Your New Home for Huskies Sports

Over the past year, I gradually came to realize that our website needed some upgrades if we were to meet our own standards for coverage of Northeastern athletics. After a little planning and some hard work, we’ve unveiled this: a faster and sleeker WRBBSports.com. A huge thank you to WRBB’s Webmaster Stefan Cepko and Finance Director Josh Brown for helping to make this happen.

Take a look around. As the summer goes by (and as I learn how to work this thing…), we plan to roll out some new features and revamp some old ones. In the meantime, if you spot any bugs or have any suggestions, feel free to email us at sports@wrbbradio.org.

We have a lot of great things planned for our station and our coverage of Huskies sports this coming year. We are emphasizing a renewed blogging presence, to bring you all the latest news and notes direct from Huntington Avenue. This will start with Hockey East and CAA conference previews at the end of August. We will have highlights from every broadcast and podcasts of our traditional weekly talk shows. We’re hoping to add some surprises along the way as well.

Of course, we will always have a commitment to coverage of Northeastern hockey, Northeastern basketball, and more. Pre-game, post-game, every game.

Whether you’re a current student checking in while procrastinating, an alum counting the days until October, or someone who just happened to stumble across us, we hope that you’ll grab a seat and join us for a special year.

See you in September.

Ryan Fallon
Sports Director

Szmatula Leaves Northeastern

By: Josh Brown

Northeastern  junior Mike Szmatula has announced he is leaving the program on Friday, April 12, via a tweet on his personal account.

The Commerce Township, Michigan native had 13 goals and 16 assists last season for the Huskies, ending his career with 28 goals and 40 assists in a Northeastern uniform.

Szmatula was named an assistant captain for the 2015-2016 season after quickly solidifying himself as a leader on the Huskies squad, who made the Beanpot Championship in each of his two seasons with the program.

A top-six forward throughout his time on Huntington Avenue, Northeastern will look to the likes of Dylan Sikura, Brendan Collier and Ryan Rosenthal to fill the void.

“Mike was a solid contributor to the program, and we wish him the best of luck in his hockey career and beyond,” said head coach Jim Madigan. “Moving forward, we’re excited for the core that we have returning in 2015-16 as well as the incoming student-athletes joining our program in the fall. The coaching staff and I are very eager for the upcoming season and we are confident that the leadership in our locker room will help set the tone for a successful year.”

Huskies Heading to Belfast, Northern Ireland Thanksgiving Weekend 2015

By: Josh Brown

BOSTON–  Mayor Marty Walsh announced Saturday, March 10th that Northeastern Men’s Hockey would be taking part in the 2015 “Belpot” in Belfast, Northern Ireland Nov. 27-29th.

Heading over the pond with the Huskies will be Brown, Colgate and Umass-Lowell. The games will take place at Odyssey Arena, home of the Belfast Giants of the Elite Ice Hokey League.

Tickets to the event will be free for 12,000 residents, and over $20,000 has been raised by the Boston Lord Mayor’s Office to cover travel costs, according to reports.

“During my time in Ireland, I saw firsthand how sports, and hockey in particular, play an incredible role in bridging communities,” said Mayor Walsh. “I am thrilled to announce the first tournament for the Belpot Trophy this fall. I would like to thank former mayor of Belfast Máirtín Ó Muilleoir for his original partnership in this ambitious exchange and his continued hospitality towards Boston and Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Arder Carson, and the Belfast City Council for their commitment to making this tournament become a reality.”

BU Defeats Umass-Lowell 5-3, Wins First Hockey East Title Since 2009

By: Josh Brown

BOSTON- They were the best from beginning to end.

Powered by two goals by freshman Jack Eichel, Boston University defeated Umass-Lowell 5-3 to win their first Hockey East title since 2009 Saturday at the TD Garden.

The Terriers will be a one-seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.

The loss ends the River Hawks (22-11-6) two-year reign as Hockey East champions, a stretch that included a win over BU in the title game in 2013.

Matt O’Connor, who was named to the All-Tournament team, finished with 22 saves on the night, while Kevin Boyle made 19 for Umass-Lowell.

