Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Northeastern vs. Maine
Saturday’s contest in Orono marks the final regular season contest between Northeastern and Maine. The Huskies have not ventured to Alfond Arena since the weekend of Oct. 24-25, 2008 where Northeastern swept the Black Bears by respective counts of 5-0 and 2-1. Northeastern’s success in Orono dates back to two seasons ago when the Huskies walloped Maine, 7-3, on Jan. 4, 2008. Lopsided games have presided in recent history throughout this series, particularly this year when Northeastern and Maine met at Matthews Arena in mid-November. Aside from the 2-1 victory on Oct. 25, 2008, the only close game in the last six was last year’s overtime contest on Dec. 5, 2008 when Louis Liotti sealed the deal in 2:29 of overtime. This year, Maine marched into Matthews Arena on Nov. 13 and put a six-spot on the board, marking the most goals Northeastern has surrendered this season. The Huskies responded the next night with a 5-2 victory in which 10 different NU skaters tallied one point in the win. The 6-2 loss on Nov. 13 represented the 100th game between these two institutions, as the Black Bears own a 49-37-15 overall record over Northeastern. Not only will Saturday’s match-up act as the rubber match for the three-game league series, but will break a 5-5 tie over the course of the last five games. The Huskies make the voyage to the Pine Tree State with a 16-23-9 regular season record at Alfond Arena. Greg Cronin revisits familiar territory as NU’s coach had three stints with the Black Bears, including interim head coach for the 1995-96 season. Since taking over on Huntington Ave., Cronin is 6-9-0 against his old club while Maine’s skipper, Tim Whitehead, is 8-8-11 all-time against the Huskies.

Black Bears Beat

Since giving up three powerplay goals in a 5-2 loss to Northeastern on Nov. 14, Maine has surged to a 4-1-1 record and is now receiving eight votes in this week’s latest USCHO.com poll. After the two-game stint in Boston, Maine hosted Boston College on Nov. 20-21, losing the first game, 4-3, and tying in the backend, 3-3. Since then, Maine has won its last four contests, outscoring its opponents by a 15-goal margin, 19-4. The large gap in goal differential can be attributed to a 10-1 rout of St. Lawrence on Nov. 28 at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. Brian Flynn had two goals and three assists while Tanner House chipped in with two goals and two assists. Robby Dee contributed two goals and an assist, while Gustav Nyquist chalked up four points with a goal and three assists. Maine also won on the road at UMass Lowell before sweeping Providence at home. In those three Hockey East victories, Maine won each game by a 3-1 final. With its recent winning spell, Maine has mounted the Hockey East standings and is currently alone in third place, one point behind Boston College and three points behind New Hampshire. Gustav Nyquist continues to avoid a sophomore slump as the second-year forward has taken charge for Maine, scoring a team-best 11 goals and 13 assists, totaling 24 points. Nyquist’s 1.50 points per game is currently tied for fifth best in the country and second in Hockey East behind Massachusetts’ James Marcou (5-20-25). Maine’s nucleus of sophomores follows closely behind Brian Flynn has registered 16 points (4-12-16) while Spencer Abbott (4-9-13) and Will O’Neill (4-9-13) have accounted for 13 points apiece. Junior Tanner House is tied with rookie Adam Shemansky for second in goal scoring with seven tallies. Second-year netminder Scott Darling has started 13-of-16 games, earning an 8-3-1 record, allowing 2.59 goals per game with a .909 save percentage. Darling has surrendered 32 goals in 14 games played. In Maine’s four-game winning streak, Darling has stopped 91-of-95 shots he’s faced.

