CAA Preview- Drexel University Dragons

By: Jeremy Leopold

4732_drexel_dragons-alternate-2002Head Coach: James “Bruiser” Flint (15th season)

Last Season: 11-19 (9-9 CAA 6th place)

Losses: G Damion Lee, G Freddie Wilson, C Sooren Derboghosian

Newcomers: G Terrell Allen, F Andrew Cartwright, G Miles Overton (transfer will sit out 2015-2016 season)


The big news out of Drexel this offseason was the transfer of star guard Damion Lee. Forgoing his final year of eligibility at Drexel, Lee decided to transfer to Louisville where he will be able to play immediately as a graduate transfer. Without Lee this is a much different looking squad from the one that disappointed last season.

Flint’s squad struggled out of the gate last season starting 4-14. They then followed that up by reeling off six straight wins, all against conference opponents. They then lost three in a row before an injury forced Lee to miss the final two regular season games and the CAA tournament. They went 1-2 in those games, including a season ending loss in the first round to a last place College of Charleston team.

Losing Lee down the stretch was huge because he was Drexel’s only real weapon. Lee led the conference in scoring despite playing on the second lowest scoring offense in the league. By the end of the season, Lee had actually accounted for more than a third of Drexel’s points at 21.4 per game, and even when he wasn’t scoring he was facilitating, averaging 2.3 assists.

The one saving grace for the Dragons was their defense, where they led the conference in points against giving up just 64.3 per game. Unfortunately for Drexel, a lot of their defensive success can be credited to Lee, who’s length and athleticism at 6-foot-6 wreaked havoc, landing him in the top 5 of the conference in steals with more than 1.5 per game. Even on the glass, Lee was one of two Dragons to average more than five rebounds per game.

Looking at this season, no one player can fill the void but there are a number of guys poised to step up. After a solid freshman campaign in 2013-2014, Major Canady looked like he was ready to become a solid number two option in the backcourt, but an ankle injury kept him out for the entire season last year delaying his potential breakout until this season.

Staying in the backcourt, Tavon Allen is the guy who Drexel will look to shoulder the biggest load. Allen was the only Dragon not named Lee to average double digits in points last season, and was the team’s primary facilitator, leading the Dragons in assists. The biggest step forward Allen will need to make is in his efficiency where he struggled last season, shooting just 32% from the field and 28% from deep.

Rashann London had a similar season to Allen efficiency wise and will also look to take a big step forward after starting all 30 games as a freshman. London showed that Flint won’t hesitate in playing his younger guys, but incoming freshman Terrell Allen will have to fight for minutes in a crowded backcourt.

In the frontcourt, there isn’t much depth with Rodney Williams and Mohamed Bah serving as the only big men who made much of an impact last season. Freshman Andrew Cartwright is likely a year away from getting playing time, and Tyshawn Myles and Austin Williams were unimpressive in limited minutes last season.

Bottom Line: The loss of Lee is devastating for Flint’s squad. While there is still some talent, especially in the backcourt, Drexel will have to go through a difficult adjustment period of finding guys to fill Lee’s big shoes. Look for them to finish in the mid to lower half of the pack this season with a big improvement coming next season when Wake Forest transfer Miles Overton becomes eligible after sitting out this year due to transfer rules.

Huskies Down Colgate 2-1 in First Game of 2015-2016 Season

By: Josh Brown

BOSTON- Winning the first game of the season, for every team, is a way to put last year behind you and start with a fresh slate.

For Northeastern, getting the first win off their back had a little extra purpose this time around.

After starting off the season 0-8-1 last year, it only took the Huskies one game to get that coveted first win, defeating Colgate (1-2) 2-1 Saturday night at Matthews Arena.

“It’s great to obviously start the season off with a real good win like that,” said Huskies coach Jim Madigan. “I like the way we played for the first game of the year. Certainly there are areas we’re going to have to get a lot better, but I thought we pressured the puck, I thought our puck pursuit was pretty good at times.”

“We might have lost a little patience offensively. Defensively I like what we did. We limited them to under 20 shots, and that’s a real good hockey club over there. They’ve got some real good offensive catalysts who can score goals, and are threats that we had to be careful of.”

Tied at one with under 10 minutes left to go in the game, sophomore Nolan Stevens collected a Colton Saucerman pass, skated up ice while simultaneously deking around three Colgate defenders, and eventually beat Charlie Finn five-hole in what ended up being the game-winner.

“It was kind of a broken play in our zone, and we regrouped and there was a lot of ice in front of us,” said Stevens. “I just got some speed and I had a lot of room so (Saucerman) passed it to me, a great pass, and the defenseman’s gap was close to me and I thought I could make a move and ended up getting by one guy and reacted to the next guy, luckily got by him and poked it in.”

Finn, who had seven and a half periods of shutout hockey in net against Northeastern dating back to last season, lost the streak midway through the second period, but ended the night with 41 saves. For the Huskies, Derick Roy faced a modest 17 shots, corralling 16 of them, on a night where Northeastern held a 43-17 advantage in the shot department.

After dominating the first period and spending much of the time in their offensive zone, the Huskies would get on the board first midway through the second.

