The Boston College Eagles seem to be getting all of the attention this week, for their matchup with North Dakota and for their “roster updates”. And Northeastern is used to playing second fiddle (or third, or fourth) in Beantown, with Boston College, Boston University, and Harvard stealing most of the hockey headlines.
But Northeastern is making strides. The 2005-06 Huskies posted just 3 wins in head coach Greg Cronin’s first season, and improved to 13 wins last year. Cronin is cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances against the powerhouses in Boston and beyond.
“People are getting excited about Northeastern because we had some success last year; there were some really stunning victories at Michigan, at Maine, against BC, against BU, but I’m guarded because I’m in the trenches here working through it,” Cronin said. “We only have one senior. We’re still in that phase where we’re asking our freshmen to play significant roles.”
For the Sioux, there are a few question marks surrounding this contest with Northeastern: After two high-profile games against Frozen Four participants from last season (Michigan State and Boston College), will the Sioux suffer any sort of let-down? Will Anthony Greico start on Saturday night, giving senior goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux his first game off after starting 27 games in a row? Will any of this matter with a team that seems loaded, prepared, and driven to return to the Frozen Four for the fourth consecutive season?
Northeastern Team Profile
Head Coach: Greg Cronin (3rd season at NU, 16-42-12, .314)
This Season: 0-0-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East
Last Season: 13-18-5, 9-13-5 Hockey East (7th)
Key Returning Players: Sophomore F Chad Costello (11-11-22), Sophomore F Kyle Kraemer (7-12-19), Junior F Joe Vitale (7-9-16), Junior F Ryan Ginand (6-8-14), Sophomore G Brad Thiessen (11-17-5, 2.48 GAA, .921 save percentage, 4 shutouts)
North Dakota Team Profile
Head Coach: Dave Hakstol (4th season at UND, 80-45-11, .629)
This Season: 1-0-0, 0-0-0 WCHA
Last Season: 24-14-5 (Frozen Four semifinalist), 13-10-5 WCHA (3rd)
Key Returning Players: Junior F Ryan Duncan (31-26-57 last season; 2007 Hobey Baker Award winner), Junior F T.J. Oshie (17-35-52), Junior D Taylor Chorney (8-23-31), Senior D Robbie Bina (10-22-32), Senior G Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (21-12-4, 2.42 GAA, .913 SV)
By The Numbers
Last Meeting: October 14-15, 2005 (Grand Forks, North Dakota). UND sweeps the non-conference series, 6-0 and 2-1, as freshman forwards Ryan Duncan (2 goals, 1 assist) and T.J. Oshie (4 assists) have breakout weekends. NU head coach Greg Cronin blasts the officiating crew (headed by referee Bill Mason) after Saturday’s defeat. “Honest to God, I’ve coached in the National Hockey League, the American Hockey League, the OHL, international, WCHA, Hockey East, and that was the worst officiating I’ve ever seen in my life,” Cronin said. “All three of them — Moe, Larry and Curly — were sniffing glue. It was embarrassing. If I was the league, I’d be embarrassed by that.”
Last Meeting in Boston: October 30, 2004. The teams skate to a 3-3 tie in non-conference play. Northeastern Junior F Brian Swiniarski pots two third-period goals to force overtime.
Most important meeting: March 25, 1982 (Providence, Rhode Island). UND defeats Northeastern 6-2 in the NCAA semifinals, and goes on to claim its 4th national championship with a 5-2 victory over Wisconsin.
All-time: UND leads the all-time series with 8 wins against 5 losses and 3 ties (.594). The series record on Huskies’ home ice is 2-2-3.
Game News and Notes
In 2005-06 (Greg Cronin’s first season as head coach), the Huskies posted a 3-24-7 (.191) overall record. Last year, they improved to 13-18-5 (.431), and hope to make a similar improvement this season. Hockey East coaches picked Northeastern to finish 7th this season. Sophomore G Brad Thieseen played over 90% of his team’s goaltending minutes last season. UND opens its conference schedule with a two-game series at Michigan Tech (Houghton, MI) on October 26-27.
Matthews Arena will be buzzing, Coach Cronin will have his Huskies ready to play, and it won’t matter. The Sioux are too deep and too talented to drop this game. Sioux 4-1.
Check back after Saturday’s game for news, commentary, and analysis. Thanks for reading, and, as always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.