Northeastern hung onto a 1-0 victory over UMass on Friday in Amherst and then lost in a disappointing 6-3 loss at Matthews on Saturday. For Northeastern, it was a rather topsy-turvy weekend, in which Rawlings stood on his head Friday and saved the Huskies, and they won by scoring a short-handed goal in the second period (the first 2nd period goal in Hockey East play this year). On Saturday NU went 1/1 on the PP and 4/4 on the PK, but still lost.
While I was unable to attend Friday’s game, I did see the game on Saturday, and all I can say is NU got a mix of bad defense, bad refereeing, and continue to be terrible on handling the forecheck. UMass absolutely dominated NU on the forechecking, forcing tons of turnovers, which lead to at least one goal, and made it next to impossible for Northeastern to sustain offensive pressure, or even get it out of their own zone. This was compounded by the fact that the Huskies’ defense made a number of miscues and failed to help out Rawlings at critical times (see: Goals #1 & 3).
As for the reffing, there were two major problems. The big one was the teddy bear toss. If Northeastern clears the event with Hockey East, how does no one call up the refs and mention this? And even if the refs don’t get this call, couldn’t they realize that this was a clearly planned event? When a teddy bear was tossed from the visitors side and the referees called a penalty on NU, it killed the momentum the Huskies had just gained from Vrolyk’s goal.
The other major problem was the lacking call on the hit from behind on Drew Ellement, which apparently left him with a concussion. The non-call lead to a turnover and gave Rawlings no chance to stop a point blank shot. Regardless of the lack of a call, a bigger issue was that the NU players stopped playing and waited for the call that never came, allowing UMass to pounce. That’s a terrible mistake that should never play. Players need to keep skating until the whistle blows, or else mistakes like that are made.
Bottom-line: Northeastern needs to get their house in order and solve the issue of forecheck, as well as keep tightening their defense. As I’ve said before, getting Saucerman back and putting Gunn in the lineup will be big, but Northeastern needs to figure out how to get back on track in terms of keeping up the pressure.