Eichel will enter the NCAA Tournament with 66 points on the season, the most ever by a BU freshman, and second most by a first year player in NCAA history, trailing Paul Kariya who had 100 for Maine in 1992-1993.

BU(25-7-5) went up 2-0 15 minutes into the game courtesy of goals via Matt Grzelcyk on the power play, and Eichel less than three minutes later.

Eichel’s goal came after he brought an Evan Rodrigues pass into his own offensive zone, deked around a couple Lowell defenders and beat Boyle five-hole.

Lowell would make it a game at the 18:10 mark of the opening frame when Joe Gambardella took advantage of a John MacLeod elbowing call, and beat O’Connor to bring the deficit within one.

The Terriers would break it open in the second period, getting goals from Cason Hohmann and Nikolas Olsson to make it 4-1, all but sealing the win.

Lowell would out-score BU 2-1 in the third period but it wasn’t nearly enough, as David Quinn’s team would hang on for the victory.

“Tonight’s it’s about our team,” said Quinn. “I couldn’t be prouder of them. From September on it’s been as much fun as possible coaching this team. We are a true team.”

Hockey East All-Tournament Team:

F: Jack Eichel- Boston University

F: Evan Rodrigues- Boston University

F: Grayson Downing- University of New Hampshire

D: Matt Grzelcyk- Boston University

D: Robbie Russo- Notre Dame

G: Matt O’Connor- Boston University

All-Tournament MVP: Jack Eichel-Boston University

Huskies Fall to Notre Dame in First Round of NCAA Tournament

By: Jake Fischer

PITTSBURGH- As first round upsets have become ever more frequent over the last few years, the term “survive and advance” has become as synonymous with the NCAA Tournament as “March Madness.”

Notre Dame needed all 40 minutes to survive Northeastern and advance to the third round of this year’s Big Dance on Thursday, escaping the Huskies with a 69-65 victory.

After Northeastern’s thrilling Colonial Athletic Association championship and the fun media tour over the past week and a half, the Huskies’ season came down to just one play.

Once trailing by four with 1:22 remaining, Zach Stahl corralled an improbable steal as Notre Dame sophomore guard Demetrius Jackson fumbled a three-quarter-court football pass that would have easily beaten Northeastern’s press for a dagger bucket.

Bill Coen had no timeouts left as David Walker brought the ball over the timeline. He couldn’t draw up a play and he couldn’t bring Scott Eatherton off the bench, who was sitting with four fouls in part of a defense-offense rotation.

Notre Dame sniffed out the Huskies’ play and bottled up Walker as he curled off a top-of-the-key screen. Zach Stahl slipped the subsequent screen and would have had a wide-open 15-foot jumper down the right baseline. Quincy Ford couldn’t see him, though. And just as the momentum swung in Northeastern’s favor with a steal, the Huskies gave it right back to Notre Dame with a turnover of their own.

It was a crushing end to a terrific game and even better season.

“I thought our team competed buzzer to buzzer,” Coen said. “They left it out on the floor and I just couldn’t be proud of this group of young men. They never stopped believing in themselves.”

The loss marks the end of Scott Eatherton’s decorated career. Reggie Spencer’s time in a Husky uniform is now over as well. But with a core of Walker, Ford and T.J. Williams returning with a supporting cast of Stahl, Devon Begley and Caleb Donnelly and a strong recruiting class, the future is still bright on St. Butolph Street.

“We’re excited for the future,” Coen said. “I’m confident the group coming back will but on this and continue to add to a great tradition that is Northeastern basketball.”

Huskies Drop Game One to Merrimack 3-2 in Overtime

By: Josh Brown

For the first time since 2008-2009 there was playoff college hockey at Matthews Arena Friday night.

Unfortunately for the Northeastern faithful, it was a less than ideal outcome, with Merrimack surviving eight penalties to outlast the Huskies 3-2 in overtime to take a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three.

“They’re a tough team to play against,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “Very good goaltending, they pack it in really tight at the net, and they mug you and it’s tough to get any open space around their net.”

