Tag Archives: UMass Amherst

The Path to the Playoffs for Northeastern

February 29, 2012


Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The final week of the regular season is upon us.  And if the Huskies don’t come to play this weekend, then they will find themselves headed home for the summer.  Northeastern currently finds themselves tied with UMass for the final playoff spot.  Both teams are 8-13-4.   With UMass owning the tiebreaker, the Huskies path is pretty clear: pick up more points this weekend then UMass does.

Both teams have a home and home this weekend.  NU has BU, with the first game on the road.    UMass has Merrimack, with the first game at home.  BU trails 1st place BC by 2 points.  The Eagles play last place Vermont this weekend, so they have Hockey East all but won.   A win for them on Friday will make it official.   So no matter what their result is on Friday, BU will likely find themselves out of the title race by Saturday.  It is unlikely that BU would start their backup goalie (he played last Friday) or start a weaker lineup, because Lowell only trails them by two points.   But it remains a possibility that they go into the final game with nothing to play for.

Merrimack, on the other hand, will have everything to play for this weekend.   They trail Maine by 1 for the final home ice spot.  Maine is off Friday so even the Warriors lose they will still have a chance to overtake Maine on Saturday.  And if they win on Friday, they will still probably need another win to stay ahead of Maine, who plays UNH on Saturday.

For Northeastern, they have been in this situation before.  2 years ago, they entered the final weekend of the season with a home and home against BU.  There playoff spot was virtually clinched.  They just need 1 point or some help from Maine.  They got neither.  Maine’s starting goaltender was suspended for drinking and UMass pulled off an unbelievable sweep in Orono.  That combined with Vermont pick up a tie on the final night kept Northeastern out of the playoffs.   Last year, the Huskies split the season ending series, then beat BU 2 out of 3 at Agganis to knock them out of the playoffs.  Winning that series will hopefully be the beginning of better times for them at Agganis and against BU.  In their only meeting this season, NU blew a 2 goal at home, on NESN and ultimately lost 4-3.

For UMass, the opponent may be different, but the situation is the same.  This is the third year in a row that UMass has gone into the final weekend trying to secure a playoff spot.   Last season, PC made a late charge to take the 8th spot from the Minuteman and the Friars pulled off an upset in the final game to make things interesting.  But UMass would hold on for a tie against Maine that sent them through.   This year, they end with Merrimack, who they last beat on 12/12/09.  For the last time they beat Merrimack at Lawler, you have to go all the way back to 3/8/08.


So the Huskies have their work cut off for themselves.  It all comes down to get more points than UMass.  The one exception to this would be if UMass ties both games and NU wins one.  In that case, Northeastern would advance through the second tiebreaker, conference wins.   There is no way the Huskies can lock up a spot on Friday, but they can easily be mathematically eliminated.  A UMass win and Northeastern loss on Friday will eliminate the Huskies.  But a Northeastern win and UMass lose on Friday will not eliminate the Minuteman.

And for you eternal optimists out there, if NU can take 3 points from BU, and Lowell sweeps PC (as they should), then the Huskies would sneak into 7 seed and play Lowell in the first round.   Unless UMass gets 3 or more points as well.  In that case, the Huskies would play BC as the 8 seed.


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Playoff Tiebreaks for Northeastern

February 19, 2012

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Northeastern and UMass are for the last playoff spot with 4 games left in the season.  NU has Maine at home for 2 and then a home and home with BU.  UMass has UNH at home for 2 then a home and home with Merrimack.   If the two teams finish on equal points, here is what will happen

1st Tiebreaker: Head to Head Record

Braden Pimm’s goal with .3 seconds left in the season opener earned NU a tie.  UMass then beat NU easily in the Huskies lone trip to Amherst this season. Vinny Saponari’s overtime goal a few weeks ago gave NU may prove to be crucial as a tie would have given UMass the season series.   But thanks to Saponari, the teams finish the year 1-1-1 against each other, meaning it must go to the second tiebreaker.

