Archive | December, 2011

Preview: Huskies vs. Minnesota (Mariucci Classic Championship)

December 31, 2011

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Tonight the Huskies will go for the title in the Mariccui Classic as they take on the Golden Gophers on their home ice.  Puck drops at 7 PM EST.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Minnesota comes in at 15-5-2.  The Golden Gophers beat Niagara 5-1 last night to reach the title game.   They will be without two of their top scorers in Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau, who are with the USA WJC team.  The Gophers are averaging 4.2 goals per game, so even without these two they will be expecting to light the lamp a few times tonight.  Their power play is at 25%, so if NU picks up penalties like they did last night, it is going to be a long game.   Minnesota does take a lot of penalties, but with NU’s PP now at 8%, it probably wont matter how many chances they get.  Minnesota also averages 36 shots per game, so Rawlings will need to bring his A game for the Huskies to have any chance.  Kent Patterson will be the goalie for Minnesota.   He has played in every single game for Minnesota this year, positng a 1.99 GAA and .922 Save Percentage.

For the Huskies, they are lucky to be in this game, but it doesnt really matter.   They have a chance to get some hardware and a potentially huge RPI and Pairwise boost.  The rest of Hockey East is not really helping out in that manner, so NU is going.   Even missing 2 top players, Minnesota is one of the best teams in the country, but NU has proven they can play with the best.   If they play the style they played during the win streak, this should be a great game.   If they play like they played last night, it wont even be close.

PS-Its officially time to Free the Dong.

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Final: Huskies 3, Princeton 3 (Mariucci Classic)

December 31, 2011

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Northeastern 6 game win streak came to an end last night when they tied Princeton 3-3.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The Basics

  • Though the game counts a tie, there a shootout to see who advanced to the Championship.  It went eight rounds without a goal until Justin Daniels won it for the Huskies.
  • Braden Pimm had 2 goals during regulation and Vinny Saponari grabbed the other one.
  • Cody Ferriero, Mike McLaughlin, Garrett Vermeersch, and Steve Quailer all had assists.
  • Chris Rawlings allowed 3 goals on 26 shots, but saved all 8 during the shootout.
  • The Huskies outshot the Tigers 41-26.
  • NU was 0-7 on the PP.  Princeton was 3-7.
What You Need to Know
  • The Huskies weren’t at their best and looked to be a bit rusty after a long layoff.
  • In a game where WCHA refs were calling everything, the Huskies special teams killed them.   They have been an issue all year, but this was a new low.   7 power plays were unsuccessful.   Princeton tied the game 3 times with Power Play goals.    The only bright spot was Pimm’s shorthanded goal, but Princeton scored 20 seconds later on the Power Play.
  • Mike McLaughlin returned to the lineup in place of Zak Stone and picked up a point to go along with some great work on the PK.   He won just 4 out of 16 faceoffs though.
  • Throughout the win streak, Northeastern has scored by making smart passes and taking the right shots.   There was none of that last night.   Too many selfish plays and too many dangles.   And when they did try to make the passes, they couldn’t connect.
  • Its time to bring Robby Dongara back in the lineup.  Robbie Vrolyk is a non factor out there and he hasnt even made an impact on the penalty kill, which is supposed to be his strength.
  • Garrett Vermeersch continues to play well.  He was the best faceoff man for the Huskies and even while the rest of the team reverted to selfish play, Vermy continued to make the right plays.
  • The Huskies looked frustrated and rusty for most of the game.
  • The shootout was awful.   Rawlings made some great saves, but NU’s shooters were missing the net, losing the puck, or trying to be a bit too fancy.
Lines:
Karlsson-Vermeersch-Saponari
Ferriero-Pimm-Quailer
Tuckerman-Daniels-Manno
Reid-McLaughlin-Vrolyk
D:
Bitetto-Cornell
Eibler-Manson
Ellement-Daniels
Thoughts
Not a good game for the Huskies.  Princeton is a lower tier ECAC team who was playing their back up goalie.   Blowing 3 leads in one game is never good.  The shootout win at least gives them a chance to take down Minnesota and get the title (as well as the Pairwise boost).   The sloppiness can hopefully be blamed on the layoff.   The Huskies will need to look sharper tonight to have any chance.
McLaughlin was huge on the Penalty Kill and the Power Play created some good chances, but thats not good enough.   If this team wants to be successful, it absolutely has to figure out the special teams.   Having the PP under 10% and the Pk under 80% is just not good enough for a team with this talent level.