With 7:51 left in the frame, Eric Williams fired a shot from the blue line that beat traffic and found the stick of John Stevens camped out in front of the net, ultimately getting by Finn as well for the lead.

Just two minutes later the Raiders knotted the score up at two courtesy of Tyson Spink.

After Willie Brooks put a shot on net that Roy was easily able to knock aside, Tylor Spink found his brother in the middle of the slot, who beat Roy low on his glove side.

Both squad’s came out reeling in the third period, pushing the tempo and playing five-on-five for the whole frame after they combined for 10 penalties (five each) throughout the first two periods, but saw no goals come as a result.

Despite numerous odd-man rushes in the first ten minutes of the final period, both Finn and Roy held strong in net, not allowing anything get by them.

With just over eight minutes to go, the Huskies got the winner from Stevens and were able to hang on for the win.

“It’s tough,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughan, “it’s opening night for them. I thought they had a lot more energy than we did for a lot of the game.”

“I think the shots were indicative of that. With that said, it’s tough on the road and I thought our goalie gave us a chance to win the game. We hung around and we thought we could put a little more pressure on them in the third, and we were doing that until they scored, and then they came at us pretty hard again.”

“It’s not easy, it never is, but they were better than us tonight and we’ve got to find a way to regroup and figure it out.”

For Madigan, the fifth year skipper was most happy with his team sticking to their “identity” for a full 60-minutes.

“I think we go into the game wanting to play to our identity and who we are as a hockey club,” said Madigan. “I liked the way we did do that.”

“We talked about that all week long; playing fast, playing with purpose, pressure the puck, pursue pucks, relentlessness to our game and we did do that, and because of that we were able to, in the offensive zone, control the down low and in the corners.”

“To win a 2-1 game…credit to the kids who stayed with it and found a way to win.”

This article can also be found on USCHO.



Northeastern Captain Kevin Roy Back for Degree, Primed for Memorable Season

KevinRoy_620By Ryan Fallon & Josh Brown

It’s a jarring statement to read, at first.

“We just thought the best decision was to come back and focus on finishing my degree here at Northeastern, and helping this team have success and try to accomplish some special things.”

These are words that you don’t see very often in the college hockey world. From Jack Eichel to Devin Shore, it’s not often that the best of the best in the NCAA finish out their eligibility.

For Kevin Roy, though, the decision isn’t so surprising.

“I would have had the opportunity to play junior hockey in Quebec like most do,” said Roy, while representing Northeastern along with head coach Jim Madigan at Hockey East Media Day last month. “At an early age I knew that college, education, was really important for a career… I wanted to get the highest degree of education I could while doing the thing I love the most and that is playing hockey, so I’m lucky enough to be where I am now.”

Why put off the pros for another year though? Countless players have completed their degrees during the offseason.

“It means a lot [finishing this year], because you just get it over with and you can just now focus on hockey after (graduating) without worrying about having to come back in summers and finish,” said Roy, “ so I think it’s real important, you always have that to fall back on.”

“If I was going to leave and not get my degree I just don’t think it would have been the right decision for me.”

Since almost his first month on campus, fans and media alike had assumed that the Huskies would have Roy for two seasons, maybe three. Not many would have thought that come 2015, Roy would still be here, in the classroom and on the ice as team captain.

It was not unexpected for Jim Madigan, though.

“It didn’t take me by surprise,” said the fifth-year head coach, “[He’s] a real mature young man and… with the advice of his mom and dad and his advisers sat down and said ‘you know what, I want to graduate from Northeastern, I want to get my degree.’”

For Roy and his family, the personal satisfaction of walking across the TD Garden stage in May cannot be rivaled – especially in a historic building where the forward has left his mark, producing some unforgettable Beanpot moments. The fans who have watched him on St. Botolph Street for the past three seasons, though, have seen some pretty satisfying feats as well. Everyone has their own personal favorite Kevin Roy memory. How could you not?

Whether it be the birth of “Monday Night Roy” with a hat-trick against Boston University in the first round of the 2013 Beanpot, his game-winner against third-ranked Minnesota that helped turn the Huskies 2014-2015 campaign around, or the blistering 33 points he posted after the middle of December last season, it’s hard to argue that Roy isn’t one of the most electric players in Northeastern hockey history. He’s got the accolades to back it up.

Roy was a 2015 All-American and Hockey East First-Team All-Star.  He’s a two-time Hobey Baker Award Candidate and a frontrunner for the 2016 edition. He’s garnered four Player of the Week honors and two Player of the Month awards. He’s posted seven goals and four assists in six career Beanpot games and is the first Husky since Jordon Shields in 1994 to log back-to-back 40 point seasons. He has 124 points in his collegiate career, enough to make him the national leader among returning players, putting him just 29 points from Northeastern’s top 10 in all-time scoring. It’s a staggering resume, yet Roy remains humble.

“I try not to [think about it], because it’s easy to look at points or goals,” said Roy, “but at the end of the day that’s not really what helps the team. It does, but not only that.”

“I think you’ve got to focus on the little things, like being consistent, working hard every day and trying to lead this team to success, and that will bring the success needed but I try not to think of personal stuff like that because that’s not really what matters to me right now.”

