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

NCAA Tournament Round 1 Preview: North Dakota

NCAA Tournament Mens Hockey Tickets

We made it to the dance.  Pretty much everybody until last weekend doubted we’d be here, but we’re here as the hottest team in the country with some new hardware.

Alright, so I admittedly don’t know anything about North Dakota.  I know that they’re apparently good.  I know that they managed to win thirty games this year.  I know they’ve been to the last two Frozen Fours.  I know they also have a line named after the world’s most boring television network.

Let’s take a look at our old friend the stat sheet.  They have a 58.6 close CF%, which is third in the country.  The members of the previously referenced CBS line are three of the top fifteen scorers in the country.  Goalie Cam Johnson is tied for the third best save percentage in the country at .935.  They have the eighth best offense and third best defense, good for the fifth best scoring margin.

So, that was a little depressing.  Let’s cheer up with this:

Yeah, remember how awesome Northeastern is?  One single loss in 2016.  First Hockey East championship since 1988.  The Huskies are good.

North Dakota also plays in a worse conference, beating up on worse teams than those we’ve seen in Hockey East all year.  They blew a lead in their conference championship on the way to getting dusted by fellow tournament fourth seed Duluth.  Their own goalie dropped that they got too comfortable playing bad teams, saying “We thought, ‘Oh, all we have to do is just show up to the rink, and we’re going to win the game.'”  The players their goalie is tied with in save percentage?  Thatcher Demko and Kevin Boyle, the two most recent victims of Husky offense.  They ain’t so bad.

Jim Dahl at College Hockey Ranked ran the KRACH predictions using just 2016 and found Northeastern to be an 86-14 favorite over North Dakota.  With those parameters, the Huskies have a 46% to win the championship.  I like those odds.

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Week 7 Reaction: Eat, Sleep, Shoot Yourself In the Foot, Repeat

Matt Benning

11/12/15 Northeastern 2, Notre Dame 3

11/13/15 Northeastern 2, Notre Dame 2

At this point you could basically write a recap of Northeastern hockey games before they even happen.  It’s exactly the same game every night from the Huskies.

First and foremost, Northeastern must dig themselves a hole early in the game.  Thursday night, Notre Dame put up two in the first period and another early into the second.  Friday, the Huskies managed to keep the Fighting Irish to just one goal in the first period, waiting all the way until two minutes had gone in the second period to drop another goal down.  For those of you keeping score, that’s a -3 goal differential this weekend, keeping perfectly in line with what’s happened so far this season.  Northeastern has scored only two first period goals in 11 games this year, while giving up 18 to their opponents.  For some context, the next highest first period goals against total is 12.  The Huskies scored first in just one game this season, resulting in their only win of the season.

The second part of a Northeastern classic is to take dumb penalties.  The Huskies got out to a hot start, opening the series with a too many men penalty that lead to Notre Dame’s first goal.  Notre Dame would actually manage to top Northeastern’s dumb penalty strategy in that game.  The Fighting Irish matched the four penalties put up by the Huskies, but bested them by having a game misconduct thrown in the mix (not that Northeastern would score on any of these).  The Huskies opened their penalty taking on Friday again with a too many men penalty (incredible.).  Again, this lead to the first goal for Notre Dame.  This time, however, Northeastern followed up shortly after with a five minute major and game misconduct from Tanner Pond for hitting a Notre Dame player in the head.  Neither of these penalties would be the dumbest of the night for the Huskies, as John Stevens capped off the game with a five minute major and game misconduct for facemasking.

Northeastern is currently only sixth in the conference in penalty minutes per game, but those numbers are skewed by a wild series last weekend from BC and Maine.  What’s more frustrating than the actual number of penalties is how preventable they all are.  They took two too many men penalties lead to goals, and two game misconduct penalties.  These are mental errors that shouldn’t be happening at the Division I level, but they’re happening to Northeastern, and they’re happening frequently.  All this stupidity is happening with the backdrop of the worst non-UMass penalty kill in the conference.  The Huskies have killed just 78% of their penalties this season.  They’ve given up nine powerplay goals, enough to tie for the conference lead.  That’s a tough way to win games.

