Men’s Hockey Upsets No. 4 UMass

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Dale Desantis

BOSTON — Tuesday night’s showdown between the Northeastern Huskies and the UMass Minutemen was a chippy, defensive affair. The teams combined for 15 penalties, then failed to score on every one of the resulting power plays.

The Huskies triumphed in their home opener, topping the fourth-ranked Minutemen 3–1 behind the efforts of their freshmen and their grad transfer goalie. The Huskies have won their first three games and limited their opponents to a single goal in each one.

The game was scoreless well into the second period before the Huskies struck. With 9:23 remaining, freshman forward Matt DeMelis converted a wrister over the head of UMass goalie Matt Murray. The decisive goal opened play for both teams in what had been a stagnant offensive game.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The Huskies added to their lead later in the period after UMass defender Philip Lagunov was whistled for slashing Northeastern’s Jordan Harris on a two-on-one breakaway. The freshman defender took advantage of the penalty shot, confidently bearing down on Murray and flicking the puck over his right shoulder. It was Harris’ second goal of the young season.

Photo by Sarah Olender

The third period was electric. Just as the Northeastern defense looked unassailable, UMass freshman Matt Kessel drove a dagger from the blue line past Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano to make the score 2–1. A dogfight ensued, culminating in a five-minute spearing penalty against Northeastern’s Brendan Van Reimsdyk with three minutes to play. The Husky defense held fast, and Zach Solow notched an empty-net insurance goal with 12 seconds to play.

Pantano shone brightest, steering 34 shots away from the net and reassuring those who doubted the Huskies’ depth in goal before the season. He looked comfortable anchoring a team that heavily featured two freshman defenders in Mike Kesselring and Jeremie Bucheler.

“He gives you calmness, poise, and leadership,” Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said of Pantano. “He’s been in every building and has won.”

Photo by Sarah Olender

Tune in Sunday at 3 PM when the Huskies take on Holy Cross at Matthews Arena. Matt Cuhna and Adam Doucette will be on the call.

Men’s Hockey Notches Second Straight 2–1 Win Over Union

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Christian Skroce

SCHENECTADY, NY — It was another stressful outing for the young Huskies team, but Northeastern was again victorious in a come-from-behind effort against the Union College Dutchmen. The game started as a defensive slugfest, with the first two periods devoid of scoring and chock-full of penalties.

Union finally scored early in the third period. Union forward Anthony Rinaldi swooped in from the left wing and fired a poorly angled shot on goal. Despite a nice save from Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano, the puck remained untouched in the crease, and Morton — who entered the offensive zone from the penalty box just as Northeastern’s power play ended — put away the easy chance.

For a while Northeastern’s offense continued to struggle as they failed to capitalize on another power play. Then, with 11 minutes remaining in the third, freshman forward Riley Hughes came to the Huskies’ rescue. He stole the puck from a Union defender, earned a one-on-one breakaway against Union goalie Darion Hanson, and sent a shot through Hanson’s legs to even the score.

Northeastern didn’t take long to gain the upper hand. Just three minutes later, senior forward Biagio Lerario finished off a rebound from a long-range effort by fellow forward Zach Solow. The Huskies would not look back, as they fought their way to their second consecutive one-goal win during opening weekend.

“Well you’re playing with danger, you have to play well,” coach Jim Madigan said. “It’s good that we can find a way to win in a close game in the third period, and that shows resiliency and a mature team, but at the same time, there’s an identity we want to start playing to.”

While the Huskies were happy to come away with two weekend wins, there were clearly some growing pains for the team’s younger players. As Madigan pointed out, the coaches clearly have a plan for this team, and while it was a tough two games, the team held their own and begins its season undefeated.

Tune in Tuesday night at 7 PM when Northeastern returns to action against UMass Amherst; Matt Neiser and Dale Desantis will be on the call.

Men’s Hockey Tops Union in Season Opener

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Matt Neiser

Schenectady, NY — The Northeastern men’s hockey team traveled to Schenectady, NY on Friday night, opening their 2019–20 campaign with a matchup against the Union Dutchmen. Despite a shaky beginning that saw them fall behind early, the Huskies battled back with goals from sophomore Jordan Harris and junior Grant Jozefek to secure a 2–1 victory.