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How to Watch the Huskies in the Mariucci Classic

December 30, 2011

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For video feed: Minnesota’s Gopher All Access will be showing all tournament games.  It costs 9.95/month, but that will give you access to both Northeastern games.

For radio coverage: As always, WRBB will have the call.  You can find that here.  So if $5/game is too much for you, then make sure to tune into WRBB for free.  And even if you do get the video feed, mute it and listen to WRBB anyways.

 

Northeastern will play Princeton today at 5 PM (EST).  Tomorrow, they either play in the consolation game at 4 PM (EST) or the championship game 7 PM (EST), where their opponent will either be Minnesota or Niagara.

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Preview: Huskies vs Princeton (Mariucci Classic)

December 30, 2011

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The Huskies begin their second half with a chance to win their 7th straight game when they take on the Princeton Tigers in the Mariccui Holiday Classic at 5 PM eastern.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Princeton enters the game with a 4-9-2 record.  The Tigers are 2-6-1 away from home.  In their last 5, they are 2-2-1 with wins over RPI and PC.   On offense, Jack Berger (6-5-11) and Rob Kleebaum (6-1-7) are the leaders.  Junior Michael Sdao (5-4-9), an Ottawa draft pick, is also one to watch.  Sean Bonar, a sophomore, has started 12 out of 15 games for the Tigers.  In those 12 games he has posted a .897 save percetnage and a 2.96 GAA.

Princeton is giving up 2.9 goals per game and scoring just 2.3.  They also have just a 17% Power Play.  Basically this team isn’t very good.  Which means they will probably give NU quite a battle if we have learned anything about the Huskies over the years.

For the Huskies, they will be eager to get back on the ice and back to work.  Mike McLaughlin should be about ready to return to the lineup, but where does he go?  It seems pretty obvious that the top 2 lines will not be disrupted.  Zak Stone could be the one who makes way for the Captain due to the fact that he is a center.  That would be a tough break for Stone as he has played really well during the win streak.   Alex Tuckerman, however, hasn’t done much of anything and he could also be the one sent to the stands.

This is another game that normally would seem like a perfect time for Clay Witt, but when you are on a 6 game win streak, the coaching staff probably isn’t looking to change up the goalie.  Witt will probably have to wait until the game against the USNTDP next weekend for his chance.

The Huskies are now scoring 3.1 goals a game while giving up 2.6.  The Power Play is up to 9.7%.  They need just 1 PPG in their next 8 chances to get to double digits finally.  Hopefully they can take care of that tonight.

The break came at a bad time for the Huskies, but they have a very good chance to pick up where they left off with this matchup.  If they have any hope of an at large, they need to take care of business tonight.

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Hockey East Holiday Plans

December 28, 2011

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The second half begins tomorrow for Hockey East with some big non-conference games for some and tournaments for others.   Many of these games will have big Pairwise implications down the road, so Hockey East will need some wins if they want to get 3-4 teams into the NCAA’s.

Boston College: The Eagles head out to Detroit for the Great Lakes Invitational.  They open up Thursday against Michigan.  The Wolverines are somehow ranked #20 despite being just 9-8-1.   The Eagles will then play either Michigan Tech or Michigan State in their final game.   All 4 teams in this tournament are TUC’s as of right now.  So this might be one of the bigger chances for Hockey East to gain, but it wont be easy.   The last time the non-Michigan Invitee won the tournament was when Colorado College did in 2005.  The last time BC played in this tournament, they won it back in 2003.   BC will be missing Bill Arnold, who is at the WJC’s, but Patrick Wey could be making his return from a foot injury that has kept him out since October.