Madigan, though, doesn’t hesitate in naming him among the best, if not the best in program history.

“I’ve been fortunate to play with many of those guys in the top 10 (in NU scoring history),” said Madigan, “or see a lot of them play, or just know of them and know of their accomplishments. He might be the most skilled guy in that group.”

“Hockey in different eras, the game changes it and evolves, and during the timeline when I played in the 80’s it was much more offensive, and now there’s so much attention to defensive play and it’s hard to create that offense. He’s going to get in the top ten but I don’t know in different eras if he might not be number one in a more offensive styled game.”

“That’s not disrespect to the other guys because they were all great players and some of them were teammates of mine. He’s just that dynamic and exceptionally offensive player.”

Of course, Madigan is ecstatic to have him back for another season.

“We’ve got one of the top players, if not the top player in the league coming back. Offensively he’s gifted, he’s dynamic and he’s going to get his goals, he’s going to get his points, but what he also does is takes the burden off other guys, he wants to shoulder that responsibility, he wants to assume the leadership role.”

“It’s like a number one pitcher in baseball,” continued Madigan. “He’s the ace of our team, he’s the ace of our offense and in his own quiet way takes on that responsibility and makes it easier for our other players, our other skilled players, they can just play their game because he’ll assume the responsibility, plus the other teams will pay special attention to him freeing up some other guys.”

That is not to say he has been without criticism. Often chastised by fans and the media for what they deemed to be a less than stellar effort defensively over his first two seasons, Roy acknowledges that he heard the critics. He answered in a big way in 2014-2015, becoming one of the Huskies’ best players on both sides of the ice down the stretch. A lot of it, he simply equates to growing up and maturing as a player.

“I think (I have) a lot more pro-approach to the game, to practice every day, to the weight room,” said Roy. “I just learned how to be consistent in all three zones.”

“I’ve been criticized before about defensive play, but now I know, my coaches know, that there’s no issue with me being on the ice with a minute left up 3-2.”

“He’s grown as a player in terms of his play away from the puck and his commitment to playing away from the puck,” added Madigan. “Playing away from the puck is in all three zones, not just in the defensive zone, so he understands for him to get to the next level, you have to have one thing that’s going to get you to the NHL level, whether it be offensive play, whether it be defensive play, and for Kevin it’s offensively.”

“But you still have to be well-rounded and he’s been smart enough to work on those parts of his game and he’s committed himself the second half of last year to being a real good player in practice, to make games that much easier for him.”

Taking notice of his hard work and leadership mentality, Madigan named Roy the 80th captain in Northeastern history at the annual end-of-year banquet in April. After two years of growth on and off the ice, this is now, more than ever, Roy’s team.

“In two weeks I’ve been here with the team you’re learning a lot from the experience of being captain,” said Roy at Hockey East Media Day. “You try to develop some things you wouldn’t really develop if you weren’t.”

“For sure it’s made me more focused and even more excited for this year.”

The important thing, Roy says, is consistency.

“When you play 34 games in college you can’t take one game off. With 34 games you can’t take a night off and I think that’s something we’ve got to approach is that day in and day out at practice or what – so we’ve got to approach it consistently every practice, be the best we can be, be focused.”

When it’s all said and done this season, the ultimate destination for Roy is one that has been years in the making, after growing up in the hockey-crazed small town of Lac-Beauport, Quebec: the NHL.

The Anaheim Ducks 97th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, Roy has attended the team’s developmental camp the past two summers, notably starring in his second viral video (the first being the 2006 Youtube hit “wicked good Canadian”) when he scored a beautiful goal showcasing handles that Northeastern fans have been more than accustomed to over the recent years.

“Any time I go there you learn so much from the coaches there, it’s special to have that kind of experience,” said Roy. “They always have little pointers and stuff that make me better, so without even knowing it I definitely learned some stuff that I’m bringing this year.”

What he wants to work on before making the jump is simple: “Everything. Bigger, faster, stronger, you always have something to work on, you always can get better, whoever you are and whatever level you play it doesn’t matter so I just think I’ve got to be more consistent every weekend, every night and that’s my main goal right now.”

At the moment, though, Roy is focused on the here and now – including playing in front of his brother, starting netminder Derick.

“It’s been so fun. Not a lot of players have the opportunity to play with their brothers like we do, so I have a lot of respect [for him] because he works hard every day and he’s worked his way up, and now he’s going to try and prove what he can do.”

Playing and graduating with his brother will be unforgettable. The degree is crucial. But on the ice, according to his head coach, Roy has one goal in mind this year.

“From a hockey perspective, Kevin wanted to lead Northeastern to a championship. We have not had a championship. We’ve been close, and we’ve been as close as anything in the Beanpot the last three years in the championship game… He’s a competitive guy and he wants to lead this team to those areas of success.”

If he has the kind of year fans are hoping for, when Roy takes the stage at the TD Garden in May, the Northeastern colors may finally be flying from the hallowed rafters above him.

Photo Courtesy of Northeastern Athletics

Hockey East Notebook – 10/8/2015

By: James Duffy

College hockey is back.

