Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Northeastern Makes Its Way to UMass


Northeastern vs. Massachusetts
The Northeastern vs. Massachusetts game initiates the Huskies’ final eight-game conference stretch with four home-and-home series to play. UMass avenged its Hockey East playoff lost to Northeastern with a 4-1 victory at Matthews Arena on Jan. 10 as ESPNU televised the action. The Mullins Center is the second to last Hockey East arena the Huskies venture to this season (NU marches into Agganis Arena on March 5). Northeastern is 4-7-1 on the road this season but has won its last two outings away from Matthews Arena. Northeastern went 4-2, overall, against UMass last year as Northeastern holds the overall series advantage, 36-23-8. Massachusetts is now in its 16th year of Hockey East competition, joining the association in the 1994-95 season. Northeastern’s longest winning streak against the Minutemen stands at seven when the Huskies were reluctant to lose a game to UMass for almost 20 years. That stretch ran from Feb. 25, 1975 to Jan. 12, 1996. Since the first meeting on Jan. 29, 1930, one in which the Huskies won, 1-0, at Matthews Arena, Northeastern has shutout UMass nine times in its 64-game history. One noteworthy figure about this series is each coach has accrued the same winning percentage against one another’s club at .500. Greg Cronin is 9-9-1 against UMass while Don ‘Toot’ Cahoon is 16-16-2 when facing the Huskies.

Minutemen Report
Although Northeastern’s defense has risen to the task since the 9-2 game at Vermont on Jan. 16, the Huskies will have their hands full against one of the most dangerous scoring lines in the country. James Marcou and Casey Wellman rank third and tied for 11th, respectively, in regards to highest scorers in the country. Marcou’s 1.52 points per game can be heavily attributed to his 1.19 assists per game (32), marking the country’s highest output to date. Wellman’s 0.70 goals per game is third-best in the land while his scoring line of 19-16-35 can intimidate any foe. Will Ortiz, who registered three points in the Minutemen victory against NU on Jan. 10, has tallied 24 points (12-12-24) this year as well. Five of Ortiz’s 12 goals have come against the powerplay. Defensively, UMass netminder Paul Dainton has started 21 games and posted an overall mark of 13-10-0. Dainton has made 616 saves on his way to a goals against average of 2.83 and a save percentage of .909. Massachusetts is 11-9-0 in league play to slot the Minutemen in fourth place with 22 points. Since their victory against NU, the Minutemen have assembled a mark of 4-3. UMass won three straight after Jan. 10, but have since lost three of its last four outings, getting outscored 20-3 in those instances. Upon conclusion of Friday night’s game, the Minutemen take to the road for five of their remaining six games.

Last Time Out against UMass

Rookie goaltender Bryan Mountain earned his third-career start in net and steered away 20 shots on 24 attempts. Minutemen netminder Paul Dainton stopped 12 shots on 13 attempts. Northeastern’s 13 attempts marked a season low while the Minutemen marched towards the net for three powerplay tallies on the evening. Sophomore Alex Tuckerman was cited for hooking cited for hooking at 5:53 of the first, spawning one of three UMass powerplay goals. James Marcou tossed the puck back to Casey Wellman for a point-blank look in front of Mountain for the quick 1-0 lead at 6:04. Rocco Carzo doubled up at 18:02 of the first by crashing the left side of the net and roofing a Matt Irwin offering past Mountain top-shelf. Carzo’s marker was UMass’ lone even-strength goal of the contest. In the later portion of the second, junior Steve Silva took a 10-minute game misconduct for mashing Marcou into the boards at 16:15. Marcou replied with a nifty deke in front of Mountain and lifted the backhand in at 18:58 for the 3-0 advantage. Will Ortiz connected with Marcou down the right side to generate the powerplay goal. Ortiz called his own number just 18 seconds later by dumping Justin Braun’s rebound in for the 4-0 lead at 19:16. Ortiz’s goal was one of three points for the forward on the night. McNeely’s goal at 2:10 of the third period gave the Huskies hope, but Massachusetts’ defense was too thick for Northeastern to maneuver through. Freshman Justin Daniels was credited with the first assist, marking his sixth point of the year.

