BOSTON – Northeastern took one much needed point from tonight’s 1-1 tie with Hockey East sixth place Providence College at Matthews Arena. The Friars struck early, less than thirty seconds in, with a goal from Tim Schaller. Northeastern answered less than ten minutes later when Garrett Vermeersch beat Alex Beaudry to tie it up.
The scoring would end there for the night, and neither team could connect throughout the next 2 periods and overtime, leaving the Huskies and the Friars to split two crucial Hockey East points at a time when Northeastern needs every point they can get.
What I saw
When PC’s Schaller scored just 29 seconds in, it looked like we might see a Chris Rawlings slide akin to that of the first round of the Beanpot against Boston College, but Northeastern’s starting goalie stayed strong after letting that one by. He made 22 saves and was able to handle odd angles from the Friar offense. Granted, the Husky defense looked stronger in front of Rawlings, which always makes the goaltender’s game come with more ease.
Coaches say it all the time, but what I saw tonight from Northeastern was a decent compete level. It seemed to be completely nonexistent the past two Mondays and Madigan had made it clear he was extremely unhappy with his team’s effort, or lack thereof. Some lineup changes, including the “coach’s decision” of sitting Rob Dongara and Dan Cornell, prove that Madigan is going to play those who put in the effort and want to play. While nothing can replace Northeastern’s injured top scorers, having players on the ice who are there to compete at their highest level looked like an improvement for the Huskies tonight.
What I thought
The Huskies weren’t at their best tonight, but they certainly weren’t at their worst. After their poor showings in the Beanpot semifinal against BC and consolation game against Harvard University and a loss to University of New Hampshire, tonight’s performance was at least a step up. Despite that, Northeastern’s power play is still struggling and they couldn’t convert on any of their four chances tonight. That being said, the Huskies didn’t allow any shorthanded goals either, which is also an improvement.
Northeastern absolutely needs to shoot the puck more. It’s been an issue all season, and if seeing it wasn’t proof enough, Scott McLaughlin took a look at shots in a blog post earlier this week, and it wasn’t pretty for the Huskies. They’re last in Hockey East in shots on goal per game with 26.3 and last in shots on goal allowed per game with 33.8. If you’re looking for something to relate those numbers to, Mass.-Lowell leads shots on goal with 34.2 and BC leads shots allowed with just 26. Tonight, Northeastern took 21 shots and allowed 23 from the Friars.
What they said
“I think the team was really focused tonight. We absolutely have to be. We have two and half weekends left now and every game is crucial, every point is crucial. We’ve got no choice but to focus.”
— Adam Reid
“Poor execution, quite frankly. They were coming hard at us, which we knew they would do, and we tried a different set up there, which should have worked for this but we started to bleed away from it and get into our old set up. We didn’t win enough battles, quite frankly, along the wall to come up with the puck…We’ve got confidence in our power play but tonight wasn’t a good night for the power play.”
— Jim Madigan on the Husky power play
What they didn’t say
Aside from the usual “coach’s decision”, Madigan gave no reason for his lineup decisions. However, after his anger with the team’s Beanpot showing, it’s apparent that the first year head coach is doing what he can to get some effort out of his team, and it certainly seems like that’s playing the guys who really want to play – and act like it.
What else you should know
Junior forward Robbie Vrolyk was injured late in the first and didn’t return to the ice all night. He’ll go for x-rays tonight and then a decision will be made for tomorrow night.
With Cody Ferriero, Steve Quailer, and possibly Vrolyk out with injuries for Northeastern tomorrow night, it’ll be a matchup of some beat up teams. Providence will be without top scorer Tim Schaller and Mark Adams, both injured tonight, as well as Daniel New.
With one point from tonight’s game, Northeastern moves to eighth in Hockey East. A University of Massachusetts loss to Maine broke their eighth place tie with the Huskies, and UNH’s loss to University of Vermont ensured Northeastern would only be three points behind the sixth place Wildcats. Splitting the two points was better than gaining nothing, but a win tomorrow is crucial for the Huskies in securing their position in the Hockey East postseason.