After two spectacular seasons in which Devon Levi re-wrote the Northeastern record book and set an all-time standard for goaltender excellence on Huntington Avenue, the Huskies find themselves in need of a new starting goaltender. Two goalies will return to the team for their second season: sophomores Grant Riley and Harrison Chesney. Riley was the only one to see action last season, playing one game against UMass-Lowell while Levi was out sick. In that game, Riley allowed 3 goals on 17 shots in just under 59 minutes of play. Heading into the season, the starting goaltender position is up for grabs and we expect both newcomers to be in contention for it as well as the returnees.
Cameron Whitehead– the heir-apparent to Levi’s throne between the pipes since he committed to Northeastern in September 2021, Whitehead comes to Northeastern after two seasons with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. A former 4th round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2022, the Orleans, Ontario, Canada native stands 6-foot-3, weighs 172 pounds, and catches with his left hand in a traditional goalie setup. He was the primary goalie in Lincoln last season and went 25-15-3 with a .904 save percentage, a 2.83 goals-against-average, and 5 shutouts, all numbers that improved from his 2021-22 season. Each of those stats were in the top 10 in the USHL, and he actually tied for the USHL lead in shutouts. He attended Vegas’ prospect development camp the past two summers.
A workhorse goalie, Whitehead played the second-most minutes in the USHL, second-most games played overall, and had 4 games going to shootout, so he has experience in that dimension of the game as well. As a goalie, Whitehead’s size is a big plus particularly when challenging shooters, and he has good angles on shooters and can move from post to post well. One evaluator after his commitment compared him favorably to former Northeastern goalie Cayden Primeau. The last handful of seasons, Northeastern has gone to a true primary goalie model, so expect Whitehead to be the main goalie seeing action this season, and he seems plenty prepared for it with the experience he brings from Lincoln.
Coach Keefe on Whitehead: “Cam is big, athletic, and reads the play well. He finds pucks in traffic and is a competitor. He has the ability to be one of the top goalies in college hockey.”
Connor Hopkins: The fourth goalie in the room this year, Hopkins is a transfer from Yale of the ECAC, where he played ten games three seasons, with his fourth season being lost as the Ivy League cancelled their season in 2020-21 due to COVID-19. In that year, Hopkins played for Tri-City of the USHL, where in 15 games he had a .905 save percentage, 2.31 goals-against-average, and 1 shutout. At Yale he played in five games the last two seasons, posting save percentages under .900 both years and goals-against-averages over 4 both years, however it is important to keep in mind that Yale has been one of the worst-performing programs over the last few years, so all goalie stats should be taken with a grain of salt when the Bulldogs are involved. Hopkins also has battled injuries in of his career, particularly knee injuries. Former goalie coach Mike Condon played a role in recruiting him to Northeastern, and the report on Hopkins is that he has good rebound control and good fundamentals, and he’s a good leader and his compete level is high. All told, we expect Hopkins to be a positive influence in the room, and will help push Whitehead, Riley, and Chesney in their development as well as compete for the backup role himself.
Coach Keefe on Hopkins: “Connor brings experience to our goaltending position. He’s played college hockey for four years and was a highly touted goalie coming out of prep and junior hockey. He has battled some injuries throughout his college career but he’s healthy and we are excited he is with us.”
Looking ahead to the season, it would be a shock if Cameron Whitehead was not the starting goaltender on October 7th against Stonehill, however I would not be surprised if multiple goalies got time against Quinnipiac in the exhibition game on October 8th. Expect Whitehead to get the lion’s share of minutes this season, with Riley and Hopkins competing for the backup role.
Stay tuned as we continue our annual New to Northeastern series with the defensemen, soon to come on our website and our Twitter.
As always, go Huskies!