Northeastern (1–0–0) was rusty early on, with errant passes and missed defensive assignments all over the place. This was to be expected; the Huskies hadn’t played since March 30 and Union already had two games under their belt from last weekend.

The Dutchmen (0–3–0) took advantage of that rust in the first period, capitalizing on an uncharacteristic mistake from Husky captain Ryan Shea. Looking to clear the puck from behind his own net, Shea launched the puck directly into the path of Union freshman Liam Robertson, who sent a one-timer past Craig Pantano to make it 1–0.

The Huskies began to find their form in the second period, taking advantage of a continued power play from the first frame to get on the front foot offensively. After knocking on the door for a while, Northeastern finally found paydirt with six minutes left when a loose rebound fell right at the feet of Harris, who slotted the puck home to tie the game.

Northeastern completed the comeback with a goal in the third period, and boy was it a beauty. After a puck was dumped in behind his net, Pantano came out to collect. He slid the puck to freshman defenseman Jeremie Bucheler, who threaded a brilliant breakout pass to free Jozefek in the Union zone. Jozefek put on a quick half-move before firing top shelf, beating Union goaltender Darion Hanson.

Among Northeastern standouts was freshman Mike Kesselring. In his first collegiate game, the 6’ 4” defenseman put together a complete two-way game. He used his size on defense, breaking up multiple dangerous Union attacks. Kesselring was confident and decisive on offense as well, playing precise passes and unleashing a few firecracker shots from the point.

In fact, the entire Husky defensive core was excellent. Shea, Bucheler, Harris, Kesselring, and Julian Kislin showcased the blue line’s insane two-way potential, making countless plays on both offense and defense.

Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan credited the squad’s veterans as key to the team’s decisive third period: “Those older guys really stepped up in the third period and led our team and found a way to win. That’s a good team in the other room.”

The Huskies and the Dutchmen face off again Saturday at 4 PM. Matt Neiser and Christian Skroce will be on the call.

Hockey East Preview: Northeastern Huskies

Last Season: 27–11–1 (15–8–1 in HE, third place); Beanpot Champions; Hockey East Champions; lost to Cornell in NCAA Quarterfinals

Head Coach: Jim Madigan (ninth season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Fourth

Losses

  • G Cayden Primeau
  • D Jeremy Davies
  • D Eric Williams
  • F Brandon Hawkins
  • F Lincoln Griffin
  • F Patrick Schule
  • F Liam Pecararo

Additions

  • G Connor Murphy
  • G Craig Pantano
  • D Jayden Struble
  • D Jeremie Bucheler
  • D Mike Kesselring
  • F Riley Hughes
  • F Aidan McDonough
  • F Brendan Van Riemsdyk

By Christian Skroce

“We’re the greatest team to wear the Husky logo, and that’s gonna be a feeling that’s going to last a lifetime.” Those were the final words junior forward Zach Solow spoke as he reflected on Northeastern’s 2018–19 season, and while they seemed bold at the time, it’s hard to argue them.

The Huskies finished the season with an overall record of 23–10–1, going 15–8–1 in Hockey East play to capture the third seed in the conference tournament. Along the way, Northeastern came up with massive wins, beating the number-one-ranked team in the country not once, but twice (St. Cloud State and UMass Amherst). The cherry atop the incredible regular season came during a little tournament in February, when the Huskies defeated Boston College 4–2 to capture their second consecutive Beanpot title, a feat the program hadn’t accomplished since 1985.

But the magic didn’t stop there for the Huskies. The team continued its momentum into the Hockey East tournament, rattling off three straight victories — including a 2–1 overtime win against Boston University — en route to another meeting with BC in the Hockey East Finals. Despite a strong showing from the Eagles, Northeastern came away with a 3–2 victory to win the program’s second conference title in four years. For the first time, Northeastern won the Beanpot and Hockey East Conference in the same season.