The games may have been just exhibitions, but last weekend, 10 of the 12 teams in Hockey East opened up their season with practice games against teams hailing from the Great North. Teams from Hockey East combined to be 8-2 against these Canadian squads, with the only losses by Boston College and Vermont. Providence and Northeastern were the biggest winners of the weekend, both slaughtering Simon Fraser University, winning 9-1 and 10-2 respectively.

Freshmen led the way for Northeastern, as first years accounted for 6 of the 10 Husky goals. Jason Cotton got a hat trick, and Adam Gaudette, Lincoln Griffin and Eric Williams all potted goals of their own. Kevin Roy opened the scoring just two minutes into the game, and from that point it was never a contest. NU found the back of the net twice more that period, twice in the 2nd, and erupted for 5 goals in the 3rd. This was one of those games where Northeastern had one less goal than Simon Fraser had shots.

Providence had the same fortune against SFU, winning by 8 goals as well, with Trevor Mingoia, Eric Foley and Jake Walman all netting a pair. Things turned out worse for Boston College, as they let up 5 unanswered goals to New Brunswick in their exhibition loss. Their star goalie Thatcher Demko did stop all 16 shots in his one period of play, so there isn’t a whole ton of concern after the loss. It looks like the penalty kill could use some work in Chestnut Hill though as they committed 8 penalties and allowed New Brunswick to convert on 3 of the man advantages.


Home team on the right, winners in bold.

Saturday, October 3rd

Queens 1-3 Connecticut

Acadia 2-4 Boston University 

Francis Xavier 1-4 Merrimack

Simon Fraser 1-9 Providence

Dalhousie 0-4 Massachusetts

New Brunswick 5-2 Boston College

Sunday, October 4

Simon Fraser 2-10 Northeastern

New Brunswick 2-3 UMass Lowell

St. Francis Xavier 4-6 New Hampshire

Acadia 2-1 Vermont

The Week Ahead

With the exception of Notre Dame, who will play a pair of exhibitions, every Hockey East team will play their first real game of the season this weekend. While all the games are non-conference to start, there are still some noteworthy contests on tap. The University of Maine will host the annual Ice Breaker Tournament in Portland to officially kick off the hockey season, welcoming Michigan State, Lake Superior and North Dakota for the 19th installation of the tourney. One of the most interesting matchups featuring a Hockey East team this weekend is the home-and-home between Miami (OH) and Providence, the 11th and 7th ranked teams respectively. Other games to watch are Boston University traveling to upstate New York to face Union, and Vermont trekking to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers.

Northeastern will be right here at Matthews Arena this weekend, as the Huskies look to open the season with a win over Colgate on Saturday night. Colgate, ranked 20th in the preseason poll, are led by junior goalie Charlie Finn, who finished 13th in the nation in save percentage and goals allowed average last season. Finn is off to a rocky start, having allowed 6 goals on 41 shots in two games against Mercyhurst, so the high flying Husky offense should look to capitalize. Last season Colgate swept a two game set against the Huskies, winning both games 3-0, so Northeastern will look to change their luck this time around.

CAA Preview – Delaware Blue Hens

By: Matt MacCormack

blue-hen-logoHead Coach: Monte Ross (10th season)

Last Season: 10-20 (CAA: 9-9), 6th place

Losses: G Kyle Anderson, F Tom Allshouse, G Matt Grassi

Newcomers: G Tyler Burns, G Curtis Lochner

The conversation about this year’s Blue Hens squad starts and ends with a pair of standout sophomores who thrived in their first year in the CAA a season ago.

Point guard Kory Holden and forward Chivarsky Corbett, both CAA All-Rookie Team selections in 2014-15, figure to be the lynchpins of head coach Monte Ross’s team. The duo were the second and third highest scorers, respectively, amongst CAA freshman last season.

Ross will be hoping his team starts off better than last season, when the Blue Hens lost their first ten games. A lousy defense (last in the CAA with 72 ppg allowed) and turnover-prone offense (8th in turnover margin) led to much of the early-season woes. Things started to click late, however, as a slew of young and inexperienced players began to emerge.

UD finished the year by tallying a 9-7 record in their final 16 contests. Along the way, the Hens twice bested eventual CAA No.1 seed William and Mary, and fought their way to the six spot in the conference tournament. Once there, the Blue Hens came within a missed layup of upsetting eventual champion Northeastern in the second round, but fell, 67-64.

An encouraging late-season surge gave way to a somewhat-tumultuous offseason. Coach Ross’s contract was up, and rumors swirled that the skipper, who had led the Hens to a conference title and NCAA tournament appearance in 2013-14, was on the hot seat.

Ross eventually fetched a three-year extension, but the air of uncertainty damaged recruiting hopes. Recruit Eli Cain, a 6’5 guard who received interest from Oklahoma and Memphis, bolted to DePaul, leaving the Hens with just two incoming recruits. Guards Curtis Lochner and Tyler Burns, a transfer from Division III King’s College (PA), don’t seem primed for much playing time this season.

Despite the graduation of last year’s leading scorer G Kyle Anderson (14.4 ppg), the Hens return most of their big-time producers. Anderson brought leadership and a go-to scorer moxy, but the Blue Hens will return 78% of their scoring and 91% of their rebounding from a season ago. Redshirt senior captain PF Marvin King-Davis (9.7 pts, 5.7 rebs last year) will step into the leadership role.

