Coach Madigan: ‘They raised the bar for Northeastern hockey’
March 25, 2016 6:13 pm by Greg St. Martin
The Northeastern men’s hockey team finished the 2015–16 season with a 22–14-5 record, following a difficult 6–2 loss to North Dakota in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But this team won’t be remembered for that outcome. This team will be remembered for its grit and determination, for an improbable season turnaround that featured a 13-game winning streak and 20 wins over the final 24 games, for winning the school’s first Hockey East championship in nearly three decades, and for returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
“They raised the bar for Northeastern hockey,” head coach Jim Madigan said of his players in a post-game press conference.
The Huskies battled the North Dakota Fighting Hawks for 60 minutes in their opening-round NCAA matchup on Friday afternoon. Madigan credited North Dakota, which he said features a strong blend of speed and physicality and played at a faster pace Friday. He said his team prepared well and played with grit, but struggled to settle in during the first period, as Northeastern fell behind 3–1. “Our guys gave it everything we had,” he said. “We just didn’t have enough.”
Madigan praised the team’s tremendous senior leadership and its effort throughout the season. “They represented our institution with pride, class, and dignity,” he said.
For a complete game recap, visit GoNU.com.
History-making season comes to a close
March 25, 2016 6:13 pm by Greg St. Martin
And it’s a final here in Cincinnati: North Dakota 6, Northeastern 2. The Huskies struck first in the third period on a goal from Matt Benning, assisted by Mike McMurtry and Kevin Roy, at 5:25. North Dakota though closed out the scoring with a late goal at 16:28. In an ironic twist, the 6–2 final matches the score from the last time Northeastern and North Dakota met in the NCAA tournament. That was in 1982.
Following the traditional handshake line, the Huskies raised their sticks in the air, acknowledging the Northeastern fans who stood and cheered, before leaving the ice for the locker room.
Update at second intermission
March 25, 2016 3:51 pm by Greg St. Martin
North Dakota added to its advantage with two more goals, and leads the Huskies, 5–1, after two periods. Northeastern went on the power play midway through the period and carried much of the action from that point on with several strong chances but couldn’t convert. The Huskies seemed to find a bit of a rhythm in the latter half of the period and will look to carry that into the third period.
On campus: Students pack the Curry Student Center to cheer on the Huskies
March 25, 2016 3:15 pm by Jason Kornwitz
While members of the news@Northeastern team are on the ground in Cincinnati providing live updates from the Northeastern-North Dakota game, we’re also capturing reaction at the Curry Student Center, where hundreds of students, faculty, and staff have gathered to watch the national TV broadcast of the game.
Many of them are wielding pom-poms and decked out in Northeastern sweaters emblazoned with the Husky logo. And when Nolan Stevens gave the Huskies a 1–0 lead just three minutes into the game, they exploded, cheering and jumping out of their seats.
“That was a nice shot,” said Nick Besnecker, DMSB’19, a die-hard fan who has gone to nearly every home game this season. “That’s Stevens’ go-to shot. He’s probably one our most explosive scorers.”
When the Fighting Hawks took a late first period 3–1 lead on a power play goal, one student tossed a noisemaker in the air out of sheer exasperation. Another student—Mike Davis, BHS’16, the leader of the DogHouse—jumps up and out of his seat and fills a paper plate with chicken nuggets. Comfort food.
“I’m a lot more tense now,” says Sam Ciaranca, S’18, wearing a Hockey East Champions hat and speaking just after the buzzer sounded, signaling the end of the first period. “But at the same time, they’ve come back from steeper deficits in the past and you still have to have faith.”
Update at first intermission
March 25, 2016 3:03 pm by Greg St. Martin
We’re at the first intermission here at U.S. Bank Arena, with the score 3–1. The Huskies struck first at 3:07 with a goal from Nolan Stevens, assisted by Garret Cockerill, leading the Northeastern fans to erupt in celebration. But North Dakota answered less than three minutes later with a goal by Johnny Simonson and took the lead at 10:22 with a goal from Tucker Poolman. The Fighting Hawks extended their lead to 3–1 with a power play goal from Luke Johnson at 16:55. North Dakota is outshooting Northeastern 17 to 6.
There’s still a lot of hockey left to play.
The pep band is in the house
March 25, 2016 1:35 pm by Greg St. Martin
The Huskies will hear a familiar sound when they take the ice this afternoon. That would be the NU Pep Band, which traveled with the team to Cincinnati and will be providing its signature game-day energy along with the rest of the Northeastern fans in attendance at U.S. Bank Arena.