With the sixth seeded Huskies (16-15-4) on the power play in overtime, Merrimack(15-16-4) fourth liner Kyle Singleton took a pass off a loose puck via  a Matt Benning shot, raced down ice and beat goalie Clay Witt to give the Warriors the series edge.

“Gutsy performance by our guys,” said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy. “Obviously having to kill 10 penalty minutes in the first period put us a little behind the eight-ball.”

“It’s what makes this job great, because you never have the same day twice.”

Merrimack net-minder Rasmus Tirronen stepped up to the test, stopping 36 of the 38 shots he faced en route to the victory.

“Begins and ends with your goalie, and Ras(mus) stood up to the test,” Dennehy added.

Just 58 seconds into the game Hampus Gustafsson was ejected for hitting from behind, giving the Huskies a 5-minute power play.

Merrimack would take two more penalties in the first eight minutes of the game, but the first ranked penalty kill in Hockey East (89.2%) killed off each one, much due to the aid of Tirronen between the pipes.

“As we were moving it around we just couldn’t cleanly get it on a stick,” said Madigan. “When we got a scoring opportunity we either shot it wide or bobbled it last second.”

“We got to get more traffic in front of their goalie,” he added.

After eventually killing off the Huskies power plays, and getting on the man-advantage themselves courtesy of a Dax Lauwers cross-checking minor, Justin Hussar was able to score the first goal of the game, and give the Warriors a 1-0 lead.

The junior took a pass from defenseman Marc Biega and quickly shot a wrist shot by Witt to draw first blood.

John Stevens had the best opportunity of the second period for Northeastern, attempting to sneak a wrap-around past Tirronen who was hugging the post and sticked the puck away.

With just 1:50 left to go in the middle frame, freshman Jace Henning scored his 11th collegiate goal to open up a two goal cushion for Dennehy’s team.

Sophomore defenseman Jonathan Lashyn took a shot from the blue line that trickled off Hennings stick and into the back of the net.

Northeastern would not go quietly, scoring two in the opening ten minutes of the period to tie the game at two.

Zach Aston-Reese scored the first of the period for the Huntington Hounds, bringing Merrimack’s lead to within one.

Skating four-on-four, Aston-Reese found a puck in the defensive zone, raced up ice along the right side and launched a missile over the blocker side of Tirronen for his 12th of the season.

Just over five minutes later, junior Mike McMurtry netted the equalizer, sending the Doghouse into a frenzy.

On the power play thanks to a Quinn Gould interference call, Kevin Roy put an off-angle shot on net from just inside the right half wall. McMurtry, who was initially trying to screen Tirronen, poked away at the loose puck in front of the net and jammed it home.

“I like the way we came back and got two goals,” Madigan said. “I thought we stuck to our game plan pretty well.”

From there on out the remainder of the third became a track meet, filled with odd man rushes down ice, and huge saves by both Tirronen and Witt.

In the end it was both goalies standing strong, sending the game into sudden death.

It did not look good for the Warriors early in overtime when John Gustafsson went off for tripping just 1:07 into the extra frame.

Huskies defenseman Matt Benning launched a shot from the blue line that hit the crossbar and rattled out. From there Justin Mansfield fired a pass over to Singleton who dashed up the right side and put the nail in the coffin for the Huskies.

“I was thinking pass originally to ‘Jards’ (Clayton Jardine),” Singleton said, “but that d-man went to one knee. I pump faked a little and went shortside.”

“It felt good that’s for sure.”

The two teams will meet again Saturday at 4:00 for game two of the series.

“What I like most about it was we weren’t out of it mentally,” Dennehy said. “No matter what happened we were upbeat on the bench and believed we were going to make it happen.”

This article can also be found on USCHO….Follow Josh Brown on Twitter @josh_brown31

BU Beats Northeastern 6-1, Huskies Sixth Seed in Hockey East

By: Josh Brown

A night after Northeastern put up three first period goals on Boston University, the Terriers one-upped the Huskies, scoring four in the opening frame en route to a 6-1 victory on the last day of the regular season.