Last Time out against Maine
Northeastern’s powerplay unit erupted for three goals on eight chances in a 5-2 victory against Maine in front of 4,323 at Matthews Arena on Homecoming weekend. Despite Maine outshooting Northeastern by one attempt, the Huskies tied a season-best 35 shots on net to create their numerous scoring opportunities throughout the evening. Ten different Huskies notched a point in the 5-2 throttling, also tying a season-high. Senior Kyle Kraemer notched his first powerplay goal since March 20, 2009 against UMass Lowell while sophomore Matt Lipinski made his way into the NU annals in his seventh-career game by netting Northeastern’s final goal of the game in powerplay fashion. The first 40 minutes of action was virtually deadlocked across the board. Both teams registered 15 and 10 shots, respectively, in the first and second periods and were pitted with a 1-1 stalemate heading into the third period, but the final stanza had a season-high four goals in store for the Huskies. Maine drew first blood when Mike Banwell redirected a blast from Kyle Beattie in front on NU netminder Chris Rawlings at 15:34 of the second for the 1-0 edge, but newcomer Robbie Vrolyk quickly erased the deficit with a beautiful one-time goal from the stick of classmate Drew Ellement at 17:49. Right before the second concluded, Vrolyk was called for obstruction interference at 19:36, giving the Black Bears the powerplay at the beginning of the third. Senior defenseman David Strathman had other thoughts as he hampered MU’s attempt by breaking up a play low in Northeastern’s zone. Strathman cleared the puck to junior Tyler McNeely in the slot who then redistributed to Strathman on the far post. The senior blue liner faked out front of the crease, coaxing Scott Darling to his knees for the empty-netter at 1:12. Flynn locked it up 7:38 with a wrister over Rawlings glove after freshman Chris Student was sent away for intereference at 6:49, but Tuckerman’s tenacity yielded the game-winning goal at 8:34. Tuckerman stole the puck at NU’s blue line, dodged his way by one Maine defender and let loose a rifle of a wrist shot right in front of Flynn as it sailed past Darling for the unassisted goal. The Huskies piled on by taking advantage of a 5 x 3 opportunity offered at 11:13 of the third as NU was given 1:13 of a two-man edge. Seven seconds into the 5 x 3, freshman Garrett Vermeersch let a rocket go from the top-left point after a feed from Steve Silva, but Darling made the initial block. Kraemer charged in from the slot, corralled the puck and lifted it in. As an added bonus, Lipinski cashed in on the second powerplay offering with a pinpoint wrist shot from the slot after junior Mike Hewkin dished out his third assist in four games at 13:10 for the 5-2 win.

Huskies’ Leaders against the Black Bears
Of Northeastern’s 25 skaters, excluding its three goaltenders, 19 of the Huskies have scored against Maine in their careers. Junior Wade MacLeod’s three goals and five assists (3-5-8) leads all NU players while classmate and captain Tyler McNeely has scored six points (2-4-6) in 10 games. Seniors Greg Costa (3-2-5) and Kyle Kraemer (1-4-5) have tallied five points in 10 games while classmates Randy Guzior (3-1-4) and David Strathman (2-2-4) have accounted for four, apiece. Fourth-year blueliner Jim Driscoll (0-3-3), junior Steve Silva (1-2-3) and sophomore Alex Tuckerman (2-1-3) represent three points against the Black Bears while five Huskies have tallied two points, including Mike Hewkin (1-1-2), Steve Quailer (0-2-2), Dyland Wiwchar (0-2-2), Drew Ellement (0-2-2) and Garrett Vermeersch (0-2-2). Chris Donovan (1-0-1), Justin Daniels (1-0-1), Robbie Vrolyk (1-0-1), Matt Lipinski (1-0-1) and Drew Muench (0-1-1) have all scored one point in the Maine series.

King of the Mountain
The month of December got off to an interesting onset, as freshman goaltender Chris Rawlings was a game-time decision to not play at Merrimack on Dec. 4. Rawlings, who started every game for the Huskies this season, was scratched due to a minor injury that occurred earlier in the week. Classmate Bryan Mountain was informed he was to start his first collegiate game, on the road, about 15 minutes prior to puck drop. The Bryn Mawr, Pa. native lost his first start at Merrimack, 3-1, turning aside 14 shots on 17 attempts on Friday night. In a more familiar setting, Mountain was opted for over Rawlings at Matthews Arena, and this time, the freshman goaltender exuded a great confidence that guided the Huskies to a much-needed victory over Merrimack, 2-1. Rawlings stopped 24-of-25 blasts that came his way to earn his first collegiate victory on Dec. 5, 2009. The last time two different goaltenders earned a decision in the same season for Northeastern was the 2007-08 campaign when Mike Binnington was dealt the loss in favor of Brad Thiessen. The Huskies lost, 5-2, at Providence. In 2008-09, Thiessen started every contest for NU.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Senior Kyle Kraemer had manufactured a seven-game pointstreak, stretching from Nov. 7 to Dec. 4. Kraemer’s seven-game stint was the longest-career pointstreak of any current skater on the Huskies’ roster. The St. Louis native got his streak underway with a goal at Boston College and backed it up with a helper and tally in the respective Maine games. Against Providence, Kraemer posted his first two-point performance with a goal and an assist and then sent in a powerplay tally at Providence. Kraemer continued his success against Vermont with another goal before sealing the pointstreak with a helper at Merrimack. Within the seven-game stretch, Kraemer had a four-game goal-scoring streak, also marking a career-high amongst any current Huskies’ icers. The next longest pointstreak on Northeastern’s roster was Alex Tuckerman’s six-game spurt in his rookie campaign last year. His scoring sequence lasted six straight contests. Kraemer accounted for eight points in that seven-game run and he is currently tied with Wade MacLeod for the second-most points on the club (5-4-9). Kraemer is tied for 16th in Hockey East with 0.36 goals per game.

