarwolfe Fontaine enter the portal to play his final year elsewhere, while junior defenseman Braden Doyle and junior forward Matt Choupani also entered.

On Tuesday, Northeastern received not one, but two commitments from players to come play for the Huskies out of the portal. The first was forward Ryan McGuire, who just finished his junior season at Colgate.

McGuire is a 6-foot-2 right shot center, originating from Quebec, and hails now from Connecticut. He is an alumnus of the Belmont Hill School in Massachusetts, where he was teammates for one season with incoming freshman forward James Fisher. McGuire committed to Colgate while at Belmont Hill, and proceeded to play his junior hockey for the Madison Capitols (USHL) and Penticton Vees (BCHL). With Colgate, McGuire won the ECAC Championship in 2022-23. Last season, he had a breakout year with the Raiders, scoring 26 points (14 goals) in 34 games, 20 of which were primary points, with 86 shots on goal, a +5 rating and an excellent 57% win rate in the faceoff dot, a skill that will be paramount for Northeastern to replace after losing captain Justin Hryckowian to the NHL. He also only took 8 minor penalties all year.

McGuire’s season was a near even split with 14 points in the three months before Christmas, and 12 points in the three months after, including a 9-game point streak in the middle of the season. He had 7 points in 6 games against NCAA Tournament teams. Word is Northeastern beat out at least one other Hockey East school who was interested in McGuire. He is the son of well-known hockey reporter Pierre McGuire.

McGuire profiles as a two-way forward who will be very good in all three zones. He’s excellent in the faceoff circle, has a quick release to his shot, he’s responsible in the defensive zone, and he can do yeoman’s work in the corners. He’s a tenacious forechecker, the kind of player who will play through contact while initiating some of his own- per Mike McMahon, McGuire’s 6.7 hits per 60 minutes is the best among players in the portal with at least 15 points. A combination of skill and offensive ability with grind and physicality will do well in the Jerry Keefe system. We project that McGuire will slot in behind Jack Williams as Northeastern’s number 2 center, a role he had with Colgate as well.

The second player to announce his intention to play college hockey for Northeastern next year is defenseman Jake Higgins. Higgins is a local kid from Hingham, and recently completed a four year career at Holy Cross where he was an assistant captain his senior year. A right-shot defenseman with good size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds), Higgins started on the right side of the top pairing last season for the Crusaders but also played a good amount at left defense. You can bet the coaching staff sees value in that versatility, as well as his leadership qualities.

Last season at Holy Cross, Higgins had a career best 9 points (5 goals). He put 53 shots on goal from the blue line, blocked 43 shots, and only took six minor penalties en route to finishing +2 on the year. Per McMahon, he was one of the best shut-down defensemen in Atlantic Hockey last season, with 26.3 takeaways per 60 minutes. Prior to Holy Cross he played at Deerfield Academy, the Cape Cod Whalers program, and at Hingham High School.

I discussed the holes in Northeastern’s roster on my recent appearance on the WRBB Northeastern Hockey Show, and the two biggest holes that were identified were the center spot behind Williams, and the left defense spot behind Jackson Dorrington. After this news, I expect Ryan McGuire to fill that center role admirably. The left defense hole still looks like it could be filled- Higgins has experience on the left side and could play there if called upon, but I would not be surprised if the coaches see him as a replacement for someone like Patrick Dawson, who played his graduate year at Northeastern after a 4 year career at Sacred Heart. Dawson was similar to Higgins in that he was an assistant captain his senior year, a defense-first player from the local area, and was brought in initially as depth, but he eventually finished the year playing as NU’s sixth and seventh defenseman. Barring any other portal entries, I could envision Higgins in that same role, particularly with Braden Doyle transferring and further thinning the defensive ranks, so the coaches still could look to fill the LD2 spot before all is said and done. With Matt Choupani’s transfer as well, don’t be surprised if they look for another middle six forward too.

Welcome Ryan and Jake to Northeastern! We look forward to watching both players on the ice at Matthews Arena next season. As more news breaks this offseason for the Huskies, we will have it covered here and on our Twitter.

As always, go Huskies!