Boston University (21-7-5, 14-5-3) was led by freshman phenom Jack Eichel, who scored both the first and last goals of the game for the Terriers.

Dave Quinn’s team secured the one-seed in the Hockey East tournament before their own game even ended, thanks to a Notre Dame win over rival Boston College.

“I’d like to say how proud I am of this team,” Quinn said. “To finish first in this league is never easy.”

“It’s been a tough few weeks for us,” the second year head coach added. “To respond the way we did tonight after last night (a 6-5 loss to Northeastern) says a lot about our group, our resiliency, our leadership.”

The Huskies(16-4-4, 12-8-2), who came into the night looking for a potential bye in the first round of the tournament after starting the season 0-8-1, had their hopes slip away before the defeat even came final due to other results around the league.

Instead, Northeastern ends the year with the six seed, and will host Merrimack in a best-of-three beginning Friday night at Matthews Arena.

Huskies coach Jim Madigan served his second, and last game of a suspension handed by down Hockey East earlier in the week.

“I obviously had a different view of the game,” Madigan said after the final whistle blew. “When you get that view you get to analyze your team much closer.”

“I thought BU just established a game and really put us in uncomfortable situations, and we weren’t able to establish any of our game early. I was just disappointed with us not being able to establish our game…any forecheck down low…any neutral zone transition.”

Before the game Northeastern honored their four seniors, Adam Reid, Dax Lauwers, Torin Snydeman and goalie Clay Witt.

After an up-and-down opening couple minutes by the two teams, Eichel scored shorthanded to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead.

The North Chelmsford native took the puck in his team’s defensive zone, went coast-to-coast and was able to beat Witt for the early lead.

Just three and a half minutes later Ahti Oksanen, who played as a defenseman for the first time this season, scored his first of two goals on the night to increase the lead to two.

Skating in transition, the junior crashed the net on a J.J. Piccinich shot, found the rebound right on his stick and buried it into the back of the net.

With Trevor Owens off on a hooking penalty, BU wasted no time putting the Huskies in a three goal deficit.

Oksanen, who was playing on the goal line, took a Evan Rodrigues pass and flung it cross ice to Danny O’Regan who was able to stick tap it in.

Just under two minutes later Northeastern found some life, and cut the Terriers lead to two.

Reminiscent to the goal he scored in the Beanpot Championship game, Roy received a pass in transition, deked his way into the slot and beat Boston University net-minder Matt O’Connor over his shoulder.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, any hope to cut into the lead further was quickly squashed.

Just 26 seconds after the Roy goal, Matt Grzelcyk answered, putting a rocket from just inside the blue line through traffic and past Witt.

Quinn was more than pleased the way his team responded after a slow start last night.

“It certainly had nothing to do with the x’s and o’s,” Quinn said. “It had everything to do with each guy elevating their game.”

“Tonight from the get-go we did a much better job taking away time and space, being more physical with them, trusting each other and obviously we were opportunistic too.”

Both Boston University and Northeastern got several opportunities to score throughout the second period, but no one could capitalize until Ahti Oksanen scored his second of the game on the power play with under two minutes to go in the period.

Eichel put a hard shot on net that produced a juicy rebound, Oksanen was able to jam home to make it 5-1 Terriers.

With the game all but over, the two teams played a very conservative third period, electing to skate within the neutral zone and play dump and chase hockey.

With 3:19 left in the game and BU on the power play Quinn pulled starting goalie Matt O’Connor for the second consecutive night, but this time for a different reason.

Quinn elected to plug in graduate student Anthony Moccia, who had played just six total minutes in his career to ride out the Terriers victory.

“He’s a special person I’ll tell you that,” Quinn said. “I wish he had five more years.”

With time quickly expiring, Eichel, who had not scored a goal in the first two meetings between the teams, snagged his second of the night, the third power play goal of the game for BU.

“It’s a great line,” Quinn said of is first line of Eichel, O’Regan and Rodrigues. “They all have a work ethic to them. They’ve got great skills, they’ve got hockey intelligence.”

For Northeastern, Madigan reflected on tonight’s loss but was also confident his team will bounce back come next Friday.