Coming off the high of winning their conference, the Huskies were awarded a second seed in the 2019 NCAA Hockey Tournament and a favorable matchup against third-seeded Cornell. Despite high hopes entering the matchup, the dream of reaching the program’s first Frozen Four came to a screeching halt as the Huskies suffered a 5–1 drubbing at the hands of Cornell’s massive skaters. Just like that, Northeastern’s historic season came to a depressing end, and while the success gave fans plenty to cheer for, the bad news continued into the offseason.

Shortly after the NCAA Tournament loss, sophomore netminder Cayden Primeau announced his intention to sign an entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadians, ending his career at Northeastern after just two seasons. Junior defenseman Jeremy Davies would follow his teammate to the NHL, signing an entry-level contract with the New Jersey Devils (Davies was traded to the Nashville Predators in a package for P.K. Subban). The Huskies also lost several key seniors to graduation: defensive captain Eric Williams and impressive forwards Lincoln Griffin, Patrick Schule, Liam Pecararo, and Brandon Hawkins.

While the losses were heavy, the Husky faithful should expect great things, especially on the defensive end. Despite losing Primeau and Davies, the Northeastern defense should improve upon last year’s impressive season. Newly appointed captain Ryan Shea leads a deep defensive unit filled with unrivaled intelligence and athleticism. Returning along with Shea are sophomores Jordan Harris and Julian Kislin, both of whom impressed during their freshman campaigns, often looking like seasoned veterans.

But the biggest storyline for this defense will be the incoming freshmen class, which adds much-needed size and skill to the team. Headlining the commits is Jayden Struble, a second-round pick from this year’s NHL Draft who finished first in almost every drill at the NHL Draft combine. Joining Struble on the blue line are freshmen Jeremie Bucheler and Mike Kesselring, two physical, 6’4” skaters.

The defensive unit’s depth should make the goalkeeper’s job much easier, which is good news for a team trying to replace Cayden Primeau. In the long term, Husky coaches are hoping incoming freshman Connor Murphy will be the answer between the pipes. To help Murphy’s transition, the Huskies also brought in fifth-year goalie Craig Pantano, whose 57 games of experience at Merrimack should prove valuable, especially early in the season.

Without question, the most volatile unit will be the offense. While the Huskies did not lose any elite talent up front, the team’s depth will come into question. Northeastern is returning several skaters hoping to take massive leaps this season, particularly junior forward Zach Solow and sophomore forward Tyler “Mr. Bright Lights” Madden, who impressed with 28 points last season.

To counteract the loss of depth, the Huskies are bringing in several freshmen skaters, most notably Riley Hughes and Aidan McDonough. As seventh- and sixth-round draft picks respectively, Hughes and McDonough will look to add skill and size to the second and third lines. In addition, Northeastern is bringing in graduate transfer Brendan Van Riemsdyk, a 6’3” forward from the University of New Hampshire, whose four years of Hockey East experience will be valuable for the young Husky forwards.

Bottom Line: While many might see this as a rebuilding year for the Huskies, revamping is the preferred word. With the team’s best recruiting class in years, Northeastern is continuing to build themselves into a contender. While the losses of Davies and Primeau will not be easy to overcome, they just mean that other players will have to step up, particularly guys like Matt Filipe and John Picking. If the senior forwards step up in a similar way to last year’s class, this team’s mix of young studs and veterans skaters should allow them to once again finish in the top three of Hockey East and make another run at the conference title.

Hockey East Preview: Boston College Eagles

Last Season: 14–22–3 (10–11–3 in HE, seventh place); lost in HE finals

Head Coach: Jerry Yorke (26th season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: First

Losses

  • G Joseph Woll
  • D Michael Kim
  • F Christopher Brown
  • F JD Dudek
  • F Oliver Wahlstrom

Additions

  • G Spencer Knight
  • F Matt Boldy
  • F Alex Newhook
  • F Mike Hardman
  • D Mitch Andres
  • D Marshall Warren
  • D Drew Helleson

By Christian Skroce

The last few years of college hockey have not been kind to Jerry Yorke’s Eagles, and 2018–19 was yet another disappointing year. While the team ended its historic non-conference losing streak, Boston College’s woes continued into their conference schedule as the team finished seventh in Hockey East, its worst regular season finish since 2008. The team also failed to win the Beanpot, losing to Northeastern in the final.