Holden was just one of two players in Division 1 who averaged 12 points, 3 rebounds and 4.5 assists last season. The other? Former Ohio State and current Los Angeles Laker PG D’Angelo Russell. While the Blue Hen’s ball handler isn’t quite at that level, he does figure to be one of the conference’s best players this year.

The same could be said for Corbett, whose combination of athleticism and three-point precision make him one of the CAA’s most complete wings. The 6’7 sophomore should take on a bigger role in the offense this season; expect his freshman averages of 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds to shoot upwards.

The Blue Hens’ frontcourt will be intimidating, with redshirt junior C Mo Jeffers (6’9) and King-Davis (6’7) holding down the paint. The Hens were third in rebounding in the conference last year, and should be similarly dominant this year.

SG Cazmon Hayes, who started all 30 games a season ago while averaging 11.4 points per contest, is another big contributer. The 6’4 junior is an aggressive slasher and defender, and also totes an improving three-point jumper.

Junior Devonne Pinkard, a 6’6 G/F, figures to be the first man off the bench after chipping in 4.1 points per contest last year.

Bottom Line: With some of the most intriguing young talent in the conference, the Blue Hens are certainly a team on the rise. Kory Holden has the makings of a superstar, and he has some deadly weapons around him. Defense and lack of experience are potential issues, but the Blue Hens seem destined to be make the leap to the top-tier of the CAA this season.

Eight Different Huskies Score in 10-2 Rout Over Simon Fraser

By: Dan McLoone

BOSTON- Goals came early and often in Northeastern’s exhibition opener on Sunday afternoon, as the Huskies put 64 shots on goal and dismantled Simon Fraser, 10-2. A year after starting off the season with a disappointing loss to Acadia, Jim Madigan’s squad controlled the puck for most of the day and dictated the pace of the game. Freshman Jason Cotton scored a hat trick to lead the way for an offense that saw eight different skaters score, including five freshmen.

“I think we’re going to have enough goals during the course of the year, but I think we’re going to have to focus on our (defensive) zone and making sure we’re taking care of our own zone as we try and score goals,” said Madigan.

Senior captain Kevin Roy opened the scoring for the Huskies, sending a shot off of the glove of Clan goaltender Lyndon Stanwood just two minutes into the game. The goal kickstarted a night of offensive production, as Stanwood was peppered with shots for a full 60 minutes.

30 seconds later, Northeastern struck again, as freshman Patrick Schule poked home the puck in front of the net to take a 2-0 lead.

Northeastern continued to chip away at Stanwood, netting their third goal on a power play opportunity that saw Zach Aston-Reese take a nice centering pass from Nolan Stevens and one-timed it home. Mike McMurtry made it 4-0 in the second period with a beautiful finish on a centering pass from Garret Cockerill.

The final period belonged to the freshmen, as Adam Gaudette poked home a pass from Aston-Reese for his first goal in a Huskies uniform just two minutes into the frame. Playing on their heels for most of the game, Simon Fraser was able to get one back 20 seconds later when Mak Barden beat freshman goalie Ryan Ruck to make it 5-1.

Cotton got the first of his three two minutes later, firing a shot past Stanwood into the top corner of the net to make it 6-1. Northeastern took a 7-1 lead five minutes later, as Roy carried the puck up ice for a 2-on-1 opportunity, sending a pass to Lincoln Griffin that he slotted through Stanwood’s legs.

“We see that they can score, they can make plays, and we need some big guys to come in and help us win,” said Roy, on the impact of the freshmen in their first game for Northeastern. “It’s a good start and we’ll see come next week when we face a good opponent.”

After killing off a 5-on-3 opportunity for Simon Fraser, Eric Williams got on the scoresheet with a rocket of a shot from the blue line past Stanwood’s right shoulder. Simon Fraser got one back after the faceoff, as Adam Callegari directed a centering pass past Ruck to make it 8-2. The last two minutes belonged to Cotton, as he finished off his hat trick in just over a minute. Cotton took the faceoff win into the attacking zone and wristed a shot into the net for his second, and then deeked around Stanwood the next time the Huskies came up the ice to finish the scoring.

For Northeastern, the win sends them into their matchup against Colgate next weekend on a high note. After dropping two to Colgate in last year’s 0-8-1 start, Madigan hopes to use Sunday’s performance as a springboard for the start of the regular season.

“It was our first test. We’ve been working for the last three weeks to get to this point and it’s a barometer for us to start judging ourselves,” said Madigan. “I saw some good things out here from our team and then a lot of things we know we need to get better at.”

Josh Brown contributed to this article.