We’ve reached the third and final ingredient to make a Northeastern Husky hockey game, which is to make a furious attempted comeback and fall short.  My personal favorite part of the process, the Huskies will show you just how talented they actually are.  Northeastern will come up with great passes, generate tons of high quality scoring chances.  They’ll be great on the forecheck, trapping their opponents in their own end.  Sometimes they’ll even get a few back before the clock runs out.  But, it won’t be enough to get the win.  The Huskies have played from behind in 10 of their 11 games this season and have accumulated a 0-8-2 record in those games.  Seven of those games played with a deficit have ended with margin of victory of one or less.  In those seven games, Northeastern is 0-5-2.  The Huskies always make sure you leave the game knowing they had the talent to win, but still disappoint in the end.

At some point, the leadership of this team has to be held accountable.  Reading the post-game quotes from Jim Madigan this weekend you see him acknowledge the problems the team is having, just like he does after every single game.  After Thursday’s game he said “Similar story where we fell behind, it’s been two or three goals where we’ve been falling behind and then we bounced back in the second period and played hard but we’re always chasing the game and that’s what happened here tonight. We can’t continue giving up two and three goals to good teams and expect to win games.”  No shit, Jim.  If Northeastern wants to have anything resembling success, the coaches and team leaders need to actually make the changes instead of just talking about them.

Week 7 Preview: Notre Dame

Kevin Roy

The weight of a conference rest on Husky shoulders this week.  Northeastern leaves civilization this week to take on the black sheep of Hockey East in South Bend, Indiana.

By almost any statistic Notre Dame appears to be a perfectly average of the road team.  They sport a 48.4% even strength CF%.  They are in sixth place in Hockey East.  Excluding UConn they’ve even split every series they’ve played this season.  They’re Even Steven!

The only non-average aspect of this Notre Dame team is the goaltending of Cal Peterson.  You might remember Peterson from being a jerk last year and not letting the Huskies score.  Luckily for Northeastern he seems to have become more generous in his old age (he’s a sophomore now) and has been much less stingy giving out goals.  Notre Dame given up three or more goals against everyone they’ve played so far this season except UConn (again).

On a related note, our Northeastern Huskies seem to finally figured out how to score on the road, putting up ten goals in the last three away games.  Unfortunately, this may not actually be an away game.  The Huskies are 4-1 on Notre Dame’s ice, and have already won a tournament there.  As American history has shown, when you show up somewhere and completely dominate the inhabitants, that places becomes yours.  As Northeastern has dominated Notre Dame in Compton Family, by the laws of Manifest Destiny this is a home series for Northeastern.

There’s no way around it; the Huskies will simply have to figure out how to score at home if they want to win this week in South Bend.

Week 16 Preview: Notre Dame

Kevin Roy

This is a HUGE weekend for Northeastern as Notre Dame comes to Matthews for two home games.  The Huskies are hanging on to home ice advantage in the first round of the Hockey East tournament, tied for seventh.  Notre Dame is one spot out of a first round bye in fifth.

Although being separated by three spots in the standings, the two teams are separated by just three points.  Northeastern is also just one point ahead of Merrimack who is also gunning for home ice.  Notre Dame losing would also put some space between the top four teams looking for a bye.  The team between Notre Dame and Northeastern, Providence, is playing Lowell and will probably drop at least a couple points.  UConn, who Northeastern is tied with for seventh, only has one game this week and it’s against Boston College.  I don’t expect them to get anything from that game.  This matchup between Northeastern and Notre Dame has some pretty big implications for Hockey East.

Northeastern has a great chance to come away with Hockey East points and put them solidly into the home ice territory.  Notre Dame, although spanking UConn on Saturday, has not played well since coming back from break.  That win is their only one of the semester.  Notre Dame also sports the conference’s worst powerplay, Northeastern’s biggest weakness.  The Huskies have been inconsistent in the past couple weeks, but their biggest struggles have come when they were on the road.  The team has played significantly better at home.  I think this is a big opportunity for Northeastern to jump up in the standings.  It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the Huskies move to sixth in Hockey East.

PS – Notre Dame has huge fan and alumni bases in Boston. They will be out for this weekend’s games.  Get your friends out and to the game.  They’re giving out t-shirts and towels and stuff if you need extra motivation.  If you don’t come and the team loses I’m blaming it entirely on you.