Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Northeastern and Boston University in a Dogfight for the Playoffs


Huskies and Terriers in Dogfight for Playoffs
With two contests remaining, what better foe to take on than archrival Boston University to close out the regular season slate? Northeastern and Boston University are deadlocked in the Hockey East standings skating into Friday’s game. Each squad has posted an 11-12-2 record in conference play to this point, slotting each team in a tie for fifth place with Vermont. Despite BU holding a distinct 154-51-8 record through 213 meetings, this season has been witness to a pair of one-goal games. In the first encounter of the season, Northeastern edged BU, 1-0, in front of a sold-out crowd at Matthews Arena, ending BU’s five-year run of not being shutout on the road. The Terriers had their revenge, eking out a 2-1 triumph in the first round of the 58th Annual Beanpot Tournament thanks to a late goal from the twig of Alex Chiasson. The last time Northeastern and Boston University capped off a regular season against one another, the Huskies prevailed at home, 4-2, on Feb. 28, 2007. The season prior, NU and BU squared off in a two-game set to end the season, similar to this year. The Terriers had the upper hand in both games, winning by counts of 5-3 (3/3 - 3/4/06). The last time Northeastern won a regular-season series outright from the Terriers was in the 2000-01 season, beating BU on Nov. 12, 2000 (4-1) and Feb. 24, 2001 (4-2). Head coach Greg Cronin is in search of his first victory at Agganis Arena on Friday as the last time the Huskies won on BU’s ice was Feb. 26, 2005. Cronin is 2-12-5 against BU while Jack Parker has amassed a record of 89-33-8 against Northeastern.

BU Report

Needless to say, Boston University has had a similar season as Northeastern as indicated by its record. The Terriers have had their share in the limelight this season, showcasing their talents at Madison Square Garden, Fenway Park and the championship game of the Beanpot Tournament. Since BU’s victory against Boston College at the Frozen Fenway game, the Terriers responded from their 5-9-3 start and gone 8-6 down the stretch. The Terriers are coming off of a long three-day trip to Burlington as Boston University was swept by Vermont, 7-3 and 3-2, on Friday and Sunday respectively. Before this weekend, Northeastern and BU were tied in the Pairwise rankings but have since slipped to 23rd after the pair of losses to the Catamounts. Despite missing a few games to injury, Nick Bonino has responded to lead the team with 29 points (9-20-29). Colby Cohen has scored a team-best 14 goals this year and is second on the club with 27 points (14-13-27). Starting goaltender Kieran Millan has constructed a 12-14-0 record with a GAA of 3.26 and save percentage of .885. Sophomore Grant Rollheiser backs up Millan and has started all three games in which the Terriers have skated to a tie. Offensively, Boston University ranks fourth in Hockey East with 3.25 goals per game while the Terriers’ defense is third, giving up 2.84 goals per trip.

Last Time against Boston University
Boston University attacked first on a powerplay tally from Colby Cohen at 8:23 of the second period when senior Chris Donovan was hauled away for holding at 6:39. Chris Connolly cycled the puck down to Cohen on the near post just below the left dot and beat Rawlings on the far angle to give the Terriers the 1-0 lead. Northeastern had a fantastic opportunity on a Joe Pereira hooking call at 14:25, but an unlucky bounce kept the puck out of the net. Right off the draw, Kraemer let a rifle loose from the blue line and freshman Justin Daniels was able to redirect the puck to try and trip up Millan, but the disc met iron and BU swatted it away from the crease. Extra curricular activity on BU’s behalf from David Warsofsky and Colby Cohen turned the tides and gave Northeastern a 5-on-3 advantage at the 7:41 mark. The Huskies cashed in during the waning moments of the powerplay as senior Kyle Kraemer tied it up at 9:34 on a blast from the slot. Kraemer received the puck from freshman Garrett Vermeersch behind the goal line, created some room and unleashed the tying tally, 1-1. Alex Chiasson delivered the game-winning blow at 14:13. A turnover in Northeastern’s zone lead to a transitional marker for the Terriers. Warsofsky stripped the puck and fed Chiasson on the red line. Chiasson skated in on Rawlings and showed patience as he waited for the right second to shoot a low wrister hit Rawlings and trickled across the goal line for the 2-1 final.

