Tag Archives: Clay Witt

Who is Clay Witt?

February 27, 2012

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

When Brad Thiessen turned pro after the 2008 season, Northeastern had a bit of a goalie crisis.  So Greg Cronin turned to the BCHL player of the year, Chris Rawlings.  Rawlings was undrafted and the BCHL isn’t the best junior league out there, so expectations varied, but with no other options the #1 job was his.  His freshman season was one you’d expect from a freshman.  He had some big performances, but overall it was just a middle of the road year.

So when Clay Witt was recruited to come in the following season, it was unclear how the playing time would be split.  Witt went undrafted, despite being mentioned on the NHL’s Central Scouting list before the draft.  Witt was coming off a good season in the USHL, so it seemed reasonable to expect him to challenge Rawlings for the #1 spot.

But that never really happened.  Rawlings was the guy and Witt was given just 3 starts on the season, plus 4 relief appearances.   Witt took full advantage of every chance he got, posting 1.86 GAA and .940 save percentage, albeit in very limited action.  But his play down the stretch is what his season was remembered for.  In the finally game of the season, he made 41 saves to lead the Huskies to a 4-3 victory over BU at Agganis Arena.   7 days later, he put in another great performance at Agganis, this time in the playoffs.  After jumping out to a quick 1-0, Northeastern found themselves down 3-1 just 12 minutes in.  Rawlings was pulled and Witt came in.  The Huskies couldn’t comeback and win the game, but Witt saved 29 out of the 30 shots he face and kept his team in the game.

His performances were so good that there was talk among the coaching staff about letting Witt start the deciding Game 3 of the series the next night.   Cronin decided against this though and Rawlings led the team to a huge win and a spot in the semifinals.  In the semifinals, Witt would once again get called into action.  With Northeastern down 4-2, it was Witt who started the 3rd period.  He gave up a goal to make it 5-2, but then the Huskies mounted a comeback.  The comeback would ultimately fall short, but Witt finished the night with 5 saves on 6 shots and another impressive performance.

Though used sparingly, Witt’s late season performances made it seem like he was a lock for more playing time this season.  Even when the coaching staff changed, it seemed reasonable to believe that Witt would challenge Rawlings for the starting gig and at least get the occasional start.

The season did not go as planned though.   Witt’s first action of the year came when he entered the exhibition game in the second period.   In his 20 minutes of action, Witt allowed 6 goals on 14 shots and just looked lost.  After the game, Madigan dismissed the performance and admitted it was hard for a guy to come into the middle of the game cold.

But just a week later, that was what Witt found himself doing once again.  In the second game of the season, the Huskies were down 6-2 in Maine and Rawlings was pulled for Witt with 10 minutes left.   Witt saved all 11 shots he faced and it seemed an awful lot like the end of last season.   Witt could still not get a start, but it wouldn’t be long before his next action.   Just 2 weeks after the Maine game, Rawlings was once again pulled in favor of Witt.  And once again Witt saved all the shots he faced.  (7 in 12 minutes).    This was enough to finally get Witt a chance to start.

The following week, Witt started for the Huskies as they traveled up to UNH to face the Wildcats.  The team did not perform well and Witt was no help.  Despite making 33 saves, Witt allowed 5 goals and made several mistakes.  And that was basically it for Witt.  The team soon turned it around and went on a long winning streak that Chris Rawlings was a huge part of it.  Witt found himself relegated to the bench.  His next chance would come in early January in another exhibition game.  Witt played the second half of the game, and allowed 3 goals on 18 shots.  But once again, he just seemed shaky.

He would wait a month for his next action: relief in the first round of the Beanpot.  With the Huskies down 5-1, Witt started the third period.  The sophomore made 15 saves, but allowed 2 goals.  And with the team in front of him basically quitting, it was tough to really gauge his performance, but at the same time.

He would get his second start of the season the following week in the consolation game.  Another unimpressive performance by the team and by Witt, saw his take the loss after giving up 3 goals.  He did make 36 saves, but once again there was some shaky moments.

This past weekend, Witt once again found himself in mop up duty.  After entering early in the first, Witt made 14 saves, but allowed 4 goals.

