Week Two Preview: Union Dutchmen

Non-conference competition continues and kicks up a notch this weekend for the Northeastern Huskies as they welcome the Union Dutchmen of the ECAC to Matthews Arena for two games. These will be the first home games of the season for Northeastern, and the first games on the road for Union. These games will be the first the teams have played against each other since the 2007 season. Northeastern holds a 3-1-1 edge in the all-time series.

Friday October 19th will also very likely be the date that the Huskies unveil two new banners in the Matthews Arena rafters, one for the 2018 Beanpot Championship team as well as one for 2018 Hobey Baker Award winner Adam Gaudette. You can purchase tickets for the weekend events at tickets.gonu.com.

Northeastern comes home after a successful road trip to southwestern Connecticut where they swept the Sacred Heart Pioneers; you can read out recap of that weekend HERE. Union comes into the series also unbeaten in their first three games, sporting victories over Army and Nebraska-Omaha, while also tying Omaha last weekend.

Historically a high-scoring team, Union is averaging an excellent 4 goals per game in their first three contests, having scored three, four, and five goals in those games. However, after only giving up one goal to Army, they allowed seven goals to Omaha last weekend, so they certainly showed they can be scored upon.

Through three games, Union is led in scoring by senior captain and forward Cole Maier’s 7 point (3 goals). He is followed by two more forwards with 4 points, two more with 3 points, and finally top scoring defenseman Taylor Brierley with two points. A well-balanced scoring attack has worked well for Union so far this season. Their top five scorers are made up by two seniors and one each of junior, sophomore, and freshman forwards. Maier and junior Anthony Rinaldi lead the team in shots on goal with twelve and ten respectively.

As a team, Union has capitalized on 21.4% of their powerplays (3 for 14), while only killing 9 of the 15 they have faced (60%). Union also has a disproportionate amount of shots during the second period; 42 of the 91 shots on goal have come in the middle frame, so an early lead may benefit the Huskies before they fall into a flurry of Dutchmen shots. Overall Union has a +9 shots differential in the early season; Northeastern has a +7 differential in one fewer game.

In goal, the Dutchmen have been led by senior Jake Kupsky, a 2015 San Jose draft pick who in three games stands with a 90.2 save percentage and 2.60 goals-against-average. Last year was his first year getting the majority of starter’s minutes, and he rewarded Union with a 91.7% save percentage and 2.43 GAA, both solidly above-average in college hockey. The 6-foot-4 goaltender will likely get both games against the Huskies this weekend. If another goaltender does play, it will likely be sophomore Darion Hanson, who got in 14 games of action last season as a freshman.

Final Thoughts: Union will provide a much stiffer test for the new-look Huskies as they continue to find their identity in the early part of the season. Union clearly can be scored on, so it will be crucial for the Huskies to continue their scoring-by-committee approach from last week. In particular, Union appears to be very susceptible on the powerplay, allowing opponents to convert 40% of the time so far this season, which may just be the medicine the Huskies need after starting the season 1 for 12 against Sacred Heart on the powerplay. Expect Cayden Primeau to get both starts as he looks to shut down the Dutchmen’s offensive threats. We hopefully will start to see some stability in terms of lines and defensive pairings as October rolls on, so we may see a little less tinkering from Coach Madigan this weekend as well.

Predictions (1 point for correct result, +1 for score, 0 points for wrong result)

Davis (2 points): Huskies sweep, 3-2, 4-1

Downie (2 points): NU sweeps 3-2, 5-1

Fallon (2 points): NU sweeps 4-2, 2-0

Friend of the Blog Zach Gordon (2 points): NU sweeps 3-2, 3-1