Hockey East Preview – Northeastern Huskies

By: Ryan Fallon

Head Coach – Jim Madigan, 5th season

Last season – 16-16-4 (11-11-2 in Hockey East, 6th); lost in 1st round of conference playoffs to Merrimack

Losses – F Gus Harms, F Adam Reid, F Torin Snydeman, F Mike Szmatula, D Mike Gunn, D Dax Lauwers, G Clay Witt

Newcomers: F Jason Cotton , F Adam Gaudette, F Lincoln Griffin, F Sam Kurker, F Patrick Schule, D Jon Barry, D Eric Williams, G Ryan Ruck

For 21 games in the middle of last season, Northeastern played like one of the best teams in the nation. With a potent offense, the second-best power play in the conference, and two goaltenders on their game, the Huskies posted a 15-3-3 record. Outside of that stretch, though, the team was plagued with inconsistent scoring, a dreadful penalty kill, and mediocre goaltending.  Northeastern grabbed just 1 win in these other 15 games and saw its season come to an early end.

On paper, it’s tough to argue that the Huskies haven’t lost a significant amount of talent this summer. They graduated two of their top forwards, their best defenseman, and their starting goaltender. On top of that, Mike Szmatula, the team’s best offensive threat not named Kevin Roy, decided to leave the program and transfer to Minnesota. There are some big shoes to fill.

Despite all of this, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful on St. Botolph Street. Kevin Roy is back for his senior season, a Hobey hopeful who leads all returning NCAA players in career points (124). The offense will also lean heavily on returning juniors Dalen Hedges and Zach Aston-Reese. Hedges posted the sixth-most points in Hockey East play last year (24 points; 34 overall) while Aston-Reese found his groove as a net-front presence at the end of last season, with 10 goals in his last 11 games. Northeastern will also look for continued improvement from Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Dylan Sikura, who struggled for most of his freshman campaign but rebounded to score 4 times in his last 7 games. Among the incoming forwards, Sam Kurker is expected to step in and contribute immediately. Kurker posted 24 goals and 49 points last year in the USHL. With two Hockey East seasons under his belt from across the Fens at Boston University, Kurker will bring valuable experience. Look for freshman Adam Gaudette to chip in as well, a fifth round pick of the Vancouver Canucks who posted 30 points in the USHL last season.

On the back end, the Huskies return a veteran defensive corps with room to grow. Matt Benning made significant strides in his defensive game during his sophomore season, while also racking up 24 assists. Dustin Darou is back, after emerging as one of the team’s better defensemen last winter. Colton Saucerman, a fellow senior and key piece of the power play, will join him. Northeastern will rely on continued improvement from sophomores Garrett Cockerill and Trevor Owens, but freshmen Jon Barry and Eric Williams will provide needed support. Williams, in particular, will be someone to keep an eye on; he was named the top defenseman in the Canadian Junior Hockey League a year ago.

In net, Derick Roy has the leg up after posting an impressive 0.922 save percentage in 7 games after the winter break. Madigan won’t hesitate to play the best goalie, though, with incoming recruit Ryan Ruck expected to challenge Roy and Jake Theut for time. Ruck posted a .903 save percentage last season in the USHL.

Bottom Line: With Kevin Roy and solid depth at forward, the offense should be a strength for Northeastern. If Matt Benning shows continued improvement and the freshmen can contribute, the blue line will hold its own. As usual, the team’s fate will likely be decided with goaltending. If the Huskies can find quality play between the pipes, they will find themselves on home ice come playoff time – and potentially make a push for a first round bye.


Interview with Jim Madigan – HE Media Day

At Hockey East Media Day last week, WRBB had the chance to sit down with Jim Madigan. He reflected on the last few years and looked ahead to what’s in store for Northeastern hockey.

WRBB: Looking back to when you first started in fall of 2011, what do you wish you could tell yourself back then?

Jim Madigan: “I wish I could tell myself that it’s more about the process than the outcome. And by that I mean building the foundation from the first day we started right through each season, and then building from year to year and we didn’t have that foundation, and we didn’t focus on that process until more (until) after our second year. And I wish if I could have gone back…we’d focus on the process more than the outcome.”

WRBB: From an outsiders prospective, as well as you’ve played the last two years, you’ve been very streaky at times, inconsistent, and the last two years have ended much quicker than I think anyone on the team or around the team anticipated. How are you guys approaching that this year to avoid that sudden let-down at the end of the season?

JM: “I would say two years ago we weren’t that streaky, we just had a disappointing end to a season. Last year certainly was streaky where we struggled early in the year then had a good second half, then unfortunately the season abruptly came to an end so we’ve already addressed it day one, we’ve got to win in March. Our season has been what it is and when we reach the end of the year, we have positioned ourselves to take advantage of playoff opportunities and haven’t been able to advance. Whether it be two years ago when we had a first-round bye when we lost in the best-of-three series, or it was last year when we were home for the first round and then lost two overtime games, so we’ve had disappointing losses in overtime in the two playoff series and there’s no excuses. And what makes me think this year is going to be different is we’ve got juniors and seniors who’ve had that taste, that poor taste, that bad taste and don’t want to taste that again, and wanting to make a difference in making this a memorable year.”

WRBB: Kevin Roy returning for his senior season, named captain this year, probably a leading Hobey Baker candidate coming into the season. What does his decision to return this year mean to you guys as a team, and did that take you by surprise? What kind of input did you have on that decision?

