BY: JOSH BROWN
With an exhibition tilt under their belt, a 3-2 loss to Acadia, here are five things to watch for Northeastern’s first regular season game, a match up with division rival Vermont at Matthews Arena.
1. Clay Witt- After carrying the Huskies for much of last season in his first year as a starter, Clay Witt (.932 save %, 2.37 GAA) will look to replicate the success he had just a year ago. Despite allowing 4 or more goals in four of the last five games of last season, the 2013-2014 Army ROTC Three Stars Award Winner looked poised for another big year after stopping 9 of 10 shots on Sunday.
2. Sophomore Class- After combining for 125 points in their freshman season, the now sophomore Huskies are going to be asked to have an even greater impact in the 2014-2015 season. Even though it ultimately will not count, fittingly the first goal of the season was scored by a member of said class when Zach Aston-Reese buried a penalty shot in the first period of Sunday’s game. Aston-Reese, Mike Szmatula, Dalen Hedges and Boston University transfer Brendan Collier will all be asked to help carry the scoring load for Northeastern this season.
3. Play of Defense- Although the defense looked strong against Acadia even with the loss of Josh Manson in the off season, last season Northeastern struggled containing high tempo attacks, something Jim Madigan said he expects to see out of Vermont this Saturday. Freshman Garret Cockerill impressed on Sunday making the most out of his playing time, something he got a lot of. Bruins draft pick Matt Benning will also look to be an anchor on the blue lines for Northeastern
4. Kevin Roy- After scoring two more goals (19) and lodging ten more assists (27) than his already impressive freshman campaign, Roy cemented himself as one of the best players in college hockey. The Hobey Baker Candidate scored a goal in the preseason scrimmage but also uncharacteristically took two costly penalties in the third period and missed an open net opportunity to tie the game with 10 seconds remaining. Look for him to try to get on the scoreboard early against Vermont, and get his 2014-2015 campaign off to a hot start after racking up 12 points in the first six games last season.
5. Discipline- After leading the conference with 13.8 penalty minutes per game last season, Northeastern will look to nip that Achilles Heel in the foot early on this season. After taking 19 penalty minutes Sunday afternoon, the Huskies will be tested even more against Vermont and their high tempo offensive attack, and physical play they are known for.