CAA Preview: Elon Phoenix

October 24th, 2014

By Jake Fischer

Head Coach – Matt Matheny (6th season)

Last Season – 18-14 (11-5, Southern Conference)

Losses – F Lucas Troutman, G Sebastian Koch, F Ryley Beaumont, G Jack Isenbarger,

Newcomers- G Demitri Thompson, F Collin Luther, F Jack Anton, F Jack George, G Elijah Bryant

Entering their first season as members of the Colonial Athletic Association, the Elon Phoenix are bound to endure one of the more disappointing seasons in recent program history. Elon graduated its top three scorers from a year ago in Troutman, Koch and Beaumont, leaving coach Matheny without a returning player who averaged double digits in scoring in 2013-14.

Now it’s time for 6-4 junior guard Tanner Sampson to claim the reigns of the Phoenix. Sampson played in all 32 of Elon’s games last year, making 22 starts. He averaged 9.4 points on a night on a ridiculous 43.4 percent clip from three-point land. He has the potential to challenge Towson’s Four McGlynn and Delaware’s Kyle Anderson for the top shooter in the CAA.

Sampson will have some comfort in three seniors who all saw significant minutes last season in Austin Hamilton, Kevin Blake and Ryan Winters. However, of those three, only Hamilton managed to contribute to Elon’s offense on a nightly basis.

Matheny has a large incoming freshman class, a group that makes up the entirety of Elon’s “newcomers.” This team’s success will likely be determined by whether a true freshmen can step up and play second fiddle to Sampson. Keep your eyes on Elijah Bryant, a 6-4, 225 pound guard.

Bottom Line- There’s a reason why the newcomer Phoenix were projected to finish last in the conference in the CAA Preseason poll. This team is going to struggle on offense in a league that features some very defense-heavy squads. Elon was a deadly shooting team a year ago, draining 37.5 percent of their attempts from deep as a team. Prowess from beyond the arc will likely be the only way this team can stay in games this winter.

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Finn, Colgate Blank Northeastern

October 20th, 2014

BY: JOSH BROWN

Colgate University  goaltender Charlie Finn faced 52 shots from Northeastern over the course of the team’s two games this past weekend in upstate New York. The sophomore saved every one, leading the #6 Raiders (3-1) to a pair of 3-0 wins against a Huskies team who have started the year 0-3 for the first time since 1990.

“I thought he [Finn] played very well,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “He’s very agile. He also has a pretty good team defense right in front of him, and they play very tight so their’s not a lot of second and third opportunities.”

After both team’s failed to score in the first period of Friday’s game , freshman Mike Panowyk scored the first goal of the series for the Raiders mid-way through the second period to give them a 1-0 lead.

Northeastern, who had a ton of chances all night but just could not beat Finn, fell behind 2-0 at the 8:14 mark of the third period, before Colgate sealed it with an empty net goal with just under a minute to play in the game.

Huskies goalie Clay Witt finished with 18 saves on the night. Record wise that was not the only loss for Northeastern, the team also saw junior defenseman Colton Saucerman leave the game with what Madigan called a “lower body injury” and would not play in Saturdays game.

Derick Roy would get the start in net Saturday night for Northeastern, in what ended up being a very similar game to the night before.

After another scoreless first period, which saw Northeastern sophomore Zach Aston-Reese ejected from the game for a checking from behind penalty,  the Huskies would be forced to play without their first line right winger for the rest of the game.

“We went in short handed without Saucerman,” Madigan said, “and when you lose one of your top forwards you’re scrambling for the rest of the game.”

“But I thought our guys sucked it up,” Madigan continued, “I thought we showed some good resolve by killing off the five minute major.”

Unfortunately for Northeastern the Raiders came out flying in the second period, scoring a quick goal by Derek Freeman just under two minutes into the period to take a 1-0 lead.

Third period goals by Mike Borkowski and Kyle Baun sealed the deal for Colgate, sending the Huskies on the long bus ride home empty handed.

Roy ended his first start of the season with a career high 38 saves on the night.

“I thought Derick Roy  played exceptionally well,” Madigan said, “He stepped up and was very good.”

Madigan said despite the losses he liked the effort his team played with, an improvement from the team’s 6-2 setback against Vermont on opening night.

“We’re not obviously happy loosing two games here against a quality opponent,” Madigan said. “But this is a team we need to beat if we want to get to where we want to be. We need to play a little bit smarter and execute a little bit better.”

