Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Brush Up on BU Before Friday's Big Game

Beantown Brawl
Friday’s match-up with No. 7/5 Boston University will be the 203rd meeting between the inhabitants of Huntington Ave. and Commonwealth Ave. Chapters 201 and 202 of the storied NU-BU series did not yield a winner or a loser. The last two games NU and BU have faced off in have resulted in a tie. Last year’s home-and-home series on Feb. 20 and 21 produced respective scores of 2-2 and 1-1. The Terriers came away with two wins in last season’s four-game series, spoiling Northeastern’s Beanpot title bid, 5-2, on Feb. 2 and shutting out the Huskies, 3-0, on Nov. 16 at Agganis Arena. The 3-0 shutout marks the last time NU has been blanked as the Huskies look for their first victory against Boston University since Feb. 28, 2007 (4-2). BU owns the series advantage, 144-50-8, and has won six of the last 10 encounters. Northeastern’s longest winning streak against the Terriers is seven; spanning from Feb. 23, 1987 to Jan. 17, 1989. In regards to the Beanpot (in which the two clubs will meet on Feb. 1, 2010), Northeastern has won seven out of 37 games. NU’s first victory in program history over BU came on Feb. 9, 1943 by a final of 6-2 while Boston University’s first win was played on Feb. 6, 1931 (4-3). Head coach Greg Cronin is 1-11-5 against Boston University while Jack Parker is 88-32-8 against Northeastern since taking over in 1973.

Terrier Tales
Boston University was penciled in as the favorite to win Hockey East in the preseason media poll, but the Terriers are currently 2-3-0, with a 1-2-0 record in Hockey East. Boston University and Massachusetts kicked off the 2009-10 Hockey East calendar in Amherst as the Minutemen prevailed, 3-2. Four days later, the Terriers were shutout by CCHA-foe Notre Dame, 3-0, yet responded with a 3-2 win against Michigan.  This past weekend, UMass Lowell tested BU in a series split. The Terriers came away with a 5-4 overtime victory thanks to Colby Cohen’s game winner at 1:06 in the extra session, but were handed their second conference loss on Halloween, 3-2, at Agganis Arena. Junior Kevin Shattenkirk directs the Terriers’ scoring with five points (1-4-5) and acts as the assists’ leader, as well. Four of Shattenkirk’s five points have come on the powerplay. Rookie Alex Chiasson (3-1-4) has netted a team-best three goals and is tied with sophomore David Warsofsky (2-2-4) for second in team points. Warsofsky has pulled the trigger on net a club-high 22 times while Corey Trivino, Chiasson and Warsofsky lead all skaters with a +1 rating. Cohen has registered a team-best two powerplay tallies while senior Eric Gryba has perpetrated a team-high seven penalties for 25 minutes. Second-year goaltender Kieran Millan has started all five tilts and is allowing 3.02 goals per game. He has stopped 119-of-134 shots for an 88.8 percent save rate.

Last Time against BU
On Feb. 21, 2009, Northeastern tied Boston University in the second-straight game, 1-1, in front of a sold-out Matthews Arena crowd. Steve Quailer scored the game-tying goal at 17:38 after Joe Vitale fired the initial shot on net. Kieran Millan made the first save but Wade MacLeod took another whack at it on Millan’s right side. The puck landed on Qualier’s stick to put it away for the game-tying tally. Northeastern goaltender Brad Thiessen made 25 saves in the game as the Huskies outshot NU, 32-26, including 11-6 in the third period and 7-1 in overtime. BU broke the scoreless tie at 7:39 of the third on a Matt Gilroy goal. With a 2-2 stalemate the night before, both teams experienced its longest scoring droughts of the season. Boston University went scoreless for 93:18 before Gilroy’s goal whereas Northeastern went scoreless for 88:27 before Quailer lit the lamp.

