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Northeastern Preview

Northeastern Huskies 13-12-1, (Hockey East 8-10-1 10th)
vs
#18 Massachusetts Minutemen 16-11-0, (Hockey East 11-9-0 4th)  

Official Northeastern Hockey Site

UMass enters this weekend losers of three of their last four and needing to send a statement following the horrendous 7-1 loss to Boston College a week ago.  A statement to the rest of the league?  Perhaps.  A statement to the fans who showed up in droves and then bailed after the first.  I guess, though I think the ones that stuck it out are the ones who deserve something.  No, I think this statement needs to be made by the players to the players.  As I mentioned last weekend this team still needs to figure out things mentally, just how good are they and what are they able to accomplish.  While I don’t think this weekend against Northeastern will offer definitive conclusions to either question, a strong showing will help put them back on the right track.

Of course just a few weeks ago these teams met and UMass played one of their better all-around games of the season in the 4-1 win at Matthews Arena.  The Minutemen went 3 for 7 on the power play while killing all six Northeastern chances.  However, I’m not sure if we saw the best that Northeastern has to offer that night.  First off, they started their backup goaltender, Bryan Mountain, not that he played all that badly.  Secondly, they were coming off a tough overtime (mostly) televised loss to Lowell the night before where they scored three goals in the last 10 minutes to almost complete the comeback.  Northeastern ended up only managing 13 total shots in the game.  Since that time the Huskies have played well going 5-2 with a loss to UVM in Burlington and a narrow defeat to BU in the first round of the Beanpot.

Northeastern is still getting things done with defense.  Their 2.77 goals allowed average is good for 3rd in the league, which is pretty impressive considering they start two freshmen goaltenders in Mountain and starter Chris Rawlings.  If not for Merrimack’s Stephane DeCosta, Rawlings might be a consideration for Hockey East Rookie of the Year for his 2.67 goals against and .914 save percentage.  Amazingly Northeastern is doing that well on defense despite being dead last in the league in penalty killing at 76.2%.  This would be a great opportunity for UMass to get their power play going again as they’re only 3 for the last 29 with the extra man.  Defensively the Huskies are led by seniors Dave Strathman and Jim Driscoll but keep an eye out for Jake Newton who has put together a good freshman year on both ends of the ice. 

Offensively the Huskies rely on junior forwards Wade MacLeod and Tyler McNeely as well as senior Kyle Kraemer.  All three forwards are tied for the team lead in goals with 10 but MacLeod has a slight edge in overall points with 22.  It’s surprising to see Alex Tuckerman with only 11 points to date on the season.  Last year he appeared to have a bright future ahead of him as one of the more impactful freshmen in the league, at least in the games I saw him.  But he’s hit a bit of a sophomore slump so far and his production is down in terms of both goals and assists.

Flat out, UMass needs three points this weekend at least.  Every Hockey East team is playing two games this weekend with the expection of the two that find themselves at the far sides of the standings, UNH and Providence.  In a quirk in the schedule the two teams ahead of UMass in the standings will play the two teams behind UMass.  BC and Maine, both two points ahead of UMass, will play Lowell and BU respectively, both four points behind the Minutemen.  That basically means that if UMass gains ground on a team ahead they won’t necessarily be able to distance themselves from a team just to the back in the standings and vice versa.  The team also has to take advantage of the games they have against team in the bottom of the standings.  And to put the pressure on even more, tonight is the second to last game at the Mullins in the regular season.  Five of the last six games in the season will be played on the road.  UMass already let the previous two home games go by the wayside without gaining any points, they simply cannot let that happen tonight.

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Toot says everyone, including the coaching staff, was to blame for last week’s loss in the Republican preview.

The Collegian article says UMass bounced back from a tough loss against Northeastern and they can do it again.

Here’s Matt Vautour’s preview from the Gazette.

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In what I think is a good for UMass, Athletic Director John McCutcheon withdrew his name from the San Diego State opening.

James Marcou drops to #3 in Inside Hockey’s latest Hobey Watch.

Greg Mauldin is putting the skills he used while playing point on the power play at UMass to good use in the AHL.

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