Thursday, January 14, 2010

Northeastern Takes on Vermont at Gutterson Fieldhouse




Northeastern vs. Vermont
Northeastern makes its first trip to Gutterson Fieldhouse since it topped Vermont, 5-3, on Nov. 11, 2008, avenging a three-game Hockey East quarterfinal losing affair from the 2008 season. The Huskies extended stay in Burlington was spoiled in the deciding contest as the Catamounts advanced to the semifinals with a 4-1 victory, exactly one night after Dennis McCauley dialed up the overtime winner in game two. A pair of wins for the Huskies would do wonders as Northeastern endured a set of tough losses at the hands of UMass Lowell, 6-5, in overtime coupled with a 4-1 setback against Massachusetts on Sunday night. Despite a 4-9-1 record in conference action, the Huskies lurk just one point behind the Catamounts in the Hockey East Standings and have a chance to shoot up the charts before hosting Providence in a rare Tuesday night home game. In the last meeting between Northeastern and Vermont, the turkey was still settling as the two clubs squared off the Friday after Thanksgiving at Matthews Arena. Vermont claimed victory, 3-2, upping its overall series record over the Huskies to 22-15-4. Out of all the teams in Hockey East, Northeastern has collided with the Catamounts the least. NU and UVM played in the 40th encounter back on Nov. 27. Head coach Greg Cronin has gone 4-9-3 against the Catamounts while UVM skipper Kevin Sneddon has put together a 6-7-5 mark against the Huskies.

Catching Up with the Catamounts

Since Vermont and Northeastern met on Nov. 27, UVM has lost only one game, piecing together a 5-1-1 record. The Catamounts have a couple signature wins on their schedule, including a 6-4 victory at Denver, the No. 1-ranked team in the country, on Oct. 10. Vermont also beat Boston College, ranked #12 at the time, 4-1, and shutout No. 10 Yale, 1-0. Against ranked opponents this season, Vermont has risen to the occasion and gone 5-3-1. After the NU clash, Vermont blanked Yale, 1-0, and then tied Boston University, 3-3. A loss to New Hampshire spawned UVM’s latest four-game winning streak as the Catamounts are riding high from winning their own tournament, the Catamount Cup, on Jan. 2-3. Vermont outlasted Alabama-Huntsville, 4-3, in the first round and won the tournament by downing #12 Minnesota-Duluth, 5-2. Twelve days will separate the tournament victory to the Northeastern game, marking the squad’s longest break on the docket. Senior Brayden Irwin leads Vermont in points (17), goals, (7) and penalty minutes (13-37). Irwin has also factored in three of UVM’s 13 powerplay goals this season, tied for the team lead with Jack Downing and Brian Roloff. Sophomore Rob Madore and senior Mike Spillane have shared time staffing the net as Madore has compiled a record of 6-4-2. Spillane is allowing 3.11 goals per game with a 4-2-0 record while Madore has surrendered 2.93 goals per game. Vermont’s scoring offense is tied for seventh in the league, averaging three goals per game while the defense stands in sixth, allowing 3.06 tallies per trip.
Last Time Out against Vermont
Northeastern was not able to overcome Vermont’s early 2-0 lead in the first period as the Catamounts claimed a 3-2 victory at Matthews Arena. 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. Brayden Irwin capitalized at 3:28 of the first after Chris Rawlings’ clearing attempt went astray. Rawlings tried to launch the puck down the far boards, but Irwin intercepted the pass, skated in and wristed one top-shelf for the early 1-0 lead. Jack Downing doubled up at 12:08 after Rawlings lost his stick in the crease. Sebastian Stalberg tossed the puck on net initially to force NU’s netminder to part ways with his stick. Downing took advantage of the vulnerable situation for the 2-0 edge. Kramer’s tally at 6:29 of the second made it a one-goal game. Muench generated the play from the far boards along the blueline as he sailed a pass to Newton in the near slot. Kraemer found a seam, crashed the net and netted Newton’s perfect pass to cut UVM’s lead in half, 2-1. Almost four minutes later, Pacan grabbed another Northeastern turnover in its own zone and zipped it by Rawlings at 10:10 for the game winner. Daniels and junior Wade MacLeod crafted a beautiful give-and-go marker at 9:38 to give the Huskies hope, but Vermont was able to play sound defense to snuff out Northeastern’s comeback bid. Daniels’ goal came on a redirection from MacLeod’s pass as the newcomer tipped it out of mid-air up and over Madore’s glove to set the final count, 3-2.

Huskies Leaders against Vermont
Tyler McNeely (2-4-6) and David Strathman (1-5-6) have posted the most career-points against the Catamounts with six while Drew Muench (2-3-5) and Alex Tuckerman (1-4-5) have each registered five. Kyle Kraemer (3-1-4) is the leading goal scorer with three and joins the four-point club with Wade MacLeod (1-3-4), Steve Silva (1-3-4) and Steve Quailer (1-3-4). Jim Driscoll, Mike McLaughlin, Justin Daniels, Greg Costa and Jake Newton have all made the scoring sheet once in their careers against Vermont.

