BOSTON – The Northeastern Huskies grabbed a pair of wins at Matthews Arena this weekend, downing the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers by a score of 9-1 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday.
On Friday, an offensive explosion led the Huskies to their first win at Matthews Arena in eleven months. The team got off to a quick start, scoring four times in the first period, and never let up, posting three scores in the second period and two in the third. Leading the way was sophomore Kevin Roy, who tallied a hat trick and a pretty assist from the corner on junior Adam Reid’s second period goal.
The freshmen were right in the thick of it as well for the Huskies. Dalen Hedges (one goal, one assist) and Matt Benning (one goal, two assists) each scored their first collegiate goals, while Mike Szmatula chipped in with three assists. John Stevens and Zach Aston-Reese also posted assists.
Braden Pimm, Mike McMurtry, and Ryan Belonger scored goals for Northeastern as well, with Belonger’s being of the short-handed variety.
Clay Witt started in net for Northeastern and stopped 26 of 27 shots faced, with the lone Charger goal being scored by Chad Brears late in the second period.
On Saturday, the Huskies built a 2-0 lead heading into the third period off of power play scores by Braden Pimm and Cody Ferriero. Northeastern gave Huntsville plenty of power play opportunities, though, eventually leading to Chad Brears’ second goal of the weekend, bringing the Chargers within one goal with fifteen minutes to play in the third. Colton Saucerman scored to extend the Husky lead to 3-1 late in the third period, but the team could not put Huntsville away easily. Once again, the Huskies gave the Chargers power play opportunities and were forced to skate 3-on-6 for the last minute plus. Huntsville drew to within one again after a goal by Steven Koshey, but with four seconds left on the clock it wasn’t enough for the Chargers.
Kevin Roy and Mike Szmatula each had two assists for Northeastern.
Derick Roy, the red-shirt freshman, made his first career NCAA appearance in this second game, stopping 27 of 29 shots. When asked after the game about giving both Clay Witt and Derick Roy starts on the weekend, Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said: “We’ve got three outstanding goaltenders and only two games this weekend. They each deserve an opportunity to play… moving forward, we’ll make those decisions each and every weekend who will get the start in goal.”
Moving forward for Northeastern, there are a few important takeaways from this opening weekend. First, is that Jim Madigan seems to be fully set on playing all three goaltenders and making one of them earn their way to the starting job. Based on the quotes above, one would have to imagine that Bryan Mountain gets a start against Holy Cross next weekend.
The second takeaway is the high level of success the Husky power play found. Northeastern converted on 5 of 13 power play chances (38.5%), with both the first unit (consisting of Kevin Roy, Cody Ferriero, Braden Pimm, John Stevens, and Mike Szmatula) and the second unit (consisting of Colton Saucerman, Dalen Hedges, Matt Benning, Adam Reid, and Zach Aston-Reese) finding success. While the Huskies’ competition this weekend was not quite the same caliber as it will be in conference play, the Huskies created impressive movement to open up passing and shooting lanes.
Last is Northeastern’s undisciplined play. While twelve Northeastern penalties on Friday night’s blowout ultimately did not mean much, the eleven penalties the Huskies took on Saturday night (including five in the third period) gave the Chargers two goals and nearly cost Northeastern the game. For now, the Huskies skate away with two wins, but if they give a Hockey East team that many chances to come back, they will be hard-pressed to pull out wins.