Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Perfect Cure for a Food Coma: Northeastern vs. Vermont Game Notes

Northeastern vs. Vermont
Northeastern welcomes Vermont one day after Thanksgiving in a pivotal Hockey East matchup. After getting outscored 11-3 against BC and Maine, the Huskies have responded over the last three games with two victories and a tie to settle with seven points in league play. The Catamounts are Hockey East’s newest foe, joining the conference prior to the 2005-06 season. Since Vermont rounded out HEA’s 10-team contingent, the Catamounts have enjoyed success against Northeastern with an 8-4-3 record. Northeastern dropped a 4-2 decision at Matthews Arena in the last meeting with UVM but rattled off two straight victories before that by a combined score of 8-4. Friday’s contest marks the third-straight meeting between NU and UVM at Matthews Arena. The last time the Huskies visited Burlington, Vt. was in the Hockey East quarterfinals from 3/14 – 3/16/08. Northeastern claimed the second game of the series in overtime, 2-1, in which Dennis McCauley provided the game-winner. Northeastern was overcome in the tiebreaker match-up, 4-1. Vermont and Northeastern skated in their 40th overall contest in the last engagement on Jan. 17, 2009; the lowest number of meetings between Northeastern and any other HEA constituent. The next closest school in which the Huskies have faced off against less is Massachusetts (64 times). Vermont leads the overall series, 15-21-4, while head coach Greg Cronin has compiled a 4-8-3 record against UVM. Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon has gone 5-7-5 against the Huskies as leader of Vermont.

The Vermont Scoop
Vermont is 4-5-1 through 10 games with a 3-4-1 mark in Hockey East play. Friday’s contest proves to be extremely pivotal for both teams as each club has seven points in the league for a three-way, fifth-place tie with Maine. The Catamounts signature win came in the first third of the season with a 6-4 victory at then-No. 1 Denver and then followed it up with a 4-1 triumph against Boston College, No. 12 in the land at that time. Vermont hit a snag following the two wins, losing at Merrimack, 5-2, and at Maine, 4-1. A tie at UMass Lowell (now No. 3 in the country) preceded a 3-0 blanking of Providence. Vermont suffered a 7-1 throttling at Boston College two Saturdays ago but responded with a 3-2 win the next night. Most recently, the Catamounts endured a 6-2 loss to UMass in front of a sellout crowd at Gutterson Fieldhouse on Tuesday evening (Nov. 24). For the Minutemen, James Marcou had a career high five assists and sophomore Casey Wellman recorded a hat trick as No. 9 Massachusetts defeated No. 18 Vermont. Fourth-year forward Brayden Irwin directs Vermont’s scoroing efforts with a team-best 10 points and club-high six assists. Irwin is also tied with junior Justin Milo for the team lead with four goals. The Catamounts offense seems to rally with Irwin’s presence on the ice as the senior leads UVM with a +7 plus/minus rating. Continuing with the trend, Irwin has also spent the most time in the penalty box, racking up 29 minutes on nine offenses. The Catamounts’ goaltenders have shared the duties through 11 games with sophomore Rob Madore earning the start seven times to senior Mike Spillane’s four. Madore is 2-4-1 with a 3.73 GAA and has accrued a save percentage of 87.9. Spillane rests at an 89.3 save clip with a 3.30 GAA and one shutout. Vermont looks to shake its 2-4 start away from Burlington by obtaining an early lead. The Catamounts are 4-1 with the lead heading into the third period.

