Hockey East Tournament Round 1 Preview: Maine

Nolan Stevens

I’m going to keep this one nice and short.  Believe it or not, nothing really has changed since my last two posts about the Huskies or Black Bears.  Northeastern is still good.  Maine is still bad.

The Huskies should have absolutely no problem with this round of the playoffs.  The only difference between these two games and the last two games is that I’d expect them both to look like Saturday night’s game and less like Friday’s.  Literally the only thing I’m worried about this weekend is coming out of it with everyone healthy.  The Saturday game meant absolutely nothing for the Black Bears; they were locked into their position in the tournament.  They still acted like goons when things went south.  I can see things getting a whole lot worse when their facing the end of their season.  There’s a few key pieces on this team with very recent concussion issues.  I’m sure the team makes it out of this weekend, let’s hope all the players do, too.

Head on a swivel out there.

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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 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 20 Preview: UMass

Trevor Owens

The schedule takes a much easier turn for the Huskies as they begin the soft end of their season this weekend against UMass.  As good as Northeastern has been in the past few months is exactly how bad the Minutemen have been.  Maybe worse.

Although the Minutemen started out the season with a 4-0-1 record, they have come right back down to where we all thought they would be.  The team just broke a nine game losing streak on Tuesday by beating AIC (the last ranked team in Pairwise) in overtime.  Somehow that is not UMass’ longest winless streak this season, after going ten games earlier in the year without a win.  From November 7th at UConn up until Tuesday’s game, the Minutemen had only one win.

UMass ranks last or near last in the conference in almost every category this season.  Goalie Nic Renyard’s .896 save percentage is only ahead of Merrimack’s Collin Delia (by a huge margin of .001).  The Minutemen have given up by far the most goals per game this season.  They also have the worst penalty kill.  Surprisingly, UMass actually isn’t terrible offensively, sitting at eighth in Hockey East in goals per game.  The powerplay is even better, ranking seventh.  They’ve scored seventeen goals in their last five games.

So hey, you’ve got that.

Northeastern, coming off kicking ninth ranked Harvard’s teeth in, is by far the better team.  They’ve been undeniably one of the hottest teams in the country.  The Huskies have just a single loss since the first week of December.  We’re looking at a program on the other side of the ice that is in the worst shape I’ve ever seen.  I’d be shocked if UMass can even keep it close.

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!