Leaders against the Terriers
Kyle Kraemer leads all Huskies skaters with seven points (4-3-7) in 10 games agaisnt Boston University while Wade MacLeod (2-4-6) and Tyler McNeely (4-2-6) have each tallied six points. David Strathman (1-3-4) and Drew Muench (0-4-4) have scored the third most points against the Terriers while Greg Costa (0-2-2), Steve Silva (1-1-2) and Steve Quailer (1-1-2) each owns two points when facing BU. Jim Driscoll, Randy Guzior, Mike Hewkin, Alex Tuckerman, Mike McLaughlin and newcomer Garrett Vermeersch have all scored one point against Boston University.

A Seniors Farewell

Before Northeastern’s final regular season contest against BU at Matthews Arena on Saturday, six seniors will bid their farewell to hockey’s oldest barn. Four-year members, Jim Driscoll, David Strathman, Kyle Kraemer, Greg Costa, Chris Donovan and Dylan Wiwchar will skate in their final regular season game at Matthews Arena. Up through Friday’s game, the six senior Huskies have tallied a total of 212 points (73-139-212) with Kraemer leading the pack with a career line of 27-36-63. From the blue line, Strathman has totaled 50 points (12-38-50) in 126 games while both Donovan (14-25-39) and Costa (16-23-39) have equaled 39 points through 122 and 115 games, respectively. Driscoll, a member of NU’s All-Decade Team, has skated in the most games for Northeastern (131) and tallied 19 points (4-15-19) on defense with a career plus/minus of +4. Wiwchar has participated in 20 games and tallied a pair of assists, both coming against Maine.

Five Alive
Kyle Kraemer, owner of Northeastern’s longest point streak of the season at seven games, is back at it again. The St. Louis native tallied a goal in both games against New Hampshire this weekend, extending his goal-scoring streak to five games. Kraemer’s five-game tear is the longest goal-scoring stretch of any current Husky. Starting with a goal against Massachusetts on Feb. 13, Kraemer has scored in every game since and has notched six points with that span.

Quick Attack
Before New Hampshire’s fans could settle into the Whittemore Center, NU’s only goal of the game came from Kyle Kraemer 38 seconds into the contests. Kraemer’s goal was the Huskies’ second-fastest tally of the season. Northeastern’s fastest goal of the year came from Justin Daniels 30 seconds in at Merrimack on Feb. 5. Kraemer earned an assist on Daniels’ goal to have a hand in NU’s two quick goals this season.

Rawlings Tops in Save Percentage among Rookies

Chris Rawlings posted a 5-3-1 mark in the month of February, stopping 295-of-316 shots faced for a save percentage of .934. Rawlings goals against average totaled a scant 2.36 as the rookie recorded his third shutout of the season at Massachusetts (2-0) on Feb. 12. Rawlings also chimed in on the offensive side of things, registered two assists in three games against Massachusetts (Feb. 12) and Boston College (Feb. 19). Rawlings’ season save percentage of .916 is the highest total of any freshman in the country. Boston College’s Parker Milner, Hockey East’s Goalie of the Month, is behind Rawlings by one point (.915). The North Delta, B.C. native has also totaled the third-most minutes of any rookie netminder in the country. Rawlings has staffed the net for 1703:59. The only other two freshmen goaltenders to have logged more minutes are Holy Cross’ Thomas Tysowsky (1864:38) and Colorado College’s Joe Howe (1830:08).

Driscoll and MacLeod Voted to Northeastern’s All-Decade Team
Senior Jim Driscoll and junior Wade MacLeod were voted to Northeastern’s All-Decade Team on Friday, Feb. 26. The two skaters are the only current players to have made the cut, joining former Huskies Ryan Ginand, Jason Guerriero, Mike Morris, Mike Ryan, Joe Vitale, Jim Fahey, Tim Judy, Louis Liotti, Keni Gibson and Brad Thiessen.

