Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Get your voices ready with game notes against #8 Boston College


Northeastern vs. Boston College
Matthews Arena will play host to #8/9 Boston College in the 205th meeting between the two Boston-based schools. The Eagles have yet to skate in the newly-refurbished Matthews Arena and will be greeted by an eager sellout crowd of 4,666, marking the third-advanced sellout of a Northeastern athletics’ event since the men’s basketball team hosted Duke in 1995. Hockey’s oldest cathedral has not been kind to Boston College as of late, either. The Eagles did not win in their two appearances at Matthews Arena last year, losing 4-3 (Oct. 18) and 2-1 in overtime (March 6). In fact, the Eagles did not beat Northeastern last year away from Conte Forum, as the Huskies marched in the first round of last year’s Beanpot Tournament by a final score of 6-1. The last two meetings between the two clubs have come in Chestnut Hill, where the Eagles have outscored NU, 9-2. Fresh off a 1-0 shutout of NU’s other Boston-rival, BU, the Huskies clashed at Boston College the next night and lost, 5-1. Friday’s game has enormous playoff implications, as the surging Huskies look to rise to the top of the standings with a pair of victories. BC is currently in second place, but Northeastern lurks in sixth, only five points behind its opponent. The Huskies are in search of their fifth-straight victory and sixth-consecutive triumph in Hockey East action. Despite BC’s advantage in the overall series (147-44-13), in the last 10 encounters with BC, each team has won five games. Head coach Greg Cronin is 7-11-2 against Boston College while BC’s skipper, Jerry York, is 37-14-4 all-time against NU.

Eye on the Eagles
Boston College has had its fair share of exposure this year. The Eagles were displayed against BU in the Frozen Fenway game and most recently came away with the 58th Annual Beanpot trophy on Feb. 8. Since a three-game losing streak was ignited at the Wells Fargo Cup in Denver, Boston College has rattled off a 7-3 record. The Eagles, boasting a 17-9-2 overall mark, are three points off the league lead and look to reverse their recent trend at Matthews Arena. Offensively, Brian Gibbons and Cam Atkinson direct the Eagles’ offense. Gibbons is tied for 13th in the country with 36 points (11-25-36) while Atkinson has registered the 27th-best mark in the country with 1.18 points per game (17-16-33). Atkinson’s 0.61 goals per game ranks 15th in the country while Gibbons’ 0.89 assists per trip is tied for seventh in the country. On the blue line, Carl Sneep has tallied 0.75 points per game (8-13-21), tied for 18th best amongst all defensemen in the NCAA. Junior goaltender John Muse boasts Hockey East’s second best goals against average (2.47) and has posted a save percentage of .912. Although Northeastern’s defense has been on point recently, the blue line will have its hands full trying to contain the fifth-ranked offense in the country with 3.64 goals per game. On the other side, the Eagles scoring defense is rated 14th in the NCAA, allowing just 2.57 goals per game. In regards to the powerplay and penalty kill, Boston College has both edges covered as BC’s ninth-ranked powerplay (21.0 percent) compliments its eighth-ranked penalty kill (86.3 percent).

Last Time Out against Boston College
Kyle Kraemer drew first blood at 4:23 of the first on a nifty dish from Chris Student on the far post. After a cycle along the boards, Kraemer needled it past Muse on the one-timer for the 1-0 lead. Mike Hewkin set the play with the first pass to Student. After Kraemer’s tally, the Eagles rattled off five straight. At 10:39 of the first, Philip Samuelsson unleashed a slapshot from the left circle to knot the game at 1-1. Matt Lombardi assembled the play by redirecting the puck from the slot, enabling Samuelsson with a clear path to the cage. It took Boston College 28 seconds to cash in on its 5 x 3 opportunity at 5:15 of the second stanza. A Wade MacLeod interference call and a Greg Costa hooking call marred NU’s early second period momentum. Ben Smith deposited a loose carom from Carl Sneep’s original attempt at 5:15 to establish a 2-1 lead. The Eagles doubled up at 10:39 of the second after Cam Atkinson was the beneficiary of a broken up play on the far boards. Pat Mullane pulled the puck out of a five-skater pile and provided the puck for Atkinson in the slot with a point-blank wrister for the 3-1 advantage. Kraemer’s holding the stick call 32 seconds into the third period gave way to BC’s second powerplay tally of the evening. Paul Carey redirected Sneep’s original wrist shot for the 4-1 cushion at 2:07. Brian Gibbons found the back of the net moments later at 3:27 off of Smith’s rebound. Gibbons corralled the loose deflection and shoveled the puck underneath Rawlings’ pad to cap the scoring, 5-1.