Boston University:  BU has gone over a week without losing a player, so they are feeling good.  No Holiday Tournament for them this year, but they do have a marquee game.  The Terriers head to South Bend for a nationally televised game on New Year’s Eve against Notre Dame.  Its battle of 4th vs 5th in the Pairwise and all eyes will be on BU to see how they respond after a tumultuous break.  In addition to the two departures, they will also be without Adam Clendening, who is at WJC’s.

Maine and UMass Amherst: Hockey East sends two teams down to Florida this year for the Florida College Hockey Classic.  The tournament, which is hosted annually by Maine and Cornell, has been around since 2000.  Maine has won it 4 times in 11 chances, with the last victory coming in 2009.  This year they open up with an ECAC opponent, Clarkson.  UMass returns to this tournament for the second time.  In 2002, they lost in the final to Maine.   They open with a big matchup against Cornell.  UMass has already taken down a big ECAC team in Yale this season, a win over Cornell would be huge for the Minutemen and Hockey East.

Lowell: Lowell is easily in the worst Holiday Tournament of all time.  Lowell opens up the tournament with Rensselaer (ranked 54 out 58 in RPI).  Their second game will be against either Army (55) or UConn (52).  Lowell will be hoping to avenge an early season loss to UConn which left everyone confused.   If Lowell does not win this tournament, that is very very bad for them.

Merrimack: Not to be outdone, Merrimack found their own awful Holiday Tournament.  The Warriors head up to New Hampshire for the Ledyard National Bank Classic.  The Classic has had some memorable moments in the last 3 years.  Who could forget BC taking down Mercyhurst for the title in 2010, Northeastern overcoming Lowell in 2009, or Dartmouth pulling it out over Bemijdi State in 2008.   This year should be no different.  Merrimack opens up with St. Lawrence.  Then they will either get the host, Dartmouth, or Holy Cross. You don’t want to miss this one.

New Hampshire and Providence: These two join BU in skipping the Holiday Tournament scene this winter.  They both have just one game against Brown before they get back into their Hockey East schedule.  For PC, its the battle for the Mayor’s Cup.  PC had won three straight before the teams tied last season.

Northeastern: The Huskies, like seemingly every Hockey East team, open up their tournament with a rather weak ECAC team.  For NU, that team will be Princeton in the Mariucci Classic.  Should the Huskies take care of business they will meet Minnesota in the finals (or possibly Niagara).  Minnesota is ranked 2nd in the country but their two best players are away with the WJC team, so it is not a given they win the tournament, despite having home ice advantage.

Vermont: The Catamounts stay home and host some western opponents in the Catamount Cup.   Vermont, who is facing a bit of an injury crisis, has games against Lake Superior State and Ferris State.  Both teams are in the Top 15 of the RPI.  Vermont is 50th in the RPI and an addition to the injury problems, they are missing Conor Brickley who is with the WJC team.

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Midseason Awards

December 28, 2011

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The Northeastern Huskies have really turned on the jets in recent weeks, and head into a much deserved break a few points off home ice. Following a sluggish start, this sudden streak has brought the club back to .500, and if one thing is for certain, the effort has been at a high level down the entire lineup. Each line and pairing seems to be contributing night in and night out, with coach Jim Madigan (and co.) creating. a culture of accountability and leadership amongst his players. In this group of players, there have been some standouts. Here’s your 2011-2012 mideseason awards.

