Weekend Preview: Lowell and St. Cloud State

Photo credit Daniel Mick

Coming off a disappointing home seeep at the hands of Union, the Northeastern Huskies will look to bounce back this weekend with what may be one of their tougher weekends of the season and will certainly be one of their most interesting. The Huskies take a trip to Tsongas Arena to face UMass-Lowell on Friday Night before returning home Saturday for a non-conference all-Husky matchup with the #2 St. Cloud State Huskies.

From the NU side of things, the most important factor will obviously be whether or not Jeremy Davies is in the lineup. He’s entirely too important to the gameplan for anybody else to take his place with anything rivaling the same effectiveness, as Ryan Shea learned in spite of his best efforts on Saturday.

Besides that, I would hope for some line un-jumbling, at least within the perceived top six of Hawkins, Madden, Pecararo, Filipe, Jozefek, and Solow. All of them have proven that they can score playing together and have had limited effectiveness otherwise, whether that be on Saturday or dating back to prior seasons. Tyler Madden in particular will be looking to bounce back from the first down-game of his collegiate career last weekend, as he failed to record a shot and lost badly on the dot.

Looking at their opponents, first the Riverhawks of UMass-Lowell. Lowell is just 2-2 this season, with a disappointing home split against RIT where you could argue they shouldn’t have even won the first game and a much better looking split at Miami. Unfortunately for NU, both of those wins came on Friday Night, and if the Huskies lose on Friday they can’t take any points back on Saturday.

The Riverhawks’ forward lines are led by much the same names as last year, as John Edwardh was their only major offseason loss. So Connor Wilson (3-2-5 in 4 games), Kenny Hausinger (3 goals) and guys like Ryan Dmowski and Connor Sodergren will continue to pester the Huskies. The biggest surprise has been Sam Knoblauch, a freshman who came in with little fanfare but has already tallied two power play goals early in his Lowell career.

On defense though everything is different, as an almost entirely changed defense corps features the ever present Mattias Goransson joined by names like Croix Evingson (technically a sophomore, but played a limited number of games last season), Seth Barton, Dominic Procopio, and Jon McDonald. In goal, Tyler Wall seems to have taken the job back from Cristoffer Hernberg after a disasterous 2017-18 campaign, but knowing Norm Bazin, we will know his goaltender at puck drop and exactly zero seconds sooner.

On to the second-best Huskies in the country, the first thing you have to mention about St. Cloud is of course the coaching change, as former head coach Bob Motzko, by many accounts, essentially walked away during the run-up to the NCAA tournament last year and allowed his first-overall-seed Huskies to fall in their very first game as he found greener (gopher-hole-filled) pastures at the University of Minnesota. This is a new season though, and these Huskies are 4-0-0 at the time of this writing, with a Thursday game at BC which will likely push them to 5-0 before they get to Matthews Arena on Saturday. While the undefeated record is obviously impressive, the opponents are less so, with two wins coming against Alaska and two more against Northern Michigan. Both series come with their challenges (travelling to Alaska, facing a big old WCHA team) but it’s hard to argue SCSU’s results, as they were never in danger of dropping “points” in any game.

The Huskies are led by a couple of all-world defensemen on the left side in Jack Ahcan and Jimmy Schuldt. Freshman RD Nick Perbix has 2 points in his first four collegiate contests. Now I’m about to use a lot of quotation marks. You’ll see why. Their “first” line, if you ask the line chart, consists of Jack and Nick Poehling centered by Kevin Fitzgerald. But their “third” line has the Poehling brother you may have heard of, Ryan Poehling, centering Robby Jackson and Easton Brodzinski. You’ve probably heard of Easton’s brother Johnny too. It’s a family thing out there, apparently.

Anyway, Jackson and Ryan Poehling each have 5 points already this season, while Ahcan has 7. But if you think NU has depth scoring, you haven’t seen anything yet. St. Cloud has a point-per-game scorer on ALL FOUR OF THEIR LINES. I’ve said 9 names already and I haven’t even mentioned Patrick Newell yet, who has 4 goals and 7 points while playing on the “second” line, which is also basically the first line. If you’re counting, we’re up to 3 first lines now. That leaves the “fourth” line. All three players on that line already have a goal this season. Yep. To say that that situation is a bad matchup for Northeastern might be the understatement of the millenium. Sure, NU will likely put out the Picking line and Shea (or Davies if he plays) to stop whomever they think is most dangerous. But everybody is apparently dangerous. Time to see if Murphy, Harris, and Villella are ready. We’ll be anxiously awaiting the answer.

Oh yeah, and both of their goalies are 2-0 and they’ve combined for a team .930 save percentage. Just in case you were wondering. Best of luck this weekend boys.

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

Davis (2 points): 3-1 UML; 5-3 SCSU

Downie (2 points): 3-2 NU; 4-2 SCSU

Fallon (2 points): 4-2 NU; 4-2 SCSU

Friend of the Blog Zach Gordon (2 points): 3-2 NU; 3-2 SCSU