Leaders against the Eagles
Chris Donovan and Wade MacLeod lead Northeastern’s charge against Boston college with two goals and five assists, apiece. Greg Costa and Mike Hewkin have each logged a pair of goals and assists against Boston College while Randy Guzior (3-0-3), David Strathman (2-1-3), Steve Quailer (2-1-3) and Kyle Kraemer (1-2-3) have all notched three points when skating against BC. Steve Silva (0-2-2) and Tyler McNeely (1-1-2) have registered two points, joining Alex Tuckerman, Drew Muench and Chris Student with one assist in the overall series.

Olympic Effect?
Northeastern’s three British Columbia natives in Chris Rawlings, Tyler McNeely and Wade MacLeod appear to be inspired by the world’s attention on their Canadian province for the 2010 Olympics. This past Saturday, MacLeod registered two goals and an assist while McNeely contributed a set of assists. Rawlings won his fourth-straight start on and pitched his third shutout of the season at UMass on Friday.

Red-Hot Huskies
Northeastern is currently riding a season-best four-game winning streak as well as winning its last five Hockey East contests. This is the first time under head coach Greg Cronin’s tenure the Huskies have reeled off five straight in league play. Since a 9-2 loss at Vermont on Jan. 16, the Huskies are 6-1 and have outscored their opponents, 23-9. NU’s lone loss within the stretch came against Boston University in a close 2-1 affair in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament. Northeastern is tied for the third-longest unbeaten streak in the country. Miami (Ohio), Denver and Northern Michigan are the only three clubs ahead of the Huskies.

Early Spring Cleaning
The sweep of #18 Massachusetts marked Northeastern’s first consecutive victories over the same Hockey East opponent this year. Northeastern won the Providence series with two wins and a tie, but NU never beat the Friars in consecutive outings this season. The Huskies also won the Merrimack series with a split the first weekend and a 5-1 Huskies’ victory in between Beanpot games. Maine, Vermont and UMass Lowell all took two games off Northeastern in league play. The Huskies have yet to wrap up series against BC, UNH and BU.

Mob at Matthews Arena

The Huskies will welcome Boston College to the newly refurbished Matthews Arena with the third advanced sellout of a Northeastern athletics’ event since the men’s basketball team hosted Duke in 1995. The first advanced sellout actually came against #1 Boston College last season on Oct. 18, 2008 when Northeastern treated the capacity crowd to a 4-3 triumph. The last advanced sellout crowd came this season when Northeastern blanked Boston University, 1-0, on Nov. 6. NU looks to earn its third victory in front of 4,666 strong this year. NU beat Bentley, 3-2, in front of a full-capacity throng to open the season on Oct. 16.

Multi-Point Perpetrators
In the 6-3 victory against Massachusetts, the Huskies boasted seven skaters with two or more points. It was the first time this season NU had seven skaters with multi-point performances. Wade MacLeod led the charge with two goals and an assist while Robbie Vrolyk lit the lamp twice. Kyle Kraemer and Jake Newton each accounted for a goal and an assist while Garrett Vermeersch, Tyler McNeely and Drew Daniels all contributed two assists. Previously, the old mark stood at five skaters with two points or more against Dartmouth on Jan. 2 and UMass Lowell on Jan. 9.

Rock the Vote
The Huskies received votes in the Feb. 15th / CBS College Sports poll for the first time since Nov. 16, 2009. The Huskies picked up 28 votes in the 17th poll of the season.

Help Me Help You

Saturday night’s win was the first time three Huskies posted two assists in a game this year. Vermeersch registered his third two-assist outing of the season while Drew Daniels recorded his first multi-point outing of the year. McNeely posted three helpers against UMass Lowell on Jan. 9.

