by Dan McLoone
BOSTON – With the Northeastern men’s ice hockey team preparing to defend its first Hockey East crown since 1988, head coach Jim Madigan welcomed the eight members of the incoming freshman class on Thursday. With six graduating seniors and three players leaving school early, the fresh faces will be able to jump right in and contribute.
“This incoming class is a class that I think can continue what our senior class started four years ago, which each subsequent incoming class has been able to do, which has provided us with a lot of hard work,” said Madigan. “They’re passionate, productive and smart players, and they want to be here at Northeastern. We’re excited to welcome there here to Northeastern this fall.”
With Kevin Roy, Mike McMurtry and Will Messa leaving Northeastern, Madigan has brought in four forwards to bolster the Huskies on the attack. Matt Filipe, Grant Jozefek, Biagio Lerario and John Picking are all expected to fight for ice time, while Madigan is excited about the potential contributions from each forward.
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Filipe, a Lynnfield native who is eligible for this year’s NHL Draft, scored 19 goals and added 17 assists for the Cedar Rapids Roughriders in the USHL last season. His father, Paul, was also a Northeastern hockey player and former teammate to Madigan.
“Matt is a big, strapping 6’2″, 200-pound forward who gives you some flexibility and versatility in that he can play forward or left wing,” said Madigan. “He’s heavy on pucks, strong, a great skater with great offensive ability.”
Jozefek tallied 21 goals and 32 assists last year, making him the 12th leading scorer in the USHL for the Lincoln Stars. Also eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, his playmaking ability will be an important part of Northeastern’s attack.
“He’s an offensive player, really cerebral, and will remind you a little of a McMurtry and Roy, who were cerebral,” said Madigan. “He’s a playmaker who over the last year has become more of a shooter, and he plays really well with any type of player.”
Lerario notched 16 goals and 24 assists while also plying his trade for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL as captain last year.
“He’s a 200-foot guy, two-way guy, a real tough competitor someone that plays with a lot of passion with high-end compete level, and a real good skater,” said Madigan. “He’s got stick skills, he’s got the ability to impact the game in more than one way, not just contributing offensively but defensively tough to place against.”
Picking, a Wellesley native, led the Boston Junior Bruins and finished third in the USPHL with 59 points (24 goals, 35 assists) last season.
“He’s a good two-way player, smart, a real good skater,” said Madigan. “Here’s a young man just down the road who we believe is an underrated type of player, someone who is smart, can contribute offensively, but he plays 200 feet.”
Madigan also added three new skaters defensively. With Dustin Darou, Jarrett Fennell, Colton Saucerman, Matt Benning and Logan Day leaving the squad, Jeremy Davies, Nick Fiorentino and Ryan Shea will bring new depth along the blue line.
Davies led all USHL defensemen in scoring last year, tallying 13 goals and 36 assists for the Bloomington Thunder. His efforts earned him a nod as a USHL All-Star.
“He’s someone who will break us out of our own zone,” said Madigan. “He’s really intelligent, a good skater, jumps up in the play well and supports the play. He’s [not just] an offensive player, he plays 200-feet, but he does it with an effortless approach.”
Fiorentino scored nine goals and added 29 helpers for the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL last season.
“Nick…is a young man who brings a bit of a different dimension to our core,” said Madigan. He’s a physical, big, strong defenseman. He gets around the ice really well, he has really solid puck skills that can make simple break out plays.”
Shea, a Chicago Blackhawks fourth-round draft pick, saw his season with the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL shortened by injury last year. However, the Milton resident is expected to be an immediate contributor on the blue line.
“He’s a smart, puck-moving defenseman with high-end offensive skills who converted back to defense four years ago,” said Madigan. “He breaks you out of your zone really well, he’s smart, intelligent, and we’re excited for him to be here.”
With backup netminder Derick Roy graduating, Madigan brought in Curtis Frye from the Philadelphia Flyers Elite as a third goaltender. With a 3.36 goals against average and .908 save percentage, Frye is expected to push Ryan Ruck for ice time.
“He’s big, he’s athletic, he moves well, and he’ll challenge for some ice time,” said Madigan. “He’s a wonderful young man, he’s ready, and he understands what he needs to do to play here at Northeastern at the Division I level.”
The Huskies kick off their Hockey East title defense against Quinnipiac on Oct. 7th.
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