Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Northeastern Looks to Break Series Tie at Merrimack on Friday Night


Northeastern vs. Merrimack
Northeastern returns to Hockey East action on Friday night at Lawler Arena, taking a break between Beanpot Mondays to face Merrimack. The last time the Huskies ventured to North Andover, the Warriors put an end to Northeastern’s five-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory. The Huskies responded the next night with a 2-1 victory at Matthews Arena as David Strathman dialed up the game-winner at 6:28 of the third period. Merrimack is that last team on Northeastern’s conference schedule that is not paired as a home-and-home, two-game set. Friday’s game will act as the tiebreaker between these two teams this season. At this point in the year, any league points are graciously accepted, particularly with just five points separating the fourth-place squad (Maine) from the eight-place Huskies. Merrimack looms in ninth place, three points behind Northeastern. Yet, a Huskies’ victory is imperative because the Warriors still have two league games to play on Northeastern. Head coach Greg Cronin aims for his 11th-career victory over Merrimack as NU’s leader has compiled an 11-2-3 record against the Warriors. MC coach Mark Dennehy has gone 2-9-3 against Northeastern.

Warrior Watch
Despite bearing a ninth-place label leading up to Friday’s game, Merrimack has won two of its last three outings, including a victory over first-place New Hampshire at home. In MC’s loss, the Warriors took the Wildcats the distance but came up short as UNH clipped Merrimack in overtime, 4-3, in their most recent outing. Merrimack started off its nice run with an overtime victory of its own (2-1) at Providence last Saturday. The Warriors’ wins over Providence and New Hampshire were in dire need, snapping a seven-game losing streak starting with the game they lost as Matthews Arena on Dec. 5. Merrimack is one of two teams (Massachusetts) that have not skated to a tie all season. The Warriors are 9-14, overall, with a 6-10 mark in league play. The Warriors were fortuitous in plucking freshman Stephane Da Costa from Paris, France as the international phenom has swept all four Rookie of the Month Hockey East honors this year. Da Costa leads all rookies, nationally, with 1.38 points per game. Among all skaters, he is fifth in Hockey East and eighth, nationally, with 29 points. Forward Chris Barton, the most recent Hockey East Player of the Week, sports a scoring line of 15-11-26, with his 0.65 goals per game acting as 11th best mark in the land. Merrimack owns a distinct advantage in specials teams as the Warriors’ combined mark of 57.0 percent (135/257) is the best in the country. As it stands, Northeastern has the lowest national mark at 42.0 percent (107/255).

Last Time against Merrimack
The Northeastern men’s hockey team exacted revenge upon Merrimack with a gritty 2-1 victory at Matthews Arena on Saturday night. Rookie netminder Bryan Mountain stood tall in cage, turning away 24 shots in his first collegiate victory. David Strathman chipped in the late-game heroics with his first game-winning goal since Northeastern last shutout Merrimack, 3-0, on Jan. 12, 2008. Vermeersch returned to the scoring column for the first time in three games. Sophomore Matt Lipinski notched his first-career assist on the game-winning goal while newcomer Justin Daniels tallied his second of the year. Vermeersch’s tally at 4:59 of the second opened the game scoring, but it was Merrimack that had the first opportunity near the 17:00-minute mark of the first. The Warriors were right on the doorstep, but Mountain made a miraculous save with the butt end of his stick to keep the first 20 minutes clean. The Huskies took the early lead after MacLeod created a look for Vermeersch on the near crease. MacLeod kicked the puck out a scrum at the far post and it slid right through the crease to a falling Vermeersch. The rookie kept his poise and potted the game’s first goal to go up, 1-0. Junior Tyler McNeely got called for contact to the head elbowing at 19:04 of the second, yielding Merrimack’s lone tally of the evening. Karl Stollery roofed a one-timer from Joe Cucci just within the blue line to tie it, 1-1, with 11 ticks left in the period at 19:49. Strathman and Daniels linked up at 6:28 to combine for the game-clinching lamplighter. Strathman burned MC netminder Joe Cannata with a crisp wristshot on a feed from behind the far post. Strathman took three full strides and roofed it for the 2-1 triumph. Lipinski created the play behind the net by flipping it out to Daniels. Junior Steve Silva created a tense Matthews Arena atmosphere with a slashing call at 17:28 in the final stanza, but Northeastern’s penalty kill snuffed out the Warriors’ extra-man attack to maintain the victory.

Leaders against Merrimack
Wade MacLeod leads all Northeastern’s scorers against the Warriors with eight points (2-6-8) while Tyler McNeely ranks second with six points (2-4-6). David Strathman (2-1-3), Steve Silva (0-3-3) and Steve Quailer (1-2-3) have all logged three points whereas Chris Donovan (2-0-2), Greg Costa (1-1-2) and Randy Guzior (1-1-2). Mike Hewkin, Alex Tuckerman, J.P. Maley, Jake Newton, Garrett Vermeersch, Justin Daniels and Matt Lipinski all have one point credited to their names against Merrimack.

