On Saturday, The Northeastern Huskies take on the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, in the second of their 3 game series. Northeastern won the first game at Matthews in a dominating 4-0 fashion. UNH, however, has found a scoring touch, and is hungry to get their first win.
Offensively, UNH has rebounded from their 1 goal in 4 games that they started the season with, scoring 8 in 2 games against St. Cloud State last week. UNH is lead by Nick Sorkin, who has 4 goals so far. No one else on UNH has scored more than 1 goal. UNH’s scoring is concentrated heavily on their top 2 lines. Northeastern has done a bit better spreading their scoring around all 4 lines, best exemplified by each of their 4 lines getting a goal against UNH. Northeastern should also see the return of Cody Ferriero, who I believe will be coming back for this game. as to who should sit, it’s a bit tricky. Vereermsch hasn’t done a lot but plays on the PP. Tuckerman might need time to get back to his freshman self, and Stone and Reid have played quite well. If I had to guess, I’d say either Vermeersch (with Ferriero taking his place on the PP), or Tuckerman. Northeastern will want to follow the same gameplan from it’s last game against UNH: spread out the scoring, play all the lines and have them keep up sustained offensive pressure.
Defensively, UNH’s defense hasn’t much improved. While UNH scored 8, UNH gave up 10 goals. In fact, overall UNH has given up the most goals (24) in the league. We’ll get an early preview of their defense tonight when they face Union at home. If Union scores a bunch of goals, well see that UNH’s defense is still not great, if they keep Union down they may have started turning the ship around. Northeastern’s defense has markedly improved, and again, if they want to win tomorrow, they need to pressure UNH’s offense, block shots constantly, and force them to make mistakes that we can capitalize on. Perhaps as importantly, we need to use all 6 defensemen we play, and not shorten the bench, as we did against BC. We need to play all our players, otherwise we’ll run out of steam and fall apart.
Goaltending will be the most interesting aspect of this game. Rawlings played well, but was unable to get a win in either game this weekend, and will look to return to his shutout form this weekend. For UNH, the question is if they stick with DiGirolamo. While the defense hasn’t exactly been helpful to him, he hasn’t played well either. Might if be time to give a game to Casey DeSmith? Jeff Wyer got the 2nd game against SCSU after DiGirolamo gave up 5 goals in 2 periods the night before. If he plays again tonight and does poorly, I would expect Umile to give one of the backups a shot against UNH. Or, he may start DeSmith or Wyer against the non-conference team tonight and save DiGirolamo for Northeastern tomorrow. There are a lot of options, we’ll likely know better tonight.
There is also an X-factor here in UNH’s ice. UNH plays on an Olympic-sized arena, meaning the rink is wider. Typically, an Olympic arena is beneficial to high-skill teams, as the players have more room to maneuver and setup plays. While UNH has the home-ice advantage and has practiced on the rink, Northeastern might have some help if UNH’s defense is still playing poorly. This might give a chance for more skill guys like Vinny Saponari and Steve Quailer to open up and make more offensive chances. I guess we’ll see. UNH will also be playing the night before, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep up the level of intensity all game or if theyll be hit with any weariness as the game goes on.
In the end, I think Northeastern wins 3-1. I think Northeastern benefits from UNH having to play the night before, and the more open ice will allow for more offense.