So who is Witt?  Is he the guy who stepped up back time last March? Or is he the guy who just looked off everytime he has come in this season?   Madigan has said all the right things and has given Witt credit for coming in cold, but obviously part of his extreme reliance on Rawlings is a lack of faith in Witt.  I think part of Witt’s struggles can be blamed on a lack of playing time, but he hasn’t really earned any additional playing time with any of his performances lately.   Its always tough to find games to test your backup goalie in a conference as deep as Hockey East, but this guy has been here two years now and I don’t think anyone really knows how good he is.  Thats on the coaching staff.  Both the previous one and the current one.   And now we could be looking at a situation where Rawlings leaves and Gillies goes to Major Juniors, which would mean Witt is the guy next season.  So the coaches have really handcuffed themselves here.  I wouldn’t say it is likely, but it is definitely a possibility that Northeastern will go into next season relying on a Junior goaltender that may not even be good enough for this level.   That would be a disaster.  And since no one ever took the time to find out, the coaches have no idea if they should be looking to bring some in.  Hopefully it all works out: Gillies comes here and takes the #1 role from the get go and Witt can get some work in occasionally.    But this is Northeastern we are talking about, so its best to prepare for the worst.  And the worst is a very scary possibility.

 

 

 

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Who Should Start in Goal This Weekend? (Poll)

February 22, 2012

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As we enter the penultimate weekend of Hockey East play, points are at a premium for Northeastern who is currently tied with UMass for the final playoff spot.  So as they prepare for two must-win games, there is a decision to be made (or at least there should be):  Who should get the call in net?

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Case for Rawlings

He has been the guy all year.  He has put up decent numbers.  During the win streak, he was rock solid and he was a big part of the team’s success.   Witt has had chances this year and he has not forced Madigan’s hand.    Rawlings has been The Guy for 3 years now, you aren’t going to sit him with 4 games left and your playoff lives hanging in the balance.   He does let up some shaky goals, but he usually settles down after that and makes a ton of saves.    You stick with the guy that got you there.

 

The Case for Witt

Here are some interesting stats for you.  Chris Rawlings in February (career) 7-6-3, .9191 save percantage, 3.03 GAA.  In March 2-5, .8800 save percentage, 4.25 GAA.    So in 23 career games in February and March, Rawlings has a 9-11-3 record, a .9095 save percentage, and a 3.35 GAA.   I understand its a bit of a small sample size, but thats not exactly reassuring.  And since he has been letting up soft goals every game lately, why not sit him down for one game?  Rawlings has played the 2nd most minutes among Hockey East goalies this season.  Only Joe Cannata has more.  That tells me that other teams are willing to give their goalies a night off every now and then.  Why hasn’t Madigan done that?  Rawlings looks worn down and he seems to have regressed as the season has gone on.  Maybe all he needs is a night or two off.   Witt hasn’t looked great this year, but he proved in his freshman year that he has a capable goalie.  With Rawlings on his annual decline, maybe its time to give Witt a shot.

 

 

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Preview: Huskies at Michigan

November 25, 2011

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2 months into the season and the Huskies finally open their non-conference schedule with a 7:30 game against Michigan tonight.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

 

The Huskies are in Ann Arbor for the first time since 2006, when they split a weekend series vs. the Wolverines.

Michigan (7-5-2) was swept by archrivals Ohio State last weekend, but they do own a 4-0-0 non-conference record.  Juniors AJ Treais and Lindsay (Girls Name) Parks lead them offensively.  In net, Shaun Hunwick, the 5th year senior, should get the call.  The Wolverines are averaging 4 goals a game and they boast an 18% Power Play.  They are, however, averaging about 7 penalties a game and there PK rate is just 82%.  But as we all know, it is unlikely NU will be able to take advantage of that.

For Northeastern, it is a nice change of pace to get out of the conference.   Mike McLaughlin will miss out again as he recovers from the jaw injury he picked up last weekend.  While a win would be nice, it doesn’t really mean much overall, so the coaching staff may take the chance to try some different things.  Clay Witt could play and it will be interesting to see what Madigan does with the lineup.  Joseph Manno may be sat as a result of yet another dumb penalty.  No one could blame Madigan if he sat him to send a message.

