Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Northeastern and UMass-Lowell to Reunite on NESN

Northeastern vs. UMass Lowell
If Saturday night’s matchup at Matthews Arena looks familiar, it’s because these two clubs just faced off six nights ago in the championship game of the Ledyard National Bank Classic in Hanover, N.H. Northeastern eked out a hard-fought, 2-1 battle on Jan. 3 at Thompson Arena (Dartmouth College’s home ice) thanks to newcomer Jake Newton’s game-winning powerplay goal at 16:25 of the third period. Back on Oct. 24, UMass Lowell dealt the Huskies a 3-1 loss at Tsongas Arena as Riley Wetmore, David Vallorani and Paul Worthington all tallied goals. Junior captain Tyler McNeely notched NU’s lone goal in powerplay fashion. Last Sunday’s championship contest did not count towards Hockey East standings, but with each club taking a game off the other, the last regular season encounter between these two clubs will act as the tiebreaker for the regular-season series advantage. Although UMass Lowell owns a 52-35-7 advantage in the overall series, Northeastern has enjoyed some recent success against the River Hawks within the confines of Matthews Arena. In the last five games between the two squads staged on Saint Botolph St., the Huskies have emerged victoriously in four decisions. The last playoff bout between NU and UML poses a different scenario; one in which the Huskies have yet to forget. On March 20, 2009, Northeastern had its foot on the River Hawks throat with a 2-0 lead midway through the second period of the Hockey East semifinal matchup at the TD Garden. UMass Lowell responded with two goals in regulation while Chris Auger delivered the dagger at the 3:00-minute mark of overtime to upset the Huskies’ memorable run in 2008-09. Northeastern head coach Greg Cronin has assembled an 11-8-1 mark against UMass Lowell while UML’s Blaise MacDonald is 14-13-3 against the Huskies.

River Hawks Report
Despite a Huskies’ victory last Sunday, UMass Lowell is still maintaining a presence in both polls as the River Hawks rest at #14 in both the USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey polls released on Jan. 4. UML’s season has gone in waves, winning three of its first four contests, ousting St. Lawrence (3-0), Colgate (5-3) and Northeastern (3-1) with a loss to Nebraska-Omaha (4-3) mixed in. A split with BU preceded a 3-3 tie at Vermont before the River Hawks went on a four-game tear, taking out New Hampshire, Alabama-Huntsville and Merrimack with a combined score of 19-7. The small winning streak elicited a three game losing spell to the likes of Providence, Maine and New Hampshire. Before the Ledyard National Bank Classic, UML beat UMass (5-2) and split with Princeton (4-1 and 2-3). The River Hawks shutout Holy Cross, 3-0, marking their third shutout of the season in the first round of the tourney at Dartmouth. Defenseman Nick Schaus leads all defensive skaters in Hockey East with 1.12 points per game (4-15-19) and is tied with Maine’s Brian Flynn for sixth, overall, in the conference and owns an impressive +13 rating. David Vallorani is second on the club with 17 points (7-10-17) while Kory Falite leads UML with 10 goals, 16 points in all. The UMass Lowell defense is currently tops in the league, allowing a conference-low 2.26 goals per game. Much of the credit can be given to goaltender Carter Hutton who leads Hockey East in goals against average (1.92) and save percentage (.934).

Last Time Out against UMass Lowell
Rookie Jake Newton’s late third period goal propelled the Northeastern hockey team to claim the National Ledyard Bank Classic title with a 2-1 victory over #14/12 UMass Lowell on Sunday night at Thompson Arena in Hanover, N.H. UMass Lowell controlled the early portion of the first period by maintaining an offensive presence, but an interference penalty to Michael Budd yielded a powerplay goal for the Huskies at 9:15 of the first period. A textbook tic-tac-toe tally was engineered on freshman Garrett Vermeersch’s fake from the point. Vermeersch deked out his pursuer and sent the puck over to junior Wade MacLeod on the low post. MacLeod offered a quick head fake and doled out the puck to a wide-open Tuckerman who sent it past Carter Hutton with ease for the quick 1-0 lead. UMass Lowell sewed it up at the 1:45 mark of the second period as Kory Falite was able to bat a loose rebound from David Vallorani’s initial shot. Falite’s stick may have crossed the plane above the shoulders on his attempt, negating the tally, but the officials let the goal stand, sending both squads into the locker room deadlocked at 1-1 heading into the third period. Each team sent a couple jolts in the second stanza, starting with a UML breakaway. Rawlings snuffed out the River Hawks’ charge as MacLeod broke up a play a couple moments later and honed in on Hutton. MacLeod made two fakes before Hutton poke-checked the puck away. Neither team seemed to take control of the game at the turn of the third period until Vallorani rang one off the crossbar near the 9:30 mark. Vallorani skated in unattested and sent it into the rafters after the puck sailed off the pipe. Budd’s boarding call 15:25 into the final frame acted as the catalyst for the Huskies’ victory. Halfway into the powerplay, senior Kyle Kraemer snapped the puck out of NU’s zone up to classmate David Strathman. Newton accepted a pass along the near boards and motored down the left side, almost overshooting his target, but the rookie unleashed a shot parallel with the post and drew the lucky bounce off of Hutton’s blocker for the game-winner, 2-1.