“We had some breakdowns, and those three or four breakdowns over the weekend cost us.”

The Huskies will be looking for their first win of the season when they lost Umass-Amherst Friday night at Matthews Arena. The game can be heard on WRBB where Josh Brown, Jeremy Leopold and Dan McLoone will have the call.

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Turk Hat Trick Powers Vermont to 6-2 Win Over Northeastern

October 11th, 2014

BY: JOSH BROWN

BOSTON- After Northeastern lost 3-2 to Acadia last Sunday in their annual exhibition game, head coach Jim Madigan said he was expecting a quick Vermont team to show up to Matthews Arena for both teams season openers Saturday night.

Madigan, who was suspended for comments made after last year’s game three loss to New Hampshire in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, watched from the rafters as Vermont (1-0-0) did just that, using their speed to dismantle the Huskies (0-1-0) 6-2 in front of 3,298 fans.

“Extremely disappointed,” said assistant coach Jerry Keefe who manned the bench for Northeastern in Madigan’s absence. “I didn’t see this coming to be honest with you. I thought we were going to come out with a lot of energy.”

Unfortunately for the Huskies, that is exactly what Vermont did, taking a 1-0 lead 16:33 into the first period on a Mike Paliotta goal from the blue line that sailed over the outstretched glove of Huskies goalie Clay Witt.

“Going into the second period I thought, alright we’ll find our way a little bit,” said Keefe.

The Huskies were never able to find their way, as Vermont scored four second period goals, exposing the Northeastern defense and beating the usually solid Huskies net minder.

Sophomore Mario Puskarich started the second period onslaught 9:16 into the period when he took a shot from the right point that Witt had no chance on, giving the Catamounts a 2-0 lead. Just over two minutes later Jonathan Turk got on the scoreboard on a power play goal that came about after Huskies defenseman Jarrett Fennell took a seemingly unnecessary tripping penalty a minute prior.

That would not be the last Northeastern heard from Turk, as he netted another goal at the 18:08 mark in the second, when he cleaned up a Mario Puskarich rebound to give Vermont a 3-0 lead.

The Catamounts finished their third period beat down with just 35 seconds left in the period when senior Jake Fallon took a puck laying on the door step and roofed it into the net to give his team a commanding lead heading into the third.

“The second period I felt like we exectured our game and sometimes you get a little puck luck,” said Vermont coach Kevin Sneddon. “I think that’s what happened tonight.”

Northeastern would not die just yet though, as Mike Szmatula scored 3:33 into the third period after Huskies junior Kevin Roy dished the puck from the behind of net to the stick of Szmatula who muscled it between two Vermont defenders and behind goalie Brody Hoffman to cut the deficit to four.

Less than two minutes later Huskies captain Dax Lauwers scored when a Mike McMurtry shot produced a juicy rebound that Lauwers poked away at until it found the back of the net.

“I thought our team battled more in the third,” Keefe said, “There was no quit on our team, so I’ll give them credit for that.”

Vermont ended any hopes for a Northeastern comeback on this day though when Turk scored his third goal of the game on a cross ice pass from Alexx Privitera that beat Derick Roy, who took over for Witt in the third period.

“Give our guys a lot of credit,” Sneddon said, “I thought we had excellent defensive sticks tonight. And not just influencing their shots but they had some good entry plays and our back pressure was pretty good.”

“When you’re talking about guys like Kevin Roy, Szmatula, really all four of their lines had dangerous players on it,” Sneddon added. “I thought we were consistent with executing that game plan tonight.”

Keefe felt a lack of effort from the Huskies in the first two periods was to blame for the loss.

“I can look at our lineup right now and say there was only maybe a few guys that looked like they showed up and wanted to make a difference tonight,” Keefe said. “They’re a good team no doubt, they looked faster, they looked stronger, they looked grittier.”

“The most disappointing thing for me, was I thought we were a soft team tonight, and we’re not built that way,” Keefe added.

This article can also be found on USCHO.com

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Five Things To Watch- Northeastern vs Vermont

October 6th, 2014

BY: JOSH BROWN

With an exhibition tilt under their belt, a 3-2 loss to Acadia, here are five things to watch for Northeastern’s first regular season game, a match up with division rival Vermont at Matthews Arena.