Strathman to the Rescue

Senior defenseman David Strathman registered his 10th-career goal on Saturday and it could not have come at a better time. Strathman buried the game-winning tally in a much-needed win for the Huskies as NU defeated Merrimack, 2-1. The defenseman’s goal marked his second-career game-winning goal, but interestingly enough, they’ve been against the same opponent. Strathman’s other game-clinching goal also came against Merrimack when the Huskies shutout the Warriors, 3-0, on Jan. 2, 2008. To cap it off, the Tempe, Ariz. native finished the Merrimack weekend with a +2 rating.

No Powerplay, No Problem
Northeastern’s powerplay unit has not been as productive as it was earlier in the year, evidenced by NU going 0-10 with the extra man against Merrimack. Despite that figure, Northeastern’s 2-1 victory against Merrimack marked the Huskies first win of the season in which they were shutout on the poweplay. The Huskies have potted a powerplay goal in 11 of their 14 contests.

Score First, Win Later
Of the six games in which Northeastern has scored first, the Huskies have come away with four victories. The Boston College (5-1, L) and Providence (3-3, T) games were the only two outings Northeastern did not win when drawing first blood. Northeastern’s victories in which it attacked the scoreboard first came against Colorado College (4-3, Oct. 10), Boston University (1-0, Nov. 6) and Providence (4-1, Nov. 20).

Clutch When It Counts
Northeastern has gone into the third period tied with its opponent on three occasions this year. In all three instances, the Huskies emerged victoriously. The first triumph came against Boston University as both squads skated to a scoreless 40 minutes before Wade MacLeod lit the lamp to dash BU’s bid. In the Maine victory, the Huskies erupted for three third-period tallies as NU and MU were locked at 1-1 heading into the final stanza. The most recent occurrence happened against Merrimack as both squads opened the third period owning one goal. David Strathman ended the drama with his second-career game winner.

The two-game Merrimack set was Northeastern’s fourth series of the season. In the backend of each set, the Huskies have yet to relinquish a decision. Northeastern beat Colorado College (4-3) Maine (5-2), and Merrimack (2-1). The only game NU did not win in the second game was a tie at Providence (3-3).

November Recap

NU went through a rollercoaster of emotion in the month of November, but the whole ride evened out with a 3-3-1 record (.500). November started off with a mountain of thrills against its arch-rival, Boston University. In front of a flawless performance by rookie goaltender Chris Rawlings, NU claimed its first Hockey East victory of the season against the seventh-ranked Terriers, 1-0, in front of a sellout crowd of 4,666. Rawlings becomes the Huskies’ second-ever netminder to shut out Boston University and the Huskies can stake their claim to ending BU’s five-year run of not being shutout on the road. Friday night’s triumph marks NU’s first win over its Commonwealth Ave. foe since Feb. 28, 2007. The rollercoaster came to a screeching halt due to a 5-1 loss at Boston College the following night. Kyle Kraemer scored his first goal of the season in Chestnut Hill, igniting a current six-game pointstreak, but NU’s six-game powerplay scorintg streak was snapped in the setback. A two-game home series against Maine started off with a 6-2 loss on Nov.13, but freshman Drew Ellement and senior Dylan Wiwchar earned their first and second-career points, respectively, on Justin Daniels’ second-career tally. The Huskies were cited for 38 penalty minutes in the stumble. Northeastern responded with a 5-2 triumph against the Black Bears as the powerplay unit erupted for three goals on eight chances. A season-best 10 different Huskies notched a point in the 5-2 throttling, including sophomore Matt Lipinski’s first-career goal in powerplay fashion to cap NU’s scoring. Senior David Strathman pounced on the penalty kill, scoring Northeastern’s only shorthanded goal of the season to this point. NU climbed back to .500 with a 4-1 win over Providence at Matthews Arena on Nov. 20. In the rematch at Providence, Northeastern squandered a 3-2 lead to the Friars and earned its first draw of the year, 3-3, on Nov. 21. Senior Greg Costa scored his first goal of the season, 15th of his career, with help from freshmen brothers Drew and Justin Daniels. It was Drew Daniels’ first-career point and marks the first time this season the sibling connection recorded a point on the same play. In the final game of November, the Huskies endured a tough 3-2 loss on Nov. 27 to Vermont at home, 3-2. Despite the loss, Kraemer extending his goal-scoring streak to four games and overall pointstreak to six. Sophomore blueliner Drew Muench turned in his first-career two-assist game. The last time Muench secured a pair of points was a two-goal effort against Vermont on Jan. 19, 2008. The Catamounts jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the initial period. The Huskies answered twice to cut it to one on two occasions, but David Pacan’s lamplighter at 10:10 of the second proved to be the game winner.

