Week 17 Reaction: And Another One

Nolan Stevens

1/22/16: Northeastern 5, Merrimack 2

1/23/16: Northeastern 4, Merrimack 1

To nobody’s surprise, the Northeastern easily swept Merrimack this weekend, remaining undefeated in 2016 and extending the Warriors’ misery another two games.  The Huskies’ unbeaten streak extends to eight games, tied for second in the country.  Oh, and they added captain and best player Kevin Roy to the lineup after missing the previous twelve games.

Merrimack had me going for a bit there in the first game.  They scored early in the first, taking their first lead in a billion years.  The Warriors took a second lead in that game after the Huskies had tied it up.  Memories of last year’s Hockey East Tournament flashed before my eyes.  Northeastern was dominating, yet losing.

Four unanswered goals later, all fear was erased.  The Huskies continued to control the game and it this time around it was reflected in the final score.  The second game, at Historic Matthews Arena, was a continuation of the lopsided play.  Despite the quotes from Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy, who for whatever reason though his team deserved to win, Northeastern’s victory was never really threatened.  The Warriors’ only goal came off a bad turnover and a good shot.  The Huskies were forcing turnovers left and right.  Merrimack

Offensively, the Huskies look incredible.  The 7-8-9 line is on fire.  McMurtry has a nine game point streak.  Gaudettes’s streak is at eight.  Sikura has six goals in his last four games.  The Stevens and Aston-Reese trio is right behind them.  Each Stevens brother had a goal this weekend, and Aston-Reese has fourteen points in his last thirteen games.  Roy looked really good in his return to the lineup, making an instant impact and getting an assist in each game.

The defense has continued to be solid.  With the exception of that turnover that lead to a goal against on Saturday, they’ve looked good.  Surprisingly to many, Northeastern has been one of the best shot suppression teams in the country this season.  What shots have hit the net Ruck has been able to deal with.  He’s continued his run of solid goaltending, turning in a .925 performance this weekend.

The one thing the Huskies do need to work on is taking bad penalties.  Obviously Merrimack (now by far the worst powerplay percentage in the conference) isn’t going to take advantage of all the opportunities presented to them, but better teams will.  Northeastern didn’t give up a powerplay goal this weekend, but the chances were there and a better opponent can and will take advantage of them.

This weekend the Huskies handled Merrimack pretty easily.  Much like last weekend they took care of business against a struggling opponent.  While these sweeps have been nice, especially in terms of conference standings, Northeastern will have to replicate the performances from earlier in the month.  The level of competition’s about to turn up.

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Week 17 Preview: Merrimack

Matt Benning

The College Hockey News team of the week looks to avenge its tournament sweep last year as they take on Merrimack.  Unfortunately for the Warriors, Rasmus Tirronen’s not walking through that door.

At this point we’re all aware how well the Huskies are playing.  I don’t want to be repetitive.  I’ve shouted their praises over and over again both on this blog, and in real life to the annoyance of all I’ve encountered.  The offense is unstoppable, the powerplay is red hot, Ruck is a god, #badboysforlife, yadda yadda yadda.  The team is playing phenomenally well.

Merrimack, on the other hand, is a team headed in the polar opposite direction.  In their last twelve games the Warriors are 1-10-1.  As College Hockey News’ and the Mack Report’s Mike McMahon pointed out, Merrimack last held a lead in a hockey game over 350 minutes ago.

Goalie Collin Delia is a far cry from Tirronen, the man who stymied the Huskies in the Hockey East Tournament last year.  Delia’s .899 save percentage is near the bottom of the conference among qualifying goaltenders, second only to last week’s goalie Danny Tirone.  The offensive end isn’t much better for the Warriors.  You’d have to go back over a month to find a game where they scored more than two goals.  They’ve scored a conference low seven powerplay goals, and have just a 9.6% conversion rate, which is also the worst in Hockey East.  Things could be going better for Merrimack.

The outlook is not great if your a fan of the opposition this week.  These are two teams are on two opposite paths.  Merrimack’s patented low scoring, tough defense style doesn’t really work with sub-par goaltending, and they aren’t exactly equipped to keep pace on the scoreboard with a team like Northeastern.  I’m very tempted to predict an easy sweep for the Huskies, but the last time I did that things didn’t exactly work out.  So,  I’ll just leave it at this:  I think Merrimack will put up a good fight and I sure do hope the good guys come out on top!

Hockey East Round 1 Reaction: Brick Wall

3/6/15: Northeastern 2, Merrimack 3 (OT)

3/7/15: Northeastern 1, Merrimack 2 (2OT)

I don’t really have much to say here.  Like I said earlier in the week, the only chance Merrimack had against Northeastern was if Tirronen was amazing.  He was and they won.

I thought Northeastern was by far the better team in both games this weekend.  At points the Huskies completely dominated play.  Merrimack went long periods of time without even sniffing the Northeastern net.  The Huskies just weren’t able to make enough of their opportunities count.  Tirronen was amazing, making 63 saves and allowing just a single goal on Saturday.  It wasn’t even like he had been on a hot streak coming into this weekend.  He had been inconsistent for the whole second half of the season.  Tirronen was just playing on another level Friday and Saturday and Northeastern couldn’t beat him enough times to win.

It’s a really disappointing end to the season.  We saw that this team was capable of beating anyone on any given night and it was a team that hadn’t won in a month and a half that beat them.  The season ending goal itself was questionable (not enough to overturn it anyway).  It was a brutal way to go for the players, especially for those who won’t be back again.  They did just about all you could ask of them and it still wasn’t enough.