Archive | March, 2012

Anthony Bitetto Signs With Nashville

March 29, 2012

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Defenseman Anthony Bitetto has left Northeastern to begin his professional career with the Nashville Predators organization.

Nashville announced the signing today at a press conference.  Bitetto, from Island Park, NY,  was the Predators 6th round draft choice in 2010.  Shortly after the announcement, Bitetto tweeted the following:

“To all husky fans, @NUDoghouse it has been a pleasure playing in front of you every night for the pass two years. Thank You i will miss it. I am extremely happy to have signed with the Nashville Predators and be part of a great organization where winning is excepted. #Preds

Bitetto never missed a game in his 2 years at Northeastern.  In 54 career games, he had 6 goals and 22 assists, as well as a +6 rating.  He was also named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team after his freshman season.

Bitetto served as an alternate captain this season.  He was well-liked by fans for his fiery attitude.  He was also the first member of the team to join Twitter.  While his offensive stats were down across the board this season, his veteran presence will be missed.  He played a large part in the playoff upset of BU last season, as he was was able to shut down one of the Terrier’s biggest offensive threats, Alex Chiasson.  Even though he began to struggle down the stretch this year, he is one of the better defenseman Northeastern has had in recent years and without him on the blueline things would have been even worse this season.

The best Bitetto moment had to be this season at Merrimack.  The game was chippy and NU called a timeout when they were trailing late in the game.  Now this game being at Merrimack meant 2 things: 1.  Kyle Bigos was out there being a goon.  and 2.  We were seated basically on top of the Northeastern bench.   So NU calls time out and the skate over to the bench.  Bitetto, like his teammates looks very frustrated.  He had just had a run-in with Bigos at center ice.  One of the NU fans (Mike Chatefz?) yells to Bitetto to “rip his head off” to which Bitetto immediately responds, “I’m trying!”.  Bitetto was a likeable guy and you could tell he really played hard for the school.

We wish Anthony well in Smashville and we hope that he can represent NU well in the NHL someday.

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You Know What Happens When You Assume, Right?

March 29, 2012

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I don’t know Chris Rawlings personally, but from what I hear he sounds like a good guy.  His career at NU has had its share of highlights and its share of lowlights.   And had he left after this season, I think his legacy would have been a positive one in most people’s eyes.  Unfortunately he didn’t leave after this season, and whether its right or wrong, he may have just become one of the biggest villains in recent NU hockey history.

Since he stepped on campus, Rawlings has had his eyes on pro hockey.  He has spent the offseasons attending NHL Development camps for various teams and it he had left after his freshman or sophomore year no one would have been surprised.  In fact, it was a bit surprising that he did come back this season for his Junior year.  As the story goes, he stayed, despite offers from Philadelphia and Columbus, because his girlfriend still had 1 year left at Northeastern.

So everyone, including the coaching staff, assumed he was leaving after this season and planned accordingly.  For the coaches, that meant getting one of the best goalie recruits in the country back on board after Cronin left and getting him prepared to matriculate this fall.  For the fans, it meant looking forward to seeing that recruit/savior, Jon Gillies, next season.

Elite goaltenders are hard to find, but they are the great equalizer in hockey.  Look at Merrimack or Lowell or Northeastern in 2008-2009 or even the Bruins last year.  If there is one guy on the ice that can help your team punch above its weight, its your goalie.  Gillies is one of these elite guys.  So its no surprise that the Quebec Remparts, who owned his QMJHL rights, were also very interested in him.  It didn’t help that their GM/coach is a guy named Patrick Roy.  What goalie wouldn’t want to learn from him?

But Gillies continued on his patch for Northeastern.  He signed his NLI for 2012, reaffirmed his commitment, and was even sporting the red and black N on his goalie helmet.  There was still a chance that the team that took him in the NHL draft this summer would push him to the Q, but it finally seemed reasonable to expect Gillies to be here in the fall and to be excited about it.

Then the plan fell apart.  Rawlings faltered down the stretch and probably played himself out of a contract (or at least a good contract) and decided to come back for his final season.  Gillies decided he didn’t want to a waste a year of development backing up or, at best, splitting time with Rawlings.   So Northeastern is now left with 1 more year of Rawlings instead of 2-4 years of Gillies.

Madigan did the right thing in releasing him from his NLI.  The situation that Madigan presumably sold Gillies on was impossible, and it would be unfair to make Gillies come here and slow down his development.