Despite the poor regular season, the Eagles picked up the pace in the Hockey East Tournament by eliminating Providence and UMass Amherst before ultimately falling to Northeastern in the title game. Once again, Jerry Yorke and BC failed to come away with any hardware. In fact, even with the waves of talent coming through the Conte Forum over the past decade, Boston College has failed to win the Hockey East Tournament or a national championship since 2012.

After an encouraging Hockey East Tournament run, BC came to terms with several offseason losses. Two senior captains — Michael Kim and Christopher Brown — graduated, while the team’s other captain, forward Casey Fitzgerald, signed an entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres. The offense took yet another hit when freshman forward Oliver Wahlstrom — the 11th pick in the 2018 NHL Draft — ended his college career and signed with the New York Islanders. The final loss came on the back end, as junior goalkeeper Joseph Woll decided to forgo his senior season and sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The talented goalie was a mainstay for the Eagles these last few years, posting an impressive 45–8 record with a 2.51 goals against average.

Despite the lackluster recent results and losses for BC, hope has arrived this season. The Eagles’ incoming freshmen class should terrify every team in the country. Three commits were chosen in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft, a feat practically unheard of in college hockey.

Headlining the monumental freshmen class is forward Matthew Boldy, the 12th pick. Boldy is an intelligent playmaker whose stick skills will immediately bolster BC’s already impressive attack. Taken just four picks after Boldy was fellow freshman Alex Newhook, who averaged a remarkable 1.9 points per game in the BCHL last season. The two first-round picks will join upperclassmen David Cotton on the front lines; Cotton is a talented skater returning for his senior year after a fantastic 23-goal junior campaign.

Spencer Knight, the 13th pick and BC’s replacement for goalie Joseph Woll, is the first goalie taken in the first round since Jack Campbell in 2010. At 6’3” and 198 pounds, Knight fills the entire goal and — as his 2.36 GAA in 33 games for the US Under 18 team proves — is one of the best goalie prospects in years. While the transition into Hockey East can be difficult for young goalies, hockey fans should remember that former Northeastern goalie Cayden Primeau made it look easy for two years. Knight might be even better.

Bottom Line: This BC team won’t be short of talent, especially in their offensive unit. The combination of young superstars Boldy and Newhook and the veteran talent of Cotton and Logan Hutsko should prove deadly. Senior defenseman Ben Finkelstein and junior Michael Karrow lead a solid Eagles defense backed by Spencer Knight between the pipes. This team is young, but its star potential should scare every team in the country. With a difficult out-of-conference slate, the young Eagles will be battle-tested and well-prepared for a deep Hockey East Tournament run and a return to the NCAA Tournament.

Hockey East Preview: Boston University Terriers

Last Season: 16–18–4 (12–9–3 HE, fifth place); lost in HE semifinals

Head Coach: Albie O’Connell (second season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Fifth

Losses

  • G Jake Oettinger
  • G Max Prawdzik
  • D Dante Fabro
  • D Shane Switzer
  • D Chad Krys
  • F Joel Farabee
  • F Ryan Cloonan
  • F Mark Cheremeta
  • F Bobo Carpenter
  • F Shane Bowers
  • F Max Willman

Additions

  • G Sam Tucker
  • D Case McCarthy
  • D Alex Vlasic
  • D Domenick Fensore
  • D Sean Driscoll
  • F/D John Copeland
  • F Jamie Armstrong
  • F Trevor Zegras
  • F Markus Boguslavsky
  • F Robert Mastrosimone
  • F Sam Stevens
  • F Ethan Phillips
  • F Alex Brink

By Adam Doucette

The Boston University Terriers’ 2018–19 season was the first with coach Albie O’Connell at the helm. Other than the coaching change, it was not the most memorable season for the Terriers. They didn’t notch a Beanpot win, they didn’t make it to the Hockey East finals, and they didn’t make the NCAA tournament. Their overall record was below .500 for the first time since 2013–14.

While a team cannot be expected to be elite right away under a new coach, BU has gotten used to contending. However, the team with the most Beanpot titles under its belt won’t have an easy time climbing back to the top of college hockey.