Huskies’ Leaders against the Terriers

Eleven Northeastern student-athletes have scored at least one point in their careers against their archrival. Senior Kyle Kraemer is NU’s frontrunner with six points (3-3-6) in eight games while juniors Tyler McNeely (4-1-5) and Wade MacLeod (1-4-5) are tied with five apiece in the same number of outings. Senior veteran David Strathman (1-3-4) has tallied four points along with sophomore Drew Muench (0-4-4). Senior Greg Costa (0-2-2), junior Steve Silva (1-1-2) and sophomore Steve Qualier (1-1-2) have all contributed two points in the series while senior Randy Guzior (1-0-1), Jim Driscoll (0-1-1) and Mike McLaughlin (1-0-1) round out NU’s scorers in the BU series.

Matthews Arena Meets Max Capacity Again

The Huskies’ faithful have been anticipating the return of their rivals as indicated by the second advanced sellout of a Northeastern athletics’ event since the men’s basketball team hosted Duke in 1995. The first advanced sellout came last season when Northeastern hosted Boston College on Oct. 18, 2008. The Eagles were ranked No. 1 in the country and the Huskies treated their fans to a 4-3 triumph. Each advanced sellout has come against a Boston-based school that returns as a defending national champion. Boston College won the title in 2008 while Boston University is this year’s reigning champ. Friday night’s game will be NU’s second-straight sellout as Matthews Arena was filled to its capacity of 4,666 for the home opener against Bentley University on Oct. 16. At the Bentley game, a new student-attendance record was set when 2,724 strong packed ‘The Dog House’ to watch Northeastern secure its first home victory of the season. Student tickets pickup for the BU contest will begin on Wednesday at the Northeastern Athletics Ticket Office at Blackman Theatre in Ell Hall at noon. Students must have their Northeastern ID to receive a ticket. Tickets will be distributed there until 3 p.m., Friday or until the allotment has run out. Students who have picked up tickets in advance are asked to enter the arena at the zamboni entrance.

Similar Scoring
Northeastern and Boston University are both averaging 2.4 goals per game which is tied for 43rd in the country and last in conference play. The Huskies are allowing 3.2 goals per game while BU has surrendered a clip of 3.0 goals per game. NU’s figure is tied for 37th in the country, sixth in Hockey East, while the Terriers are tied for 31st in scoring defense, fifth in league action. Northeastern’s 19.4 conversion rate on the powerplay  (27th in the NCAA and fifth in HEA) ranks higher than BU’s value of 17.2 percent (34th in the NCAA sixth in HEA).

Ranked Rivals
No. 7/5 Boston University will be the Huskies’ second nationally ranked challenger in both the USCHO.com and USA Today polls this season. UMass Lowell was ranked #13/12 when the two teams met on Oct. 24. (Since then, UMass Lowell has climbed to #8/8). When NU took on Colorado College, the Huskies were tabbed No. 20 in the country while Colorado College was receiving votes. The Huskies victory against the Tigers is starting to look even more impressive now that CC is ranked #12/11 since Nov. 2. Northeastern has dealt Colorado College its only loss of the season thus far.

October Recap
Northeastern kicked off its regular-season slate with a pair of games at Colorado College and came away with a split. The Huskies dropped the first game, 4-2, but countered with a 4-3 victory against the Tigers at World Arena. Alex Tuckerman registered the Huskies’ first goal of the season on David Strathman’s helper for his 40th-career point. Garrett Vermeersch broke out in his first weekend donning an NU sweater with three points, including a powerplay blast in each game. Senior Chris Donovan delivered the game winner against the Tigers as part of his four-point weekend. NU’s win in Colorado Springs marked Greg Cronin’s 150th-career game as the Huskies’ head coach and freshman netminder Chris Rawlings’ first win in net. In the home-opening sellout against Bentley University, the Huskies’ tallied three powerplay goals from the sticks of Jake Newton, Justin Daniels and Steve Silva while Wade MacLeod accounted for two helpers. The Huskies were handed their first conference loss at New Hampshire, 4-2, but MacLeod notched his fourth-career two-goal game against the Wildcats. The following afternoon, NU battled with UMass Lowell to the very end, but lost a 3-1 decision at Tsongas Arena. Tyler McNeely scored his sixth-career powerplay goal in the game. Through five games, the Huskies have scored a powerplay goal in each tilt. Rawlings has made at least 30 stops in four-of-five starts. Vermeersch, MacLeod and Donovan lead Northeastern with four points each while MacLeod, McNeely and Vermeersch stand as NU’s lone multi-goal performers.

