Tag Archives: Rob Dongara

Final: Huskies 3, Minnesota 2 (Mariucci Classic)

January 1, 2012


Northeastern kept their hot streak going with a 3-2 win over #2 Minnesota to win the Mariucci Classic last night.

Photo from NU Athletics

The Basics

  • Vinny Saponari, Steve Quailer and Garrett Vermeersch were the goalscorers for the  Huskies.
  • Justin Daniels, Drew Daniels, Ludwig Karlsson, and Braden Pimm all had assists.
  • Chris Rawlings saves 31 out of 33 shots.
  • The Huskies were outshot 33-30
  • NU was 2-12 on the PP.  Minnesota was 0-5.
What You Need to Know
  • Minnesota scored a short handed goal to open up the scoring, but Vinny Saponari scored his second goal in as many night to tie it up on a 5 on 3 for the Huskies.
  • Steve Quailer then put the Huskies up 2-1 later in the 2nd.
  • Garrett Vermeersch put the Huskies up 3-1 late in the third with another 5 on 3 goal.
  • Minnesota pulled their goalie despite being shorthanded and got a 2nd with just 17 seconds left, but it wasn’t enough.
  • The Huskies scored 2 power play goals which was huge, but with 12 chances, you would expect as much.
  • Rawlings had another huge game.
  • Rob Dongara made his return to the lineup in place of Joseph Manno.
  • Manno was benched halfway through the third in the game before, so his situation is one to watch.
The Huskies continue to make noise out west.   Minnesota was without two of their best players and Northeastern benefited from an absurd amount of power plays.  But in the end, they leave with a victory and thats all that matters.   Its just another huge upset for a team that he has really put it together.
When the rankings come out on Monday, Northeastern probably won’t be as high as they deserve, but it doesn’t matter.   This is one of the better teams in the country and if they keep this up, it could be a pretty big second half.  This team is very talented and whatever Madigan is saying to them has really caught on.   With the rest of Hockey East faltering big time, the door has been opened for the Huskies despite their awful start.
Michigan was a fluke, Notre Dame had the flu, Lowell’s coach cost them, Minnesota got screwed by the refs.   Make all the excuses you want, the Huskies are unbeaten in their last 8 against some of the top teams in the country.   Its pretty obvious these wins aren’t flukes, they are the product of a talented team that has come together and is finally playing up to its potential.

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Preview: Huskies vs Lowell

December 9, 2011

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The Huskies play their last home game of the fall semester Saturday at 7:00 when they face #18 UMass Lowell.   If you haven’t heard, a “White Out” has been called by the Doghouse at the request of Huskies Captain Mike McLaughlin.

Lowell (9-4-0) is on a 4 game winning streak.  Last weekend, they swept UNH.  Like Northeastern, Lowell is a young team some interesting results.  They lost to UConn, but also beat BU 7-1.  2 of their 4 losses have been against BC and they both came early in the season. But also like Northeastern, they have begun to figure things out and have gone on a bit of a “heater” as the guys would say.  In addition to being ranked 18th by the same voters who gave Notre Dame a 1st place vote this week, they are also ranked 1oth in the Pairwise and KRACH. So don’t let USCHO fool you, this team is the real deal.

Matt Ferriera and Riley Wetmore lead the River Hawks with 14 points and 7 goals.  Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel has 10 assists.  He is averaging a point per game which is good for 4th best in the country among defenseman.  Goaltending has been a huge part of Lowell’s success so far.  Sophomore Doug Carr is allowing just 1.78 goals a game, which puts him 5th nationally.  He stopped 70+ shots last weekend, yet did not win Defensive Player of the Week (much to the dismay of the Lowell bloggers).

As a team Lowell is scoring 3.54 goals a game, good for 2nd in Hockey East.  They give up 2.54, which is the 3rd best in HE.  They also average the second fewest penalties in the league.   That may actually be a good thing for NU, who continues to be much better 5 on 5, than they are 5 on 4.  Lowell has the 3rd best Power Play in Hockey East at 21% so the Huskies will have to stay disciplined.

As for the Huskies, they will look to win their 5th straight game against Lowell. There is no word on whether Mike McLaughlin is ready to return from injury.  The Huskies could use him, as he leads all NU players with a 3-2-5 career line against Lowell.  Garrett Vermeersch also has 4 points (all assists) against the River Hawks.  You can expect to see the same lines for NU.  In 7 games together, the Quailer-Pimm-Ferriero line is a +25.  NU’s record in those games in 5-2.  In 4 games together, the Karlsson-Vermeersch-Saponari line is a +18.  The Huskies are 4-0 with that combo.  Every single one of the Huskies defenseman has a positive plus/minus.  That just goes to show how good this team is in 5 on 5 situations.  The fans would love to see Rob Dongara get back in the lineup, but it is unlikely Coach Madigan would change a lineup that has won 5 straight.