Huskies Leaders against UMass Lowell
Junior Wade MacLeod directs all Huskies with eight points against UMass-Lowell while David Strathman has tallied seven points in nine games against the River Hawks. Greg Costa, Kyle Kraemer and Steve Silva have all totaled five points against UML whereas Randy Guzior and Chris Donovan have notched four points. Mike McLaughlin and Tyler McNeely have put up three points against UMass-Lowell and Jim Driscoll, Alex Tuckerman and Jake Newton each own two points. Garrett Vermeersch landed his first point with an assist against UML on Jan. 3.

Ledyard National Bank Classic Recap
In winning the Ledyard National Bank Classic, Northeastern picked up its first tournament win since claiming the Badger Showdown on Dec. 28-29, 2008. The Huskies clipped Bowling Green, 4-3, in the first round and claimed the title with a 2-1 triumph against Colgate. On Jan. 2-3, Northeastern won two straight to capture one of six holiday tournaments in Division I action. In the first contest, NU matched up with tournament-host Dartmouth and made a statement by hanging seven goals on the Big Green while the defense smothered DC’s offense to post the second shutout of the season. Seven different skaters lit the lamp as the Huskies’ posted a season-best 20 points in the game. Northeastern also registered a season-best 42 shots on target. The Huskies met up with UMass-Lowell in a non-conference championship bout after the River Hawks routed Holy Cross, 3-0. Even though UML outshot Northeastern, 16-7, in the second stanza, Alex Tuckerman and Jake Newton’s powerplay tallies proved to be enough to take home the trophy with a 2-1 victory.

To the Victor Go the Spoils
Northeastern’s championship victory yielded three post-tournament awards, including two National Ledyard Bank Classic All-Tournament members and the Tournament MVP. Freshman Chris Rawlings stopped all 32 shots in his second-career shutout against Dartmouth and backed up the performance with a 28-save outing in the championship game, anchoring Northeastern’s defense for the victory. The last freshman goaltender for Northeastern to record a pair of shutouts was Brad Thiessen, as he pitched four his rookie campaign (2006-07). Sophomore Alex Tuckerman and freshman Jake Newton displayed sound performances, each recording two goals and an assist over the course of the tournament, bearing All-Tournament honors. Tuckerman logged a 5 x 3 powerplay tally against Dartmouth while Newton piled on for the last goal of the game in even-strength fashion. Both skaters registered assists in the game as well, as Tuckerman and Newton recorded their third and second-career multi-point efforts, respectively, against the Big Green. In the championship game, Tuckerman potted his second powerplay blast to open the scoring while Newton delivered the game-winning goal with the extra skater.

Seven-Goal Surplus
Northeastern’s seven-goal trouncing of Dartmouth marks the largest margin of victory under Greg Cronin’s tenure. The last time NU hit the seven-goal plateau was a 7-3 win at Maine on Jan. 4, 2008. The first time NU touched upon seven tallies under Cronin was a 7-2 victory over Holy Cross on Dec. 30, 2006. The Huskies’ seven-goal win is the largest margin of victory since NU flattened UConn, 10-1, on Oct. 11, 2002.

Three-Point Club
Five Huskies tallied three points at the Ledyard National Bank Classic. Jake Newton and Alex Tuckerman directed the goal scoring with two apiece while both of Tuckerman’s tallies came via the powerplay. Newton delivered the heroics with the tournament-winning powerplay blast with a goal and an assist against DC. Senior Kyle Kraemer and junior Wade MacLeod each recorded a goal and two assists while senior blueliner David Strathman chalked up a trifecta of helpers in two games.