2nd Tiebreaker: Conference Wins

In addition to failing to pull away from UMass this weekend, the two ties may prove costly for the Huskies.   UMass only managed 2 points on the weekend as well, but there was a win, which means both teams have 7 conference wins.   Its a very real possibility that NU does not pick up another win this season, whereas UMass has a fairly better chance of doing so.   But its not unbelievable to think that there may be a need for the third tiebreaker

3rd Tiebreaker: Record Against 1st Place

Here is where it gets interesting.   If BC wins the leagues, then UMass will win the tiebreaker since they went 2-1 against BC.  If Lowell wins the league, then NU would win the tiebreaker courtesy of their win against Lowell back in December.   Other candidates to win the league are BU and Maine and they are bit more messy since NU has 2 games left against each.  UMass was 1-1-1 against BU, so NU would have to go at least 1-0-1 against BU in the final weekend of the season.   If that were to happen, there is almost no way that BU would win the league, so the point would be moot.  The same applies to Maine but even more so as they trail league leaders BC by 3 points and have one less game to play.   So if it gets to this third tiebreaker, it will depend on Lowell or BC and either way it will be a cruel twist of fate.   If BC wins, Northeastern will be kept out of the playoffs by a team that has already beaten them 4 times this season.   If Lowell wins, UMass will be kept out of the playoffs by their archrival, who already swept them this season.   NOTE: In reality, the team that misses will be kept out by their inability to win games .

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Final: Huskies 4, UMass Amherst 3 (OT)

February 4, 2012


Northeastern extended thier win streak to 3 games last with a 4-3 OT victory over UMass Amherst.

Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

The Basics

  • Robbie Vrolyk had 2 goals, Adam Reid scored his first career powerplay goal, and then Vinny Saponari won it with  a goal in OT.
  • Alex Tuckerman and Mike McLaughlin both had 2 assists.  Drew Daniels, Ludwig Karlsson, Garrett Vermeersch, and Zak Stone also had assists.
  • Chris Rawlings saved 28 out of 31 shots, but he was pretty shaky for most of the first two periods.
  • Both teams had 31 shots.
  • NU was 1-5 on the PP.  UMass was 1-4.
What You Need to Know
  • The Huskies jumped out to a quick 2 goal lead thanks to some hard work down low.  But they quickly gave UMass 2 goals of their own, thanks to some sloppy play in the defensive zone.
  • Chris Rawlings did not have a good night.   He was flopping a lot and he was on his back and out of position for all 3 goals.
  • Robbie Vrolyk scored twice.  The junior has 10 career goals.   5 of them have come against UMass Amherst.
  • The third line of Vrolyk-McLaughlin-Tuckerman continued their hot streak.    All 3 had a slow start to the year, but since McLaughlin has come back and they have been playing together consistently, they have given the team quality minutes every weekend.
  • The new “second” line however did not work.   Braden Pimm was good, as usual, but Justin Daniels and Rob Dongara continue to disappoint.  Its a tough situation.   The 1st line and 3rd line are playing well and you would hate to break them up.   But you could argue that anyone on the 4th line could do just as much as Daniels and Dongara have with top 6 minutes.   There were several times when Adam Reid took shifts instead of Dong.  Hopefully, they will continue to do that until they find something that works.
  • On defense, both Luke Eibler and Anthony Bitetto had strong games.   UMass would have probably had a few good shorthanded chances that Bitetto broke up.   Eibler was a physical presence all night and moved the puck pretty well on top of it.
  • The two biggest things to takeaway from this game are that the Huskies were unable to come back despite blowing a lead, and that they were able to finally win in Overtime.   And that is despite not playing very well for a good portion of the game.
The injuries are obviously going to be a huge obstacle for them to overcome, but the Huskies proved tonight that they can survive.    All 4 goals were just the result of hard work and finishing rebounds.   Unfortunately, the Huskies won’t have the benefit of playing rebound machine Kevin Boyle every night, but hopefully this game can serve as a gameplan.  2 of the best scorers on the team are gone    and that means that other people going to need to step up.   A couple players were guilty of trying to do too much last night, but as a whole the team did a good job in working hard to comeback after giving up 3 unanswered goals.
It was good to see another power play goal.   Mike McLaughlin has been a revelation on the PP unit.  He isn’t a big scorer, but he can move the puck and he makes good decisions.   Adam Reid was a nice addition.  He works well in front of the net, and he showed that on his PPG.   The Power Play isn’t lighting up the scoreboard, but it has gotten better in the past couple weeks.
It wasn’t a great game for Northeastern, but for once they just found a way to win a close game instead of finding a way to lose it.  Now they enter the Beanpot on a 3 game win streak.  But more importantly they opened up  a 2 point lead on UMass and they have worked themselves back into the 8th spot.    There is a long way to go, but picking up points in this game was essential and they took care of business.
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Preview: Huskies vs UMass Amherst

February 3, 2012


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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Hockey East Recap: 1/30

January 30, 2012


Photo Courtesy of Dave Luca

Those looking for clarity in the Hockey East playoff picture found everything but this weekend.  There were 4 series this weekend and all 4 ended in sweeps.