Powerplay Scoring Streak at Five
The Huskies have converted on 7-of-36 (19.4 percent) of their powerplay opportunities this season, spreading at least one extra-man goal out in each of their five games. Northeastern strung together a seven-game powerplay-scoring stretch last season, extending from Jan. 10 through Feb. 2 (6-1 Beanpot win over BC). The Huskies crafted a trifecta of three-straight games with a powerplay goal and a pair of two-game streaks. Vermeersch set the streak in motion with a tally in each Colorado College game while Jake Newton, Justin Daniels and Steve Silva all put away an extra-skater goal against Bentley. Wade MacLeod and Tyler McNeely extended the run at UNH and UML, respectively.

Northeastern at 2-3-0
In 78 seasons of Northeastern hockey, the Huskies have started 2-3-0 through the first five regular season games on 16 occasions. In the games following a 2-3 start, the Huskies have gone 4-9-3 and 1-1-2 in Hockey East play. The Huskies have never started the schedule 2-3 under head coach Greg Cronin’s watch. Last season, Cronin guided NU to a 5-0-1 start before getting upended at New Hampshire on Halloween, 4-2.

Rebounding from Two Losses

Since Northeastern’s first varsity team in 1930, Northeastern has bounced back from a two-loss skid with a victory on 87 instances. The Huskies have also tabulated 15 draws and 132 losses after a two-game draught. Two-game losing streaks were calculated at either the beginning of the season or starting after a win or a tie in the schedule. Last season, the Huskies suffered two consecutive setbacks only twice, including a 4-1 loss at Boston College (3/7/09) and the first game of the Hockey East quarterfinals, 2-1 (3/13/09). The other stretch occurred in the last two outings of the season when NU was defeated by UMass Lowell, 3-2, in the conference semifinals (3/20/09) and then nipped by Cornell, 3-2, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (3/28/09).

No Games for Northeastern
The Huskies did not have any games scheduled over Halloween weekend. Since Greg Cronin has been the head coach at Northeastern (2005-06 season), the Huskies have had a full Friday-Saturday-Sunday break in their schedule only once since the beginning of the season (Excluding Christmas and playoff breaks). Northeastern had a Thursday night tilt at UMass Lowell on Feb. 8, 2007 in which the Huskies lost, 1-0, before beating Harvard in the consolation round of the Beanpot, 3-1, on Monday, Feb. 12.

Speaking of the Holidays

Northeastern has only played five total games on Halloween, totaling a 2-3 record. NU’s first game was against Providence on 1987. NU lost, 5-3, at Matthews Arena. The Huskies’ first Halloween victory was at Boston College, 3-2, in 1989.

Cronin Creeping Up on another Milestone

Head coach Greg Cronin celebrated his 150th-career game as Northeastern’s leader with the 4-3 win at Colorado College on Oct. 10. Cronin’s next victory marks his 60th-career win for the Huskies and 80th, overall. In his fifth season, Cronin is 59-75-19 with Northeastern, 42-66-17, in Hockey East. His career total is 79-88-21, 52-60-19 in Hockey East.

Freshman Phenoms

The freshman class continues to impress as the young nucleus of Huskies leads the sophomores, juniors and seniors with 10 overall points (5-5-10). Both the juniors (5-4-9) and seniors (2-7-9) have totaled nine points while the sophomore class (1-3-4) has contributed four points. The newcomers have accounted for 31.3 percent of the Huskies’ offense through five games.

Rawlings the Lone Rookie

Freshman Chris Rawlings has made at least 30 saves in four out of his five-career starts. The North Delta, British Columbia native stopped 30 shots at both UNH and UML coupled with a 33 and 34-save effort in the weekend opener at Colorado College, respectively. In the home opener against Bentley, Rawlings blocked 27 pucks, bringing his total to 154 saves through five games (30.8 saves per game). Only two other goalies in the conference (Alex Beaudry – Providence – 186 saves and Brian Foster – UNH – 182 saves) have totaled more saves than Rawlings and the Huskies did not have any contests this weekend. Rawlings is also the only rookie backstopper in Hockey East to have started every game in between the pipes.

