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.

CAA Preview- Elon University Phoenix

By: Matt MacCormack

6KN-7c20Head Coach: Matt Matheny (7th season)

Last Season: 15-18 (CAA: 6-12), 8th place

Losses: G Elijah Bryant (transfer), G Austin Hamilton, G Kevin Blake, F Ryan Winters

Newcomers: G Steven Santa Ana, F Tyler Seibring, G Sheldon Eberhardt, F/C Karolis Kundrotas, G Dainan Swoope



Things worked out pretty well for the Phoenix in their first season as members of the Colonial Athletic Association.

After making the jump from the Southern Conference, Elon battled to an eighth place finish a season ago, and seemed to find their footing in the home stretch of a tougher CAA schedule. The Phoenix won their last three conference games of the season, upsetting conference co-champions Northeastern and UNCW in that stretch. A victory in the opening round of the CAA tournament over Towson was followed by a loss to No. 1 seed William & Mary, but Head Coach Matt Matheny had to be happy with how his squad ended the year.

But where things went wrong was in the off-season.

Guard Elijah Bryant, the shining star of Elon’s inaugural CAA season and the conference Rookie of the Year, announced in July that he was transferring to BYU. Bryant (14.2 pts, 4.2 rebs) was the unquestioned go-to scorer for Elon a season ago, and represented the future of Phoenix basketball.

Making the loss even tougher is the departure of two other members of Elon’s starting backcourt to graduation. Guards Austin Hamilton (8.9 pts, 3.1 assists) and Kevin Blake (8.1 pts, 3.5 rebs) have moved on, leaving gaping holes at the guard spots for the Phoenix.

Elon played with four guard sets for much of last season, so an offensive philosophy change could be in order. Luckily for Matheny, though, there are a few a few solid options to replace the production of the aforementioned departures.

Junior guard Luke Eddy, who was averaging 13 points per game on 58% shooting over the first 11 games of last year, will return after a knee injury ended his season in December. Eddy should take over as the primary scorer this season. Senior guard Tanner Sampson, who started 33 games last year and tallied averages of 12.5 points and 4.2 rebounds, looks like another potential leader on offense.

Incoming freshman guards Steven Santa Anna, Sheldon Eberhardt and Dainan Swoope should all have opportunities for playing time this year.

Santa Anna, who received a 3-star designation from ESPN, is the most intriguing option. The 6’4 guard from Charlotte, N.C led Ardrey Kell, to the North Carolina 4A state final in his senior season, and dropped a state-record 44 points in the defeat.

The guard-heavy sets from last season allowed Elon to push the tempo and score frequently; the fast-paced attack racked up 70.6 points per game, the third best clip in the CAA. Santa Anna should provide a spark to the backcourt, as should the development of Eddy, Samson and sophomore Dmitri Thompson (6.1 ppg).

The problems associated with playing so many guards were also apparent last season. While Elon’s fast-paced offense shined, the Phoenix allowed the 2nd most points in the conference.

Things were even worse down low. Without any dominant big men, the Phoenix suffered a negative rebounding margin (8th worst in the conference) and averaged the fewest blocks in the CAA (one full block fewer per game than second-worst JMU). Without an interior presence or solid rim protection, CAA opponents were able to feast down low against the Phoenix.

Power forward Ryan Winters, who started 20 games, has graduated. 6’7 senior C Tony Sabato returns as a starter, but there doesn’t appear to many standout big men on the roster.

Incoming freshman 6’8 F Tyler Seibring and 6’11 F/C Karolis Kundrotas could provide some help. Seibring averaged 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game and shot 41% from three in his senior year at Normal Community High in Illinois, and could be a nice inside-outside threat. Kundrotas provides some potential as a post-player and rim protector.

Bottom Line: Losing three full-time starters, especially Bryant, is going to make this season a tough one for the Phoenix. Eddy and Samson should provide some stability in the backcourt, and there are some exciting new recruits, but the overall talent on this squad seems to be lacking. Most of the Phoenix’s out-of-conference wins came against small programs in 2014, and the team struggled once it hit conference play. This may shape up as another rebuilding year for Matheny, as his team continues to adjust to the level of competition in the CAA.

