There is something special about college hockey. There is a speed and intensity that is always present. This early in the season, there is the promise of potential as new players hit the ice for their first collegiate game. And Northeastern University’s second tilt in as many nights against University of Alabama-Huntsville’s Chargers was no exception.
Derick Roy, a Redshirt Freshman, took the ice to defend Northeastern’s net in his first collegiate game. He stood tall in the net and had a poise on the ice that belied it being his first game at this level. He saw a total of 27 shots and saved all but two of them—both goals being power play goals. However, Roy should be pleased with his first outing as he had a save percentage of .931.
After Friday night’s thumping by the Huskies in the first game against UAH, some could have expected an overconfident Northeastern team or a beleaguered Chargers team. However, the play between the two teams on Saturday seemed to have a slightly less tilted ice surface, which should probably be attributed to UAH’s freshman goalie Carmine Guerriero, who was put in Friday night’s game after UAH’s freshman Matt Larose allowed all nine goals. Guerriero saw five shots in his first minute after being put in; which when all said and done, showed Northeastern had peppered the UAH net with 52 shots and outscored them 9-1.
Saturday’s game wasn’t quite as bad, though the shots were still definitely in favor of Northeastern, who continued to dominate with shots on goal through the first two periods with 29 shots to UAH’s 16.
Frustrations and a little lack of self-control are always evident at the college level. Though true of most collegiate teams, many of those playing for both teams are only in their first or second year of college. Some were coming from the USHL (where fighting is allowed) and learning a new system, while others are just trying to get noticed. The Chargers brought with them many of their youngest players. Of their 18 forwards and defensemen, 9 of them are freshman, while 5 are sophomores. Though not quite as many, the NU Huskies had 6 freshman and 6 sophomores on the ice for Saturday’s game.
As a result it was not surprising to see a few penalties called on both teams. UAH saw 8, which included a game misconduct to freshman forward Brent Fletcher, as a result of the five minute major for hitting from behind just three and a half minutes into the game. This also offered the Huskies their first power play goal of the night. The Huskies were hardly angels though, giving as good as they got. They were called for 11 penalties, including the holding penalty called on Dax Lauwers, with just 2:03 left in the game, followed by the hooking penalty called on Colton Saucerman with 47 seconds left. Having pulled their goalie, this in effect gave the Chargers a 6-on-3 power play that could only end in a goal, despite a valiant effort by the few Huskies still on the ice.
And anyone who thinks that college hockey is soft has not sat near the boards as both teams crash into each other in their attempts to knock their opponents off the puck. There were a few bone crushing checks from both sides on Saturday as each side tried to intimidate the other with their brute force.
Northeastern has now started the season with two wins for the second year in a row. However, the team is looking to be a force this year. The additions of the USHL’s Clark Cup-winning Dubuque Fighting Saints’ Matt Benning, Mike Szmatula and John Stevens should assist the Huskies is going much further this year and winning more of their games. In fact, between the two games against the Chargers, these three NU players had a total of 10 points.
Yes, the season is just beginning, and there is a lot more college hockey to be seen. Northeastern’s Huskies are looking to be a dominate team. It should be an interesting ride with the talent they added. And it could be that their strikes on the Chargers are just the beginning of an impressive year.