Converting the Two-Man Advantage
Wade MacLeod’s first goal at New Hampshire marked the Huskies’ first 5-on-3 goal of the season and is one of seven NU extra-man tallies this season.

Guzior Switches Gears
Senior Randy Guzior played in 95 games as a forward for Northeastern before dropping back to guard the blue line at New Hampshire on Oct. 23. On Oct. 24 at UMass Lowell, Guzior earned his first-career start as a defenseman and is just three games shy of skating in his 100th contest.

Skating Milestones
Senior defenseman David Strathman participated in his 100th-career game for Northeastern in the 3-2 victory against Bentley. The Tempe, Ariz. native joins Jim Driscoll and Chris Donovan as a member of the 100-games club. Driscoll leads all members with 113 career games while Donovan has competed in 104.  Guzior (97 games), Kraemer (90 games) and Costa (89 games) should all eclipse that mark at some point in the 2009-10 season. Captain Tyler McNeely skated in his 75th-career game at the Whittemore Center on Oct. 23 at New Hampshire.

Scoreless Frame

The 0-0 standoff after the opening period at UMass Lowell marked the first time neither team has scored in a period in a Northeastern contest this season.

Nobody Home

The UMass Lowell game’s final score closed out at 3-1, but the River Hawks’ final marker came on an empty net after Chris Rawlings was pulled with 38 seconds in regulation. UML’s empty-net goal is the first one the Huskies have surrendered this year.

Multi-Point Performances

Five Huskies have logged a multi-point performance through their first five contests.  Senior Chris Donovan is the only member to have posted three points (1-2-3) in a game when he did so in the 4-3 win at Colorado College. Newcomers Vermeersch (1-1-2) and Newton (1-1-2) have each registered a powerplay goal and an assist in one game while Silva (1-1-2) has carried out the same feat against Bentley. Wade MacLeod’s (0-2-2 • 2-0-2) 15th- and 16th-career multi-point games came with two helpers against Bentley and two tallies at New Hampshire.

Hockey East Weighing In

Nine of Hockey East’s 10 teams are either ranked or have received votes in USCHO.com / CBS College Sports latest poll. Boston University is ranked seventh in the USCHO poll and fifth in the USA Today poll. UMass Lowell jumped up a post in the USCHO poll and is now eighth in both lists. Vermont dropped from 10th to 15th in both polls but still has a presence while Boston College (16th) and Massachusetts (19th) retain clout in the USCHO’s top 20. Providence, Northeastern, New Hampshire and newcomer Merrimack are all receiving votes in the USCHO poll. Maine is the only Hockey East club to be left off either poll through Nov. 2.

TV Time
Friday’s game at the Whittemore Center was the Huskies first televised game (NESN) of the 2009-10 season. Last year, Northeastern was featured on television nine times, including the two Beanpot games and the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Northeastern totaled a 5-4 record on those occasions. The Huskies were highlighted four times on NESN last season. Northeastern went 3-1 in those contests. This season, Northeastern will be featured in at least five televised games, including the first round of the Beanpot against Boston University on Mon., Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. and the potential championship showdown on Mon., Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. (NESN). Along with the UNH game, Northeastern will be featured in back-to-back home games as the public will be able to feast its eyes on the new Matthews Arena on Sat., Jan. 9 against UMass Lowell (NESN) and Sun., Jan. 10 against Massachusetts (ESPNU). The UMass Lowell contest is at 7:30 p.m. and the Massachusetts game is set for 8 p.m. Northeastern’s game at Boston College on Sun., Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. will also be televised (ESPNU).

Huskies to Air on WRCA 1330 AM
Starting with the New Hampshire game on Oct. 23, the Northeastern men’s hockey games will be broadcast on WRCA 1330 AM. Rob Rudnick will act as the play-by-play announcer while Bill Doherty will provide the color commentary. Rudnick is in his 32nd year of broadcasting Northeastern sports while Doherty is NU’s former Associate Sports Information Director. Both broadcasters have earned the Joe Concannon Award which is presented annually to an outstanding member of the media covering Hockey East, making Northeastern’s the only broadcast team to feature two winners. WRCA 1330 AM joins WRBB Sports 104.9 FM as part of a full-coverage package for the Huskies all season long. All home games can also be viewed live on GoNU.TV. GoNU.TV has already archived over 250 events in its first two seasons of existence.