Hockey East Preview – Providence College Friars

By: Josh Brown

Friar_hockey_logoHead Coach: Nate Leaman (5th season)

Last Season: 26-13-2 (HE: 13-8-1); 2nd place, NCAA Champions

Losses: D Logan Day, D Mark Adams, F Steven Demopoulos, F Ross Mauermann,  F Shane Luke, F Noel Acciari, G Jon Gillies

Newcomers: D Vincent Desharnais, D Steven Ruggiero, F Ryan Tait, F Erik Foley, F Garrett Gamez, F Bryan Lemos, G Hayden Hawkey

After starting off the year as the consensus favorite to win Hockey East, the Friars season comprised of a whirlwind of twists and turns that most certainly even made the most diehard Providence fan queasy at times.  Nobody said winning your first national championship in program history would be a smooth ride though.

Falling below the radar, some of which can certainly be attributed to Jack Eichel and Boston University taking the league by storm, a 4-5-1 start left the media questioning if this was the powerhouse everyone anticipated heading into the year. Even with winning streaks of four and six games as the season progressed, not many knew what to expect come postseason, and after loosing a three-game series at home to New Hampshire in the Hockey East quarterfinals, those thoughts were affirmed even more heading into the NCAA Tournament.

From there, dominating goaltending by Jon Gillies, an electric offense, and a bit of luck were all on the Friars side en route to the national title, where they beat conference foe Boston University 4-3 in the championship game. With that being said, if the Friars want to return to the promised land in 2015-2016 they are going to have to do so without three of their top six scorers from last season. With Ross Mauermann (11 goals, 16 assists) and Shane luke (13 goals, 19 assists) graduated, and Noel Acciari (15 goals, 17 assists) joining the Bruins organization, seniors Nick Saracino (14 goals, 24 assists), Trevor Mingoia (15 goals, 16 assists) and Mark Jankowski (8 goals, 19 assists) are going to be relied on even heavier in the upcoming season.

The biggest loss for Providence though, without a doubt, is goaltender Jon Gillies, who forgoed his senior season to join the Calgary Flames. Posting a 24-13-2 record between the pipes, with a 2.01 goals against average and .930 save percentage, the South Portland, Maine native was the most consistent player for the Friars all year long. It looks like it will be the relatively unproven Nick Ellis taking over, a junior who appeared in five games last season, starting in two, both victories, with freshman  Hayden Hawkey, a 2014 Montreal Canadiens draft pick, competing for time in net as well.

A solid returning cast along the blue line (which allowed just 2.05 goals per game last season, best in Hockey East), headlined by defensemen John Gilmour, Kyle McKenzie, Tom Parisi and Anthony Florentino will help Ellis’s transition into a full time starter. Look for Anaheim Ducks prospect and USHL U.S. U-18 National defenseman Steven Ruggiero to log significant minutes as well, a player who could be atop the freshman class in the league this season.

Bottom Line: With a target on their back, and the loss of several key contributors to last year’s squad, it is hard to envision the Friars will become the first back-to-back national champions since Denver did it in 2004 and 2005. With that being said, they do still certainly have a good enough returning core and talented freshman class to make enough noise in Hockey East as a likely top-five finisher.

Hockey East Preview – Boston College Eagles

By: Ryan Fallon

250px-BostonCollegeEagles.svgHead Coach – Jerry York, 22nd season

Last season – 21-14-3 (12-7-3, t-2nd in Hockey East); lost in 2nd round of Hockey East playoffs to Vermont, lost in 1st round of NCAA tournament to Denver

Losses – F Danny Linell, F Michael Sit, F Quinn Smith, F Cam Spiro, F Destry Straight, D Noah Hanifin, D Michael Matheson, G Brad Barone, G Brian Billett

Newcomers: F Jeremy Bracco, F Chris Brown, F, JD Dudek, F Chris Shero, F ColinWhite, F Miles Wood, D Josh Couturier, D Casey Fitzgerald, G Chris Birdsall