Leaders against the Minutemen
Kyle Kraemer and Wade MacLeod each lead the way against Massachusetts with three goals and three assists, apiece. Alex Tuckerman (3-1-4), Greg Costa (3-1-4), Chris Donovan (2-2-4) and David Strathman (1-3-4) have all logged four points in their careers against UMass while Mike McLaughlin (0-3-3), Tyler McNeely (1-2-3) and Steve Quailer (1-2-3) have each scored three. J.P. Maley has posted a pair of assists against the Minutemen while Steve Silva and Justin Daniels each have an assist to their name in the UMass series.

Beanpot Quickhits
The victory over the Crimson 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. His tally marked the first time he’s scored since a trip to Providence on Nov. 21. 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 13-12-1 record marks the first time NU has been over .500 since beating Bentley in the home opener to post a 2-1 record.

Popping Up in the Pairwise Rankings
Northeastern is 24th in the Pairwise rankings after its 4-1 victory against Harvard in the consolation round of the Beanpot Tournament. The Huskies have actually jumped ahead of conference-foe, UMass Lowell, now at 25. Three of NU’s remaining four teams on the schedule are all ahead of the Huskies in the Pairwise poll. Any win against Massachusetts (T-9th), Boston College (T-5th) or New Hampshire (T-15th) would do wonders for Northeastern to inch them closer to the top 16. The Huskies made their first appearance on after beating UMass Lowell at 24th and eventually bumped up to T-22nd with Minnesota. 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. Ties are settled by the RPI.

Nothing to Lose
Northeastern’s .519 winning percentage through 26 games can be attributed to an interesting trend in its schedule. This year, the Huskies are one of three teams in Hockey East that has not lost more than two games this year. New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two teams that can tout that claim. On the flip side, Northeastern has not won more than consecutive games this season, either.

Who’s Hot?
Tyler McNeely and Wade MacLeod have been scorching hot as of late, each tallying five points in their most recent two outings. MacLeod assumed the team points lead with 22 (10-12-22) thanks to his three-point performance, including the game-winner, at Merrimack. He also dumped in the empty netter to ice the game against Harvard as well as chalking up an assist. McNeely has registered a pair of powerplay goals, a short-handed marker and two assists. Against Merrimack, McNeely logged his second-career three-point game and followed it up with both the shorty and extra-man tallies against Harvard. The junior captain leads all NU skaters with six powerplay blasts. Chris Rawlings has been superb in staffing the net as of late. Rawlings has made 97 saves in his last three games, including a combined 60-stop effort in his first Beanpot Tournament. The North Delta, B.C. native missed out on obtaining the Eberly Award by a mere .003 save percentage. In the Merrimack game, Rawlings buoyed the defense with his second-highest stop total of 37.

Taking a Defensive Stance
Since Northeastern lost 9-2 at Vermont on Jan. 16, the Huskies defense has done a top-notch job keeping the puck out of the next. Northeastern has given up only six goals in its last five games and risen to third place for scoring defense (2.77 gpg) in the Hockey East charts. Blue liners like David Strathman, Jim Driscoll and Jake Newton have all scored at least one point in the last three games, but Chris Rawlings’ antics in net have been sublime. Rawlings has allowed just five goals in his last four games and turned aside 95.9 percent of the shots he’s faced. In relation to the rest of Hockey East’s backstoppers, the newcomer is third in save percentage (.914) and fourth in goals against average (2.67).