Challenging the Champs

The NCAA started crowning a collegiate ice hockey national champion in 1948 when the University of Michigan claimed the initial title. Since the first dubbing 61 years ago, the Huskies have been pitted against the defending national champions 33 times. Northeastern’s first victory against a defending champion was against Boston University when the Huskies toppled the Terriers, 6-4, on Jan. 10, 1979 at Matthews Arena. The Huskies have also enjoyed success the following season whenever Maine has captured the national championship. When the Black Bears were crowned in 1993, NU went 3-1 against Maine during the 1993-94 season, outscoring UM, 18-12. After Maine won it again in 1999, Northeastern went 2-0-1 in the 1999-2000 campaign, outscoring the Black Bears 11-6. Under Greg Cronin, Northeastern is 4-2 against the incumbent champ. The Huskies treated their fans to a 4-3 win against then-No. 1 Boston College (2008 champs) on Oct. 18, 2008, and a blanking of Boston University (2009 champs), 1-0, on Nov. 6, 2009. Overall, NU has compiled an overall record of 12-22-1 when opposing the national champion from the previous season. Below is a list of how NU has fared against those teams:
• Boston College (1949 champs - L, 4-9 (1/3/50), L, 3-7 (2/7/50)
• RPI (1954 champs - L, 1-4 (2/1/55)
• Michigan (1964 champs - L, 2-7 (12/29/64)
• Michigan Tech (1965 champs - L, 5-8 (12/27/65)
• Boston University (1971 champs - L, 1-4 (12/21/71)
• Boston University (1972 champs - L, 4-9 (1/17/73), L, 2-3 (1/23/73)
• Boston University (1978 champs - W, 6-4 (1/10/79) L, 0-6 (2/21/79)
• North Dakota (1987 champs - W, 5-4 (OT) (11/27/87)
• Harvard (1989 champs - L, 4-5 (Beanpot) (2/5/90)
• Maine (1993 champs - W, 6-3 (12/3/93), L, 3-6 (12/4/93), W, 5-2 (1/28/94), W, 4-1 (1/29/94)
• Lake Superior State (1994 champs - L, 4-5 (12/28/94)
• Boston University (1995 champs - L, 4-6 (11/3/95), L, 2-10 (11/4/95), L, 4-11 (2/12/96), L, 1-5 (3/1/96)
• Maine (1999 champs - T, 2-2 (11/5/99), W, 3-1 (12/3/99), W, 6-3 (12/4/99)
• Boston College (2001 champs - W, 4-3 (10/20/01), L, 2-7 (2/22/02), L, 1-3 (2/24/02)
• Denver (2004 champs - L, 2-4 (10/16/04), L, 0-4 (1/2/05)
• Boston College (2008 champs - W, 4-3 (10/18/08), W, 6-1 (Beanpot) (2/2/09), W, 2-1 (OT) (3/6/09), L, 1-4 (3/7/09)
• Boston University (2009 champs - W, 1-0 (11/6/09), L, 1-2 (Beanpot)

Olympic Effect?
From the first day of Olympic events to the closing ceremonies, Northeastern’s three British Columbia natives mirrored the ways of their gold-medaled countrymen. From Feb. 12 through Feb. 28, MacLeod and McNeely tallied seven and six points, respectively, over the course of five outings. Chris Rawlings has posted a .914 save percentage (180-of-197) amidst that stretch.

Score First…Win Later
Northeastern put together a fantastic record of 13-1-1 when scoring first before meeting up with New Hampshire last weekend. The Wildcats spoiled the Huskies percentage after NU scored first in both contests this weekend, but walked with a tie and a loss. Of the 17 games in which Northeastern has scored first, the Huskies have come away with 13 victories (13-2-2). The Boston College (5-1, L) Providence (3-3, T) and both New Hampshire (4-4, T • 1-3, L) games were the only four 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), Massachusetts (Feb. 12 & 13) and Boston College (3-2, Feb. 19). Interestingly enough, Northeastern’s win against UMass on Feb. 13 marked only the second win in 10 occasions when the Huskies were tied after the first period.

