A good friend asked me to write about this, and it seemed appropriate, given the recent events. Northeastern’s sweep of Notre Dame and defeat of Michigan, and their general resurgence of late. This has been noticed elsewhere, and now I will discuss it. Has Madigan brought about an attitude shift that has been to our advantage?
If you ask anyone, they would tell you that Cronin was an intense person. He had a tightly controlled, rather defensive system, and stuck by it. Some might say that some players suffered under his system. It’s not hard to see where this argument comes from. A lot of players with an offensive flair have taken a while to really mature under his reign. Ryan Ginand, who was a diminutive sniper, hit 20 goals his senior year. But before that, he only ever got half that in a season. Was this in part of Cronin’s style? Were offensive players stifled more than they liked, causing them to fail to produce as expected?
The bigger problem I think many would say is how the team reacted under pressure. If they jumped to a big lead they would be hard pressed to hold onto it. They’d put up a few quick goals, and then turtle, get lazy, and let the other team take charge and rally. Or the team would sleepwalk through the first two periods, only to pick up their game in the 3rd period, but it was never enough to win. And god forbid we’d score an extra attacker goal. I think the last time Cronin’s team scored with the extra man was 2008-2009 against BC.
Now, it’s too soon to say this is the norm, but I don’t think it’s outrageous to say that there is a very apparent change. The Huskies managed to come back despite being down against UMass early in the season. Most recently, the Huskies haven’t been comfortable with sitting back with a lead. They go after the other team despite being ahead, aggressively seeking an even more decisive victory. Most recently, and perhaps most heartening, is the Huskies strength in the 3rd period, shutting down other team’s ability to come back in a close game as we saw with Notre Dame.
Finally, we’re seeing a resurgence in offensive prowess in a lot of guys who didn’t do much under Cronin. Ferriero, Quailer, Vermeersch, Justin Daniels are all seeing an offensive resurgence. Madigan has been focused on opening up the game and allowing more offensive creativity. While we have yet to see a change on the power play, I think it’s fair to say that the 5×5 game is really chugging along.
Saturday’s game against UMass Lowell may be the best test of this yet. Two new coaches, new systems, and two programs that have been on the rise the last few weeks. Saturday’s game could give us the best indication of what the players do under Madigan. They seem to be enjoying themselves a lot more. Let’s see if they can win against a surging Riverhawk team.