NCAA Tournament Round 1 Reaction: 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

Goal Celebration

3/25/16: Northeastern 2, North Dakota 6

It’s past midnight on Easter Sunday (or Monday I guess).  I’ve been putting off writing this post forever, but it has to be done.

The game Friday obviously didn’t go as we wanted it to.  I thought the Huskies actually played pretty well.  North Dakota was just on a completely other level.  They were amazing.  Hats off to them, if not their fans.

The one downside to making the tournament is that for all but one team, a great season will end in a loss.  Every team in the tournament had a successful season; otherwise they wouldn’t be there.  But for fifteen of them it ends on a sour note.  It comes with the territory.

That’s not how we should remember this season.  This was the best season of Northeastern hockey I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and I’m sure it was for the majority of fans.  There’s a hockey trophy in Matthews Arena for the first time in almost thirty years.  There’s a banner hanging in TD Garden naming Northeastern as Hockey East champions.  We saw the most dramatic turnaround of a team I think I’ve ever witnessed.  We saw the goalie of the future come into his own and shut down opponents in the second half.  Five Huskies finished with thirty points.  The freshmen have completely raised the bar in the celebration game.

So while it’s a bummer that it ended this way, and it’s a bummer that we won’t see the seniors (and potentially others) play in Husky sweaters again, this was an amazing year.  2016 has been by far the best time I’ve had with Northeastern hockey since I started following six years ago.  Chins up.

#GoNU

Advertisements

Hockey East Semifinal Reaction: GARDEN PARTY

Adam Gaudette

3/18/16: Northeastern 5, BC 4

THEY MADE IT TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP.  THEY BEAT BC.  THE HUSKIES DOMINATED ALL NIGHT.  THEY WERE INCREDIBLE.  THE EAGLES STUNK.  THE ONLY GOOD PLAYER IN WHITE TONIGHT WAS DEMKO.  THEIR TEAM BARELY SHOWED UP,  JUST LIKE THEIR FANS.  IT WAS BASICALLY A HOME GAME FOR NORTHEASTERN.  WE SMOKED THEM.  I CAN’T WAIT FOR TOMORROW.

Week 22 Recap: What’s Beef?

Dylan Sikura

2/26/16: Northeastern 5, Maine 3

2/27/16: Northeastern 7, Maine 1

The Huskies completely demolished Maine this weekend, sending them back to their sad, cold campus in the woods empty-handed.  Despite the Black Bears’ best efforts to goon it up Northeastern kept calm for the most part and made them pay for their cheap shots.

For about 110 of the 120 minutes the two teams played this week, the Huskies completely controlled play.  Friday’s game had a few worrisome minutes where Maine came back and tied the game at the end of the first, and the Black Bears started out pretty well on Saturday, but that was it.  They were rarely threatening outside of those two periods.  While a lot of that has to do with them being bad at hockey, you can also attribute some of that to their insistence on playing the game on the penalty kill.  Maine racked up 50 penalty minutes on Saturday alone.  Northeastern certainly took advantage of those opportunities, scoring four powerplay goals.

I absolutely loved that all the way to the end the Huskies kept up the pressure.  Tanner Pond scored a powerplay goal at the very end of the game to make it 7-1.  No mercy.  If anyone deserves to get the score run up on them, it’s this Maine team.  They couldn’t skate with Northeastern so they started taking cheap shots and the Huskies buried them.  Kevin Roy had a (kind of) Gordie Howe hat trick.  Good.  Can’t wait to see them next weekend and end their season.

PS – It was nice to see Derick Roy get in the game at the end.  He made one of the best saves we’ve seen all year in his limited time in net:

Week 21 Reaction: Sequels Are Never as Good

Kevin Roy and Brendan Collier

2/19/16: Northeastern 5, UConn 2

2/20/16: Northeastern 4, UConn 1

The real Huskies continue to roll as they easily dispatch their Connecticut namesake.  While it wasn’t the repeat bloodbath we all hoped for, it was still another good performance from Northeastern.

The first game was very reminiscent of last year’s series.  Northeastern dominated UConn.  Although UConn’s Tage Thompson continued his good run by scoring early, Northeastern quickly quieted them.  After the Connecticut goal, NU scored four times in a ten minute period.  UConn, in a change of pace from last year, actually pulled Rob Nichols in the first period.  While that move succeeded in stopping Northeastern from scoring (other than the empty netter), it didn’t help the rest of the team out there.  NU continued to pretty easily control the game.  There was a period of time where our Huskies had it in the other Huskies’ zone for over four minutes.  It was bad.

The next game, at Historic Matthews Arena, was a slightly different tale.  A pretty even first period ended without a score, but the powerplay came through once gain for Northeastern in the second.  They put up two on a five minute interference call on UConn.  Connecticut was able to put a rebound past Ruck, and things started to look a little murkier than they previously had for NU, but a weird angle Kurker goal early in the third put Northeastern back up by two.  Our Huskies were able to hold off a physical, high pressure opponent in that game, but it wasn’t as easy as the previous three games against them.  They were able to stay (relatively) disciplined, which is a nice improvement from the first half of the season.  The powerplay continues to be a strong point for Northeastern, scoring twice in each game, and contributing to one of my favorite recent developments: random Cockerill shots from the point resulting in goals.