Kraemer Tapped as Student-Athlete of the Week
On Nov. 24, Kraemer was selected as Northeastern’s Student-Athlete of the Week after registering three points, including one powerplay goal, in a weekend series against Providence. Kraemer was the first delegate of the men’s hockey team to surface as the Northeastern Student-Athlete of the Week.

Restrained Huskies
Ever since Northeastern’s 38 penalty minute-outburst against Maine on Nov. 13, the Huskies have been more weary of racking up penalty minutes; particularly in its game against Vermont.  Freshman Drew Ellement’s hooking call at 8:19 of the first period was the only violation Northeastern was cited for. Friday night’s rare occurrence was the first time Northeastern was whistled for only one penalty since Jonathan Koop was called for obstruction interference at 16:36 of the first period in a 2-1 loss at UMass Lowell on Jan. 8, 2005. In its first game of the year, Northeastern gave Colorado College only two powerplay chances on Oct. 9. In the last four seasons, NU has been called for two penalties on only four occasions: UMass (2/15/08), Merrimack (1/11/08), Colgate (12/29/07) and Providence (9/14/06).

Defensively Minded
Although the Huskies have endured some pitfalls offensively this year, it’s Northeastern’s defense that has kept NU right around the .500 mark. Northeastern is tied for fourth with Massachusetts in scoring defense, surrendering only 2.86 goals per game. That mark is also tied for 28th in the country. Only UMass Lowell (2.47), Providence (2.60) and Boston College (2.77) have given up less goals through the first third of the season.

Maley Makes His Way Back
Sophomore J.P. Maley saw the ice for the first time against Vermont this season since registering an assist on Louis Liotti’s goal in the NCAA quarterfinal matchup against Cornell on March 28, 2009. Maley did not record a point, but blocked a team-best three shots against the Catamounts. Maley’s first-career goal came in the last game against Merrimack on Feb. 6, 2009.

Muench Dishes It Out
Sophomore Drew Muench turned in his first-career two-assist game against Vermont on Nov. 27. The only other multi-point game Muench registered was a pair of goals the last time NU faced the Catamounts on Jan. 19, 2008. The Martensville, Saskatchewan native is tied for T-32nd with 0.50 points per game amongst all HEA defensemen.

MacLeod Makes His Way to 100

Junior Wade MacLeod leads all Huskies in current career points as the Coquitlam, B.C. just broke the 70-point plateau with his 42st assist against Merrimack. MacLeod now has 71 career points. Only five others in Hockey East have the inside track to MacLeod in the race to 100 points, Ben Smith (BC 98 pts.), Bobby Butler (UNH 90 pts.), Nick Bonino (BU 88 pts.), Kory Falite (UML 84 pts.) and Joe Whitney (BC 75 pts.).

Newton Notches Four-Game Streak
Freshman defensman Jake Newton crafted a four-game pointstreak from Nov. 20  - Dec 4, capped by his second collegiate goal at Merrimack. Newton’s streak was ended at home against the Warriors, but is tied for 16th amongst defensemen in Hockey East with 0.50 points per game.

Greenhorn Governing the Way

Freshman Garrett Vermeersch has risen to the top of Northeastern’s scoring list with 10 points (4-6-9), thanks to his fourth goal of the seasona against Merrimack and a recent four-game scoring streak. Two of his four tallies and five of his six assists have come on the powerplay, denoting that 70.0 percent of his output is generated with the extra skater. The Macomb, Mich. native is tied for 17th in the NCAA and third amongst freshmen in the Hockey East with 0.77 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 8-10-18 and is tied for fifth in the country, overall, in scoring with 1.50 ppg.

Multi-Point Performers
Eight 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), Drew Muench (0-2-2) 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 seven Huskies have managed to play in every game thus far. Of the newcomers, 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 is the sole ironman delegate 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 on Nov. 21. 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 5-2 at Matthews Arena this season, dispatching Bentley, Boston University, Maine, Providence and Merrimack along the way. The Huskies have outscored their opponents within those wins, 15-4. 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.

Career Milestones
Saturday’s game marks Kyle Kraemer’s 100th-career game while Drew Muench will have skated in his 50th tilt for the Huskies. Steve Silva skated in his 75th-career contest against Vermont on Nov. 27 while Wade MacLeod registered his 70th-career point that same night. In the Providence tie 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. Also, the next powerplay goal scored by any Husky will count as the 50th-total powerplay goal for the current roster.

Plus/Minus Performance

Five current Huskies own a positive plus/minus rating through 12 games. Garrett Vermeersch leads with a +3 rating while Jim Driscoll has remained at +2 despite being injured. Alex Tuckerman, David Strathman and Drew Muench are the other current Huskies to own positive ratings.

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