1. Clay Witt- After carrying the Huskies for much of last season in his first year as a starter, Clay Witt (.932 save %, 2.37 GAA) will look to replicate the success he had just a year ago. Despite allowing 4 or more goals in four of the last five games of last season, the 2013-2014 Army ROTC Three Stars Award Winner looked poised for another big year after stopping 9 of 10 shots on Sunday.

2. Sophomore Class- After combining for 125 points in their freshman season, the now sophomore Huskies are going to be asked to have an even greater impact in the 2014-2015 season. Even though it ultimately will not count, fittingly the first goal of the season was scored by a member of said class when Zach Aston-Reese buried a penalty shot in the first period of Sunday’s game. Aston-Reese, Mike Szmatula, Dalen Hedges and Boston University transfer Brendan Collier will all be asked to help carry the scoring load for Northeastern this season.

3. Play of Defense- Although the defense looked strong against Acadia even with the loss of Josh Manson in the off season, last season Northeastern struggled containing high tempo attacks, something Jim Madigan said he expects to see out of Vermont this Saturday. Freshman Garret Cockerill impressed on Sunday making the most out of his playing time, something he got a lot of. Bruins draft pick Matt Benning will also look to be an anchor on the blue lines for Northeastern

4. Kevin Roy- After scoring two more goals (19) and lodging ten more assists (27) than his already impressive freshman campaign, Roy cemented himself as one of the best players in college hockey. The Hobey Baker Candidate scored a goal in the preseason scrimmage but also uncharacteristically took two costly penalties in the third period and missed an open net opportunity to tie the game with 10 seconds remaining. Look for him to try to get on the scoreboard early against Vermont, and get his 2014-2015 campaign off to a hot start after racking up 12 points in the first six games last season.

5. Discipline- After leading the conference with 13.8 penalty minutes per game last season, Northeastern will look to nip that Achilles Heel in the foot early on this season. After taking 19 penalty minutes Sunday afternoon, the Huskies will be tested even more against Vermont and their high tempo offensive attack, and physical play they are known for.

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Acadia downs Northeastern in Exhibition

October 5th, 2014

BY: JOSH BROWN

Despite goals from Zach Aston-Reese and Kevin Roy, the #16 Northeastern Huskies started off the season on a sour note loosing to the Acadia Axemen 3-2 in the team’s only preseason game.

Northeastern scored the only goal of the first period on a Zach Aston-Reese penalty shot at 10:05 in the period. Aston-Reese, who had a breakaway was brought down by Stephen Woodworth from behind to earn the penalty shot. He beat Acadia goalie Brandon Glover 5-hole to give the Huskies the lead.

“I kind of wanted Kevin [Roy] to take it,” Aston-Reese joked. “I saw his legs open up so I just wanted to get it out as quick as possible.”

Acadia would come out with all the offensive momentum in the second period. Liam Heelis beat Huskies goalie Clay Witt over the left shoulder to tie the game at one 6:04 into the period. Witt would leave the game 5 minutes later finishing the evening with 9 saves on 10 shots.

The Axemen would take the lead with just 53 seconds remaining in the period when Boston Leier redirected a Matthew Pufahl shot by the glove of Derick Roy. The teams combined for 17 penalty minutes in the second frame.

Junior Kevin Roy would score the equalizer 8:19 into the third period on a power play goal assisted by Colton Saucerman and newcomer Garret Cockerill. Roy cleaned up a deflected Saucerman pass and shot it right over the glove of Brandon Glover for the score.

Unfortunately for the Huskies just 1:31 later the Axeman would take the lead for good when Alex Beaton beat Derick Roy blocker side to take the 3-2 lead. Despite a couple of power plays late in the game and an open net opportunity for Kevin Roy, which landed just wide, the Huskies could not find the back of the net and went home with a loss.

Derick Roy ended the day saving 13 of the 15 shots he faced after taking over for Witt. The Huskies were tacked with 19 penalty minutes on the afternoon.

“It was a fresh start, I just wanted to prove to everyone I was here to play as hard as I can,” said sophomore transfer Brendan Collier after his first action as a Husky. “I’m five minutes down the road from my old school [Boston University], and I’m five minutes still from my house. I’ve played in this building when I was in middle school, elementary school….I love playing here.”

Despite the loss Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan was happy with the focus his team showed Sunday afternoon.

“I was pleased with the effort, you can never sacrifice effort,” Madigan said. “I thought we got a little bit to loopy at times. We have a little more skill this year.”