Matthews Arena Nears the Century Mark

Nearly one week after the final buzzer goes off at Ford Field for the national championship game in Detroit, Matthews Arena will celebrate its 100th birthday on April 16, 2010.  Matthews Arena is the world’s oldest multi-purpose athletic building and houses the world’s oldest artificial sheet of ice. Over this past summer, the Saint Botolph St. staple underwent its third major renovation and received some early birthday presents. Matthews Arena now sports:
• The men’s and women’s suites, consisting of a locker room area, bathroom & shower area and lounge.
• A new men’s basketball locker room
• Brand new strength & conditioning center with state-of-the-art equipment and a sports medicine room to allow student-athletes to train and receive treatment in the same area.
• A new video board at center ice that will show the game in progress, highlights, instant replay, etc.
• The public lobby has new bathrooms and two new concession stands along with high definition LCD televisions that are tied into the video board and sound system.
• A refurbished 23-seat press box equipped with both hard-wire and wireless Internet access and two high-definition LCD televisions that will have replay capability.

Northeastern at the Next Level
Northeastern’s hockey alumni are sprinkled all throughout the professional ranks, including three members from last year’s team. Brad Thiessen, holder of nine NU goaltending records and Joe Vitale, former Huskies captain, have been assigned to Wilkes-Barre Scranton of the AHL. Louis Liotti was assigned to the Worcester Sharks of the AHL after a successful campaign manning the blue line for the Huskies last year. Liotti joins Mike Morris, a 2007 graduate. Mike Ryan was picked up by the Carolina Hurricanes after spending time with the Buffalo Sabres as the Northeastern delegate in The Show. Brian Deeth, Bryan Esner, Donny Grover and Tim Judy made up the list of ECHL representatives while Bryan Nathe and Brian Swiniarski took part in the CHL last season. Ray Ortiz played in the SPHL while Chad Costello spent last year with the IHL. Eight Huskies are playing internationally. Jim Fahey dressed with the Krefeld Penguins last season after playing with the New Jersey Devils and San Jose Sharks. Dan McGillis and Francois Bouchard are both representing NU with the Mannheim Eagles in Germany. McGillis has touched the ice in 634 NHL games, marking the most of any NU alumni. Below is a full list of Huskies in professional hockey in 2008-09:
• Mike Ryan (1999-03) – Carolina Hurricanes (NHL)
• Brad Thiessen (2006-09) – Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (AHL)
• Joe Vitale (2005-09) – Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (AHL)
• Dennis McCauley (2005-09) - Worcester Sharks (AHL)
• Louis Liotti (2005-09) - Worcester Sharks (AHL)
• Mike Morris (2002-07) – Worcester Sharks (AHL)
• Brian Deeth (2003-07) – Phoenix Roadrunners (ECHL)
• Bryan Esner (2003-07) – Gwinnet Gladiators (ECHL)
• Donny Grover (2001-05) – Bakersfield Condors (ECHL)
• Tim Judy (2001-05) – Trenton Devils (ECHL)
• Bryan Nathe (2001-03) – Wichita Thunder (CHL)
• Brian Swiniarski (2002-06) – Odessa Jackalopes (CHL)
• Ray Ortiz (2008-09) – Huntsville Havoc (SPHL)
• Chad Costello (2006-08) – Muskegon Lumberjacks (IHL)
• Steve Birnstill (2003-07) - Frederikshavn White Hawks  (Denmark)
• Matti Uusivirta (2005-06) – Blues (Finland)
• Jim Fahey (1998-02) – Krefeld Penguins (Germany)
• Francois Bouchard (1991-95) - Mannheim Eagles  (Germany)
• Dan McGillis (1992-96) – Mannheim Eagles (Germany)
• Jared Mudryk (2008-09) – Klostersee EHC (Germany)
• Jason Gurriero (2001-05) – Szekesfehervar Alba Volan (Hungary)
• Dino Grossi (1989-93) – Valpellice (Italy)

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