Week 1 Reaction: Toothpasted

Nolan Stevens

10/10/15: Northeastern 2, Colgate 1

What a way to start the season.  The Huskies came out firing on opening night.

Northeastern looked much, much better than the final score would indicate.  They absolutely dominated the first two periods of the game.  It felt like Colgate was barely ever in the Northeastern zone, with the obvious exception of the goal when the Huskies were unable to clear.  The Huskies did a really good job both maintaining possession of the puck in the Colgate end, and trapping the Raiders in there when they did manage to get it back.  In total, Northeastern out-attempted Colgate by 30, completely controlling play.

The Colgate goalie Charlie Finn was the only thing stopping this game from being an absolute bloodbath.  He made 41 saves on the night, some of them on really good Northeastern chances.  Have to give it up to that dude, he’s played really well against Northeastern going back to his two shutouts last season.

Derick Roy also had a great game in net.  Let’s be honest, although Northeastern played great, the defense hung him out to dry in some spots, especially in the third.  Colgate had a few breakaway chances and Roy held his ground.  The play of the defensemen was the only thing I saw in the game that made me a little nervous.  There were some bad exchanges between partners and we saw guys getting caught out of position and unable to chase down the breaking Colgate players.  I’m sure that’s the kind of stuff that will smooth out with time.  Hopefully that won’t be an issue going forward.

The last thing I want to do in this post is to call attention to the game winning goal from Nolan Stevens.  I don’t really have much to say about it other than it is incredible and I’ve watched it like 45 times today.

PS – Wanted to give a shout out to former Northeastern Husky Ryan Belonger for scoring the game winner for Arizona State’s first win with 30 seconds left in the game


Week 7 Reaction: We Go as the Penalties Go

Clay Witt

There are three big things that stood out to me after this weekend’s home-and-home with Merrimack (full disclosure: only was able to watch highlights of the game at Merrimack, had to watch the NU home game on my phone).

The first is that penalties are very important to this team.  Northeastern’s powerplay is really starting to click.  They went 3/8 this weekend against what had been the best penalty kill in Hockey East.  Along with that, penalties have been killing this team.  They took eight (!) on Friday, giving up three powerplay goals.  It is imperative this team somehow learns to play with discipline consistently, you know, not running the opposition’s goalie.

Secondly, Northeastern has really started to be able to possess the puck.  Through the past two weekends, the Huskies have generated a ton of shots on goal.  Sean Hathaway tweeted out Northeastern out-attempted their opponents 201-144 (58.3%) through those four games.  On Saturday, Northeastern posted a 53.9 Corsi-For percentage, almost  5% better than their season average of 49%.  This comes from the improved forecheck from the forwards, and the incredible job the team has done at the faceoff dot.  Although I don’t have zone time statistics, it was definitely noticeable that play was kept in the Merrimack zone.  Northeastern won 56% of faceoffs on Friday, and an astounding 68% on Saturday.  At one point I counted that they won fifteen faceoffs in a row.  Winning faceoffs and aggressively forechecking seem to be key to controlling play for the Huskies.

Lastly, Clay Witt didn’t have to be God this week for the Huskies to win.  That is not a knock on Witt.  He played well this week, especially on Saturday.  Northeastern had only won the week before because he was a brick wall.  This week we saw just an average performance from Witt (again, still good), and Northeastern came away with a win.  The team around him is starting to play better and I, for one, am encouraged.

Now, on to that Gopher team or whatever…

Week 6 Reaction: Sweet Victory

Nolan Stevens

Some days you wake and the grass is a little greener, the coffee smells a little better, and it doesn’t seem like a frozen tundra before Thanksgiving.  That day is today.  Your Northeastern University Huskies won!  They beat a team! In hockey!

After losing the first leg of the home-and-home in New Hampshire, the Huskies bounced back to get the first win of the season at home in front of a loud crowd at Matthews.  Have to say, it’s pretty cool to see all the old Dog House banners hanging from the balcony and hear the fans actually participating again.

Clay Witt is back in net and it feels so good.  Even though UNH scored five in the first game, I think he still looked very good.  At home, he stopped 34 shots and held UNH to just one goal.  He kept the Huskies in the game when the team was being out-shot by over eleven through the first two periods.

The part that really got me excited was seeing that Northeastern has the ability to come back.  On Friday, they gave up three first period goals, and managed to come back to tie in the second, though they eventually lost.  Even more impressive, I think, is the what they did on the second night.  After UNH put up a go-ahead goal in the third period and Northeastern had been out-shot by such a huge margin at that point, I think we all could see the writing on the wall.  The team couldn’t put pucks on net at all, so giving up that goal seemed the end of the game.  But then, something weird happened.  Northeastern scored!  The Stevens’ Family and Rosenthal answered and tied it up short after.  It was that line that also gave the Huskies the eventual game winning goal (Nolan Stevens’ first of his career).  That line was a bright spot in what has been a very dark offensive period for the team, with N. Stevens winning Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week.

While it feels good to see Northeastern win, I still don’t think the team is playing very well.  You could make the argument that they were outplayed in both games this weekend.  Clay Witt was incredible in that second game, and was the only reason the Huskies even had a chance at winning.  They’re still taking way too many penalties (five in each game), and stupid ones at that (too many men, embellishment).  The game just needs to be cleaner in every aspect, from clearing the zone, to playing with discipline.  Better teams than UNH will be able to take advantage from how sloppy they’ve played.

But, Northeastern won and I personally am going to just bask in that for a while.