Rawlings Rewarded

Chris Rawlings was named the Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week as announced by the Hockey East league office on Jan. 4 for his impressive play at Dartmouth. The North Delta, British Columbia native won both contests, make a combined total of 60 stops and surrendered just one goal throughout the entire tournament. The honor marked the second award for Northeastern’s rookie netminder. Rawlings was tapped Rookie of the Week on Nov. 9, 2009 after attaining his first-ever shutout against Boston University, stopping a career-best 43 shots in a 1-0 victory. After allowing just one goal in 119:56 minutes this weekend, Rawlings lowered his goals against average to 2.76. Rawlings has stopped 443 of the 483 total shots he’s faced this season, totaling a .917 save percentage. Amongst Hockey East company, the rookie is third in save percentage (.917), better than nine other goalies in the conference. Rawlings’ goals against average (2.76) currently ranks fifth.

Get Tuck the Puck
Out of the nine games Alex Tuckerman has registered a point in, the Huskies have gone on to win seven of those occasions. NU is also 3-0 when Tuckerman assembles a positive plus/minus rating. Tuckerman is currently tied for third on the team with 10 points, including five goals and five assists. Tuckerman is also the team’s penalty minutes leader, as the Orleans, Mass. native has been whistled 11 times for 41 minutes.

Trimming the Ivy
Under Greg Cronin’s tenure, Northeastern has played Ivy league members only seven times, including Harvard in the Beanpot twice. Northeastern increased its record to 3-4 against Ivy league schools after ousting Dartmouth on Jan. 2. The win marked the Huskies’ first win over an Ivy league competitor since defeating Brown, 4-3, on Nov. 30, 2007.

Scoring Schematics

Northeastern’s style of play is represented in its scoring trends. Once the Huskies obtain a lead, they don’t like to relinquish it. When leading after the first period, Northeastern is 3-0 and when tied heading into the final period, Northeastern has won all four episodes. When owning a lead heading into the third, the Huskies are 4-0-1. When Northeastern lights the lamp first, the Huskies are 6-1-1. In one-goal affairs, the Huskies have won five-of-six tilts.

Powerplay Perpetrators

The Huskies have tallied two powerplay goals in back-to-back occasions twice thus far. The first time Robbie Vrolyk, Kyle Kraemer and Matt Lipinski all potted powerplay goals in a 5-2 win over Maine (Nov. 14) followed by McNeely and Tuckerman’s extra-man markers in a 4-1 victory against Providence (Nov. 20). Most recently, Northeastern put away a pair of powerplay tallies in both the Dartmouth and UMass-Lowell games at the Ledyard National Bank Classic. Tuckerman and McNeely turned the trick again against Dartmouth while Tuckerman and Newton’s goals stood enough to earn the victory.

Powerplay Game-Winners
Northeastern has registered three-game winning goals with the extra-man advantage. Junior Steve Silva scored the NU’s third goal in a 3-2 win over Bentley in the home opener while Wade MacLeod offered up the lone tally in the 1-0 win over Boston University on Nov. 6. Jake Newton’s powerplay rip against UMass-Lowell on Jan. 3 stands as the third powerplay goal to stand as a game-winner.

Huskies Amongst the Elite

Tyler McNeely leads Northeastern with four powerplay goals on the year, 0.25 per game. McNeely’s figure is tied for 35th in the nation and tied for fifth in Hockey East play. Jake Newton’s three-point weekend thrust him up the defensive scoring charts as the rookie is now tied for 44th in the nation amongst defensemen with 0.59 points per game. Newton is also tied for 34th in the country amongst rookies, T-fourth in the conference. Classmate Garrett Vermeersch is tied for 18th in the land with 0.75 points per game. Vermeersch’s mark stands third-best amongst all newcomers in Hockey East.

Doing It Defensively
Northeastern’s blue-collar brand of hockey is centered on keeping the puck out of the net. The Huskies have executed that notion and are currently tied for second in the league with Providence in scoring defense, surrendering only 2.71 goals per game. NU’s opponent on Saturday, UMass-Lowell, is tops in Hockey East, allowing 2.26 goals per game.

Double-Digit Scoring
Five Huskies have tabulated 10 points or more thus far. Kyle Kraemer leads the way with 13 points (6-7-13) while Wade MacLeod (5-7-12) and Garrett Vermeersch (5-7-12) have totaled 12 points. Alex Tuckerman (5-5-10) and Jake Newton (4-6-10) became the newest members of the double-digits scoring club as both have registered 10 points.