The Huskies will begin the regular season Saturday night against Vermont, a game Madigan perceives as a big test early on for Northeastern.

“We know on Saturday with Vermont the way they play it’s up tempo, it’s fast paced, the tempo will be a lot faster,” Madigan said.

That game can be heard on WRBB with pregame beginning at 6:45 from Matthews Arena.

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7-footer Sajon Ford commits to Northeastern

September 30th, 2014

By: Zolan Kanno-Youngs

Sajon Ford, the 7-foot little brother to Northeastern forward Quincy Ford, has officially committed to Northeastern, according to the elder Ford.
Sajon is one of 10 siblings from Quincy’s St. Petersburg, Fla family. The two brothers will have one year to play together after Quincy red-shirted last season due to back surgery.

In addition to confirming his brother’s vocal commitment to a OBW reporter, Quincy also took to Instagram to show support for his brother, writing:

“Big [shout-out] to the little bro [Sajon Ford] and his commitment to Northeastern! Welcome to the NU Family! So proud of you and all the hard work you put in. Lookin forward to a year playin wit ya boi !!”

This article can also be found on OneBidWonders.com

jbrown The Dog Pound

Hockey East Preview- Northeastern University Huskies

September 29th, 2014

BY: JOSH BROWN

Head Coach – Jim Madigan (4th Season)

Last Season – 19-14-4 (HE: 10-8-2) Lost in Hockey East Quarterfinals

Losses: F Braden Pimm, F Zak Stone, F Ryan Belonger, F Cody Ferriero, F Nathan Ferriero, D Josh Manson, G Bryan Mountain

Newcomers: F Dylan Sikura, F Nolan Stevens, F Ryan Rosenthal, F Brendan Collier  D Trevor Owens, D Garret Cockerill, G Jake Theut

Despite winning an impressive, 10 more games last year, as opposed to their forgettable 2012-2013 campaign, it was another trophyless season on Huntington Avenue for the Huskies. Despite the lack of hardware, the Huskies received out-of-this-world play from now senior goaltender Clay Witt, and had a freshman class that proved to be one of, if not the best in the country.

The Huskies had one of their most offensively potent seasons in recent memory throughout the 2013-2014 run.  Northeastern finished second in Hockey East with 3.16 goals per game (2.60 goals/game in conference games only) behind breakout seasons from senior Braden Pimm (20 goals), freshman Mike Szmatula (15 goals) along with another impressive season by sophomore Hobey Baker candidate Kevin Roy (19 goals). Szmatula’s freshman classmates Dalen Hedges, John Stevens and Zach Aston-Reese were also solid contributors lighting the lamp 8, 7 and 8 times respectively in their first seasons as Huskies. Coach Madigan will be looking for these guys, along with freshman Dylan Sikura and sophomore tranfers Brendan Collier and Ryan Rosenthal to carry the load this upcoming season.

Returning in net this season will be none other than Clay Witt. Witt, who was a four time Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week winner, a Hockey East Second Team All-Star and a Hobey Baker Award Candidate finished his first full season with a 17-12-3 record, a 2.37 goals against average and a .932 save percentage, which was good for third in the nation.  The Huskies left Witt out to dry quite frequently last season, forcing him to make upwards of double the saves Northeastern was putting on the opposing goalie if they wanted a chance to stay in games. That is going to have to change this season, as the Huskies need to try and rely on consistent offensive and defensive play instead of relying just on their goalie to keep them in games.

Last year the Huskies Achilles heel was untimely penalties. Northeastern ranked first in the conference, taking just under 14 penalty minutes a game, a stat that cost them many games down the stretch run. If the Huskies can straighten their discipline out this season, Northeastern will figure to be a team who can win, or at least compete, for a trophy or two at the Garden this season.

Bottom line: Northeastern should be expected to be a top five team again this season. Although one can not expect Witt to put up the same numbers he did last season, another solid season between the pipes should be coming from the senior. Goal scoring should not be an issue for the Huskies this season. Except for the loss of Pimm (by no means a small loss), Northeastern returns the core of their offense with a year of experience under their belt. The loss of Josh Manson hurts the team defensively, but expect to see Matt Benning, Colton Saucerman, Dan Lauwers and Dustin Darou all step up and play big minutes between the lines, in what should be an exciting year of hockey at Mathews Arena.