JM: “It didn’t take me by surprise. Kevin, we had a couple conversations and I knew the opportunities that Kevin had in front of him. And Kevin’s a real mature young man and Kevin, with the advice of his mom and dad and his advisers sat down and said ‘you know what, I want to graduate from Northeastern, I want to get my degree.’ He wants to be here with his brother and both of them graduate at the same time, but also from a hockey perspective, Kevin wanted to lead Northeastern to a championship. We have not had a championship. We’ve been close, and we’ve been as close as anything in the Beanpot the last three years in the championship game, but the last two years…we haven’t advanced a round in the playoffs, (and) we felt like we had a team to do so and make some hay and get into the NCAA tournament. He’s a competitive guy and he wants to lead this team to those areas of success. And with him coming back what’s it mean for our team; it means an awful lot. We’ve got one of the top players, if not the top player in the league coming back. Offensively he’s gifted, he’s dynamic and he’s going to get his goals, he’s going to get his points, but what he also does is he takes the burden off other guys on the team, he wants to shoulder that responsibility, he wants to assume the leadership role. It’s like a number one pitcher in baseball, I’m the ace of the staff, he’s the ace of our team, he’s the ace of our offense and in his own quiet way takes on that responsibility and makes it easier for our other players, our other skilled players. They can just play their game because he’ll assume the responsibility plus the other teams will pay special attention to him freeing up some other guys.”

WRBB: How did (Belfast) come about, and what do you think it will mean to the team and program?

JM: “It came about through Peter Roby and the athletic director at Lowell (Dana Skinner), about 5-6 years ago when there was an opportunity between Lowell and Northeastern to go play there. And Mr. Roby, our athletic director, went and visited Belfast, and was there when the Bruins played an exhibition game and we were hoping it would come about a little bit sooner, and then things shifted and people moved in different directions and the opportunity came back up again two years ago. And these things just don’t happen overnight, it takes time to put them together, and Peter was contacted which was great and then contacted me and I jumped all over it right away. And what it means is Northeastern is on the forefront of any unique opportunity and that’s what we want to be. And it was through Peter Roby’s leadership and his support allowed us and our hockey program to get there so I think it’s great, I think it’s unique our student-athletes can get to play in a different country, in a different venue. We’ve had the experience of playing in Fenway two of the last four years. Anytime we can take our team on the road outside of Massachusetts I think it’s great, whether we go to New York City, maybe get the opportunity to play there, whether it be now in Europe…it’s unique and an experience our kids will be able to have for the rest of their lives. And the other part is the educational component. We’re at a university so the ability to provide some education to our kids and understand the trials and tribulations of what happened in Northern Ireland over the years and our kids get a better understanding of that I think is important. And to know that they’re using hockey as a way to bring the two groups together, the Catholics and the Protestants, and learn more about their culture is important to our players and one that we’re ready to embrace.”

WRBB: When you take a look at the schedule though, (Belfast) is right after a trip to Notre Dame, [and there’s] a trip to Minnesota over the course of the first 6-8 weeks of the season. On a hockey level, are you guys concerned about the effects of travel early on?

JM: “It’s early in the year. And early in the year the kids are excited about the season and we’ll go to Minnesota, and it’ll be early in the year and we shouldn’t have any weather issues delaying us hopefully. Notre Dame is a Thursday-Friday, so we’ll come back on a Saturday, so we’ll get that extra day rest on the back-end so I think we’ll be okay. Then we moved the BC weekend back a game instead of playing Friday-Saturday, we’ll play Saturday-Sunday so that gives us a day longer so, these are kids, and they’re in great shape so we just have to plan and prepare ahead of time, give them the proper rest leading into those trips.

WRBB: Taking a look at the team and the roster and how it’s coming together this year, I think the thing that jumps out at us right away is goaltending. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s an open competition and then whoever steps up is going to take the job. Is that accurate?

JM: “I look at our goaltending situation and it’s similar to what it was two years ago. People the last two years would go ‘how good’s Clay Witt, we don’t know’ and they’re saying ‘how good’s Derick Roy we really don’t know him’ and I would say this: Derick Roy has played more games and is further ahead than Clay Witt was two years ago in terms of games played and league games played so I have confidence, and we had confidence in Clay Witt two years ago and it proved to be warranted. And we have confidence as a staff in Derick. He was goaltender of the month in January, he went 4-0-1, league wins, non-league wins, on the road and at home, he played at UConn on the road and had a big win there so I see Derick Roy taking the lead. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t. But we have confidence in Jake Theut who returns and we have a freshman goaltender (Ryan Ruck) that we recruited who’s played 70 games in the USHL who’s a good goaltender. We’re always going to play the best players…but I can see us using more than one goalie during the course of the season because I think competition is healthy, but if at some point someone emerges, that’s what we’re going to run. But we’ve got the confidence in Derick based on how he responded this year during the season.”

WRBB: One of the weak points for you guys last year was the penalty kill, I know we’ve talked about that ad nauseam. What are you guys doing to improve upon that, was it an execution issue or a strategy issue or what kind of things are you doing to make the adjustment there?