Best Freshman:

Ludwig Karlsson: The Swedish forward has had a mercurial improvement as of late. With six goals and eight assists, Karlsson has become a deadly point per game threat, making a living protecting the puck and making slick plays in the offensive zone, and is recently adding sniper to his résumé. On top of this Karlsson has been a reliable defensive forward, winning his fair share of one-on-one battles and stopping puck movement dead in its tracks. -Cory

Dan Cornell: He doesn’t show up on the stat sheet very much, but no freshman has meant more to the Huskies this season.  Cornell, who played at Malden Catholic, came to campus as a full walk-on this fall and wasn’t supposed to see much ice time.   After a rough start for the defense, Cornell got his chance and he has not left the lineup since.   Freshman defenseman usually struggle in their first year, but Cornell has been helped by his partner Anthony Bitetto.  Without Cornell’s surprising contributions, this team would not be where they are today. -Drew

Worst Game:

10/29/11: UNH 5, NU 2(@UNH): This game defined a low point for the Huskies. In the previous week, they lost decisively at Merrimack and coughed up a lead before losing in OT to BC in the most heartbreaking fashion. But this was a game against a less formidable opponent in UNH, in a contest which saw the Huskies get outshot 38-17 (Only 3 SOG in the first period) and go 0-4 on the power play. -Cory

11/12/11: UMA 4, NU 2 (@UMA): Northeastern was coming off a tough loss to BC with 2.1 seconds  the night before and they traveled west trying to end a 4 game losing streak.  Northeastern held a 2-1 lead late in the second, but they allowed UMass Amherst to tie it up with a power play goal.  Another power play goal for the Minuteman gave them the lead late in the 3rd and they would seal it with an empty netter in the closing minute.  The loss dropped the Huskies to 1-7-2, which proved to be the low point for them.-Drew

Best Game:

12/2/11:  NU 9, Notre Dame 2 (@Notre Dame): The road beatdown of then #2 Notre Dame is the obvious choice here. The Huskies were outshot and also went 0-4 on the power play in this game, but this outcome was dictated by creating odd-man rushes and high quality scoring chances all-around. Add in an entire lineup that had hypnotizing chemistry while taking risks with confidence, and you have a blowout.-Cory

11/18/11: NU 5, PC 2 (@PC): PC was flying high coming into this game and the Huskies were just 1-7-2.  But Steve Quailer scored in the first minute of the game and the Huskies dominated from there.  It was just their second win of the season, but it was the turning point.  The win restored the team’s confidence and showed what the Huskies were capable of. When the team skated off the ice that night there were a ton of smiles and it seemed like all of the pressue had been lifted. And they have played like that since -Drew

Most Improved Player:

Braden Pimm: The sophomore forward has expanded his smaller role last year into that of a top six center with a refined all-around game. Pimm had 9 points in 36 games last season; this year the 21 year old has 11 through 16. He centers a potent line with other improved talents Steve Quailer and Cody Ferriero on his wings. In Pimm, the Huskies now have the rare player who will not only contribute to a majority of prettier goals, but the gritty ones as well.-Cory

Cody Ferriero: Ferriero came here last season as a true freshman with high expectations. After scoring a goal in his first game, he completely disappeared. He didn’t show a great work ethic and found himself in the stands at times. His off ice troubles carried over into the season as he was forced to sit out the first month. But on the ice, he has been a changed man. He’s been smart with and without the puck. Instead of trying to go through everyone, he is making the right pass. He has been crashing the net hard and getting in the right spaces and as a result, he is picking up goals. He looks like a whole new player this year, one the Huskies can count on for a big second half. -Drew

7th Man Award

Joseph Manno: The seventh man award is sort of a tribute to the guy who works behind the scenes and contributes in various ways to a team’s success. Manno, a freshman forward, brings an intensity and effort level that makes the game more manageable for his teammates. And better yet, his tenacious board play makes the game much more difficult for his opponents. -Cory

Mike McLaughlin: The Captain is the go to guy on faceoffs and penalty kills. Without him in the lineup, they have struggled in those areas. He is the only senior on the team and he has played like one with smart decision making and a full effort every shift. Hopefully he can return from his injury after the break. -Drew