The Daniels Have Their Day

Twin brothers, rookies Drew and Justin Daniels, scored in the same game for the third time this season. Each forward accounted for one goal in the New Hampshire game on Feb. 26 while Justin tallied his first-career multi-point game by tacking on a pair of helpers to boot. The first time the twins turned the trick was in the Jan. 29 victory against 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 second instance took place at Merrimack as Drew scored his first-career powerplay goal and Justin opened the scoring 00:30 into the contest. Oddly enough, the pair both recorded their first-career assists on Greg Costa’s goal in a 3-3 at Providence on Nov. 21.

Cronin Keeps Climbing the Mountain

Head coach Greg Cronin has procured at least 16 wins in his last three seasons. A win on Friday or Saturday against Boston University would also guarantee the Huskies their second-consecutive regular season over .500. It would be the first time Northeastern has strung together back-to-back winning seasons since the 1993-94 (19-13-7) and 1994-95 (16-14-5) seasons. The ’94 squad went to the NCAA Tournament, bowing out to Lake Superior State on March 26 in overtime, 6-5.

Consecutive Powerplay Goals

Kyle Kraemer tallied his fifth and sixth powerplay goals of the season, respectively, in both games of the Boston College series. Kraemer’s consecutive special teams’ goals marks the fifth time this season a Husky has posted back-to-back powerplay goals. Garrett Vermeersch turned the trick in the first two games at Colorado College while Tyler McNeely potted a pair against Maine (Dec. 12) and Dartmouth (Jan. 2). Alex Tuckerman lit the lamp with the extra skater in both Ledyard National Bank Classic games while McNeely accomplished the feat against Merrimack (Feb. 5) and Harvard (Feb. 8).

Cronin Hits a New Hockey East High

The Feb. 19 win against BC marks the first time under Greg Cronin’s tenure that NU won six-consecutive Hockey East contests. The last time Northeastern won five-straight games was near the start of the 2008-09 season. After a tie against Alaska-Fairbanks, NU rattled off five straight from Oct. 11 to Oct. 25, 2008.

No Stage Fright at Matthews Arena

Northeastern is 3-0 when Matthews Arena is sold out. The Huskies beat Bentley, 3-2, in the home opener on Oct. 16 and Boston University, 1-0, on Nov. 6. All three wins have come by one goal in front of the capacity crowd of 4,666. Northeastern has not lost at Matthews Arena since Jan. 10 against Massachusetts (4-1).

To Be the Best, You’ve Gotta Beat the Best
Northeastern knocked off its third-straight opponent ranked in the national polls with the Feb. 19 victory over Boston College. The Huskies have posted a 7-8-1 record against nationally-ranked foes.

Top Line Talent
Since Northeastern’s first line of Kyle Kraemer – Justin Daniels – Tyler McNeely has been formed, the trio has tallied 34 points (17-17-34) over the course of their last 13 games as the Huskies’ top line. Player breakdown --> (Kraemer 7-4-11 | J. Daniels 4-4-8 | McNeely 6-9-15).

Penalty Killing Unit Back on Track

The Huskies had their four-game streak of keeping opponents off the board on the powerplay broken on Sunday at Boston College. Yet, Northeastern’s penalty killing unit has allowed only two goals in its last 24 occasions and five out of its last 48 kills dating back to the Providence game on Jan. 19. The Huskies penalty-killing unit has staved off 115-of-146 (.788) chances through 32 contests.

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, UMass Lowell and Boston College all took two games off Northeastern in league play. The Huskies look to win their third regular-season series against Boston University on Friday night.

MacLeod and McNeely: Multi-Point Performers

Wade MacLeod and Tyler McNeely have both turned in four multi-point performances in their last eight games, each totally five goals and six assists. MacLeod needs only 10 points to become Northeastern’s first 100-point scorer since (38-52-90) since Mike Morris (2002-07). McNeely has already secured a career-best in points and is working on his third-straight season with 20 points or better.