So now a guy that Northeastern desperately needs will go off and be successful somewhere else.  Since he is released from his NLI, that could be another college.  Either way it will be painful for Northeastern fans who already have to deal with watching Johnny Gaudreau dominate at BC.

For Northeastern, it is just another reminder this program is headed in the wrong direction. That NCAA tournament bid was just 3 years ago, but things have been so bad since then that sometimes it feels like 10.  Hopefully this is the low point, and its all uphill from here.  But thats what everyone thought last summer too, so who knows?  Lets just hope there is some good news soon.

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Jon Gillies Decommits from Northeastern

March 29, 2012

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Stop me if you have heard this one before: Northeastern’s top recruit for next year will not be coming to Northeastern.  With Chris Rawlings surprising everyone, including the coaching staff, by deciding to stay for his senior season, there was really no room for Jon Gillies.  Gillies asked to be released from his National Letter of Intent and on Wednesday, coach Madigan agreed to this.  We were the first to report this news in what was our second scoop ever I believe (the first being when we posted what the lines for the preseason game.  No one believed us then either.  Oh well.)  To read more about the situation, including quotes from Gillies, read this.

We will have more on this in the coming days, but its an unfortunate situation where no one can really be blamed, but its just another tough blow for Northeastern.

 

 

 

 

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Reptar Does It Again

March 21, 2012

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It wasn’t easy for Reptar, but once again they took home the title.  With Greg Stofman and Jon Martiniello at Nationals with the club team, and league MVP/Leading Scorer Mark Loh doing whatever is Mark Loh does, Reptar was left with just 8 skaters.

In the semifinals, they cruised to a 5-1 victory over America.  Defenseman Cody Carlson, who was celebrating his birthday, had 2 goals and 1 broken stick.  He finished the year averaging a broken stick about every 2 games, a new intramural record.  But more importantly, he gave Reptar an early lead they would never lose.  The other 3 goals came from Bishop Feehan alums Jon Casali and Andrew Stukas.  Casali had 2 to Stukas’ 1, but still left feeling inferior since he knows his fantasy baseball team is nothing compared to Stukas’.

In the championship, Reptar would face Pass Shoot ScOrr, who had just 5 skaters.  They had 6 for their semifinal game just 2 hours earlier, but their captain decided to hang out with his girlfriend instead of coming to the Championship game.  Husky Hockey Blog talked to him last night and he admitted the fact that his team had no chance played heavily into his decision.   So as you can imagine with an 8 vs 5  game just hours after grueling semifinals, it wasn’t the best hockey.  There were times where both teams seemed content to ice the puck.  Those times made up the majority of the game.  But Reptar would take the lead when Matt “the Moose is Loose” Merenich would tip home a Cody Carlson shot midway through the 2nd.  Pass Shoot ScOrr would get their chances, but Reptar goalie Billy Stacy was up to the challenge.

Reptar closed out the 1-0 win with Stacy taking home MVP honors.  The importance of the win for Reptar cannot be understated.  After not winning the title for the first time ever last semester, it was a huge bounceback season for Reptar.  This was their 4th championship, but it marked their first undefeated season.  Those were the only benefits: this was also the first championship picture that featured the new jerseys, which have been called the best in the league.  Also, as Zach Frisch mentioned before the game, “We have to win, I really need a new (Facebook) profile picture”.  And most importantly the win showed that miracles can happen.  Missing their best 3 players? Thats one thing.  But having a team that was absolutely lacking in any semblance of flow and still coming out on top? Purely unbelievable.

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Rob Dongara to Leave Northeastern

March 9, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Sophomore forward Rob Dongara announced via Twitter this afternoon that he will not be returning to Northeastern next season.   He will likely transfer to either an Atlantic Hockey or a Divison 3 school.

“Dong” has certainly had an interesting 2 years at Northeastern.  He arrived without very much hype and was not really expected to see much ice time.   But after the first weekend, he got his shot at playing time.    After that, he never left the lineup.  His speed was exciting and he quickly became a fan favorite.  That speed helped him score an amazing shorthanded goal in the Beanpot championship that made him one of the most recognizable members of the team.  Even kids that didn’t follow the hockey team had heard of Dong.  He finished his freshman season with 6 goals, 8 assists and an entire section named after him (The DongHouse).

