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Preview Huskies vs. #4 BU

March 2, 2012

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Here it is folks, your final weekend. The season is almost over, and Northeastern has the chance to split with BU and watch UMass get swept. This most likely means going into Chestnut Hill and being shown the door in two games, but we’re okay with that. We have real fans at Northeastern, who have realistic expectations, and act accordingly. Many people in college hockey have explained the scenarios ad nauseum. , but again when it comes down to brass tax, it means going all out in one game against BU. They’ll have one chance tonight at Agganis, and end the regular season at home just when the student body is going home for spring break.

BU continues to stymie the hockey world with its ability to either move on from its off the ice issues, or ignore them. They’ve lost  players Corey Trivino and Max Nicastro to dismissal for rape charges, and former first rounder Charlie Coyle to the QMJHL. BU really knows how to cut guys off and replace them as evidenced by no signs of stopping and going 10-5 in 2012. They’ve been just .500 in their past six games though, and can be beaten if a somewhat talented Northeastern team brings the energy. In order to do this, the Huskies need to look past their inconsistencies and play some confident hockey. Mike McLaughlin is the only player leaving due to graduation, so one can imagine that more players will return to Northeastern than others, right? Well if this is the case, they have a chance to set the pace for next year. And who knows, maybe things will work out this weekend. All they have to do is muster something up possibly without Vrolyk, McLaughlin, and Tuckerman, three guys who won’t exactly put the team over the top but are much better than their replacements. So here’s to another hopeful weekend, hoping Northeastern will prove this guy wrong.

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Preview: Huskies vs. Maine

February 24, 2012

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Well guys, this is it. For real. The season started in doubt, and now it looks like it will end in doubt.  Northeastern went 1-7-2 to start the year, 7-0-1 the next 8 games, and finally 3-8-2 in 2012. This team can dominate western and central college squads all they want, but when it comes down to brass tax, winning in-conference and making other teams think twice about taking a penalty is more important.  So this particular weekend, the Huskies have a chance to set precedence for the future, and improve on their mentioned weaknesses going forward. #11 Maine (18-10-2 overall, 13-9-2 HE) sits at fourth in Hockey East, and will play just as hungrily as Northeastern, since it is not only looking to solidify home ice (keep in mind Maine has a huge advantage being 4 hours away from everyone else) and maybe take a top 3 seed.

Maine is 15-4-1 in its last 20 games, and boasts one of the best offensive attacks in college hockey, with a potent senior top line and power play. They’re a handful to say the least.  Maine may prove to be too much to handle, but they give Northeastern a final chance to prove themselves.  The Huskies power play is abysmal, but has shown signs of life recently. On the other side, Maine has been known to take a good deal of penalties and not kill them effectively. If Northeastern can shut down Abbott, Diamond, and Flynn, stay out of the box (Maine’s power play makes Northeastern’s look like dodgeball), and establish an effective special teams offensive, they may be able to pull off the double @ home weekend sweep. But one can only dream of such things. You’d have to ignore the Huskies’ glaring weaknesses in preventing bad goals and scoring impressive ones in order to for this to come true, and that would be downright ignorant.

Nonetheless, the only way into the playoffs has been set: Win more than UMass Amherst. The Huskies are deadlocked with the Minutemen but a tie-breaker gives Massachusetts the advantage (they play UNH and Merrimack to close the season). It would certainly help to get Steve Quailer back after a four week hiatus due to a leg injury, and Robbie Vrolyk is questionable after sustaining an injury last weekend against Providence.

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Preview: Huskies vs. Providence

February 17, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

 

After another frustrating weekend, the Huskies find themselves in a rough spot again. Losing at UNH was rough, but even loss in a seemingly meaningless game to Harvard has dug Northeastern an even bigger hole. With even more questions raised than answers found, this team finds it self in a must-win scenario against Providence this weekend if they hope to make the playoffs. It actually could work out quite nicely. If Northeastern (7-12-2 HE, 16 points, 11-14-3 overall) can win both games at home against Providence (10-10-1 HE, 21 points, 12-14-2 overall), they can gain 4 points on the Friars with the same amount of games in hand, and find themselves just a point behind. The interesting part is the remaining schedule.  The Huskies have a tough couple of series after this one, with a home stand against    high scoring Maine, and a home and home against BU to end the season. The interesting twist to this is that Providence has an arguably tougher one, with home and homes against BC and Lowell. Another very possible scenario is the case that UMass Amherst (tied with NU) sucks just as much if not worse than the Huskies.