The Terriers are losing four of their five top point scorers from a year ago, including goal leader Joel Farabee (17) and assist leader Dante Fabbro (26). They are also losing the services of Jake Oettinger, their star goaltender who made 47 saves in last year’s Beanpot final against Northeastern.

The Terriers picked up two graduate transfers for this season. One is Alex Brink, a 6’0” forward from Brown University; the other is Sam Tucker, a 6’3” goaltender from Yale University. The team will also hold onto Patrick Curry, the lone remaining top-five point scorer from last year. The senior forward will serve as team captain for the 2019–20 campaign while senior Patrick Harper and juniors Logan Cockerill and Cam Crotty have been named assistant captains.

Bottom Line: It won’t be easy for the Terriers to build on last season after losing so many top players. Second-year coach Albie O’Connell will have to learn on the fly and figure out how to best use the new players. Expectations may not be as high as they were in past years, but the program is confident that O’Connell can lead them back to the top.

Women’s Basketball Finishes Sixth in Coaches’ Poll

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Milton Posner

The Northeastern women’s basketball team placed sixth in the annual CAA preseason poll released Thursday. Unlike the men’s poll, in which coaches, media relations directors, and media members vote, the women’s poll asks only the coaches, who are barred from voting for their own team.

TeamPoints (First-Place Votes)
James Madison Dukes81 (9)
Drexel Dragons70 (1)
Towson Tigers65
Delaware Blue Hens59
UNCW Seahawks47
Northeastern Huskies40
William & Mary Tribe32
Elon Phoenix28
Charleston Cougars15
Hofstra Pride13

James Madison, the unanimous title favorite, showcases a formidable lineup headlined by Preseason Player of the Year Kamiah Smalls and three second-team members: Lexie Barrier, Jackie Benitez, and Kayla Cooper-Williams. Benitez earned Sixth Player of the Year accolades last season; Cooper-Williams led the conference in blocks and rebounds en route to winning Defensive Player of the Year.

The Dukes won a program-record 29 games last year, went 17–1 in conference play to notch the first seed, then were unexpectedly bounced in the tournament quarterfinal by ninth-seeded Hofstra, the first time a one seed had ever lost so early.

James Madison cast its first-place vote for Drexel, which features last year’s Player of the Year Bailey Greenberg and four other returning starters, including CAA All-Rookie selection Keishana Washington. Drexel boasted the best defense in the nation last year, but ultimately fell to Towson in the CAA title game. Towson returns four starters, including preseason first-teamers Kionna Jeter and Nukiya Mayo.

First TeamKamiah Smalls, James Madison
Bailey Greenberg, Drexel
Kionna Jeter, Towson
Nukiya Mayo, Towson
Nicole Enabosi, Delaware
Second TeamLexie Barrier, James Madison
Jackie Benitez, James Madison
Kayla Cooper-Williams, James Madison
Samone DeFreese, Delaware
GiGi Smith, UNCW
Honorable MentionShannon Todd, Northeastern
Deja Ford, Charleston
Niki Metzel, Drexel
Victoria Reynolds, William & Mary
Lacey Suggs, UNCW

Last season, led by guard Jess Genco and forward Gabby Giacone, Northeastern led the CAA in field-goal percentage (42.3) and three-point percentage (36.6). The Huskies fared well in non-conference play, posting an 11–3 record, but won only nine of their 18 CAA games to finish sixth. The program made its first ever WNIT but lost in the first round to Butler.

Head coach Kelly Cole will have to overcome the graduation of Genco — the program’s all-time third-leading scorer and its record holder in minutes, assists, and three-pointers — and Giacone. Shannon Todd, who averaged 11 points per game last year and earned preseason honorable mention, will be asked to do more offensively, as will Ayanna Dublin, Katie May, Stella Clark, and Kendall Currence.

Northeastern opens its season at home against South Dakota at noon ET on November 5.