Last season was a relatively quiet one on Chestnut Hill. Compared to the Eagles teams of recent years, last year’s edition struggled offensively. BC scored 2.82 goals per game – just seventh in Hockey East – and only three players scored ten goals or more.  The below-average offense held them back; BC struggled on the road in conference play, going 4-5-2. The team dropped its Beanpot semifinal to Northeastern, ending the school’s five year reign. The Eagles did manage to finish second in Hockey East (tied with national champion Providence), but ultimately the offensive issues cost them their season. They lost their last three games (the Hockey East quarterfinals to Vermont and the first round of NCAAs to Denver) scoring just three goals total in that stretch.

The summer saw a mass exodus of talent. Four of BC’s five graduated forwards played all 38 games last season. Junior captain Michael Matheson decided to forego his senior season and sign with the Florida Panthers. Would-be sophomore Noah Hanifin also left, signing with the Carolina Hurricanes after being drafted fifth overall in June.

This is Boston College though; there is a ton of talent still on campus, including eight returning draft picks. The Eagles return their three top scorers from the 2014-15 season. Alex Tuch, the Minnesota Wild draft pick, led the team with 28 points his freshman campaign and is back for more. A fellow Wild pick, Adam Gilmour, goes into his junior season after putting up 27 points a year ago. Rising junior Ryan Fitzgerald is back as well, bringing his team-leading 17 goals with him.   Ian McCoshen will be a huge piece of the solution on the defensive front, but the biggest may be Steve Santini, who played just 22 games a year ago due to a wrist injury. The Eagles also happen to be returning the best goalie in the league with Thatcher Demko, an undisputed title now that Jon Gillies has left for Calgary.

The incoming class is particularly strong as well. BC is bringing in defenseman Casey Fitzgerald, Ryan’s younger brother. Fitzgerald is a product of USA Hockey’s National Development Program and played on the gold-winning U.S. Men’s U-18 team. Colin White, who scored the game-winner in that gold medal game, is also arriving on campus. Additionally, the Eagles will add Miles Wood, who was part of the USA team for the World Junior Championship in 2015, and Jeremy Bracco, another National Team Development Program alum whose 168 points ranks third in program history behind just Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel.

Bottom Line: Losing Matheson and Hanifin are huge blows, but the Eagles retain their top scorers from a year ago. Throw in a promising incoming class with firepower and, above all else, the continued presence of Thatcher Demko and Jerry York, and BC is once again primed to be a threat for every title up for grabs.

Former Husky Llanes ready for history with Boston Pride, NWHL

By: Matt MacCormack

llanes_rachelRachel Llanes has the moves.

Whether it’s carving up opponents with her signature on-ice speed, or keeping Northeastern’s athletes in prime physical condition, the San Jose, California, native never ceases to be in motion.

But of all her moves, it is Llanes’ next one that is the most exciting. Starting this October, the 5’3 forward will be one of the first women in the continent to lace up the skates in a paid professional league.

“It’s exciting, definitely, for the sport,” Llanes said. “It definitely gets women’s hockey on the radar.”

This summer, Llanes signed a contract with the Boston Pride, one of the four inaugural members of the National Women’s Hockey League, the first women’s league in North America to pay its players. Alongside the Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters, the Pride will kick off the league’s opening season on October 11.

“We’re all just thrilled to be here,” said Hayley Moore, the general manager of the Pride who was instrumental in gathering support for a team in Boston. “We’ve all been working really hard to make this a reality.”

The NWHL represents an opportunity for Llanes, who played four seasons for the Northeastern Huskies from 2009 to 2013, to continue her hockey career. Llanes eclipsed the 100-point plateau in her senior season at NU, a year in which she was also named to the Hockey East All-Academic team.

After graduation, Llanes said she wanted to continue playing, and found the opportunity through the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Llanes said she enjoyed two seasons with the Blades, the only team of the league’s five members based in the U.S. At the same time, the lack of salary and team funding made things difficult.

“The competition in the league is great,” Llanes said. “But we had to pay for everything… it makes it kind of difficult for it to work out for some people.”