So tonight, we’ll see if what should be a shaking up of the lines will help the Huskies. We could be seeing a much welcomed return of Steve Quailer to lineup tonight, and the right combination of lines could give this team a spark. There’s a slight possibility that Steve Morra will be playing tonight as well. If Rawlings can find his bearings and the defense can limit mistakes, Northeastern can pull ahead against a team that has its fair share of inconsistencies too. This is also a do or die for the coaching staff. Madigan and co. has shown that they will hold every player accountable for his actions off the ice. It’s about time the players are held accountable on the ice. You almost wish you could combine Cronin and Madigan; maybe have them on the same coaching staff. It certainly helps the current staff that Providence’s goaltending is struggling too, despite the team winning out last weekend.

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NU Invitational Preview

February 13, 2012

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After a one year absence, the Huskies return home to the storied NU Invitational.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

There is nothing more depressing than the 4:30 start at the Garden.  When the puck drops, there will probably be about 200 people in the crowd.  maybe.  But its not all bad, here are some things to be excited about heading into this game:

  • Chris Rawlings will not be playing.
  • Someone other than Chris Rawlings will be playing goalie.
  • Rawlings will be on the bench.
  • The game isn’t on TV, and no one will be there, so no matter what happens, it wont be too embarrassing.
  • No lines for food or bathroom.
  • Steve Morra will be in the lineup.  Maybe even Ben Oskroba and Jake Hoeffler, and they will probably get more than 3 shifts.
  • NU has won the last 2 consolation matchups against Harvard.
  • You can sit wherever you want.
  • Harvard has the best power play in the country.   After suffering through NU’s “power play” all year, everyone deserve the chance to see a real one.

And last but not least:

  • After the game, you can leave, sell your ticket to a scalper (thanks to ticket scanning technology) and screw over a BU/BC fan while you make a few bucks.
  • Just kidding, we are not advocating that.
  • But if you want to have some fun and not commit a crime, you can give your ticket to a BC/BU fan for free and just not tell them its no good.

 

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Preview: Huskies at UNH

February 10, 2012

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The Huskies have felt the absence of Steve Quailer and Cody Ferriero. Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca.

Tonight’s match up for the Huskies offers them the chance to accomplish many things at once. The first of which would be forgetting about an abysmal performance and elimination in the Beanpot opening round the Monday. More importantly, this inconsistent team has the opportunity to focus on the Hockey East playoffs and make a jump in the standings. Sixth place UNH (8-11-1 HE, 11-14-2 Overall) is just one point ahead of eighth place Northeastern with the same amount of games in hand.

Still, the Huskies are without talented forwards Steve Quailer (Sprained ACL/MCL) and Cody Ferriero (Torn ACL) for the contest, which forces Madigan to make some pretty tough decisions personnel-wise. The shorthanded Huskies need to weigh their options carefully, but after the loss to BC, it’s pretty clear to me who should start and who shouldn’t. Listen, the fans love the Dong (At least some of them do). But his frustrated performance in the Beanpot and subsequent shenanigans warrants his absence from this game, despite the size of the Whitt’s ice possibly complementing the Dong’s speed. Madigan has been holding his players accountable for their actions off the ice, and should apply the same process to on their ice performance and playing time. Hopefully the Huskies go all in one this one, and recognize which game in the next three days is important, and which one is an exhibition.

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Beanpot Preview: Huskies vs Boston College

February 6, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Tonight Northeastern enters a tournament that they haven’t won in 23 years against a team who they have beaten just once in their last nine meetings.  And they do it without 2 first line players.  Its easy to dismiss the Huskies Beanpot chances every year.  And for much of the season, thats what every NU fan does.  But for some reason, as the tournament gets closer, people begin to talk themselves into believing theres a chance.  And every time Lucy pulls the football away at the last minute.  This year is no different.  The Huskies find themselves in the familiar role of underdogs, but how can you not be excited for tonight?

In the 59 previous Beanpots, NU has finished last in almost half of them.    Their 29 fourth places finishes are the most by far.  There are 4 championships and 10 second place finishes are the least by far.  And they don’t have a winning record in the Beanpot against any of the other 3 teams.

So for all the magic and great moments the Beanpot has brought, NU’s involvement has been limited to disappointment on most occasions.  Its been 23 years since the Huskies last won the ‘Pot and there is no reason to believe that streak is ending this year.   NU coaches are 0-7 in their first Beanpot game.  Only 3 skaters that will dress tonight for NU have ever scored in the Beanpot (Rob Dongara, Luke Eibler, and Mike McLaughlin).    And they are playing a team that has already beat them 3 times this season.

