Hockey East Preview: Northeastern University Huskies

By Craig White

Head Coach: Jim Madigan (22-37-9) (entering 3rd season)

Last season: 9-21-4 (5-18-4, 10th in Hockey East)

Additions: Mike Szmatula F, Dalen Hedges F, Nathan Ferriero F, Mike Jamieson F, John Stevens F, Zach Aston-Reese F, Tanner Pond F, Will Messa F, Jake Schecter D, Matt Benning D, Gus Harms D.

Subtractions: Ludwig Karlsson F, Vinny Saponari F, Garrett Vermeersch F, Robbie Vrolyk F, Steve Morra F, Joseph Manno F, Drew Ellement F, Cam Darcy F, Ben Oskroba D, Dan Cornell D, Jake Hoefler D, Chris Rawlings G.

There is nowhere to go but up for the Northeastern Huskies.  A dead last finish is obviously not what NU wanted out of their 2012-2013 campaign.  Several of the subtractions left midseason last year, which begged questions about the locker room.  Their up-and-down multiyear starter in net, Chris Rawlings, finally graduated and will leave the starting job up for grabs.  It will be a battle between Clay Witt, Derick Roy and Bryan Mountain for the starting position in net.

The Huskies biggest loss will be their captain playmaker from last season, Vinny Saponari.  Saponari had 7 goals and 22 assists for a total of 29 points in his senior season.  The Huskies will also miss the big Swede, Ludwig Karlsson, despite him having an injury plagued 2012-2013 campaign last year.

Northeastern will have Kevin Roy back who led the team in points in his freshman season with a (17-17—34) line.  The dynamic winger will be counted on to get even better this season for the Huskies.  Also coming back are seniors Braden Pimm and Cody Ferriero.  These two players no doubt are two of the most talented on the squad, but have been inundated by undisciplined and at times inconsistent play over their careers at Northeastern.  If the two of them can stay on the ice and produce, it will only mean good things for the Huskies.  The Huskies new captain Josh Manson will need to be a physical presence at the blue line and will be counted on to lead the team overall.

On the bright side of things, the Huskies are bringing in a highly touted freshman recruiting class.  Mike Szmatula, a center from the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, had 44 goals in his one and only season in the USHL.  Dubuque teammates Matt Benning and John Stevens will each be expected to contribute both from the point and at center, respectively.  Dalen Hedges, an undersized scorer from Nepean of the CCHL, will be a dark horse to keep an eye on.

Outlook: Coach Jim Madigan will need to keep his team motivated this season in order to get any sort of positive results.  His past squads have shown to be mentally weak and tend to come and go when they please.  If he can keep them focused they should be much improved with such a talented freshmen class coming in.  Expectations are low for Northeastern who was picked dead last in the preseason Hockey East coach’s poll.  Team defense will be a priority for this squad as they finished last in team defense in Hockey East last year.  Expect the Huskies to improve on last years campaign but don’t expect any banners to be hung from Matthews at the year’s end.