At this point you could basically write a recap of Northeastern hockey games before they even happen. It’s exactly the same game every night from the Huskies.
First and foremost, Northeastern must dig themselves a hole early in the game. Thursday night, Notre Dame put up two in the first period and another early into the second. Friday, the Huskies managed to keep the Fighting Irish to just one goal in the first period, waiting all the way until two minutes had gone in the second period to drop another goal down. For those of you keeping score, that’s a -3 goal differential this weekend, keeping perfectly in line with what’s happened so far this season. Northeastern has scored only two first period goals in 11 games this year, while giving up 18 to their opponents. For some context, the next highest first period goals against total is 12. The Huskies scored first in just one game this season, resulting in their only win of the season.
The second part of a Northeastern classic is to take dumb penalties. The Huskies got out to a hot start, opening the series with a too many men penalty that lead to Notre Dame’s first goal. Notre Dame would actually manage to top Northeastern’s dumb penalty strategy in that game. The Fighting Irish matched the four penalties put up by the Huskies, but bested them by having a game misconduct thrown in the mix (not that Northeastern would score on any of these). The Huskies opened their penalty taking on Friday again with a too many men penalty (incredible.). Again, this lead to the first goal for Notre Dame. This time, however, Northeastern followed up shortly after with a five minute major and game misconduct from Tanner Pond for hitting a Notre Dame player in the head. Neither of these penalties would be the dumbest of the night for the Huskies, as John Stevens capped off the game with a five minute major and game misconduct for facemasking.
Northeastern is currently only sixth in the conference in penalty minutes per game, but those numbers are skewed by a wild series last weekend from BC and Maine. What’s more frustrating than the actual number of penalties is how preventable they all are. They took two too many men penalties lead to goals, and two game misconduct penalties. These are mental errors that shouldn’t be happening at the Division I level, but they’re happening to Northeastern, and they’re happening frequently. All this stupidity is happening with the backdrop of the worst non-UMass penalty kill in the conference. The Huskies have killed just 78% of their penalties this season. They’ve given up nine powerplay goals, enough to tie for the conference lead. That’s a tough way to win games.
We’ve reached the third and final ingredient to make a Northeastern Husky hockey game, which is to make a furious attempted comeback and fall short. My personal favorite part of the process, the Huskies will show you just how talented they actually are. Northeastern will come up with great passes, generate tons of high quality scoring chances. They’ll be great on the forecheck, trapping their opponents in their own end. Sometimes they’ll even get a few back before the clock runs out. But, it won’t be enough to get the win. The Huskies have played from behind in 10 of their 11 games this season and have accumulated a 0-8-2 record in those games. Seven of those games played with a deficit have ended with margin of victory of one or less. In those seven games, Northeastern is 0-5-2. The Huskies always make sure you leave the game knowing they had the talent to win, but still disappoint in the end.
At some point, the leadership of this team has to be held accountable. Reading the post-game quotes from Jim Madigan this weekend you see him acknowledge the problems the team is having, just like he does after every single game. After Thursday’s game he said “Similar story where we fell behind, it’s been two or three goals where we’ve been falling behind and then we bounced back in the second period and played hard but we’re always chasing the game and that’s what happened here tonight. We can’t continue giving up two and three goals to good teams and expect to win games.” No shit, Jim. If Northeastern wants to have anything resembling success, the coaches and team leaders need to actually make the changes instead of just talking about them.