The pep band held a rehearsal Friday morning to get organized, and as president Matt Tate put it, “get focused on the music.” The size of pep bands is limited during NCAA tournaments, so the NU Pep Band will have 25 members performing at the game, rather than the 40–50 members or more that regularly perform at Matthews Arena. The pep band will also be using a different drum setup. But not to worry: Tate said these changes won’t prevent the band from playing its most popular songs. And yes, that mean’s “All Hail, Northeastern” and the crowd favorite and Northeastern hockey staple “Stacy’s Mom.”
On a personal level, Tate is a fifth-year senior and is thrilled to be here experiencing the Huskies’ exciting post-season run. “It’s great to see team have so much success,” he said.
Alumni, DogHouse fired up for the game
March 25, 2016 12:38 pm by Greg St. Martin
DogHouse members Michael Downie and Ashley Demirali left Boston at 11 p.m. Thursday night for the long drive to Cincinnati in Demirali’s Honda Civic. I caught up with them by phone around 10:30 a.m. as they passed through Columbus, Ohio.
“This is unbelievable,” said Demirali, who has been going to Huskies’ games since childhood. Her father is a Northeastern alumnus, and at Friday’s game she’ll be sporting a special piece of Northeastern apparel: Her father’s 1982 Frozen Four Northeastern T-shirt, which is now faded from black to gray, and has shrunk from large to small.
As these Northeastern students made their way to Cincinnati, alumni from generations new and old convened at the Yard House Cincinnati – The Banks for the pre-game gathering hosted by the Huskies Club and Alumni Relations. Among them were four members of the Class of 2013 reuniting for the game: David Markham, Eric Jacobson, Dylan Nichols, and Conor Murphy. Markham flew in from Orlando, while Murphy and Nichols flew to Chicago to meet Jacobson and then the trio drove to Cincinnati this morning.
Their travel plans started taking shape after the Huskies won the Hockey East championship. “It took 24 hours to realize this was all really happening,” Markham said.
1. We’re on to Cincinnati
2. A welcome return to this Ohio city
3. Update at first intermission
4. Final practice at Matthews
The Huskies have arrived
March 25, 2016 12:30 pm by Matthew Modoono
The players and staff arrived U.S. Bank Arena just before noon for today’s 2 p.m. showdown with North Dakota.
Behind the scenes with the team’s equipment manager
March 25, 2016 10:15 am by Greg St. Martin
Rob Moura is a huge hockey fan and will be among the Northeastern faithful watching the Huskies compete in the NCAA tournament Friday afternoon. But he’ll be watching the game in a much different way than the crowd at U.S. Bank Arena, and most certainly viewers watching at home. In fact, he’ll be doing more than watching—he’ll also be listening, very closely.
Moura is the men’s hockey team’s equipment manager, and one of his many roles is to quickly handle equipment issues the Huskies encounter during games. And he’s come to know the sounds to listen for. If a player goes to stop and his skate chatters against the ice rather than slides, Moura immediately knows something’s up. If he hears a certain “ping” when a puck hits a stick, he knows the stick might require attention. And if a player snaps a stick, he hears the crack and is ready to grab a replacement.
Moura is in his sixth season at Northeastern, and his first full season as head equipment manager for men’s ice hockey. As we spoke during Thursday’s practice, he outlined his work during tournaments like this one. After practice, he prepares the locker room for game day. He does all the laundry, gets the skates sharpened to each player’s preference (he knows all 25 by memory), replaces or repairs any equipment needing attention, and puts out the game jerseys and socks.
“My job is to have them walk into the same setup every game, whether we’re at home or on the road, and come into the locker room and not have to ask me for anything,” he said. “I just want them to focus on winning.”
What are the critical factors to doing his job well? Repetition, preparation, and time management, he said. And his job hardly begins at the arena. It’s well beforehand, by making sure all the team’s equipment is ready for the trip. For road games, that means bringing and keeping track of 130 sticks, 50 pairs of skates and laces, 24 rolls of tape, extra gloves and pads, and even a needle and thread.
And Moura is well organized, and insists on overseeing every aspect of the pre-game equipment preparations.
“One of my biggest fears, especially when we’re flying, is leaving something behind,” he said. “All the guys are great. They always ask if I need any help. And I just tell them it’s nothing personal, but it’s going to be a long flight if I’m not the one who does it.”
Yes, this work can get tedious at times, and the hours crazy. But Moura takes great pride in putting in the time and effort required to help the Huskies be as successful as they can be. He said he loves being part of the team. But he’s the guy behind the scenes, and that’s just fine with him.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “My goal is to be prepared for everything and hope for the best.”
It’s game day! Here’s where to watch, how to watch, and who to follow
March 25, 2016 9:00 am by Greg St. Martin
Friday’s game between Northeastern and North Dakota begins at 2 p.m. EST. (Cincinnati is in the Eastern time zone, by the way.) The game will air on ESPNU and will also be available via live stream through the WatchESPN app. Students in residence halls will also be able to watch through HuskyCable HD, as ESPNU will be made temporarily available for the game on channel 82. The game will also be available on DirecTV channel 208 and DISH Network channel 141, as well as on TSN2 in Canada.