MacLeod and McNeely: Men on a Mission
MacLeod has notched eight points in his last four games while McNeely has logged eight in his last five.  MacLeod’s three-point outing on Saturday marked his eight multi-pointer of the year and 22nd of his career. Saturday was the first time this season MacLeod scored two goals and an assist. MacLeod’s assist also stood for the 50th of his career. McNeely notched his fifth multi-point game this year and 12th of his career.

Pair of Powerplay Markers
Wade MacLeod’s pair of extra-man goals against UMass marks the first time an NU skater has turned the trick this year. The only other skaters to notch two goals in one game this year were MacLeod (UNH - Oct. 23), Kyle Kraemer (UMass Lowell - Jan. 9), Tyler McNeely (Harvard - Feb. 8) and Robbie Vrolyk (UMass - Feb. 13).

Triple Play
Northeastern’s registered a trio of powerplay goals against Massachusetts for the fourth time this season. The Huskies lit the lamp with an extra skater three times against Bentley (Oct. 16), Maine (Nov. 14) and Merrimack (Feb. 5).

Rawlings Reaps Another Award
Chris Rawlings’ combined effort of 65-saves to buoy Northeastern’s defense led to the rookie’s third Hockey East award of the season. Rawlings was named the Pure Hockey Co-Defensive Player of the Week with UML’s Carter Hutton. The North Delta, British Columbia native picked up his first defensive honor of the year as his other two laurels were in the form of Rookie of Week awards.  Rawlings earned his third shutout of the season with a 2-0 win at the Mullins Center against UMass. Rawlings has spread around his goose eggs with each one coming at home (BU, Nov. 6), away (UMass, Feb. 12) and a neutral site (Dartmouth, Jan. 2). Rawlings and Hutton are the only two netminders in Hockey East to secure three shutouts. In NU’s four-game winning streak, Rawlings has constructed a .963 save percentage (129-of-134) and allowed a meager 1.25 goals per game. In Friday’s victory at the Mullins Center, Rawlings also registered his first-career point with the secondary assist on senior David Strathman’s game-winning goal. Stacking up against the rest of the country, Rawlings’ .918 save percentage is now 12th best in the country while his 2.57 GAA is 27th. In comparison to the rest of Hockey East, Rawlings’ save percentage ranks second while his goals against average is third.

Vrolyk Ignites against UMass

Freshman Robbie Vrolyk found the back of the net twice against UMass on Saturday, marking his first-career two-point game. His second goal counted towards his first-career game-winning goal, as well. The Boylston, Mass. native also put a cap on Friday’s win at the Mullins Center with a beautiful wrister to start off his three-goal weekend. For his efforts, Vrolyk was named Northeastern’s Student-Athlete of the Week on Feb. 16. Vrolyk is the hockey team’s second delegate to receive Student-Athlete of the Week honors. Senior Kyle Kraemer received the award back on Nov. 24.

Score First…Win Later
Of the 14 games in which Northeastern has scored first, the Huskies have come away with 12 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), Providence (3-1, Jan. 19), UMass Lowell (2-1, Jan. 29), Merrimack (5-1, Feb. 5), Harvard (4-1, Feb. 8) and Massachusetts (Feb. 12 & 13). Interestingly enough, Northeastern’s win against UMass on Saturday marked only the second win in 10 occasions when the Huskies were tied after the first period.

Popping Up in the Pairwise Rankings

Northeastern is currently tied for 20th in the latest Pairwise rankings with its four wins in a row. The Huskies control their own destiny in their remaining six conference games as Boston College (T-4th), New Hampshire (T-9th) and Boston University (T-18th) are all ahead of the Huskies in the Pairwise poll. The Huskies made their first appearance after beating UMass Lowell (Jan. 29) at 24th. The PairWise Ranking is a system which attempts to mimic the method used by the NCAA Selection Committee to determine participants for the NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament. The PWR compares the top 25 teams in the RPI Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), judging them by four criteria: record against common opponents, head-to-head competition, record against other top 25 teams if the team has faced at least 10 top 25 opponents, and the RPI. For each comparison won, a team receives one point. The final PWR ranking is based on the number of points (comparisons) won against top 25 teams.