A Review of the Aughts (2000s)
Northeastern’s first game of the last decade came on Jan. 7, 2000 when the Huskies overcame Massachusetts in overtime, 2-1. The final game of the decade was a 5-1 loss at Maine on Dec. 12, 2009. Including those two contests, along with the 360 games sandwiched in between, the Huskies compiled a record of 135-182-45 in the first decade of the 21st century. NU’s winning percentage over that span equaled 43.5 percent. The Huskies best overall, complete season record last decade was the 2008-09 campaign when NU tied a school-record and went 25-12-4 under Greg Cronin. In Cronin’s first season, the Huskies finished with a record of 3-24-7, indicating what kind of direction he has the program set for in the future. Northeastern’s longest winning streak from 2000-2009 was five games, occurring twice from Dec. 6, 2003 – Jan. 3, 2004 and Oct. 11 – Oct. 25, 2008. Mike Ryan (1999-2003), currently of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, was NU’s leading scorer of the decade with 113 total points. Ryan’s 24 goals in 2001-02 also stand as the highest total in the last 10 years.

Ringing in the New Year with a Bang
Northeastern has learned to utilize the holiday break over the course of its history as the Huskies have amassed a 43-29-2 record (59.5 percent) in the first game of a new year. In the first game of a new decade, Northeastern has gone 2-5-1.

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Senior Kyle Kraemer 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. Kraemer accounted for eight points in that seven-game run and he is currently leads the club in scoring with 13 points (6-7-13).

Score First, Win Later

Of the eight games in which Northeastern has scored first, the Huskies have come away with six 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), Providence (4-1, Nov. 20), Merrimack (2-1, Dec. 5), Dartmouth (7-0, Jan. 2) and UMass-Lowell (2-1, Jan. 3).

Clutch When It Counts
Northeastern has gone into the third period tied with its opponent on four occasions this year. In all four 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. Against Merrimack, both squads opened the third period owning one goal. David Strathman ended the drama with his second-career game winner. Most recently, Jake Newton put away the tournament-winner against UMass-Lowell, breaking a 1-1 tie.

Multi-Point Performers

Nine Huskies have chalked up a multi-point game this season as Wade MacLeod leads the charge with four under his belt. MacLeod’s most recent two-point outing was at Dartmouth (1-1-2). Garrett Vermeersch and Jake Newton have registered a pair of multi-point games, with Vermeersch’s last coming at PC on 11/21/09 (1-1-2).  Newton’s most recent came against Dartmouth (1-1-2). Kyle Kraemer (1-1-2) also has two multi-point outings while Steve Silva (1-1-2), Tyler McNeely (1-1-2), Drew Muench (0-2-2), David Strathman (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.

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. The 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).

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 three 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 and red in every contest this season, as well.

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
Kyle Kraemer secured his 50th-career point with an assist against UMass-Lowell while Tyler McNeely reached the 50-point plateau with his PPG at Maine. Wade MacLeod needs one more point to reach 75 for his career. Greg Costa just skated in his 100th-career contest against Dartmouth while Kraemer did the same at Maine on Dec. 12. Steve Silva skated in his 75th-career contest against Vermont on Nov. 27 while Wade MacLeod registered his 70th-career point that same night. Drew Muench skated in his 50th tilt for the Huskies at Maine on Dec. 12, as well. 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.

Plus/Minus Performance

Six Huskies are weighing in with a positive plus/minus rating with David Strathman leading the way at +4. Garrett Vermeersch has tabulated a +3 rating while Alex Tuckerman, Chris Donovan and Drew Muench all rest at +2. Jim Driscoll is at +1.


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).

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. Lipinski earned his first-career assist on David Strathman’s game-winner against Merrimack, too. 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 classmate Drew Daniels potted his first-collegiate goal against Dartmouth on Jan. 2.

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.  Wade MacLeod dialed up the second shorty of his career against Dartmouth (1/2/10).

Matthews Arena featured in the New York Times

As the sports world turned its attention to Boston for the NHL’s third-annual Winter Classic, the New York Times featured the world’s oldest indoor ice rink, Matthews Arena, which turns 100 years old on April 16, 2010. Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox and the oldest major league baseball stadium still in use, is two years younger than Matthews Arena, home of the Northeastern Huskies hockey team.

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