Now in the NWHL, Llanes will get paid and also won’t have to travel to Canada every other weekend. Officials said the teams will also provide customized equipment for their players.

“We call ourselves a player’s first league, and luckily we have so much more to offer them than they’ve ever had in the past,” Moore said. “It’s really not like I need to sell anything to them. It’s just making everyone aware of what we have to offer.

When she first heard of the opportunity from league Commissioner (and former Northeastern teammate) Dani Rylan, Llanes said she was blown away. She tried out for the Pride, made the team, and signed a contract this summer.

Head Coach Bobby Jay, who also has had stints as an assistant with Harvard men’s hockey and the U.S Women’s Olympic Team, said he’s excited for what Llanes brings to the Pride.

“She’s definitely quick…[but] she brings character, too, with her speed,” Jay said. “She’s a character kid and that’s what I think is exciting for us to have her here.”

Amanda Pelkey, another Pride forward, echoed Jay’s assessment. Pelkey, who scored 105 points over the past four years at the University of Vermont, said she knows Llanes from when the two attended high school at the North American Hockey Academy.

“Her speed is unreal. She’s gritty, she has a quick release with her shot,” Pelkey said. “I’m excited to have her be on our team. I’m looking forward to it.”

Pride goalie Brittany Ott, who faced off against Llanes at the University of Maine from 2009 to 2013 and also was her teammate with the Blades, said Llanes’ leadership will be key for the upstart franchise.

“She’s definitely a player to push you in practice and make you become better on and off the ice,” Ott said. “It’s awesome having her on our side instead of playing against her.”

While Llanes embraces her role as a leader on the ice and in the locker room, she said she prefers to let her work ethic and play do the talking.

“I’m not that big voice in the locker room,” Llanes said. “I think I’m one of those players who leads by example, and gets the job done anyway to help my team.”

Although the NWHL will provide Llanes with a hockey salary for the first time, the team only plays about once a week. To keep busy, Llanes plans to keep her job as a Graduate Assistant with Northeastern’s Strength and Conditioning department. But the former Husky said balancing a full schedule is nothing new, given her time as a player at NU.

“College hockey is definitely a lot different than what I’m doing now with the professional league…You’re on the ice six days a week, you’re a full-time student as well,” she said. “Being able to balance all of those things and not wear yourself out by the end of the day or the end of the week is something I probably learned in college.”

Helping to train the next generation of Husky athletes is something that Llanes said helps her maintain her own form.

“While I’m doing [my job] I’m learning how to take care of myself on a more detailed basis,” Llanes said.

One of the members of the next generation is NU senior forward Kendall Coyne, a U.S Olympic team member who should shatter records in her final year in black and red. It just so happens that Coyne was drafted by the hometown Pride with the third overall pick in this year’s inaugural draft. Llanes, who played with Coyne for two seasons at NU, is excited.

“She’s probably the easiest player to find on the ice the way she can just create space and jump in open lanes,” Llanes said of her former teammate. “I’m excited for her to play next year.”

But for now, most of Llanes’ excitement is channeled towards this season, where she will represent not only the NWHL and the city of Boston, but the entire sport.

“It’s a player’s league. It’s an opportunity in the history of women’s hockey to be a part of something special,” Llanes said. “I think I’m honestly living the dream.”

Photo Courtesy of Hockey East


Hockey East Preview – University of Massachusetts Lowell

By: Kyle Williams


Head Coach: Norm Bazin (5th season)

Last Season: 21-12-6 (HE: 11-7-4); 4th place

Losses: F Terrence Wallin, D Jake Suter, D Zack Kamrass

Newcomers: F Guillaume Leclerc, F Evan Anderson, F Ryan Dmowski, F Tyler Sifferlen, D Niklas Folin

Over the last four years, UMass Lowell has been, without a doubt, the most consistent team in Hockey East. Since they finished at the bottom of the conference in the 2010-2011 season, they’ve won at least twenty games and finished no lower than fourth every year. They have routinely finished with a top four scoring offense despite lacking a top-five scorer, and they give up less penalty minutes than almost every other team in the conference. Last season was no different; they finished second in scoring offense (3.44 goals per game), last in penalty minutes (8.4), finished fourth in Hockey East and made a run to the conference finals before losing to the national runner-up in BU.

