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.