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Hockey East Preview- Boston College Eagles

September 28th, 2014

BY: JOSH BROWN

Head Coach- Jerry York (42nd Season, 21st at Boston College)

Last Season-28-8-4 (HE: 16-2-2)

Losses:  F Johnny Gaudreau, F Kevin Hayes, F Patrick Brown, F Bill Arnold, D Isaac MacLeod

Newcomers: F Alex Tuch, F Zach Sanford, D Noah Hanifan

92 goals. That is the productions the Eagles lose with the departures of Kevin Hayes, Bill Arnold, Patrick Brown, and most notably Johnny Gaudreau. The Eagles, who pride themselves on rebuilding and reloading, will certainly have a tough test in front of themselves this season to recover from the losses of the core of their team from the past couple seasons.

How do the Eagles replace such production? They will hope to have huge breakout seasons by Bruins draft pick Ryan Fitzgerald and Austin Cangelosi who scored 13 and 10 goals respectively for Boston College last year among many others.

The goal tending tandem of  freshman Thatcher Demko and junior Brian Billett returns for the 2014-2015 season. Both goalies posted practically equal numbers last season, but Demko got most of the big reps, such as in the Beanpot and in the NCAA tournament. Expect him to be the starter for Boston College, but Billett should definitely be expected to get some time in net.

Although the Eagles may not finish a-top Hockey East in every statistical season as they did a year ago, one can never count out a Jerry York Boston College team, and until proven otherwise, should be considered favorites in Hockey East.

Other players to watch for Boston College are defense man Michael Matheson, who did a very solid job last year patrolling the blue lines as well as forward Adam Gilmour who proved himself to be a budding star in the making for the Eagles last season.

Bottom line: Although the Eagles have what many would consider a “rebuilding” season, the Eagles still have plenty of talent to stay in the top three in Hockey East. Even if they struggle out the gate, they are a team that’s still going to be there at the end of the season, with a chance to win a couple of trophies at the Garden.

jbrown The Dog Pound

Hockey East Preview- Merrimack College Warriors

September 22nd, 2014

BY: JEREMY LEOPOLD

Head Coach- Mark Dennehy (10th Season)

Last Season-8-22-3 (HE: 3-15-2)

Losses: F Rhett Bly, F Connor Toomey, F Mike Collins, D Brendan Ellis, D Jordan Heywood, D Thomas McCarthy, G Sam Marotta

Newcomers: F Jace Henning, F Teddy McCarran, F Brett Seney, F Mathieu Tibbet, F Alfred Larsson D Jared Kolquist, D Aaron Titcomb, D Marc Biega, D Braxton Bilous, G Collin Delia

The Warriors took a major step back last season finishing under .500 in the conference for the first time since the 2008-2009 season.

Last place Merrimack did not do anything well last year finishing at or near the bottom of the conference in every major category. They were last in scoring offense and defense and had the worst special teams in the conference.

Dennehy’s last place scoring offense (1.6 g/gm) is going to take another hit this season with the loss of leading point scorer Mike Collins, who had a hand in 40% of the Warriors goals last season. Junior Brian Christie and senior Quinn Gould who were responsible for 14 points apiece will both need to step up in a big way to dig this offense out of the cellar.

The blue line is not looking much more promising for the Warriors. The losses of key facilitators Brendan Ellis and Jordan Heywood leave gaping holes in the back where they were already weak, allowing 3.3 g/gm. The one bright spot for Dennehy’s club among defenseman is the return of Justin Mansfield who, in his junior season last year, played in all 33 games and was one of only two Warriors to post in the positive for plus/minus. If Mansfield can stay out the penalty box, a place he knew well last year, racking up 36 penalty minutes.  Besides Mansfield, senior Dan Kolomotis and sophomore Jonathan Lashyn will need to step up after being two of the best defenseman for Merrimack last season but average compared to the rest of the conference.

Senior Rasmus Tirronen will handle the goaltending duties for the Warriors again after an unspectacular 2013- 2014 campaign. Tirronen’s .895 save percentage and .267 win percentage were good for last in conference among qualifying goalies. With no real competition for the job, it looks like Dennehy does not have much choice but to start his senior and hope he plays better than last season.

Bottom line: Don’t expect too much improvement from Merrimack this season. While they are unlikely to be as bad road as they were last year posting only one win, they did not gain much and they lost the bulk of their offense. Don’t be surprised when the Warrior’s are bottom feeders yet again this season in Hockey East.

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