Happy Thanksgiving to our readers and those who follow the Northeastern hockey program. I wanted to start this post by saying how much we appreciate your readership and also how much we appreciate your following and supporting the NU hockey program. I hope you enjoyed the holiday with friends, family, and good food and good health.
After celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday as a team, the Huskies return to Matthews Arena for one non-conference game on Saturday against the RIT Tigers of the Atlantic Hockey Conference. Northeastern and RIT skated to an early season 3-3 draw in RIT’s annual Brick City Homecoming hockey game in upstate New York last year, with NU mounting a comeback from a 3-0 deficit to force the draw.
The #HowlinHuskies put their three-game winning streak on the line tomorrow night vs. RIT at Matthews Arena on NESNplus (7 p.m.)
— Northeastern MHKY (@GoNUmhockey) November 23, 2018
This season, RIT enters the matchup with a 7-3-1 record on the season and is riding a 3 game winning streak/4 game unbeaten streak in Atlantic Hockey play. They share one common opponent with NU thus far, the Tigers split a pair of one goal games with UMass Lowell in early October while Northeastern is 2-0 against the River Hawks thus far. Still, the Tigers have shown they can compete with and win against Hockey East competition, which is all you really need to know.
The RIT offense is led by a trio of seniors on the first line, with Abbott Girduckis leading the team with 11 points (5-6-11), Erik Brown leading with 6 goals (6-2-8) and Gabe Valenzuela (4-5-9) trailing closely behind them. However, beyond those three and sophomore Jake Hamacher (4-5-9), the offense is sparse. No other player has more than two goals. In fact, while those four have combined for 19 goals, the other 19 players on the RIT roster who have dressed this season have just 9 goals between them. So this feels like a situation where if NU can use their top defensemen and last change to get favorable matchups against the top line of RIT, the rest of the gameplan should quickly fall into place. On defense, former NU commit Danny Willett already has five assists in what could be a breakout sophomore season.
The strength of RIT, however, is squarely between the posts. Goaltender Logan Drackett has played every minute for RIT this season and posted a .932 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA while doing it. Also he’s saving .949 at even strength and .954 in close situations, which has resulted in a grand total of 11 even strength goals and 6 close goals scored against RIT on the ENTIRE SEASON. Drackett saved 41 of 42 shots in an RIT win over a Colgate in October and made 38 saves in the Tiger win over UMass-Lowell as well. In RIT’s most recent game he recorded a 25 save shutout of Canisus.
Their advanced metrics as a team are okay, they generate 49-51% of the shot attempts in any game, blocked or unblocked, and their team PDO is inflated a tad bit by the goaltending they’ve gotten so far, none of which is all that surprising. In fact, their PDO is downright abysmal for a team receiving .930 to .955 goaltending. And those top four forwards are all shooting and scoring at pretty prolific rates too (16.7-22.7%), so the team shooting percentage and overall “luck” being so utterly average is a testament to how little scoring the rest of the team has to offer beyond the top of the lineup.
On the NU side of things, Austin Goldstein returned to the lineup last weekend alongside Ryan Ruck, so that should add some much needed depth to the Huskies on both ends of the ice. There’s definitely a chance Ruck plays this game, but with a hot goaltender on the other end of the ice and an opponent that’s maybe slightly underrated I would kind of prefer to just wait and break him in against Huntsville in a few games. Especially with no two game weekends between now and then there’s no real need to rest Primeau at the moment.
In summary, NU fans should probably be taking this game and this team a little bit more seriously than they are, RIT is significantly better than NU’s other AHC opponent this season (Sacred Heart) at basically every facet of the game. And NU almost lost one of those SHU games. So there are certainly no gimmies here. Hopefully they find some pucks to put behind Drackett and we can all go home and keep eating leftovers in peace.
You don’t have to leave our couch today to take advantage of our #HowlinHuskies Friday Sale!
— Northeastern Huskies (@GoNUathletics) November 23, 2018
- Gordon (7 points)- 4-0 Huskies win
- Fallon (6 points)- 4-1 Huskies win
- Downie (6 points): 1-0 Huskies win
- Davis (5 points): 2-1 Huskies win