If it seems like the odds are stacked against the Huskies, i’ts because they are.   With each passing year, the pressure only grows.  And since 1988, even the best Husky teams have found a way to come undone on a Monday night in February.

This will be the 9th meeting between BC and NU in the past two season, and every single one of those games has been decided by 1 goal, except for a 2-0 BC win where the 2nd goal was an empty netter.   In last year’s Beanpot, BC broke Northeastern’s heart in overtime with a thrilling 7-6 win.  A week later the two teams met again.  This time NU managed a 7-7 tie at Conte Forum, and then finally beat the Eagles the next night with a 2-1 win at Matthews.  The teams would meet at the Garden again in the Hockey East Semifinals.   Again BC came out on top with a 5-4 win.  The teams have met 3 times this season (in 3 different locations) and the Eagles have come out with a win all 3 times.   They won in OT at Matthews, scored a goal with 2.7 seconds left to win at Conte, then beat the Huskies again by 1 at Frozen Fenway.

When it comes to playing BC, Northeastern just can’t seem to get over the hump.  But on a positive note, the last time BC and NU met in the first round of the Beanpot, the Huskies cruised to a 6-1 win.

The Huskies will be without Cody Ferriero and Steve Quailer.  Quailer leads all active NU players with 4 Beanpot points (3 of which were vs BC).  The Huskies don’t have much Beanpot experience and they graduated a lot of Beanpot points this summer.  Garrett Vermeersch has 4 assists in 4 games.  Mike McLaughlin has 3 goals in 6 games. Rob Dongara has a goal and an assist in 2 games.  Those 3 are the only Huskies with more than 1 Beanpot point to their name.  This of course ignores Vinny Saponari, who played on the 2009 BU team that won the Beanpot over Brad Thiessen and Northeastern.  His experience will be key for the Huskies.

The Huskies need a hero.  Its time to bring the Beanpot back to Huntington Ave.  Beanpot history is full of improbable heroes and epic moments.   Northeastern will need some of that tonight.   On paper, the Huskies have no chance to win this thing.   And thats exactly why, as a Husky fan, you’ve got to have faith.  The Beanpot is always won by the best team.   Its won by the team who can just win on back to back Mondays.   Tonight’s game should be great, win or lose, but I think its about time that Northeastern wins this thing.

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Preview: Huskies vs UMass Amherst

February 3, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The Beanpot is looming for the Huskies, but they have a huge Hockey East game on their plate before they can worry about that.  The Huskies play host to UMass Amherst who they are tied with for 7th in Hockey East.

This game will have big implications on the Huskies playoff hopes.  Despite being tied in the standings, UMass has played 2 less games than the Huskies.   And if UMass can get a win or tie tonight, then they will win the season series and own the crucial tiebreaker.   So a loss tonight would give UMass a 3 point lead in essence and they would have 2 additional games to be played.

UMass is 0-8-2 in road games this season.   One of those ties came at Matthews in the season opener.  Danny Hobbs, TJ Syner, Bredan Gracel and Conor Sheary are the ones to watch.  The only question for the Minuteman is who will be in net.  Kevin Boyle was in net for both of the first two games, but he hasn’t seen much action of late.  Its been mostly a rotation between Steve Mastalerz and Jeff Teglia.  Neither of whom NU has faced before.

Northeastern is 23-33-3 in the games directly before the Beanpot.  They are 4-2-0 against UMass in those games.

The stats have become less embarrassing for the Huskies after last week.   The Power Play is finally in double digits (11%) and they are averaging 3.0 goals per game after last week’s outburst.

The Huskies could be without Steve Quailer, which would cause some lineup reshuffling.   In that case, the best bet would probably be to move Manno up to Quailer’s spot.   Then put Stone back in the lineup in his 4th line spot.   It will be interesting to see how Madigan handles it, if Quailer is indeed out.

Some Interesting Statistical Notes on NU:

  • The Huskies are 8-2-0 when leading after the 2nd period, 0-5-2 when trailing, and 2-4-1 when tied.
  • The Huskies are 3-11-3 when scoring less than 4 goals.
  • The Huskies are 6-2-1 in games following a win
  • The Huskies are 8-0-2 when Cody Ferriero scores a point, 4-0 when Adam Reid and Dan Cornell score a point, and 3-0 when Josh Manson, Zak Stone, and Robbie Vrolyk score a point.
  • In games when Quailer-Pimm-Ferriero line isn’t together, the Huskies are 2-7-2
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