There is no way to watch this game, unless of course you are in Michigan.  So tune into WRBB for the call.  Puck drops at 7:30.

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Final: UNH 5, Huskies 2

October 30, 2011

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The Huskies lost to UNH last night 5-2 in Durham.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

 

The Basics

  • Clay Witt got the start in net and gave up 5 goals while making 33 saves
  • Justin Daniels and Ludwig Karlsson were the goal scorers for the Huskies.  Vinny Saponari, Steve Quailer, and Rob Dongara all picked up assists.
  • Cody Ferriero played in his first game this season after completing his suspension.
  • Northeastern went 0-4 on the Power Play, UNH went 1-2.
  • The Huskies were outshot 38-17.
What You Need to Know
  • The Huskies went down 2 goals early, but were able to get one back early in the second when Daniels scored.
  • Just as the second period came to a close, Ludwig Karlsson again pulled the Huskies to within one on a top shelf snipe.  The play was created by Rob Dongara forcing a turnover.
  • Then things got weird.  A power outage on campus led to a delay before the third period.  The lights came back on and play began.  But just 1 minute in they went out again.   This led to a lengthy delay.   The game finally restarted and they were able to finish with no issue.
  • UNH added 2 more to make it 5-2 and ensure the Huskies went home with a loss
Lines:
Saponari-Daniels-Quailer
Dongara-McLaughlin-Manno
Ferriero-Pimm-Karlsson
Reid-Vermeersch-Vrolyk
D:
Eibler-Manson
Bitetto-Cornell
Ellement-Daniels
Thoughts
Didn’t make the trip up to Durham so I had to listen on WRBB, who did a great job as always.  Witt got his chance, but from the sounds of it didnt play too well.   No one on the Huskies really did.  Dong brought his usual hustle and caused some problems for the Wildcats.  His work led to that second goal.
The loss drops the Huskies to 1-4-1.  It also continue the trend of not only losing on the road, but look very bad doing it.  These road struggles were discussed on the WRBB broadcast and I agree what they said:  Its a sign of how much the DogHouse means to the guys, but its worrying that the team cant win without the extra support from the fans.
Its still early and lets remember this a team that lost a lot and has a brand new coaching staff.  There has been a lot of tinkering and adjustments and I think we will continue to see that for a little.  But make no mistake about it, the talent level is there.  And at some point, they will put it together.   It is shaping up to be a lot like last year with the early struggles.  The only difference is this year, the early games are Hockey East games, so the hole may be deeper and harder to climb out of.
Obviously, the team, coaching staff, and fans are all frustrated.   But I wouldn’t write them off yet.  This team has better days ahead.  Its just a matter of when.
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We Want Witt

October 25, 2011

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

This isn’t a Rawlings sucks post.  (We can argue that later)   This is about Clay Witt and why it is important that he gets a chance to play.

Witt isn’t Mike Binnington.  He is a good goalie that was brought here to play, not to be a career door opener.  And every single chance he has gotten (in games that acutally count), he has done a great job.  But still, he never gets a chance to start.

Chris Rawlings is a good goalie, but he isn’t Brad Theissen.  He isnt a guy you can’t not start.  He is a guy that has good days and bad days, like most goalies.  And he is also a guy that has been looking to make the jump to the NHL ever since he got here.

So if Rawlings leaves after this year, where does that leave NU?  We don’t know.  And thats the issue.  Witt may be perfectly capable of stepping up or they may need to bring in Jon Gillies early.   But no one will ever know because Witt doesn’t play.  There is no reason that a coaching staff should not know if a guy is ready after he has been here for two years.  But that looks to be the path we are heading down.

Witt needs to play.  He has earned his chance.  Rawlings has consistently proven that he is anything but consistent.  And Witt may very well be The Guy next year.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know that even if Rawlings leaves, the team will still be fine at goalie? These shenangins have gone on too long.  It just baffles me how a team (and two seperate coaching staffs) can be so reliant on 1 goaltender when his backup has been great everytime he has come in for him.  And the starter has never been dominant for an extended period of time.  Isn’t anyone on the coaching staff at least curious to see what this guy’s got?