With the sweep of UConn and two losses from Vermont on the weekend, Northeastern locks up sixth place in the Hockey East tournament.  It will be a first round matchup against a recent opponent either way for the Huskies, as UConn and Maine are tied for that eleventh spot in the standings.  My guess would be that it’s Maine, as they’re less likely to get points against Northeastern next weekend than UConn is against UNH.  Either way, with this run the Huskies have set themselves up nicely for the tournament.

Week 20 Reaction: Blasé Blasé

Garret Cockerill

2/12/16: Northeastern 5, UMass 0

2/13/16: Northeastern 4, UMass 2

I don’t know if this is really going to make sense, and I know it won’t be popular, but I wasn’t really that impressed with Northeastern this weekend.  The Huskies did earn a conference sweep against the Minutemen.  They did outscore UMass 9-2.  But it’s UMass.

While Northeastern dominated the first game in Amherst, it was more UMass being bad than anything.  After a scoreless first where the Minutemen were kept in the game by big saves from Nic Renyard (really), things fell apart for them in the second.  Aston-Reese scored early and five minutes later Roy scored his first of the season.  After that, it was like UMass gave up.  Northeastern completely controlled the rest of the game, but it was like UMass wasn’t even trying.  So, yeah, the Huskies scored five goals and shutout the Minutemen, but they were giving minimal effort for more than half the game.

Northeastern had all sorts of trouble in the Saturday game.  After quickly jumping out to a two goal lead, the Huskies blew the lead in the second period.  Northeastern was struggling to keep the puck on their sticks.  UMass was actually applying pressure.  If it wasn’t for the Minutemen repeatedly taking penalties, I’m not convinced the Huskies take two points from the night.  That game was much, much more uncomfortable than it should have been.

The one thing that stood out for the Northeastern was special teams.  It made the difference for the Huskies, especially in Saturday’s game.  UMass was shut out on their powerplay chances in both games.  Meanwhile, Northeastern scored four powerplay goals in their ten chances.  Three of their four goals Saturday came with the man advantage, and they were actually outscored by the Minutemen at even strength.

It’s weird to sweep a conference series, outscore the opponent by seven, and say it was a little unimpressive, but that’s what it was for me.  The Huskies crushed UMass on Friday, but the Minutemen were barely even there.  Meanwhile, you can’t knock Northeastern for UMass’ lack of effort.  Saturday it was their special teams that saved them.  Without the powerplay and penalty kill executing, it’s hard to say that the Huskies win that game.  I know it’s a kind of negative look on this weekend’s play considering the outcome, but I can’t really get excited about what we saw.  Luckily, the rest of the regular season is an absolute cakewalk.

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.

Week 16 Reaction: Another One

John Stevens

1/15/16: Northeastern 4, New Hampshire 2

1/16/16: Northeastern 6, New Hampshire 2

The Huskies pick up their first two conference wins of the season as they continue to roll through the second half.  Northeastern completely outclassed UNH in just about every aspect of both games on their way to another sweep.

Northeastern absolutely dominated Friday night’s game at Historic Matthews Arena.  UNH barely even saw the offensive zone.  They couldn’t do anything to take the puck from the Huskies and make it out of their own end.  The Wildcats ended up getting outshot 36-25 in the game.  The only time New Hampshire looked even remotely threatening was for a few minutes late in the second period, resulting in their first goal of the weekend.  After that, it was all Northeastern.

Saturday night’s game had an entire weekend’s worth of action in half of a period.  After a first period where absolutely nothing happened, the Huskies took a lead early in the second.  They went on, like the previous night, to have some second period struggles for the rest of the first half of the period, giving up good chances and being bailed out by Ruck.  UNH eventually put one home to tie it up.  Then it got nuts.

In four and a half minutes the Huskies scored four times and gave up a powerplay goal.  Excluding that penalty they took, Northeastern had their way with UNH.  They were making perfect passes all over the New Hampshire zone.  It was reminiscent of the preseason game against Simon Fraser.  Absolutely unbelievable.

While it’s easy to point out that New Hampshire is just a bad team (and they are really bad), it shouldn’t count against how well Northeastern has been playing.  The offense is firing on all cylinders.  After scoring just 24 goals in their first 13 games (up to the Thanksgiving tournament), the Huskies have scored 37 in their last 10.  They’ll only get better on the offensive side when Roy and Hedges eventually come back from injury.  Ruck has significantly improved from his early season struggles.  Northeastern has also done a much better job staying out of the box since that point in the season.  From the Belfast tournament on, the Huskies have cut down on taken penalties by almost two a game.  As they still have by far the worst penalty kill in Hockey East.  Northeastern has markedly improved on two of their biggest early season weaknesses, while minimizing exposure to a third.