The offensive outburst has got them up to 3.07 goals per game, which still leaves them 9th in HE, but they are only giving up 2.60 (4th in HE).  The Power Play is closing in on double digits, but right now it sits at a conference worst 9.7%.  The PK is still just under 80 at 79.7% (7th in HE).

Ludwig Karlsson is averaging 1.08 PPG which is 3rd in the country (1st in Hockey East) for freshman.

Steve Quailer is riding a 6 game point streak.  Garrett Vermeersch is riding a 4 game streak.  Braden Pimm has a 3 game goal-scoring streak.  All of those streaks are career bests.

So take a break from studying and come support the Huskies as they look to extend their 5 game winning streak.  Lowell may not be a marquee name, but this is definitely a big game for both teams.  Don’ forget to  WEAR WHITE.

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Final: Merrimack 3, Huskies 2

November 7, 2011


The Huskies lost in OT on Saturday 3-2 to the Merrimack Warriors at Matthews.  The loss means NU will finish the season 0-2-1 against Merrimack.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca


The Basics

  • Mike McLaughlin and Robby Dongara picked up goals for the Huskies.
  • McLauglin, Joe Manno, and Drew Daniels each had an assist.
  • Chris Rawlings saved 28 out of 31 shots.
  • The Huskies were 0-7 on the PP, including a 5 minute major at the end of regulation.   They also gave up a game winning, shorthanded goal in OT.  Merrimack was 2-5 on the PP.
  • The Huskies were outshot 31-19.  They managed just 5 shots in the 3 period and OT to Merrimack’s 12.
What You Need to Know
  • The Huskies jumped out to an early 2 goal lead but were unable to hold it.
  • Both goals were scored by the 3rd line of Rob Dongara, Mike McLaughlin, and Joe Manno.  The Huskies have had trouble finding consistent lines, but they may be getting close.
  • Josh Manson was ejected early for a hit from behind in one of many questionable calls on the night.  Late in the 3rd, a Merrimack player was ejected in similarly questionable situation.
  • Kyle Bigos was gooning it up all night.  Ryan Flanigan, who scored the game winner, was also a disgrace.  He dove and faked injuries every chance he got.   At the end of regulation, he put Mike McLaughlin in a head lock.  McLaughlin threw him off, at which point Flanigan rolled around on the ice and begged for a call.
  • The Huskies played much of the 2nd and 3rd with just 4 defenseman. Manson was kicked out early and Anthony Bitetto got hurt and had to go to the locker room for a while. He returned midway through the 3rd.
  • The Huskies PP was again dreadful.  Despite blowing the 2 goal lead, they were given  a chance to a win with a 5 minute major PP for at the end of regulation.  They were unsuccessful.
  • Merrimack picked up another penalty with1 second left in regulation.   So NU began No Tee OT on the Power Play.
  • Not only did they not score, they also gave up the game winning goal during it.   An OT loss on a shorthanded goal.  Rough.
  • No Tee OT failed yet again, leading some to call for its removal.
Another blown lead. Another game of missed opportunities. Another home loss. This formula is nothing new to you if you have followed the Huskies fro any amount of time, but it hurts all the same.
This loss can and should be blamed on 1 thing: the Power Play. Another 0 for. 7 straight minutes on the Power Play to end regulation and start OT is about the best case scenario you could ever ask for. The Huskies not only failed to convert, but allowed a shorthanded goal for Merrimack. Its just unacceptable. It never worked under Croninn and its looked equally as bad under Madigan. Its time for a new system. Merrimack played really stupid hockey last night. And despite giving NU 7 power plays, including an extended 5 on 3, the Huskies failed to punish them and ultimately lost because it. NU is a good team, they out played Merrimack for much of the weekend. But instead of coming out with 4 points, which they should have, they finish with just 1. And failing to convert countless PP chances is the reason why. It hurts to say this, but NU sucks on the PP.
Now onto the positives. The third line scored both goals. And they were both great goals. This line is quick and they used it to get 2 odd man rushes, which were both finished beautiful. Manno’s pass to McLaughlin was just as nice as the Captain’s finish. The next one was McLaughlin setting up Dong and then Dong pulling one of my favorite moves. With the goalie coming across with the pass, Dong could have stopped and tried to just get one a time flick before Cannata got over. Instead he just kept skating full speed right to the spot Cannata had just left and slid it into the empty net. It was a great goal. The shorthanded defense also deserves a shout out: Luke Eibler, Dan Cornell and Drew x2 all had to step up and play serious minutes. And they handled it very well. None of Merrimacks goals came even strength.
One last thing: the refs were awful. Kicking Josh Manson out was a ridiculous call. And it forced them to make an equally ridiculously call on Merrimack to make up for it. There was also no desire to call anything after the whistle. It was a chippy game and they were plenty of scrums after whistles. There were more than a few occasions where players got away with cross checks or two handed shoves right in front of officials.
So its yet another disappointing weekend for the Huskies despite some moments of quality. And they find themselves still buried deep in the standings with another tough weekened ahead. This team will get the wins, but the question of when still remains.
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Preview: Merrimack at Huskies