Northeastern will host a viewing party in the Curry Student Center Indoor Quad, and attendees are encouraged to arrive early to get a seat. The viewing party will include free food and giveaways.
If you’re in the Cincinnati area, there will be a pre-game celebration at the Yard House Cincinnati—which is across the street from the U.S. Bank Arena—from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appetizers will be served and a cash bar will be available. It is $10 to attend. Registrations will be accepted at the door in cash only. Visit GoNU.com/NCAAevent to register.
And keep up with the Huskies on Twitter. Follow the men’s hockey team at @GoNUmhockey and use the hashtags #GoNU and #RedBlackOnePack. There will also be updates on @GoNUathletics and @Northeastern, so follow those, too. Oh, and you can also follow me, @gstmartinNU, for updates, amazing observations, and hopefully lots of celebratory photos of the Huskies and their fans.
Scouting report: North Dakota
March 24, 2016 10:00 pm by Greg St. Martin
Northeastern’s opponent on Friday is North Dakota, which heads into the NCAA tournament with a record of 30–6-4, and nearly double the number of goals scored (142) than goals allowed (74). The Fighting Hawks are one of the nation’s top teams, drawing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and being ranked No. 3 nationally in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.
Here’s what Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan told our writer Jason Kornwitz earlier this week in a wide-ranging Q&A:
“They’re a hard team to play against. They have a good blend of skill and grit and physicality. And they can beat you in a number of ways, whether in a high scoring game or tight checking 2–1 type of game. There’s no doubt about it—we’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game on Friday. As I told the players earlier in the week, while we haven’t played North Dakota this year, we have played North Dakota-like teams all season long and have had success.”
And here’s more insight from Madigan from Thursday, when he was asked about North Dakota during a post-practice press conference:
“There’s been some common characteristics of North Dakota teams over the years. They are skilled, tough, gritty, and physical teams. That is certainly the case again with this year’s team. … They can defend and they have been getting great goaltending. So, in all three phases of the game, they are very good and they are battle-tested. A lot of these young men went to the tournament last year and into the Frozen Four. We know we have got our hands full with them because they are a seasoned and veteran team. They play the game the right way. They play hard, they are tough and they can beat you in many ways. At the same time, we are excited about what our team is and our identity.”
He was down, but far from out
March 24, 2016 8:51 pm by Greg St. Martin
It’s been well documented that the Huskies’ 2015–16 campaign has been a tale of two seasons. Northeastern started out with a record of 1–11-2, but is now headed into the NCAA tournament unbeaten in 22 of its past 23 games.
For senior Dustin Darou, the season has mirrored this dramatic swing from one extreme to the other.
Darou, a 6-foot-1-inch defenseman, broke his tibia and dislocated his ankle at the Travis Roy Foundation’s charity Whiffle ball game over the summer—injuries he suffered sliding into the third base that put him out for six months.
This was not how Darou wanted his senior season to begin, missing the team’s first 19 games before returning on Jan. 8. But he focused on staying upbeat about his recovery and bringing a positive energy to the locker room during that early rough patch when he was sidelined and the team was struggling. “It was a tough time for everybody,” he said, “but I think we as a team knew where we could be.”
Where they could be was competing in the NCAA tournament. Now the Huskies are there, and playing their best hockey of the season.
1. A welcome return to this Ohio city
2. Scenes from the ice
3. Behind the scenes with the team’s equipment manager
A welcome return to this Ohio city
March 24, 2016 6:24 pm by Greg St. Martin
The Huskies’ thrilling run to the NCAA tournament in Cincinnati marks a welcome return for Northeastern’s Jerry Keefe.
Keefe, who is in his second season as associate head coach and his fifth season overall behind the bench, began his professional hockey career with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the American Hockey League during the 1999–2000 season.
Following the Huskies’ practice on Thursday afternoon, Keefe looked back fondly on that experience and the city itself. “ Being a young kid coming out of college, I was just learning how to be a pro,” he said.
“It’s a great city. I’m a big baseball fan, and the Reds are huge around here,” he said, adding that he caught the team in action at the old Riverfront Stadium during his time in Cincinnati.
The Mighty Ducks played at the Cincinnati Gardens, an arena located about seven miles north of the U.S. Bank Arena where the Huskies will play Friday. For his part, Keefe’s pro career lasted five years, including a pair of seasons in Europe. In fact, Keefe played one season for the Belfast Giants, and he also returned to Northern Ireland this season when the Huskies played in the Friendship Four tournament there.