Hockey East Preview: Maine Black Bears

Last Season: 15–17–4 (11–9–4 HE, sixth place); Lost in HE quarterfinals 

Head Coach: Red Gendron (seventh season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Eighth

Losses

  • G Rob McGovern 
  • D Sam Becker
  • D Brady Keeper
  • D Rob Michel
  • D Keith Muehlbauer
  • F Canon Pieper
  • F Brendan Robbins
  • F Daniel Perez
  • F Chase Pearson

Additions

  • G Matthew Thiessen
  • D Levi Kleiboer
  • D  J.D. Greenway
  • D Perry Winfree
  • D Adrien Bisson
  • F Ben Poisson
  • F Brady Gaudette
  • F Dawson Bruenski
  • F Remy Parker

By Matthew Cunha

In the last two years, Red Gendron’s Black Bears finished sixth after several seasons as Hockey East bottom-feeders. The improvement was largely due to goalie Jeremy Swayman, who made the All-Hockey East third team last season and posted a 2.78 GAA and .919 save percentage. Last season, the fourth-round Boston Bruins prospect often bailed out the Black Bears.

Big blows came this offseason with the departures of Chase Pearson and Brady Keeper to the pros. Pearson and Keeper finished second and third in scoring for the Black Bears, combining for 52 points. 

The good news for Maine is the return of senior Mitchell Fossier. Fossier led Maine in scoring for the second straight season with 36 points, good for seventh in Hockey East. Fossier was the clear-cut choice to captain the Black Bears this season. He will be assisted by seniors Ryan Smith and Tim Doherty (fourth in scoring last season) and junior Jack Quinlivan. 

The nine newcomers for the Black Bears are highlighted by junior J.D. Greenway, the 72nd pick in the 2016 draft (Toronto Maple Leafs) and the brother of Minnesota Wild’s Jordan Greenway. J.D. played two seasons at the University of Wisconsin (10 points in 46 career games) before losing playing time and deciding to play junior hockey. The 6’5” defensemen should add clarity, structure, steadiness, and a veteran presence to the Black Bears’ back end, though his experience at Wisconsin is a bit concerning.

Another addition Northeastern fans will notice is freshman Brady Gaudette, the brother of former Northeastern Husky and Hobey Baker winner Adam Gaudette. Brady comes to Maine after a year of playing junior hockey.

Bottom Line: Maine seems destined for the middle of the pack once again thanks to Swayman, who now has talented defenseman J.D. Greenway in front of him. Outside of Fossier, the Black Bears will have a hard time putting the puck in the net after the losses of Pearson and Kepper to the pros. If the freshmen can’t score the offense could go downhill fast, but Swayman is good enough to get this team back in sixth place with another first-round exit.

Hockey East Preview: New Hampshire Wildcats

Last Season: 12–15–9 (8–10–6, eighth place), lost to UMass Amherst in HE quarterfinal

Head Coach: Mike Souza (second season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Seventh

Losses

  • D Richard Boyd
  • F Brendan Van Riemsdyk
  • F Marcus Vela
  • F Ara Nazarin
  • F Chris Miller

Additions

  • D Nolan McElhaney
  • D Kalle Eriksson
  • F Lucas Herrmann
  • F Chase Stevenson
  • F Robby Griffin
  • F Joe Hankinson

By Matthew Cunha

In his first year as head coach of the Wildcats, Mike Souza led UNH to their best win percentage (.458) since 2014–15. In the previous three years, UNH had finished 11th, 10th, and 10th in Hockey East and failed to post a win percentage above .438 under longtime coach Dick Umile.

During a stretch between December 7 and February 1, the Wildcats posted an 8–1–3 record, including a win over Boston College and a tie over 15th-ranked Miami. That run helped them sneak into the playoffs after starting the season 2–7–5. They faced off with eventual NCAA runners-up UMass Amherst and came up just short, losing to the Minutemen in a 5–4 double-overtime thriller in Game 1. They got shelled 6–0 in game 2, but nonetheless it was a positive season for coach Souza.

Last season, nine Wildcats produced more than 15 points; only three (Ara Narzarin, Marcus Vela, and Van Riemsdyk) aren’t returning. Leading the way will be senior Liam Blackburn, who produced 24 points last year. Fifth-round NHL pick and Ottawa Senators prospect Angus Crookshank tied for second in scoring with 23. Fellow rookie Jackson Pierson, third-round pick Max Gildon, and junior assistant captions Charlie Kelleher and Patrick Grasso were the other Wildcats to produce at least 15 points.