I know I am.  And with every game and every soft goal Rawlings gives up, the calls grow louder.  I don’t know what its going to take for Witt to get a fair shake, but we are all aboard the Witt Wagon and we arent getting off until he is given the chance and plays worse than Rawlings.

Come on Mad Dog, start Witt.  Worst case scenario, you have to pull him…just like Rawlings.

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Preview: Huskies vs Boston College

October 22, 2011

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

At 7pm, the Huskies will take on the BC Eagles in front of a sold out Matthews Arena.   Northeastern has some bad memories of BC.   They lost in OT to them in the Beanpot final last year.   And then the lost a crazy game to them in Hockey East semifinals.  Tonight, they will get a chance to beat the Eagles at home.

The Eagles are coming off a win vs UMass.   They are on the top teams in the country.   They also feature John Gaurdreau.   Little “Goo” was committed to come to Northeastern before Cronin left.  When he decommitted, he took a tour of Hockey East to see where he should go, including play by play on Twitter.   Of course, he choose BC.  And of course, he is off to a great start.   He will hear it from the Doghouse tonight.

The Huskies come off a tough loss to Merrimack and they may be in need of a shakeup.  We can’t confirm this yet, but it sounds like Cody Ferriero could make a return to the lineup.   Zak Stone would likely make way.   The McLaughlin line needs a shakeup.   Heres what I would like to see tonight.

Karlsson-Daniels-Saponari

Ferriero-McLaughlin-Vermeersch

Tuckerman-Pimm-Quailer

Manno-Dongara-Reid

I think Dong deserves a return to the lineup.   Might be a good night to rest Vrolyk.  He spent a lot of time on the PK last night and he is probably a little worn down.   The defense should stay the same.  And Witt should start obviously.   Just kidding…but not really.

Husky fans: Wear RED.  Get there early and be loud.   Its going to be a great atmosphere.   And it would be a great time for a big home upset.   Follow us on twitter @HuskyHockeyBlog for lineup and game updates.

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Preview: Huskies at Merrimack

October 20, 2011

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The Huskies travel to Merrimack to face the Warriors in a 7:30 game as they look to get their first road win of the season.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Lawler has been tough for visitors, but the Huskies have been an exception to this rule.  They picked up a wins in their past two trips there.   The Warriors beat Maine in their only Hockey East game.  They also beat Army this past weekend.

For Merrimack, it all starts at the back, Jon Cannata is one of the best goalies in Hockey East.   The Warriors suffered two big losses though, Stephan Da Costa and Joe Cucci.  It remains to be seen how competitive they will be without them.   They will be led on offense by Ryan Flanigan, Jesse Todd, and Mike Collins.   Todd leads all Merrimack players with 4 points against Northeastern (in 9 games).  Senior Defenseman Karl Stollery is the only other player with more than 1 points.  He has 3 in 9 games.   Kyle Bigos is the other defenseman to watch out for.  He is also a senior and he will be a force to be reckoned with.

For Northeastern, expect a similar lineup.  Rob Dongara has announced via Twitter that he will be a healthy scratch for the second game in a row.   The only question is whether Cody Ferriero will return from suspension.  As of right now, we have not heard anything that suggests he has.   If he does, either Zak Stone or Robbie Vrolyk would probably make way.   It would harsh to bench Stone after his first collegiate goal, but we will see what happens.   Defensively, the new pairings looked great, so there is no reason to change.  Dan Cornell earned himself another start, I think.   That would mean Ben Oskroba would make way.   In net, it will be Rawlings.  (But…..this would be a good chance to give Witt a game, so Rawlings was ready for BC on Saturday.  Wont happen, probably shouldn’t happen, but we can dream).

Over the past couple seasons, Merrimack and NU have developed a little bit of a rivalry.   Games have been close and they have been chippy.   Expect the same in this one.   It will be a good test for both teams.  All I ask from Northeastern is for the players to not be looking ahead to Saturday and for the fans to make the relatively easy trip to North Andover to support the team.

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