Best Defenseman

Anthony Bitetto: The Sophomore and assistant captain is known for solid play in his own zone and pinpoint breakout passes, but why Bitetto gets recognized here is the leadership he has displayed. One game, Cody Ferriero got too fancy on a breakaway, and immediately made his way to the bench. Bitetto moved over to the forward and let him have it. Madigan didn’t even have to budge. I like that a lot. -Cory

Anthony Bitetto: My favorite Bitetto moment was during the BC game at Matthews. After every whistle, he would get right in John Gaurdreau’s face until the refs separated them. (Honorable mention to the time he promised to try to kill Bigos) Bitetto is by far the best defenseman on the team and he seems like he might be the most vocal leader. He has shown an improvement in moving the puck and working the point this year on top of continuing his solid play defensively. I think we may see him in the NHL at some point. -Drew

First Half MVP

 Chris Rawlings: In one school of thought, goalies aren’t considered the most valuable player on a team. I disagree with that sometimes. When you have a player who can hand deliver victory when the offense isn’t firing on all cylinders, his value is far too high to ignore. The Junior goaltender had many fans questioning his versatility both last year and at the beginning of the season. Rawlings has proven them wrong (I was one of them). A .933 save percentage and 2.25 GAA (against some of the top offenses in the country mind you) has Rawlings in the same company as the NCAA’s best goaltenders. The guy has been a brick wall. -Cory

Chris Rawlings: The stats show how good Rawlings has been. His numbers during the win streak are just gaudy. But to really understand what he means to the team, you need to look at the comments from his teammates and the coaching staff. After the last game Cody Ferriero talked about how the team isn’t afraid to take chances offensively because they trust him back there. Madigan has reiterated that on multiple occassions. Rawlings strong play has not only prevented goals, but he has allowed the team has a whole to play with a high level of confidence and aggression. And that has led to the win streak. -Drew

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Hockey East at the Break

December 16, 2011

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With the first half of the season in the books, we can see how the Hockey East picture is developing.  As usual, the top of the conference is well represented on the national scale.  And they are already breaking away from the bottom half.  Some teams look ready for a big second half, while a few others could be in for a long year.  Here is a recap of the first half and an outlook on the second half for the entire conference.  We will have more on Northeastern specifically next week.

Boston College: 9-4-0, 18 Points, 14 games left

BC sits in 1st after a typical BC first half. Losses to Lowell and UMass Amherst raised some eyebrows, but the biggest surprise of the season so far for them was dropping 2 out of 3 to BU.  Defenseman Patrick Wey’s return form injury should help the Eagles, as will freshman Brian Billet’s play in net.  They have some big games left: 3 with Merrimack, Frozen Fenway and the Beanpot, but for the most part there schedule is pretty easy: 3 with Vermont, 2 with PC, UNH, and Maine.

Prediction: The Eagles do what they always do and go on a tear in the second half that takes them deep into the NCAA’s.

Boston University Terriers: 8-4-1, 17 points, 14 games left

The Terriers had to feel good about themselves going into the break.  They had overcome some early season inconsistency to turn things around and be in really good position.  1 day into that break things began to unravel and the drama hasn’t stopped all week.  Corey Trivino, Hockey East’s leading scorer is gone.  Charlie Coyle is gone.  And now their are reports some of the players are unhappy with Parker’s handling of things.  Their USCHO thread is both hilarious and just downright sad.  It is a rough time to be a Fanboy.  The players could rally around this and put together a good second half, but an outright collapse is much more likely.

Prediction: We haven’t seen the last midseason exit on Comm Ave this season.