Defensive State of Mind

Northeastern has allowed only nine goals in its last seven games, lowering its defensive scoring to 2.68 per game. The Huskies defense ranks third in Hockey East and 19th in the NCAA.

‘Ferny Flaman Night’

The Feb. 13 game against Massachusetts was a tribute to Northeastern coach Fernie Flaman who skippered the Huskies from 1970-89. Flaman compiled a record of 255-301-23 and spearheaded all four Northeastern Beanpot victories and a Hockey East title in 1988.

Beanpot Quickhits
The victory over Harvard marks the Huskies’ 16th third-place finish in the Beanpot. It was also Northeastern’s first win against Harvard since Feb. 12, 2007 in the consolation bracket of the 55th Beanpot Tournament. J.P. Maley and Drew Daniels registered their first-career points in the Beanpot with an assist, each while Garrett Vermeersch (0-3-3) and Tyler McNeely (2-1-3) each tallied three points in the Beanpot to lead all skaters in the two-game tournament. Senior Greg Costa scored his second-career goal in the Beanpot. Senior Jim Driscoll notched his second-career assist in the Beanpot Tournament whereas Chris Rawlings made a combined total of 60 saves in both Beanpot games. Sixty stops was the same total the Huskies’ netminder accrued in the National Ledyard Bank Tournament at Dartmouth to warrant him Tournament MVP honors.

Beanpot Hangover
In contests immediately following the Beanpot Tournament, the Huskies have compiled a record of 21-35-1.  Games in between Beanpot affairs is where Northeastern has tasted its greatest success around this time of the season. In games played between thge Beanpot Tournament, Northeastern is now 31-30-3. The Huskies’ win against Merrimack nudged NU over the .500 mark. In the early goings of the Tournament, NU sometimes played as many as three or four games in between Tournament tilts.

Cracking .500

With the Harvard win, the Huskies’ non-conference record is now 6-2, but Northeastern’s 15-12-1 record marks the first time NU has been three games over .500 this whole season. After beating Harvard, it was the first time the Huskies were above .500 since Oct. 16.

Nothing to Lose
This year, the Huskies are one of three teams in Hockey East that has not lost more than two games in a row this year. New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two teams that can tout that claim.

20-Point Club
Wade MacLeod, Tyler McNeely and Kyle Kraemer are Northeastern’s first three members of the 20-point club 28 games into the season. MacLeod guides NU with 25 points (12-13-25) while McNeely (10-13-23) and Kraemer (11-11-22) have posted 23 and 22 points, respectively. MacLeod has scored 20 points in all three season thus far. As a rookie, MacLeod registered 27 points (11-16-27) and last year, the Coquitlam, B.C. native was the points leader with 35 total (14-21-35). MacLeod’s 0.44 goals this season is T-58th in the country and 11th in Hockey East. . Kraemer’s 11-11 line marks his first-career 20-point season. As a rookie, Kraemer tallied 19 points (7-12-19) and for his career, he now has 57 points (23-36-59). McNeely and MacLeod’s figure of 0.22 powerplay goals per game ranks tied for 22nd in the NCAA.

Powerplay Game-Winners
Northeastern has registered seven-game winning goals with the extra-man advantage. Junior Steve Silva scored 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 has netted two powerplay game-winners, with his first coming against UMass Lowell on Jan. 3 and his most recent was against Providence on Jan. 19. Wade MacLeod dunked NU’s game-winning PPG against Merrimack on Feb. 5 while David Strathman’s game-clinching marker against UMass on Feb. 12 came with the extra skater. Robbie Vrolyk was the last to turn the trick against Massachusetts on Feb. 13.

Multitude of Markers

In Northeastern’s win against Harvard, all four Huskies’ goals were tallied in a different fashion. McNeely accounted for both the powerplay and short-handed goal while Wade MacLeod sent in the empty-netter. Greg Costa’s goal factored in as Northeastern’s only even-strength goal of the game.

Cronin Notches Number 50

With the Merrimack victory, NU coach Greg Cronin attained his 50th Hockey East victory as coach of the Huskies. His overall record at NU is 71-83-20 while his career record rests at 91-96-22.

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