The River Hawks look poised to make another run at the Hockey East title this year. They return their top three lines, including their top six scorers from last season, and their only notable departure is senior defenseman and captain Zack Kamrass. Lowell will look to sophomore C.J. Smith to lead them in scoring again; he had thirty-five points last year, the best among every rookie not named Jack Eichel. On the defensive end, they will rely more on Dylan Zink, a two-way threat who was the fifth leading scorer from the blue line, and second only to Matt Grzelcyk in plus/minus rating for defensemen. The goalie situation should be solid again this year, with Kevin Boyle returning for his senior year. He’s not what Connor Hellebuyck was to this team two years ago, but he will be good enough to give this team a chance to win.

If there is one thing that could hold this team back, it will be regression on the offensive end. They averaged three and a half goals per game, second only to BU. They did this in part by averaging the highest number of goals per shot on goal, despite only being eighth in shots on goal. That points to a level of luck that may be hard to replicate.

Bottom Line: The River Hawks are returning too much talent and are too well coached to fall outside of a top-five finish in Hockey East. They’ll ride a good sophomore campaign from Smith and solid goaltending into another deep run in the Hockey East tournament.

CAA Preview – Towson University Tigers

By: Sam Davidovich


Head Coach: Pat Skerry

Last season: 12-20 (CAA: 5-13) 9th place

Losses: G Four McGlynn, F Alex Gavrilovic, G Jonah Meredith, F Jamel Flash

Newcomers: G Jordan McNeil, G Deshaun Morman, F Dennis Tunstall, F Alex Thomas


The Towson Tigers will once again try to climb out of the CAA’s basement when they start their season against the La Salle Explorers on November 14th. In 2014-15, the Tigers accumulated a subpar 12-20 record, faring only 5-13 against teams within the conference, good for a ninth-place finish and first-round exit in the CAA Tournament to Elon.

One big addition for Towson this summer was bolstering their frontcourt with 6-9 forward Alex Thomas. Thomas played his high school ball at Hawthorne Christian Academy in New Jersey.  He averaged 17.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game as a senior. Tabbed as a versatile player who possesses a soft scoring touch and the ability to protect the basket on the defensive end, he will be looked upon to have an immediate impact in coach Pat Skerry’s rotation. Likewise, they added to their backcourt with Jordan McNeil, a 6-foot-5, 183-pound shooting guard from Mount St. Joseph’s who red-shirted his freshman season last year. McNeil was the team’s third-leading scorer as a junior in high school, coming off the bench to average more than 10 points as a sixth-man. He’s a long-limbed shooter with range, who also has some grit and toughness on the defensive end. Towson hopes these two incoming freshman can help put some points on the board while tightening up the team’s defense.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they are losing their top scorer in Four McGlynn. The sweet-shooting guard averaged 12 points per game for the 276th ranked offense in the country. Luckily, they will be getting another year out of John Davis, the CAA’s leader in double-double’s last season (12), who averaged 11.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Control of the boards proved to be crucial for Towson last year, with the team pulling in 39.3 per game, good for 11th in the nation.

Wake Forest transfer Arnaud William Adala Moto proves to be an interesting addition as well. The Cameroon native, who averaged 6.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Demon Deacon’s in his sophomore year, sat out last season due to NCAA transfer regulations and will bring some major Division 1 experience to a team with just one senior and four juniors.

Also crucial will be the development of sophomores Byron Hawkins and Mike Morsell. Primarily used as role-players in their freshman seasons, the two Fort Washington, Maryland natives will be expected to take a leap forward, and establish a more prominent role this season.

Bottom Line: Skerry’s squad will be an interesting bunch this season. Coming off a disappointing year he has added both proven and unproven talent, and it will be a matter of meshing if his team wants to experience any success this season. The Tigers, while they should certainly be competitive, are likely a year away from a big bump in the standings.