Merrimack College Warriors: 7-2-1, 15 points, 17 games remaining

Merrimack took advantage of an easy schedule in the 1st half and earned the #1 ranking in the country for the first time in school history.  They have struggled a bit heading into the break, but with 3 games in hand on the teams ahead of them, they have to like their chances at a league title.  The Warriors have allowed the fewest goals in the conference, but they have also scored the second fewest.  Joe Canatta is the only reason they are where they are and he has been amazing this season.  Merrimack has yet to play BC, UNH, Lowell, and UMass Amherst so far.  And they still have 2 games against BU and Maine.

Prediction: The Warriors cool down a bit in the second half and get upset in the 1st round of the Hockey East playoffs.

UMass Lowell River Hawks: 7-4-0, 14 points, 16 games remaining

First year coach Norm Bazin has really turned this team around.  After missing the playoff last year, the River Hawks have already surpassed last season’s point toal thanks to some talented freshman and great play in net from sophomore Doug Carr.  Lowell seems like a good bet for home ice, which no one would have said preseason.  They have wins against BC and BU already, but they still have all 3 games to play against Merrimack.  This team culd very easily be making its first appearance at the Garden since 08/09.

Prediction:  Lowell continues to play well, but ends up on the wrong side of the bubble come tournament time.

Providence Friars: 6-4-0, 12 points, 17 games remaining

Another first year coach who has found success.  The Friars got off to a great start, but looked to be slowing down a bit.   They then proceeded to sweep Merrimack and put themselves firmly in the race for home ice.  They haven’t made the playoffs since 07/08.  They haven’t had a winning record since 05/06.  So whether they get home ice or not, this will probably be a good season for them.

Prediction: PC makes the playoffs for the first time since 07/08, and then gets sewpt just like they did in 07/08.

Maine Black Bears: 5-6-1, 11 points, 15 games remaining

The days of Maine being a national power are long gone.  But this season has them headed for a new low.  They don’t have much on defense or in net and they don’t score enough to make up for that. Its no longer impossible to win away at Alfond.  There has been a demonstration and a petition in an effort to get Tim Whitehead to step down from the head coaching position.  If it werent for a sweep of Vermont, things might look even worse up in Orono.  Either way its going to be a very long second half for them.

Prediction: Maine misses the playoffs, the state of Maine goes beserk and Whitehead is fired.

Northeastern Huskies: 4-7-2, 10 points, 14 games remaining

Jim Madigan’s return to coaching couldn’t have got off to  a worst start.  But since starting 1-7-2, the Huskies have ripped off 6 straight wins.  Unfortunately 3 of those were nonconference, so the Huskies have some work to do in conference.   3 games against BU, and 2 against Maine, Vermont and PC should help with that though.  They have been playing really well lately, but their poor start has given them almost no margin for error going forward.

Prediction: Northeastern wins the Beanpot.  The Huskies manage to grab home ice…barely.

New Hampshire Wildcats: 4-7-1, 9 points, 15 games remaining

The Wildcats have been awful this season.  And they just lost one of their big recruits for next season.  The last time UNH didn’t get home ice was 1996.  That streak is a good as gone.  Their main concern is just making the playoffs at this point.  With 2 games against Maine, Vermont, UMass Amherst, plus 3 with PC, they will get every chance to save themselves.

Prediction: UNH turns it on late and surprise everybody be making it to the Garden.

UMass Amherst Minuteman: 2-6-3, 7 points, 16 games remaining

The Minuteman picked up right where they left off last year: sucking.  But as they head into break, there is a bit more hope for them.  There have been some positive signs as of late and their schedule gives them the chance to pick up some spots in the standings: 2 with Maine, UNH, PC, Vermont.  Goalie and defense have been issues at times, but they do have some talent.  They made it into the playoffs last year and they will be hoping to again this year.

Prediction: Just like last year, UMass Amherst sneaks into the playoffs and then gets booted real quick.

Vermont Catamounts: 1-9-2, 3 points, 15 games remaining

The Catamounts are running away with last place.  They can’t do much of anything and there isn’t any chance of a turnaround up there.

Prediction: UVM finishes in the single digit in terms of points and Kevin Sneddon is fired.

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