The annual Friends of NU Hockey meeting took place the evening of June 14th in the Varsity Club at Matthews Arena. You can register to become a friend of NU hockey HERE. Coach Madigan recapped the 2016-17 season, looked ahead to 2017-18 with commentary about returning players, incoming recruits, and the schedule, and also dove into topics related to NU Hockey in the near future.
Overall, Coach said that he had higher expectations than what we accomplished. A poor start coupled with injuries to key players forced some players to play more than they were slated to very early in the season, before some were ready for that expanded role. Specific names were not mentioned.
Coach’s assessment of the performance included describing inconsistency in defensive zone, inconsistency with both goal scoring and goaltending. He mentioned how NU struggled in league play early on. He noted how goaltending struggled, but that it was not all on Ryan Ruck; Coach commented how we couldn’t score consistently either and the defense struggled.
Games highlighted in which we performed well were at Vermont, home versus BU, and home versus Providence. Games highlighted as struggles included the first Notre Dame game, the game at Providence, and the home Vermont game.
Feels the offense will not be an issue this season, with three 20-goal scorers returning (Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura, Nolan Stevens), plus expected growth from players including Matt Filipe, Jeremy Davies, and Ryan Shea.
Defensively, he wants the unit to be tighter and better performing in front of the goaltender. He feels that returning six players from that core will be beneficial to the team. Coach is confident in the depth the corps has to push each other and succeed. Says the unit as a whole needs to be tighter in their own zone and in front of the netminder.
Cayden Primeau (Goaltender) – Expects Primeau to come in and push Ruck for the starting job from the onset. Encourages fans to not look simply at stats, saying “Cayden Primeau is our player,” and that he expects him to live up to the hype, citing his experience internationally at a young age as indicators for maturity and upside. Coach is excited about the amount of goaltending depth the team will have this season.
Zach Solow (Forward) – The USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year, Coach highlighted the tendency for scoring ability in the USHL translating well to the NCAA. Solow led the USHL in scoring, and is a pass-first player. Coach likened his mindset to how Dylan Sikura was coming into the 2016-17 season, as a pass-first player before being told to shoot more. Very good on faceoffs, an area NU struggled in mightily last season. Coach believes that Solow can contribute immediately, and can play a role in the Top Six.
Brandon Schultz (Forward)- Outside of Solow, the forward Coach talked about the most. Called an “energy” player who can be used on the penalty kill and on the third line. Led his USHL team in scoring.
Austin Goldstein (Forward)- Cited as a candidate for the bottom six forward spots, and Coach mentioned his speed as a valuable asset for him. Coming off a very successful year in the USPHL, which is harder to project going into the NCAA level than the USHL.
Bobby Hampton (Forward) – A candidate for a bottom six center position, Hampton was a late addition to the class. Coach mentioned his ability on faceoffs, a good stick in the defensive zone, and his hockey sense as positive attributes. Also coming from the USHL.
Drew Blackmun/Eetu Selanne (Forwards) – Depth forwards who can compete for time on the penalty kill if the opportunity arises. Selanne coach highlighted as a two-way, 200 foot player.
Billy Carrabino/Ryan Solomon (Defensemen) – Stay at home defensemen, increase depth at the position.
The schedule is set through the 2020-2021 season. Coach talked at length about how hard scheduling can be, with every team having agreements with others, and Northeastern having their own commitments, so it’s not like NU can schedule whoever they want whenever they want. There are many pieces to the puzzle, including logistics, financials, and level of competition.
There are more Atlantic Hockey teams on the schedule than ever before, and that is a result of what Coach called a “gap year” between agreements with some teams ending and new agreements beginning. As a result, Jim engaged in short-term agreements with some teams to fill the void this season.
The Minnesota series from seasons past is over. Starting in 2018-19, we will partner with Boston College for a similar agreement with St. Cloud State University. We will host them for one game in ’18-19 and ’20-21, and play two games at their arena in ’19-20.
This year marks the final one of our agreement with Quinnipiac, who will be replaced next season by a four-year agreement with Union College.
The Huskies will participate in the Catamount Cup in December 2018, and the Dartmouth Invitational in December 2020, giving the Huskies two in-season tournaments those years. Coach Madigan also expressed a desire to get the team in other holiday tournaments, including the Las Vegas Tournament, the Florida College Hockey Classic, the Mariucci Tournament, and the Friendship Four again.
We will also have non-tournament games with Dartmouth as part of an agreement with them that gets us into the Dartmouth Tournament in 2020.
This season, Northeastern’s game at Bentley will not take place at their new arena. Instead, when we play them in 2018-19, we will see their new rink. This season will be Northeastern’s last at the JAR.
We begin a two-year agreement with Sacred Heart, running 2017-18 and 2018-19. Sacred Heart sought out Northeastern to make the agreement happen.
We have a two-year agreement with RIT, with one game played each year between 2017-18 and 2018-19. RIT will come to Matthews Arena next season.
Coach Madigan expressed the desire to remake the Winter Showdown style of games, which featured Men’s and Women’s Basketball, to play unique opponents. Coach specifically mentioned a Big Ten team would be the ideal candidate.
Coach Madigan restarted his desire to get an agreement with Army or Air Force to do a multi-sport agreement, possibly centered around Veterans’ Day or a similar military-themed promotion.
The return series to Arizona State is currently undecided as to when it will occur, but it will happen as part of the agreement that brought ASU to Matthews in 2016-17.
Frozen Fenway has been discussed for a couple seasons from now, and if asked Northeastern will participate. Coach mentioned it’s an incredible experience for the players, and he is willing to trade a home game for the Fenway game if needed.
Brandon Hawkins, a transfer from Bowling Green, will be eligible to play in the second half of the season, starting with the game versus AIC on December 30th. Due to the timing of final exams, there is a chance he could be cleared for the December 16th game against Merrimack. But AIC will be the definitive date for Hawkins to be able to debut.
Liam Pecararo, a transfer student who came from Maine via the USHL, is expected and hopeful to be eligible this fall after being forced to sit out last season due to an academic issue from before he enrolled at Northeastern.
16 players are on campus right now for Summer 1 semester to work with Dan Boothby and his staff on strength and conditioning.
Hockey East has no pressing plans for expansion. The league is comfortable with 11 teams at this point in time, and has only been informally approached by one team who asked to join, that being Holy Cross. Holy Cross, however, has arena issues that would need to be rectified before joining. Quinnipiac was brought up, but as has been discussed, they have zero interest in leaving the ECAC. Coach cited their ties to the Ivy League, natural rivalry with Yale, and their historical success in the league all as reasons to not jump to Hockey East.
NCAA Coaches Conference: the annual conference in Florida saw the coaches and NCAA discuss options for overtime, legislation related to recruiting and age cutoffs for contact with players, and possible changes to sites for the NCAA tournament, including campuses hosting regional games. At this point, no moves seem imminent.
Long Term Plans
Briefly, Madigan mentioned some long term plans/items on his wish list for his program and players. These include a dedicated, fully equipped video room, a hydrotherapy room for strength and conditioning, and a shooting station to allow players to keep practicing even when not on the ice. Expansions to Matthews Arena, or reallocation of resources to best use the available space, have been discussed in private.
Coach mentioned the need to establish Northeastern as a brand, and to enhance the game-day experience at Matthews Arena, ultimately with the end goal to improve attendance, which has been steadily declining every season since 2013-14