After bulking up over the summer, expectations were high heading into his second season.  But obviously Madigan didn’t value Dongara the way Cronin did.  After a rough start, Dongara soon found himself in the stands.   The team went on a long win streak and the lineup shuffling stopped with Dongara on the outside looking in.   After that Dongara only got in when people were hurt, suspended or both.   Even that was no guarantee.   Late in the year, Madigan chose to dress just 11 forwards instead of putting him in the lineup.   At that point, it became clear: this relationship was just not going to work.  Dong finished the year with just 15 games played and 1-1-2 line.

When you bring in a new coach, some old guys aren’t going to fit.  Thats what happened here.  Dongara will move on and play somewhere else.  Madigan will bring in one of “his guys”.

No matter where he lands, the Scituate, MA native, will always have his amazing Beanpot goal and subsequent SportsCenter Top Play.  Good Luck in the future Rob and thanks for your time as a Husky.

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Alumni Update: 3/9

March 9, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

NHL

  • Brad Thiessen is 2-0 since being called up to the NHL for the first time in his career. He has given up just 2 goals in each of his starts and has a .917 save percentage.    His latest win came in a nationally televised came that featured many Northeastern mentions.  Thiessen has looked good in his starts and he is positioning himself for an NHL contract next season whether it be in Pittsburgh or somewhere else.  He will be a restricted free agent this summer.
  • Staying in Pittsburgh, Joe Vitale is enjoying his first NHL season.  Vitale has been a  constant on the 4th line all season and he has chipped in with 4 goals and 9 assists.   The former Husky captain has also been huge for the Penguins on faceoffs.  They recently rewarded him with a 2 year, $1.1 million extension that will keep him in Pittsburgh through 2014.

AHL

  • Tyler McNeely‘s Bridgeport Sound Tigers are leading their division.  McNeely is a +11, but has just 5 goals and 10 assists in 52 games despite getting off to a hot start.
  • In last place in that same division is Wade MacLeod and the Springfield Falcons. MacLeod missed some time earlier in the season with an injury but he has fared well since returning.  He has 6 goals and 14 assists in 49 games.
  • Brodie Reid is having a quiet season in his first as a professional.   In 55 games, he has 8 goals and 13 assists for the Worcester Sharks who are barely hanging onto a playoff place.
  • Michael Ryan may never play hockey again.  After 3 games this season, Ryan was forced out of the lineup with concussion like symptoms.   He returned in February but lasted just 5 games.  There is a chance he could come back, but there is not a lot of optimism.   Ryan, who graduated in 2003, has dealt with concussion problems for much of his career.  A career that has seen him play 83 NHL games split over 3 seasons.   Its an unfortunate situation, but hopefully his long term health will not be compromised.

ECHL

  • Kyle Kraemer continues to tear it up for the first place Ontario Reign.  48 points in 46 games has him tied for 2nd best on the team.   This is Kraemer second full season of professional hockey and he has done well in both.   He could be in line for a shot at the AHL next year if he continues this pace.
  • Chad Costello leads the ECHL in points with 76 in 45 games.  He has been called up to the AHL twice already but managed just 4 assists in 11 games.  In his career, he has played 19 AHL games.  He is just 0-5-5, -2 in those games.  He can dominate the ECHL all he wants, if he doesn’t start performing in his AHL chances, he will never get higher in the ECHL.   Since leaving Northeastern after his Sophomore season in 2008, Costello has played for 8 different teams in 4 different leagues.
  • Dennis McCauley was traded to Chicago, but he failed his physical so the trade was cancelled and he has been returned to Reading.
  • Chris Donovan: 25 GP 0-2-2, Steve Silva: 36 GP, 6-23-29,  Dave Strathman: 21 GP, 2-6-8 (since being traded to Utah), Louis Liotti: 38 GP, 2-4-6

CHL

  • Jake Newton finally found his comfort zone.  After posting a 1-2-3 in 31 games with Lake Erie, Newton found himself demoted to the CHL this week.  In his first game with the Allen  Americans, he scored a goal.   Since leaving NU, Newton has played 79 AHL games over two seasons.  He is a 3-9-12, -17.  If those stats don’t justify Cronin’s response to him leaving, then this demotion definitely does.  This should serve as a warning for defenseman who think they may be ready for pro hockey but really aren’t.   But judging by the events of this offseason, it clearly hasn’t.

Juniors

  • Jamie Oleksiak is having a good go of things in Niagara.  In 24 games, he has 4 goals and 13 assists to go with his +19.  His team has already clinched a playoff bid.