MacLeod Matches a Career-Best and Passes a Milestone

Wade MacLeod, last year’s points leader, matched a career-best on Sunday night via his eighth assist of the year. MacLeod has scored a point in his last four game, marking the second time in his two and a half year career he has carried a four-game pointstreak into a contest. A goal or an assist against UVM would set a new benchmark for the Coquitlam, British Columbia native. MacLeod  has posted five points (2-3-5) over his four-game stretch as he is tied for second in points (6-8-14) with freshman Garrett Vermeersch (5-9-14). MacLeod’s sixth goal of the season against UMass Lowell also marked his 75th-career point for the Huskies (MacLeod now has 76 with his assist against UMass). MacLeod is most certainly on pace to join the 100-points club by either late this season or early next year. The last Husky to log 100-career points was Mike Morris (2002-07). He finished with 109 points (45-64-109).

Captain Coming Through

Northeastern’s captain, junior Tyler McNeely, scored the Huskies’ lone goal in a 4-1 loss to UMass on Jan. 10, marking his fourth point in the last two games. McNeely played an integral role in the Huskies’ five goals against UMass Lowell on Jan. 9. The Burnaby, British Columbia native recorded Northeastern’s first playmaker (three assists in one game) since Chris Donovan performed the feat against Boston College on Feb. 2, 2009. McNeely and Donovan are the only NU skaters to have logged three points in one game this season, as well. McNeely doubled his assists total against the River Hawks and now has six on the season, 12 points in all.

A Goal Every Five Minutes

Northeastern expunged UMass Lowell’s three-goal advantage with a flurry of goals in the third period on Jan. 9. The Huskies four-goal third period matched a season best in goals scored in one period. The last time NU racked up four goals in 20 minutes was in the 5-2 victory against Maine on Nov. 14. Wade MacLeod’s rifle from the circle extended the game into overtime, but UML’s Michael Scheu dash the comeback bid by netting the game-winner at 4:34 in the extra session.

Mountain Man
Rookie goaltender Bryan Mountain earned his third start in net against Massachusetts on Jan. 10. Mountain turned aside 20 attempts, upping his overall saves total to 68. Mountain did not get much help up front as the Huskies posted a season-low 13 shots against the Minutemen. The Bryn Mawr, Pa. native’s GAA rests at 2.56 with an 88.3 save percentage. Mountain notched his first collegiate victory against Merrimack on Dec. 5, 2-1.

Age Before Beauty

Senior assistant captain Jim Driscoll leads Northeastern with 119 total games under his belt. The Dedham, Mass. blueliner finally secured his first-career two-point outing with a goal and an assist against UMass Lowell on Jan. 9. Driscoll has tallied three goals and 14 assists over his tenure on Huntington Ave.

Freshman Phenoms
Newcomers Garrett Vermeersch and Jake Newton have transitioned nicely into the collegiate ranks as Vermeersch and Newton rank third and fourth, respectively, amongst rookies in Hockey East with 0.78 and 0.63 points per game. Vermeersch recorded his first-career two assists outing against UMass Lowell on Jan. 9 while Newton charted his first-career shorthanded goal along with an assist in the same contest. Vermeersch is 16th in the country amongst all rookie scorers while Newton is tied for 25th.

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 10 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 sixth on the team with 11 points, including five goals and six assists. Tuckerman is also the team’s penalty minutes leader, as the Orleans, Mass. native has been whistled 12 times for 43 minutes.

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-seven tilts.

Powerplay Perpetrators
Against UMass Lowell, Northeastern lit the lamp in its fourth straight game on the powerplay, marking the third time this season the Huskies have scored an extra-man tally in four consecutive outings. 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. Kyle Kraemer and Wade MacLeod’s powerplay blasts stand as the most recent pair of powerplay goals in one game.

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, 0.22 per game. McNeely’s figure is tied for 43rd in the nation and tied for fifth in Hockey East play. Jake Newtonhas thursted up the defensive scoring charts as the rookie is now tied for 38th in the nation amongst defensemen with 0.63 points per game. Newton is also T-25th in the country amongst rookies, fourth in the conference. Classmate Garrett Vermeersch is the nation’s 16th highest-scoring rookie with 0.78 points per game. Vermeersch’s mark stands third-best amongst all newcomers in Hockey East.

Double-Digit Scoring

Six Huskies have tabulated 10 points or more thus far. Kyle Kraemer leads the way with 15 points (8-7-15) while Garrett Vermeersch (5-9-14) and  Wade MacLeod (6-8-14) and have totaled 14 points. Jake Newton (5-7-12), Alex Tuckerman (5-6-11) and Tyler McNeely (6-6-12) became the newest members of the double-digits scoring club.

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.

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