JM: “There was a combination, it was for sure poor execution. And whatever system they’re running, you have to execute it. We executed very poorly. We’ve switched a little bit of the system around and the strategy around how we’re going to approach killing penalties. Personnel becomes an issue too, I think we’ve got more personnel to work with there and then execution, and we’ve got to create an identity to our penalty kill like we did on the power play, like we did in other parts of our game and that’s a focus we’re going to have ready from day one. We need to win face-offs in our own zone, every time there’s a man down, the face-offs in your own zone. If you can win a face-off and clear the puck that’s killing off 20-25 seconds, we haven’t been able to do that.”

WRBB: Taking a look at the incoming recruiting class, one at the guys who stands out is Sam Kurker, coming over from the USHL after starting off at BU, some Hockey East experience. What can he bring to this team with that Hockey East experience, and playing for a team like the Terriers across Boston?

JM: “Any time you get a transfer who’s played in the league like he has, and in his case it’s for a year and a half, you get an experienced veteran player who understands how to go through a college regiment and program. Being at BU and not having the success he wanted, and he went to BU at a young age, and now he’s determined being a local guy, determined to have two real good years. So you’ve got someone whose got a little incentive, a little motivation to do well. He’s got a great attitude, and he brings a year and a half of college experience plus two years and winning a championship in the USHL…he brings that type of experience with him, and he knows the routine every day, what it takes to compete, being in the weight room, going to class, practice, he knows the grind of the schedule. He knows how to put forth the proper effort in practice each and every day to get better, so those are things that unless you’ve gone through it, you don’t know and he’s gone through it for two years which is good so that experience will be valuable for him, and that’s what separates him from any other freshman coming up.”

Hockey East Preview – Boston University Terriers

By: Josh Brown


Head Coach: David Quinn (3rd season)

Last Season: 28-8-5 (HE: 14-5-3) (1st in conference, Hockey East Champions, Lost in NCAA title game)

Losses: G Anthony Moccia, D T.J. Ryan, F Cason Hohmann, F Jack Eichel, F Evan Rodrigues, F Kevin Duane, D J.D. Carrabino, F J.J. Piccinich, G Matt O’Connor

Newcomers: D Shane Switzer, D Charlie McAvoy, F Ryan Cloonan, F Bobo Carpenter, F Jordan Greenway, F Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson,

Looking back at the Terriers’ 2014-2015 campaign, to those impartial, a national championship seemed like the only just way for BU’s fairy tale story to end. After finishing an abysmal 10-21-4 in a rebuilding 2013-2014 season, all around good-guy David Quinn’s first at the helm of BU, the Terriers had a larger-than-life run last year, finishing 28-8-5 and winning the Beanpot and Hockey East titles before finishing a Matt O’Connor dropped puck away from a potential national championship.

And while the hearts of BU fans still inevitably ache from the stunning nature of their NCAA title loss, the departure of freshman sensation, and now Buffalo Sabre, Jack Eichel certainly did not help the cause. Despite all this, there are plenty of reasons why the Terriers are slated to be among the best in Hockey East again in 2015-2016.

Heading into the off-season most assumed Eichel, who posted a 26-45-71 line last season, was gone. The same goes for net-miner Matt O’Connor, who despite several inexcusable lapses on the ice, was solid in-between the pipes throughout his career in scarlet red. Evan Rodrigues (21-40-61) who was the league’s second leading scorer behind Eichel graduated and Cason Hohmann, one of the team’s biggest emotional leaders(11-20-31) joined him across the podium.  It could of been much worse though.

The future of defenseman/team captain Matt Grzelcyk and forward Danny O’Regan (23-27-50, third leading scorer in Hockey East) were both topics of discussion on Commonwealth Ave this off-season, both ultimately deciding to return to the Terriers. Senior Ahti Oksanen will be another key returnee for BU, an under-appreciated defenseman turned forward who potted 25 goals and 13 assists last season.

Along with Grzelcyk (10-28-38) and junior Doyle Somerby, BU returns an onslaught of talent from a defense that allowed just 2.32 goals per game last season, third best in Hockey East, in sophomores Brandon Hickey, John MacLeod, Brien Diffley and Brandon Fortunato.

Although Connor LaCouvee, last year’s backup to O’Connor, could see some playing time this year, it will be Sean Maguire, a red-shirt senior taking over the reigns in net, after sitting out last year due to injury. A Pittsburgh Penguins fourth round selection, the Powell River British Columbia native shared time with O’Connor in 2013-2014, arguably out-preforming him with a .290 goals against average, stopping almost 92 percent of shots he saw.

As always, BU will also have one of the best in-coming freshman classes in Hockey East. Bruins draft pick Jakob “JFK” Forsbacka Karlsson, a 6-foot-1 forward from Sweeden, tied 16th in the USHL with 53 points (15 G, 38 A) last season for the Omaha Lancers. Charlie McAvoy, a product of the USA National Team Development Program, was a gold-medal winner at the 2015 IIHF Under-18 World Championships, in a year he scored 40 points in 63 games, the team’s top-scoring defenseman.

Bottom Line: There’s no doubt BU will feel the loss of Jack Eichel, Evan Rodrigues, Cason Hohmann and Matt O’Connor, but with a talented returning core and promising freshman class, the Terriers should still be among those fighting for a Beanpot, Hockey East and maybe even national title this season.