Intramurals

  • JP Maley has 2 goals in 4 games for the Mighty Ducks.  His team needs to win their last game to grab a playoff spot after once again finishing behind Reptar on Ice.

Coaching

  • Toronto fired their head coach, but Greg Cronin survived and remained on the staff.   He could be looking for a new job in the summer though if Toronto decides to clean house.
  • Jason Guerriero and Holy Cross swept Army last week in the first round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs.  This week they head to Mercyhurst for their quarterfinal matchup.
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Madigan Throwing Darts at Canada, Adds Another Defenseman for 2012

March 8, 2012

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Jim Madigan and his staff are at it again.  For the 3rd time in 4 weeks, Northeastern has picked up a commitment from Canada.  First it was forward Mike McMurtry, a ’92, from the CCHL.  Last week, it was defenseman Dustin Darou, a ’91, also from the CCHL.  The latest pick up is another defenseman, Jarrett Fennell, a ’91, from the OJHL.

The big news from this is that the Huskies now have 4 defenseman slated to come in next season, joining the 6 defenseman that are returning (as of now).   While it hasn’t been officially announced, it is all but certain that Anthony Bitetto is leaving.  His not so cryptic tweet basically confirmed that.   Luke Eibler could leave, but there has been absolutely no talk of that so far.  The others should be back, unless they decided to transfer.

So it looks like NU will have 10 defenseman heading into next season:

  1. Luke Eibler, Jr.
  2. Drew Ellement, Sr.
  3. Drew Daniels, Sr.
  4. Josh Manson, So.
  5. Dan Cornell, So.
  6. Ben Oskroba, So.
  7. Mike Gunn, Fr.
  8. Colton Saucerman, Fr.
  9. Dustin Darou, Fr.
  10. Jarrett Fennell, Fr.

So what is Madigan doing?  It seems to me like he is just throwing darts and hoping one or two guys work out, kind of like Dan Cornell this year.  Or there is the scary possibility that Luke Eibler is leaving with Bitetto and NU is in need of bodies.   That would be very bad.  But there may be more to this.

Saucerman suffered an ACL injury around Christmas.  The fact that Madigan has picked up two defenseman since then makes it seem like Saucerman will not be ready for this season.

There is also the possibility that one of these guys moves to forward to even out the numbers.  The two candidates for that are Josh Manson and Drew Daniels.  Daniels, like his brother, originally came to Northeastern as a forward.   He played one game there this year when injuries left the Huskies with a shorthanded lineup.

Here’s the deal with Daniels: there is a reason he was moved to defense.  He put up 8 points as a forward freshman year.  He put up 9 in his sophomore season splitting time between forward and defense.  He had 7 this season playing only defense.  Basically, he is useless as a forward.  And he isn’t really the guy you are looking for as a 4th liner.   And the biggest thing with Daniels is that he has done really well since moving to defense.  Moving him back would weaken the D and not really improve the forwards.

Manson played forward a bit in Juniors, but like Daniels, he really took off when he moved to defense.  He got off to a rocky start in his freshman season, but besides the Beanpot game, he played much better in the second half of the season.  I think if he stays on defense, he will be much better next season.   But, he did show flashes of offensive talent once he got more confident towards the end of the year.

So this situation is definitely one to watch.  There is still the possibility that somebody else leaves.  But as it stands, there is going to be a logjam to get into the lineup.   As a whole, this defense doesn’t look that great.  Eibler is great.   Him and Bitetto formed a great partnership in there freshman season.   When they split up this season, things went in different directions for the two.  Bitetto was a mess and Eibler was the best defenseman on the team.   The Huskies need him next season.  Ellement and Daniels are solid defenseman.   Then its a huge question mark.   You have 3 sophomores, none very proven.   Oskroba got almost no time this season.  Cornell did, but seemed to fall off towards the end.  Manson is probably the only one you can pencil in the lineup for next season.   Then you have 4 freshman.   Freshman defenseman usually have a rough go of it in Hockey East.  If 1 or 2 can step up, that’d be great, but thats not something you want to be relying on.   Its a long way off, but defense may be a problem area for Northeastern next season.   But ideally, this would be the defensive pairings:

Eibler-Gunn

Ellement-Manson

Daniels-Cornell

Oskroba, Darou, Fennell

 

If Eibler leaves, disregard all of this and begin panicking.

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