Last Time out against Vermont
Vermont scored the first goal of the game at 18:37 in the first period. Defenseman Kevan Miller stopped the puck in the defensive zone and passed it to Viktor Stalberg, who took it all the way to the Northeastern goal line on the left side. He passed the puck into the slot and it went off a Northeastern defenseman and past Brad Thiessen to make it 1-0. Northeastern evened it up with Rob Rassey’s power-play goal at 16:31 in the second. Patrick Cullity was whistled for roughing at 13:43 and Miller was called for contact to the head-roughing at 15:08,setting up an NU five-on-three for 37 seconds. Northeastern didn’t score on that, but did score on the five-on-four. Wade MacLeod passed the puck from the left point to Ryan Ginand in the right circle. Ginand put a shot on net and David Strathman and Rassey both were in front for the rebound. Rassey put it in to make it 1-1. Vermont got the lead back just 15 seconds later when Kyle Medvec scored. Medvec’s shot hit a defender in front and bounced just inside the right post to make it 2-1 at 16:46. The Huskies were able to make it 2-2 on Mike McLaughlin’s first career goal. Vermont took a too many men penalty at 6:09, giving the Huskies an advantage. Alex Tuckerman passed the puck from the right circle to an open McLaughlin on the far side and McLaughlin put it in for the score at 6:19. Peter Lenes scored the game-winner for the Catamounts at 10:28 in the third period on a rebound to put the Catamounts ahead for good. Stalberg tacked on an empty netter at 19:29 to make it 4-2.

Huskies’ Leaders against Vermont
Junior captain Tyler McNeely (2-4-6) and senior David Strathman (1-5-6) have enjoyed the most points against Friday’s foe as each have tallied six. Alex Tuckerman has netted one goal and four assists when Vermont is on the ice while Steve Silva and Steve Quailer have each registered one tally and three helpers. Randy Guzior, Kyle Kraemer, Drew Muench and Wade MacLeod have all accounted for three points whereas Greg Costa, Jim Driscoll and Mike McLaughlin each made the scoring sheet once. McLaughlin’s first-career goal came against Vermont in the last outing.

Unbeaten in the Last Three

Despite a late Providence goal to tie Saturday’s game at 3-3, Northeastern is unbeaten in its last three games. Before the tie on Saturday, the Huskies clicked on all cylinders with a 4-1 triumph at home against the Friars. The weekend before, NU clipped Maine in the backend of a two-game series, 5-2. A combination of two consecutive wins and/or ties will match the five-game unbeaten streak the Huskies assembled from 2/20 – 3/6/09. Northeastern started last season on a six-game untarnished streak, including five-straight wins. Northeastern’s longest unbeaten streak in program history is 12 games. The Huskies ripped off 12 consecutive victories under head coach Fern Flaman to start the 1980-81 season. Greg Cronin nearly matched that streak in 2007-08 when NU was reluctant to lose a game in 11 trips, with two ties mixed in that stretch.

Powerplay on Point
Northeastern has managed to find the back of the net on the powerplay at least once in 10 of its 11 contests this season, including six in its last three outings. The Huskies have scored three powerplay goals twice this season, in both the 5-2 victory against Maine and the 3-2 win in the home opener against Bentley. In those last three games, five different skaters lit the lamp with the extra man, including Kyle Kraemer’s two tallies. Northeastern is currently 19th in the country with a 19.7 percent conversion rate. On 76 chances, the Huskies have pumped in 15 goals. Only nine other teams in the country have scored more than 15, as NU is tied with Michigan State for the 10th-most powerplay tallies in the country through 11 games. The only game Northeastern’s powerplay has not connected was against Boston College on Nov. 7.

Streaking Huskies
When it rains, it pours. Four Huskies are riding pointstreaks heading into Friday night’s tilt, directed by senior Kyle Kraemer’s red-hot five-game stretch with four goals and two assists. Kraemer’s spell is a career-best and a team-high. Newcomer Garrett Vermeersch has rediscovered his scoring touch with a goal and four assists spanning over the last four games. Sophomore Alex Tuckerman has dodged opposing defenses with two goals and an assist in his last three games while defenseman Jake Newton registered an assist in each of the last two Providence affairs. Freshman Drew Ellement had his three-game assist streak snapped on Saturday night in Providence. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native has only played in five-career games.

