Northeastern Huskies 8-16-3 (4-13-3) Hockey East 10th
Massachusetts Minutemen 10-15-2 (7-12-1) Hockey East 8th
Two struggling teams will be meeting tomorrow in a makeup game from the blizzard that hit a couple weekends ago. Massachusetts and Northeastern both come into the rare mid-week game after getting swept this past weekend. UMass lost a home and home to Lowell while the Huskies just dropped a pair of games to Vermont at home. Earlier in the month it appeared as if Northeastern may be on the upswing after they beat Boston University in the Beanpot opener and then played Boston College tough in the championship before ultimately falling. But last week the Huskies managed just two goals total against the Catamounts and will have to run off a streak of wins if they want to make the Hockey East playoffs this season.
These teams split a weekend series at the end of November with the Huskies grabbing a 1-0 win at the Mullins on the Friday and UMass bouncing back 6-3 the next night. Chris Rawlings, who has played well against the Minutemen in his career, grabbed the shutout in the NU win and turned away 31 shots. But the next night UMass poured 46 shots on him and got the win.
It’s no secret that the Minutemen will have to try to contain freashman Kevin Roy tomorrow. Despite his team losing Roy was named the MVP of the Beanpot after he scored five goals in the two games. His 17 goals this season are second best among Hockey East players. The Huskies have just one win this season when Roy doesn’t register a point, the 1-0 shutout of UMass. There’s a big gap between him and Cody Ferriero who has the second most goals for NU with nine.
Roy has helped the Huskies to respectable numbers offensively, but they’ve struggled on the defensive end all season. The 3.30 goals given up per game is dead last among Hockey East games. It’s likely that UMass will see Rawlings tomorrow since he was given Saturday off. He has played inconsistently all season, being chased in three games to date. But when taken as a whole his numbers are pretty good, compiling a 2.90 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. He’s definitely a better option in net than Bryan Mountain who is 0-6-2 on the season.
Coach Micheletto said after the Lowell loss on Saturday that the team is not hitting the panic button yet. And that’s fair, it’s not time to panic regarding the team being able to make the playoffs. But is that really what the team should be striving for? Just barely making the playoffs (again)? There’s still time to move up the standings, back to 7th, and perhaps further. But to do so they’ll have to play a lot better in every aspect of the game. They’ll get a tune-up versus the last place Huskies before the final stretch of games begins this weekend against Maine. A loss tomorrow would simply be devastating for the team and its fans.
Beer The Triangle
Warning to pregamers! The Hangar does not open until 4pm on Tuesdays (because no one wants the best damn wings in the world for an early week lunch?), so if you plan to get there mid-afternoon, seek other libations. Luckily Amherst offers other locales as a stopgap before that time. There’s always the venerable ABC, where last week I enjoyed an ABC/Northampton/Wormtown collaboration Third Degree IPA. However tomorrow I might give the High Horse Brewpub another chance. I’m not sure why since on my first visit they had mediocre beer and on the second they had improved beer served up by rude bartenders. We’ll see what happens. However I do have the entire day off and perhaps I’ll take the northern route into Amherst and check out the Blind Pig in Athol that I’ve been hearing so many good things about.
Conor Allen will be back in the line, per the Republican preview.
College Hockey News has their Hockey East power rankings and makes the case that the league should continue to limit playoff participation in order to add meaning to the regular season, especially the final few weeks. I agree.