Overall Record in Games Between the Beanpot

The Huskies own a 30-30-3 record in games played between Beanpot Tournament contests. In the early Beanpots, Northeastern would sometimes play three or four games in between.

Kraemer Creeps Back into Points Lead
Senior Kyle Kraemer recouped the Huskies’ points and goals lead with his first-career Beanpot tally against Boston University on Monday night at the TD Garden. The St. Louis native has registered a team-best 18 points and 10 goals through 24 contests. Kraemer is also tied with Tyler McNeely for a team-high four powerplay goals.

Vermeersch Lends a Helping Hand
Freshman Garrett Vermeersch put an end to a five-game scoring drought and logged his 10th assist against BU on Monday night. The helper also stood as the rookie’s first Beanpot point. The Macomb, Mich. native is first on the team with 10 assists through 24 games.

Marshall Earns Beanpot Hall Call
Northeastern goaltender Tim Marshall (1986) joins Boston College’s Bob Sweeney and Harvard’s Fran Toland as the 2010 Class of Beanpot Hall of Fame inductees. The 2010 trio will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in ceremonies between games of the first round of the 58th Annual Beanpot Tournament on Monday, Feb. 1 at the TD Garden. Marshall, who graduated Northeastern University in 1986, was considered the star of the 1984 Beanpot. As a junior, Marshall turned away 20 shots in a 7-3 victory over Harvard in the first round. He then followed it up with a 34-save performance in a 5-2 triumph against Boston University in the championship contest. Marshall’s astute play earned him both the Eberly Award for the highest save percentage and the Most Valuable Player award. Upon graduation, the Hull, Mass. native was second in the NU archives both in games played in goal (74) and most saves (1,976). Marshall’s induction into the Beanpot Hall of Fame pushes the number of Northeastern constituents to 13. He joins fellow Huskies members, including: Dave Archambault, Jim Averill, Art Chisholm, Fern Flaman, Herb Gallagher, Jay Heinbuck, Rod Isbister, Dan McGillis, David O’Brien, Dave Poile, Bruce Racine and Wayne Turner. Currently, Marshall ranks fourth all-time in the NU annals with three shutouts, ninth in minutes played (3888:00) and 10th in save percentage (87.2 percent). His number of games played and saves now stand seventh and eighth all-time, respectively.

Popping Up in the Pairwise Rankings
Northeastern’s victory over UMass Lowellcatapulted the Huskies into a tie for the 22md spot of USCHO’s Pairwise rankings, marking NU’s first citing in that poll. The Huskies made their first appearance on Friday night at 24th. Following the loss to BU in the Beanpot on Monday, the Huskies have since fallen back out.

Twin Killing
Twin brothers, rookies Drew and Justin Daniels, were the two perpetrators in Friday’s win over UMass Lowell. Drew opened the scoring at 5:12 of the second period, marking his second-career tally while Justin potted his first-career game-winner at 9:16 of the third (fifth-career). The phenomenon marked the first time the Daniels twins scored a goal in the same game. Oddly enough, the Suffern, N.Y. sensations both recorded their first-career assists on Greg Costa’s goal in a 3-3 at Providence on Nov. 21.

Rookies Wreaking Havoc
The freshmen corps leads all classes in both goals scored and assists through 24 games for the Huskies. NU’s newcomers have tallied 20 goals while the juniors and seniors have accrued 17 and the sophomores with six. The freshmen have also tabulated 34 assists, compared to the seniors with 27, the juniors with 26 and the sophomores with 15. The newcomers have totaled 53 points thus far.

100 Helpers
Greg Costa and Robbie Vrolyk teamed up to earn credit on Drew Daniels’ goal against UMass Lowell on Jan. 29. Vrolyk’s second assist stood as Northeastern’s 100th assist of the season.

Rawlings Reaches Double Digits
Northeastern’s primary goaltender, freshman Chris Rawlings, earned his 10th victory between the pipes by turning away 23 UMass Lowell attempts on Jan. 29. The North Delta, British Columbia native’s goals against stands at 2.83 while his save percentage rests at .909. He earned his first-career Beanpot start last Monday night again BU, stopping 33 shots in the loss. Rawlings has made 577 saves in constructing his 10-10-1 record.

Shooting Sample
In a dissection of Northeastern’s shooting, the Huskies own a winning record of 5-3-1 when registering between 30-39 shots. When the Huskies allow between 20-29 attempts, NU is 6-4-0. In all other shooting increments of 10, Northeastern has a losing record in both attempts and allowance.

Cronin Creepings Towards 50

Greg Cronin’s next Hockey East victory will mark his 50th-career HEA victory. His overall record at NU is 67-84-20 while his career record rests at 87-97-22.

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