Kraemer Crushing It as of Late
Kyle Kraemer’s lone tally in a 5-1 loss at Boston College on Nov. 7 ignited something in the St. Louis native’s stick. Kraemer has notched six points in five games, including a three-goal scoring streak. Two of those tallies came via the powerplay. With his recent scoring spell, Kraemer (4-3-7) is now tied for first in goals and second in points with junior Wade MacLeod (4-3-7). The fourth-year forward also moved up the career charts, surpassing classmate David Strathman with 44-career points (16-28-44) for third place on the Huskies roster. Tyler McNeely is second on that list with 48 (22-26-48) while MacLeod leads with 69 points (29-40-69).

Greenhorn Governing the Way
Freshman Garrett Vermeersch has risen to the top of Northeastern’s scoring list with nine points (3-6-9), thanks to his recent four-game scoring streak. Two of his three tallies and five of his six assists have come on the powerplay, denoting that 77.8 percent of his output is generated with the extra skater. The Macomb, Mich. native is tied for seventh in conference-only action (0-5-5) with 0.71 ppg. Vermeersch is one of two incoming skaters in the conference to lead his club in scoring. Merrimack’s Stephane Da Costa has assembled a scoring line of 8-7-15 and is tied for third in the country, overall, in scoring with 1.67 ppg. Vermeersch is tied with four others in America at 0.90 ppg (T-100th).

Multi-Point Performers

Seven Huskies have chalked up a multi-point game this season as Wade MacLeod leads the charge with three under his belt. MacLeod’s most recent two-point outing was at home against Providence (1-1-2). Garrett Vermeersch has registered a pair of multi-point games, with his last coming at PC on 11/21/09 (1-1-2). Jake Newton (1-1-2), Kyle Kraemer (1-1-2), Steve Silva (1-1-2), Tyler McNeely (1-1-2) and Chris Donovan (1-2-3) have all notched one multi-point performance. Donovan’s three points at Colorado College (1-2-3) remains a team best.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Freshmen twin brothers, Justin and Drew Daniels, both recorded their first-career assist for Northeastern in a 3-3 tie at Providence on Nov. 21, but it was done so in unique fashion. Both twins earned credit on the help for senior Greg Costa’s first goal of the season, marking the first assist for both brothers on the same play. For Drew, the assist stood as his first-career point while Justin has potted two goals already this season. The Daniels brothers also finished with a +1 rating in that game.

Northeastern Iron Men
On a roster stacked with 28 skaters, only nine Huskies have managed to play in every game thus far. Of the newcomers, goaltender Chris Rawlings and defensemen Chris Student and Jake Newton are the only Huskies to have competed in every game since day one. Mike McLaughlin is the lone sophomore to have taken part in every fray while Steve Silva and Mike Hewkin represent the ironmen of the junior class. Seniors Kyle Kraemer, David Strathman and Greg Costa have donned the black in red in every contest this season, as well.

Costa Cashes In

Senior forward Greg Costa scored his first goal of the season, 15th overall in his career, at Providence. Costa became the last Husky to have skated in every game this year to score a point. Costa has tallied 32 points throughout his career (15-17-32).

Happy to be Home
Northeastern is 4-1 at Matthews Arena this season, dispatching Bentley, Boston University, Maine and Providence along the way. The Huskies have outscored their opponents within that time, 13-3. Last year, Northeastern went 12-3-2 at Matthews Arena, including a 2-1 record in a defeat of Massachusetts in the Hockey East quarterfinals.

Strong after the Second

Before skating to its first tie of the season, Northeastern was 3-0 after leading through the second period. The Huskies were ahead at Providence on Nov. 21, but the Friars added one goal in the third and Northeastern was unable to respond. The overtime session could not break the stalemate as NU is now 3-0-1 when leading through the first two periods.

Career Milestones

Alex Tuckerman participated in his 50th-career game at Northeastern while Greg Cronin earned his 20th-career tie while at Northeastern. The Providence tie also marked his 20th-tie, overall in his career, throughout Hockey East play. Friday’s game at Vermont denotes Steve Silva’s 75th-career game while Wade MacLeod’s next goal or assist acts as his 70th-career point. Also, the next powerplay goal scored by any Husky will count as the 50th-total powerplay goal for the current roster.