November 5, 2011

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Tonight at Matthews, the Huskies take on Merrimack for the final time this season.  The Huskies tied the Warriors last night in an exciting contest.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

This matchup has turned into a bit of rivalry over the past couple years.  Last year at Matthews, Merrimack beat NU 4-3 in OT courtesy of Joe Cucci’s hat-trick.  Cucci played at NU for a year before transferring to Merrimack.  That game saw 4 ejections: NU had Anthony Bitetto and Tyler McNeely tossed and Merrimack had Stephanie Da Costa and Jordan Heywood tossed.  Cucci has graduated but the animosity has lived on. The Merrimack players skated off the ice holding up the MC on their jerseys for the DogHouse to see after that game.    One season of success has turned Hockey East’s perennial doormat into a one cocky bunch.

It got chippy last night and there were a lot of penalties.  Merrimack Goon Kyle Bigos was well, being a goon.  While his teammate lay injured in the corner, Bigos skated up to Anthony Bitetto and through a serious of hand gestures told him basically suck his you know what.  i think just about everyone in the rink saw it.  All of the parents that gave the DogHouse dirty looks after our “S-E-X” chant, really didnt seem to mind this gesture.

Anthony Bitteto is a bad man.   The chances of him absolutely destroying the first poor soul from Merrimack who skates with his head down are pretty high.   This game is going to be physical and its probably going to get out of control.  But if the Huskies play like they did last night, they will get 2 much needed points and they will ruin Merrimack’s undefeated record.

Bitteto, Vinny Saponari, and Robby Dongara, among others have tweeted that they need the full supoort of the DogHouse tonight.   This is big game for the Huskies and its going to be a good one.  You don’t want to miss it.

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Preview: Huskies at Merrimack

November 3, 2011


Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The good news is that this will be last trip to North Andover for the season. Nothing against Merrimack, but I can’t say I’m too excited to go back to a shitty town with no streetlights or a high school rink with no cellphone reception. Its just not an enjoyable trip, I’m sorry. But after tonight, the Huskies won’t return there until next season when they will only have 1 game there. That about covers it for the good news.

Now for the bad news. Merrimack is 6-0, they don’t lose very often at home, and they shut Northeastern down completely just two weeks ago. And Northeastern needs points this week.
A typical Northeastern series would look like this: lifeless road loss on Friday, completely different team at home Saturday that is full of energy, but is punished for a mistake and comes up short in a game that was there for the taking. They need to do better than that. Losing away at Merrimack is forgivable. Looking like shit while doing it is not.
Here is all I am asking of the Huskies on Friday:
1. Be physical: Its a small rink, there isn’t tons of room to operate. Everyone (forwards included) has to pick up the hitting. Make your presence known and get some energy going on the bench.

2. Make the Power Play count: at the very least, create some chances on the PP and make Cannata come up big. 2 things that kill me about the power play: they can barely get through the neutral zone and when they do shot, its usually from the point right into the defender standing right in front of them

3. Do something about the shots: I don’t care if its blocking 500 shots again or its just not allowing Merrimack to have all the chances they want from the slot. Doesn’t matter. Just find a way to not give up 30+ shots…in the first 2 periods
4. Do something about the shots: Shoot the puck. Even in their lone win, they scored 4 goals on 21 shots. If you are going to give up a ton of shots, you can at least take some on the other end. No one cares about your shooting percentage. Its about goals.

5. Do something: I am sick of going to away games and watching this team sleep through periods at a time. Come out with some energy and maybe things with go their way.