With plenty of scoring returning and Crookshank and Pierson likely to take steps forward, scoring should not be a problem this season for UNH. Losing Nazarin and Vela to graduation hurts the Wildcats’ bottom line, but there should be enough firepower to fill those gaps. The good news for Northeastern fans: Brendan Van Riemsdyk, brother of NHL player James Van Riemsdyk, left UNH to play his senior season at Northeastern. 

On the back end, UNH will be led by senior defenseman and captain Anthony Wyse. Last season, UNH allowed 2.86 goals per game, ninth in Hockey East. In the net is Mike Robinson, 86th overall pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2015. Robinson has not lived up to expectations in Wildcat land, finishing 10th in Hockey East in goals against (2.48) and save percentage (.915) last season. Seventh-round Tampa Bay prospect Ty Taylor will back him up.

Bottom Line: The Wildcats’ offensive depth should be fine, as they return six of their top nine scorers plus Angus Crookshank and Jackson Pierson. The concern for the Wildcats is the question marks on the back end, where goalie Robinson has not lived up to his potential. If he can break out as a junior, the Wildcats could be in good hands. In his second season, Souza should continue to improve with a top-five finish in Hockey East.

Men’s Basketball Finishes Third in Preseason Poll

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Milton Posner

Ahh, the CAA Preseason Poll. That wonderful time of year when the conference’s coaches, media relations directors, and media members (including a few from your favorite Northeastern student radio station) gaze deep into their crystal balls and relay the results of the upcoming season. The results of this annual divination ritual, released Wednesday, were among the closest ever, with five teams receiving first-place votes.

TeamPoints (First-Place Votes
Hofstra Pride331 (14)
Charleston Cougars323 (18)
Northeastern Huskies291 (4)
James Madison Dukes253 (3)
Delaware Blue Hens241 (2)
Towson Tigers194
William & Mary Tribe131
Drexel Dragons125
UNCW Seahawks118
Elon Phoenix48

Hofstra, the defending regular-season titleholder, narrowly topped Charleston despite receiving fewer first-place votes. Northeastern finished third without immediate neighbors, and James Madison squeaked ahead of Delaware.

Charleston senior guard Grant Riller took home Preseason Player of the Year Honors and headlined the All-CAA First Team.

First TeamGrant Riller, Charleston
Nathan Knight, William & Mary
Brian Fobbs, Towson
Eli Pemberton, Hofstra
Matt Lewis, James Madison
Second TeamJordan Roland, Northeastern
Ryan Allen, Delaware
Camren Wynter, Drexel
Desure Buie, Hofstra
Darius Banks, James Madison
Honorable MentionBolden Brace, Northeastern
Kai Toews, UNCW
Kevin Anderson, Delaware
James Butler, Drexel
Marcus Sheffield II, Elon

Hofstra, Charleston, and Northeastern, the top three finishers in the poll, were the top three finishers in the regular season last year, albeit in a different order. All three lost major contributors — Justin Wright-Foreman, Jarrell Brantley, and Vasa Pusica, respectively — to graduation. They, along with fellow first-teamer Devontae Cacok of UNCW, signed pro contracts. This was a familiar theme during the CAA offseason; many of the conference’s most talented players graduated or transferred, including William & Mary’s Justin Pierce, Drexel’s Alihan Demir, and Northeastern’s Shawn Occeus.

Hofstra will look to defend its regular-season crown behind a trio of guards: second-teamer Eli Pemberton, third-teamer and Defensive Player of the Year Desure Buie, and the sweet-shooting Tareq Coburn. Charleston will lean heavily on Riller and hope for increased contributions from their maturing role players, namely Brevin Galloway. Northeastern, the defending CAA champion, offers second-teamer Jordan Roland, versatile guard/forward Bolden Brace, and a mix of returning role players and freshman recruits. James Madison and Delaware look to rebound from losing years behind star guards and, in Delaware’s case, two high-powered transfers in Dylan Painter and Nate Darling.

WRBB will post detailed previews for each CAA team the week before Northeastern’s November 5 opening again Boston University. Michael Petillo and Milton Posner will be on the call; coverage begins at 6:45 PM ET.