This past weekend the Northeastern University Huskies hosted the St. Lawrence University Saints in back-to-back games at Matthews Arena. These were the first two games for the Huskies who were just coming back from their holiday break, and it showed a little in their play on Friday night.
After the first game, Huskies Head Coach Jim Madigan admitted that he was pleased with his team’s efforts in the third period, but felt that they had made some serious mistakes earlier.
“I had to share with our guys; I don’t think we should be satisfied. That ugly area of our game in the second period of being undisciplined,” Madigan told reporters. “We’ve talked about it all year. We’ve gotten better over the last four or five games.”
Madigan was talking about how many penalties his team took. By the end of the second period they were down three goals—all three of which the Saints had converted on the power play.
“We’ve got to be smarter,” Madigan continued. “The enemy sometimes is us and it certainly was the case there with going down 3-0 and all three power play goals.”
Co-captain Adam Reid admitted that their choices on the ice had a lot to do with the how the scoring started on Friday.
“We really don’t make it easy on ourselves, as you can tell. Most it has to do with discipline,” Reid said. “That second period we just played a lot of special teams and it’s hard to get our game flow going.”
However, it wasn’t all special teams that first night. During Friday night’s game Trevor Owens of the Huskies experienced the joy of getting his first collegiate goal.
“It’s huge. Getting that first one is… it’s always nice to get that monkey off your back,” Owens told reporters after Friday’s game. “You start playing with a little bit more confidence, and it’s not in the back of your mind as much. Getting that first one definitely felt great.”
There were a lot of penalties called on both teams in both games. Fourteen penalties were called between the two teams in Friday’s game—eight on the Saints and six on the Huskies. Eleven were called during Saturday’s game –six on the Saints and five on the Huskies (one of which was a bench minor for too many men on the ice).
The need to use special teams affects any team at any level. The players of the special teams may end up with unusually high minutes on the ice as part of a specialty unit.
“It’s significant. We’re playing six forwards. We’re playing four to five defensemen,” Madigan told The Pink Puck. “At times we had a defenseman in the box so sometimes it’s four defensemen.”
And it wasn’t just the Huskies who were struggling with the number of penalties. The Saints are a team that much prefer to roll all four of their lines, and when the special teams are out there so often that just isn’t possible.
“At least half the game seemed to be special teams,” Saints’ Head Coach Greg Carvel told The Pink Puck. “We like to play all four lines and get energy and be fresh out there. It affected the flow of the game for sure.”
During the first game it appeared that the Huskies spent some time chasing the puck, perhaps not as fast on their skates as they would have liked.
“I guess you can attribute it to rust from the break,” Reid responded to The Pink Puck. “I think we were kind of tentative, but as I said, we shook it off toward the end there and were able to get it going.”
Coach Madigan seemed to feel the rust wasn’t so much in their legs as elsewhere.
“I don’t think the rust showed in our legs, in our willingness to compete,” he explained to The Pink Puck. “Our rust showed in our brains. We were rusty mentally. So we’ll get some WD40 and spray them tonight and tomorrow so they’ll be a little bit sharper.”
And while the number of penalties in Saturday’s game was almost as high, the Huskies definitely brought a stronger game, limiting the Saints to just two goals, while scoring four themselves—the first two on power plays in a twist of the hockey fates from the night before. It wasn’t until 18:31 of the third period though that the Huskies would get the go ahead goal from Michael Szmatula, after having been tied since the end of the second.
When the snow settled on the ice at the end of the two nights, it appeared that Madigan’s use of WD40 on his Huskies had them able to get back into game mode a little quicker than the Saints, who have now gone 0-5-1 in their last six games. However, the Huskies have little time to rest, as they will be hosting the Yale Bulldogs on Tuesday night at Matthews and will then take on the Boston College Eagles this coming weekend in home and home play.