Doing these things won’t automatically lead to a win, but they can’t hurt. And it would make the experience a lot more tolerable.


Rawlings should get the start in net.

A shake up of the defense wouldn’t be crazy, but I don’t think its likely.  Dan Cornell has played well enough to lock down that last spot for now, so Ben Oskroba stays in the stands.

The fun part for Madigan, as usual, is the forwards.  With Cody Ferriero back that means 2 guys are going to be scratched every night.  There are 5 choices: Rob Dongara, Robbie Vrolyk, Alex Tuckerman, Zak Stone, Garrett Vermeersch.

Vrolyk and Vermeersch have roles on the special teams which seems to be whats keeping them in the lineup.  Stone and Tuckerman were the casualties last game.  Its hard to justify playing both Dong and Vrolyk.  They are bring pretty much the same thing: speed.   Vrolyk was non-existent last time out at Merrimack.  I’d let Dong play as he brings a little more of a physical edge to his game, especially after just working his way back into the lineup.   Vermeersch hasn’t lived up to expectations, but I can’t justify sitting him yet.  Its not far away though.  I would play Stone over Tuckerman at this point.  Stone just looks hungrier out there.  And thats the attitude this team needs on the road.  Here is what I would go with:





Note: we have a few spots in our car for anyone who wants to make the trip but doesn’t have a ride.

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Next 3 Games Are Crucial for the Huskies

November 2, 2011


1-4-1 is not a good record.   Especially when that is all conference games.  But its also not the time to panic. Yet.   The Huskies next three games are @Merrimack, vs Merrimack, @Boston College.   If Northeastern were to lose those 3 games they would be 1-7-1 and have just 3 points after completing a third of their conference games.  That’s obviously not good.  Especially since they would still have 3 games to play against BU and 2 against Maine.

Northeastern has played a very tough schedule.  And its about to get tougher before it gets easier.   And the fear is that by the time they get to the “easy” part (which isn’t all that easy), they could be digging out of a massive hole that has killed their confidence and fan support.   That is a very real, and scary, possibility.

The DogHouse is an important aspect to this team.   You can look at the players comments about it.   Or you can look at the lifeless displays they put up on the road without the DogHouse’s backing.  Its both a good and bad thing, but this team needs a full DogHouse.   Hopefully they get one against Merrimack, and hopefully they take advantage because time is starting to become an enemy for them.

Merrimack is 6-0 and they didn’t seem troubled by Northeastern the last time they met.   But Northeastern needs to find a way to get at least 1 win this weekend.  Its not going to be easy, especially with the way they have played.  So whats the problem?  Good question.  Lets start with everything.

39, 40, 27, 47, 43, 38.   Thats how many shots the Huskies have given up this season.  Guess which game they won? Yes, obviously it was the 27 shot game.  They blocked 30 shots in that game.  They were also outshot (27-21).   They have been outshot in every single game.  So while everyone can debate who should play in net (ourselves included), it doesn’t really matter because they are going to be fighting a losing battle.

The players all talked about how great the new coaching staff was.  We heard words like “refreshing”.  They were no longer “robots”.   But they still get badly outshot every night, just like they did under Cronin.  Coach Madigan has already said that you cant expect to win when you give up shots like that and he is right.   Now he has to find a way to fix it.

In addition to give up way too many chances, the Huskies aren’t exactly creating that many either. The Power Play has been beyond atrocious, as its been for years. Going 1-8 on the PP against BC isn’t making the most of your opportunities, which is what you have to do to win games against good teams. Besides the win, they have looked lethargic for long portions of the game. There are plenty of quality players on this team. There is no reason it should just be 2 lines getting time. Guys like Rob Dongara and Zak Stone may not be the most talented guys on the team, but you can’t argue that they give it their all on every shift. They can impact the game, given the chance. As Dong would say, let them eat.

Its not talent.  That is for sure.  But despite bringing in some pretty good recruiting classes, this team has continually failed to meet expectations. Its not surprising that a team with a whole new coaching staff and a decent amount of freshman is struggling. Unfortunately for them, the schedule is doing them no favors and it doesn’t really afford them any time to struggle. Last year’s start was dismal. But it was mostly non-conference. Struggling in the conference is another story. This season is looking like its going to be a long and difficult battle just to reach the playoffs.

Its not panic time yet. This team has had moments where its looked great. They just need to find a way to make those moments more frequent and more consistent. Give them time. They will get there. Its just a matter of time.

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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
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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