  • Northeastern took care of business and got all 4 points on the road against Vermont in a must win series.
  • Maine put themselves firmly into the title race by taking both games from BU at Agganis.  Not only did the Terriers lose both games, but they also suffered some big injuries that will test their depth in the coming weeks.
  • Elsewhere, BC got back to winning ways as they swept UNH in a home and home.
  • And finally, Lowell kept the pressure on the top of the league by sweeping UMass Amherst, giving them  a season sweep of their rivals.
  • Then on Sunday, Merrimack took care of PC at home to keep themselves in the race.

So now its the final stretch of the Hockey East race, but not much has been decided yet.  Here is a very in-depth mathematical breakdown of the Hockey East race.  That thread is constantly updated and probably one you want to keep an eye on.  But here is a simpler breakdown of the standings.

Title Contenders/Home Ice

Boston University: 25 Points; 8 games: @MC, UMA, @UML, UML, @UVM, @UVM, NU, @NU    (TB over BC)

Boston College: 25 Points; 7 games: @UVM, MC, @MC, @PC, PC, UVM, UVM     (TB over UML)

Maine: 24 Points; 7 games: @PC, @UML, UMA, UMA, @NU, @NU, UNH  (TB over BC, BU)

Merrimack: 23 points; 10 games: BU, @UMA, @UML, UNH, @BC, BC, UML, @UML, @UMA, UMA  (TB over ME)

Lowell: 22 points; 10 games: UVM, UVM, MC, ME, BU, @BU, @MC, MC, @PC, PC  (TB over UML)

A week ago everyone wanted to crown BU, but then Maine came in and reopened the argument.   These 5 are the only ones with a shot at the title and barring a miracle, the only 5 with a shot at home ice.   BC probably has the easiest schedule, but Merrimack and Lowell both have the benefit of having multiple games in hand on everyone else.   The BU/Lowell series in a couple weeks will be a big one.  As will the BC/Merrimack one.  Both of those series are 3 weeks from now.  We probably won’t know a ton until after that weekend.  Unless one of these teams really fall off, the battle for home ice is going to come right down to the wire.  This is Hockey East we are talking about so in all likelihood, the battle for the title and for home ice aren’t going to be decided until the final weekend.

The Final Three Spots

Providence: 17 points; 10 games: @UNH, UNH, ME, @UMA, @NU, @NU, BC, @BC, UML, @UML

Amherst: 14 points; 10 games: @NU, MC, @BU, PC, @ME, @ME, UNH, UNH, MC, @MC

Northeastern: 14 points; 8 games: UMA, @UNH, PC, PC, ME, ME, @BU, BU

New Hampshire: 13 points; 9 games: PC, @PC, NU, @MC, UVM, UVM, @UMA, @UMA, ME

4 teams for 3 spots.   PC and UMass have the advantage with the most games left to be played.   New Hampshire gets to face everyone they are chasing which means they basically control their own destiny.  And NU gets the benefit of having plenty of home games, though their schedule is a bit challenging.  The biggest thing to note is that none of the tiebreakers have been decided between these teams, so when they face it each other head to head, both valuable points and as well as the potentially crucial tiebreaker will be on the line.     Another interesting note is that they all play each other in the next couple weeks but finish with teams from the top half.   So there will most likely be a lot of scoreboard watching during that final weekend.  This weekend is huge as NU and Amherst faceoff in a game that could give Amherst the tiebreaker.  UNH/PC play a home and home and if PC can get 3 points, they will be very close to assuring themselves a playoff spot.



So Hockey East is a mess, just like always.  And every time it looks like the picture is clearing up, you can be sure someone is going to do something unexpected and make it even cloudier.   Its should be a great final month though.

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Hockey East Holiday Plans

December 28, 2011


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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Hockey East at the Break

December 16, 2011


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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