This trip marks the first time in about 15 years Keefe has returned to Cincinnati, and he said there’s been no better way to come back than with the Huskies on college hockey’s biggest stage. “It’s just awesome to be here with Northeastern,” he said.
Scenes from the ice
March 24, 2016 2:44 pm by Greg St. Martin
Northeastern got its first look at the U.S. Bank Arena rink during this afternoon’s practice, and then fielded questions from members of the media. We’ll have more content from those interviews soon, but for now here are some photos from this afternoon to tide you over.
1. 2016 Beanpot Tournament
Huskies gearing up for practice
March 24, 2016 12:47 pm by Greg St. Martin
The Huskies arrived at U.S. Bank Arena on Thursday for an early-afternoon practice. It’s almost time to hit the ice.
Guide to the NCAA tournament
March 24, 2016 10:38 am by Greg St. Martin
OK, here’s a quick rundown: The men’s ice hockey NCAA tournament field consists of 16 teams from across the country. Tournament action begins on Friday, with games taking place in four different geographic regions. Each region includes four teams, seeded 1–4. The NCAA has provided the official bracket (as well as a printable version) for the tournament.
Northeastern will play in the Midwest Regional, being held at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. The Huskies earned a No. 4 seed, and will face the No. 1 seed North Dakota Fighting Hawks on Friday at 2 p.m. EST. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals and play on Saturday at 6 p.m. against the winner of the Michigan-Notre Dame game.
Only one team will emerge from each of the four regionals. Those teams will advance to compete in the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida, on April 7–9, with the winner crowned national champion.
Northeastern secured an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the Hockey East championship. This year marks the fifth time the Huskies have reached the NCAA tournament, and the first time since 2009. Northeastern also reached the tournament in 1982, 1988, and 1994.
We’re on to Cincinnati
March 23, 2016 10:00 pm by Greg St. Martin
(I’ve been waiting to write that for several days now…)
Anyway, we’re here in the Queen City. The two-hour flight went smoothly, and the team is focused and loose. The guys kicked around a red and black soccer ball outside the team bus prior to the flight out of Massachusetts, and relaxed on the plane and also later on the airport apron after landing as we waited for our transport buses to arrive.
And props to our hotel for a strong Northeastern greeting. The front desk featured an assortment of red, black, and white balloons, as well as a hockey skate with flowers and Northeastern flags sprouting out. We’re already feeling the Husky love in Cincy!
Here are some photos from the trip from Boston to Cincinnati, and look for plenty more content on Thursday during our first full day here.
And they’re off
March 23, 2016 4:28 pm by Adam Glanzman
Students, faculty, and staff gathered outside of Matthews Arena on Wednesday to send the men’s hockey team on its way to Cincinnati for the Huskies’ NCAA tournament first-round matchup against North Dakota.
Final practice at Matthews
March 23, 2016 2:48 pm by Matthew Modoono
The Northeastern men’s hockey team got in one final practice at Matthews Area on Wednesday before departing for Cincinnati, Ohio, for its NCAA tournament first round matchup with North Dakota.
Welcome to the blog!
March 23, 2016 1:07 pm by Greg St. Martin
Northeastern is the hottest team in college hockey. The Huskies are winners of 13 straight games, unbeaten in 22 of its past 23 games (20–1-2), and fresh off a thrilling Hockey East championship.
Now the team is on to the NCAA tournament, and news@Northeastern has launched this blog to capture the excitement and cover the behind-the-scenes moments. On Wednesday afternoon, we’re traveling with the team to Cincinnati to share stories, photos, and much more from the road as the red-hot Huskies look to capture their first-ever national championship. The first game is Friday at 2 p.m., when Northeastern faces off against North Dakota.
Stay tuned for regular blog posts over the next few days!
NEWS@NORTHEASTERN COVERS THE HUSKIES
|A look inside the Huskies’ historic turnaround||At hockey games, ‘Stacy’s Mom’ has got it goin’ on||Men’s hockey shooting for Hockey East title|
MEN’S HOCKEY IN THE NEWS
- NY Times: Northeastern’s Journey to N.C.A.A. Tournament Began With a Trip Abroad
- College Hockey News: Northeastern Wins First Hockey East Title in 28 Years
- NESN: Northeastern Downs UMass Lowell To Win First Hockey East Title Since 1988
- Boston Herald: NCAA hockey — Northeastern draws North Dakota; BC, Harvard square off
- Boston Herald: HE title has Northeastern NCAA-bound
- Boston Globe: Northeastern, BC, BU, Harvard open NCAA hockey tournament Friday
- Boston Globe: Northeastern wins Hockey East tournament
- Boston Globe: Magic and wonder tour continues for Northeastern hockey team