Plus/Minus Performance
Two current Huskies own a +2 plus/minus rating in Robbie Vrolyk and Jim Driscoll (injured) while Garrett Vermeersch is +1 through this weekend.

The First 20 Minutes are Almost Over
It’s hard to believe that the Huskies are almost one-third of the way through their regular-season schedule. Northeastern has completed 11 of its 34 regular season games. Through those first 11 games, Northeastern is sitting at .500 with seven points in the Hockey East standings.

Missing Brooms

There were three more league series this past weekend and still no one has been able to complete a full sweep. Northeastern (home and home with Providence), Boston College (at Maine), and New Hampshire (home and home with BU) came close, each garnering three points in their respective series. Only two such series remain before the New Year: on the December 4-5 weekend, Providence visits Maine for two and Northeastern and Merrimack have a home and home series.

Full of Firsts
Sophomore forward Matt Lipinski found the back of the net for the first time in his seventh-collegiate game  on Nov. 14 while rookie Drew Ellement assisted on his classmate Justin Daniels’ goal on Nov. 13 against Maine for his first point with Northeastern. Ellement took the liberty of composing a three-game pointstreak with two more assists. Senior Dylan Wiwchar, seeing his first action since Nov. 28, 2008 against Princeton, registered his second-career assist on Nov. 13 against Maine. In fact, both of Wiwchar’s career points have come against the Black Bears. Rookie Robbie Vrolyk secured his first-collegiate powerplay goal in the 5-2 win on Nov. 14 while Tyler McNeely recorded his first assist of the season on David Strathman’s short-handed tally.

Periodic Performances
In the four games prior to the 5-2 victory against Maine in which the opponent scored first, the Huskies were not able to rebound from the early deficit and 0-4 in those instances. Saturday’s victory marks the first time in which NU was able to shake off the first surrendered goal and come back to claim victory. The Huskies have also won both games when they are tied with their opponent heading into the final period of play.

Handicapped Scoring
David Strathman scored Northeastern’s first short-handed goal of the season in the victory over Maine on Nov. 14 – it was also the senior’s first man-down tally of his career. The last time the Huskies pounced on the penalty kill was on March 13, 2009 when Wade MacLeod scored one against Massachusetts.

Scoring Breakdown

As it has been for most of the season, the rookie classis directing the scoring efforts for Northeastern.  The freshmen have accounted for 17 (8-17-25) of NU’s 74 total points while the juniors sit right behind with 20 points (9-11-20). The seniors have notched 19 points (7-12-19) while the sophomores have contributed 10 points (4-6-10). The freshmen scoring efforts comprises 33.8 percent of the effort while the junior’s number is at 27.0 percent. The seniors and sophomores make up 25.7 percent and 13.5 percent, in that order.

Cutting It Close

Northeastern has found a way to win all three of its one-goal games this season. The Huskies started off the narrow margins of victory at Colorado College with a 4-3 win for the first triumph of the season. Senior Chris Donovan was given credit for the game-winner. In the home opener against Bentley, the Huskies prevailed, 3-2, thanks to junior Steve Silva’s timely tally. NU’s points leader, Wade MacLeod (3-2-5), scored the game’s only goal in powerplay fashion in front of a raucous crowd against BU.

Rawlings Most Targeted Rookie in the Country

Northeastern’s starting goaltender, Chris Rawlings, currently owns a save percentage of .915 (30th in the country) and a 2.94 GAA (45th in the nation). Rawlings most impressive number is the massive amounts of shots he’s faced compared to the other 80 goaltenders in Division I hockey. The North Delta, B.C. native has made 344 saves, which is the seventh most of any netminder this year. Out of the top seven, Rawlings is the lone freshman on that list, making him the most targeted rookie in the nation. Junior Brian Mahoney-Wilson of Lake Superior State has blocked a national-high 377 attempts.

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