What the Win Over Merrimack Meant
Northeastern won its third straight Hockey East contest with a 5-1 beating of Merrimack on Friday night in between Beanpot games. The Huskies have gone 7-4 since the start of the New Year and beaten four of their last five league opponents. Northeastern held a 3-0 lead after the first period, marking the first time NU owned a three-goal pad after 20 minutes this year.  In the logjam that is the Hockey East standings through Feb. 8, one point separates fifth place from eighth place. The Huskies are in eighth with 17 points while Vermont, UMass Lowell and Boston University are tied for fifth with 18 points. New Hampshire still leads the conference with 27 points, but a sweep at the hands of Maine last weekend drew the Wildcats closer to the heap.

20-Point Club
Wade MacLeod, Tyler McNeely and Kyle Kraemer are Northeastern’s first three members of the 20-point club 26 games into the season. Each skater has posted 10 goals while MacLeod’s 12 helpers put him on top of the heap with 22 points. McNeely and Kraemer have notched 11 and 10 assists, respectively. Kraemer’s 10-10 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 (22-35-57). Kraemer’s 0.77 points per game is tied for 31st in Hockey East. MacLeod has touched upon the 20-point plateau 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 0.40 goals this season is T-80th in the country. McNeely’s six powerplay goals (0.24 per game) is tied for 24th in the NCAA.

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 69-83-20 while his career record rests at 89-96-22.

Powerplay Trifecta
For the third time this season, the Huskies lit the lamp on three occasions with the powerplay. Wade MacLeod, Tyler McNeely and Drew Daniels all scored extra-man goals against Merrimack. Northeastern turned the three-goal PP trick against Bentley in the home opener and against Maine on Nov. 14.

Twin Killing
Twin brothers, rookies Drew and Justin Daniels, were the two perpetrators in the Jan. 29 win over UMass Lowell. Drew opened the scoring at 5:12 of the second period while Justin potted his first-career game-winner at 9:16 of the third. The phenomenon marked the first time the Daniels twins scored a goal in the same game. At Merrimack, Drew scored his first-career powerplay goal as Justin opened the scoring 00:30 into the contest, marking the second time in three games the twins tickled the twine 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 26 games for the Huskies. NU’s newcomers have tallied 23 goals while the juniors have accrued 22, the seniors 18 and the sophomores with six. The freshmen have also tabulated 39 assists, compared to the juniors with 32, the seniors with 31 and the sophomores with 16.

Shooting Sample
In a dissection of Northeastern’s shooting, the Huskies own a winning record of 6-3-1 when registering between 30-39 shots. When the Huskies allow between 20-29 attempts, NU is 7-4-0. In all other shooting increments of 10, Northeastern has a losing record in both attempts and allowance.

Helpless Tallies
Justin Daniels game-winner agianst UMass Lowell marked Northeastern’s third unassisted goal iof the season. Jake Newton’s powerplay goal and Tyler McNeely’s empty netter against Providence on Jan. 19 both came without any help, while the Huskies first unassisted marker of the season came from the twig of Alex Tuckerman against Maine on Nov. 14.

Bouncing BackThe Huskies have responded well this season after a setback. Northeastern has accrued an 8-4 record this season in reaction to a loss.

Don’t Call It a Comeback
Northeastern’s 3-1 victory at Vermont marks the first time the Huskies have won a game after trailing upon conclusion of the first period. Northeastern lost its first eight games of the season when facing a deficit through 20 minutes of action. Strangely enough, Northeastern’s two-goal buffer was the first time the Huskies emerged victoriously by a pair of tallies this season. NU also knocked off Providence on Jan. 19 by a pair of tallies, as well.

Is There Anybody In There?
Wade MacLeod scored Northeastern’s third empty-net goal in the last six games. MacLeod also scored NU’s first empty-netter of the year to solidify the 3-1 victory at Vermont on Jan. 15. Tyler McNeely scored the second of the season to seal the deal against Providence on Jan. 19.

Third Period Lockdown
When it comes to stopping pucks in the third period, NU is tops in Hockey East. The Huskies have surrendered a league-low 18 goals in the final 20 minutes of regulation. The next closets club is UMass with 23.

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