“More than anything in the third period disappointed with our frustration and amount of penalties we took,” the fourth year head coach said.

“It was a little bit of a selfish play letting our frustrations show and taking dumb penalties. It’s suicide taking seven penalties against Boston University.”

“I think it was Bill Parcells who talked about it. Now we’re moving on to the tournament.”

This post can also be seen on uscho…follow Josh Brown on Twitter @josh_brown31

Huskies Beat Maine 6-4, Unbeaten Streak at Nine Games

After a pair of dominate wins against Connecticut last week, it was hard to imagine Northeastern could offer a repeat performance up at Alfond Arena this weekend.

For a while it looked like the Huskies would do just that, up 5-1 through two periods. The Black Bears would claw their way back scoring three third period goals, but Northeastern would hang on for a 6-4 win.

The win is Northeastern’s (15-11-4, 10-7-2) seventh in a row, and ups their unbeaten streak to nine games.

“I liked our start to the game,” said Huskies coach Jim Madigan. “In this league to get two points is critical at this stage of the season so we’re happy with the two points.”

The Huskies continue to get balanced scoring from all four lines, with freshman Dylan Sikura leading the way with two goals Friday night.

In net it was Clay Witt (24 saves) against Black Bears(12-18-3, 7-10-2) sophomore Matt Morris, who was pulled for Sean Romeo in the first period.

After putting up five first period goals in their series against UConn, Northeastern got right back to work in the opening frame opening up a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes.

After not scoring on the Huskies red hot power play last Saturday, Northeastern made sure to do so just 1:50 into the game courtesy of Colton Saucerman.

Matt Benning took a shot from the blue line that created a juicy rebound in front of the net. Saucerman, who was parked out in front was able to get a stick on it and jam it home for the early lead.

Just 52 seconds later the Huskies would get another one, this time from Brendan Collier.

Trevor Owens broke out into the offensive zone and found a streaking Collier who was able to beat Morris over the shoulder.

Northeastern would keep piling on offensively, while the defense in front of Witt stepped up to the task, getting in passing and shooting lanes all period long.

At 10:41 in the first John Stevens threw a pass to Sikura who was able to skate in the slot and bury it home to make it 3-0 Northeastern. Six minutes later Zach Aston-Reese found a puck on his stick all alone in the crease that he was able to connect with to give Northeastern a 4-0 lead heading into the locker room.

Maine would cut the lead to three 7:36 into the second period, thanks to a Blaine Byron pass from behind the net that connected with Connor Leen for a one-timer to make it 4-1.

The Huskies would answer with under two minutes to go in the period when Mike Szmatula barreled into the slot and beat Romeo five-hole to regain a four goal lead for Northeastern.

Maine and Northeastern would trade goals to begin the third period, first by Ben Hutton of the Black Bears, then by Dylan Sikura of the Huskies, making the score 6-2 with 13:01 left to go.

Sikura’s goal, which came just 36 seconds after Hutton’s, was set up once again from his line-mate John Stevens.

“I thought we responded well after they scored,” Madigan said. “I just don’t like the way we were giving up the scoring opportunities and the goals.”

“When he (Sikura) gets the time and space around the net you see what he can do,” Madigan continued. “What he’s done is he’s starting to round out his game defensively.”

Cedric Lacroix would jam a rebound home after being left all alone in the crease to make it 6-3 with still 6:57 to go in the contest.

After a ferocious offensive onslaught continued, Maine would score again with the goalie pulled and just 1:23 remaining.

Lacroix put a hard shot on net that hit the knee of Witt and floated back into the slot. Brian Morgan was there and put it home to pull the Black Bears within two.

Unfortunately for Red Gendron’s squad it was too little too late, and the Huskies were able to come away with a 6-4 win.

“In the third period we let it go a little bit,” Madigan said. “We just didn’t play to our identity and we got sloppy.”

“We’ll have to be better defending at the net tomorrow.”

The two teams will meet again at Alfond Arena Saturday night at 7:00. Ryan Fallon and Josh Brown will be on the call with pre-game beginning at 6:45.