Saturday, January 17, 2009

...first star, of Northeastern University, #19 Wade MacLeod

#3 Huskies 3, #7 University of Vermont 1

An excellent hockey game through the first period, play got a little sloppy through the second and third. Vermont has become a very good team, led by freshman goalie Rob Madore, and currently sits at #7 nationally and fourth in this year's extremely deep Hockey East.

This game was probably one of the best examples of Northeastern's strengths and weaknesses. Their penalty kill was, again, excellent, an expectation with the veteran defense corps and Brad "MVP" Thiessen. However, they were forced into undue action as a result of some dumb penalties, particularly Tyler McNeely's game-misconduct hitting-from-behind call. He knew it, the fans knew it, and the worthless John Gravellese knew it, and the Huskies skated a forward down for the rest of the game. However, the PK unit managed to kill off the ensuing 5-minute penalty through the end of the first and beginning of the second period.

NU got their first goal on a beautiful shot from freshman Steve Quailer. The kid's good. They held onto the 1-0 advantage until surrendering a Vermont goal on a 5 on 3 power play, and frankly, it was overdue. The Huskies controlled the play through most of the game, but they got a little sloppy after the Vermont goal, leading to a couple beautiful saves by Thiessen.

The Huskies would get a 5 on 3 of their own later in the third, scoring again on the power play, an encouraging sign. Wade MacLeod beat Madore high blocker side on a one-timer for the game-winning goal.

A lot of attention has been paid to captain Joe Vitale's quiet offensive season, but I'm beginning to see at as an decreasingly large problem. Frankly, Vitale's short-handed 6 on 4 empty net goal was more impressive for the way he generated it than the shot himself. On the PK all night, he intercepted several passes, knocked a few into center ice, and made a couple shorthanded rushes into the Vermont zone. His shorty at the end of the game was a direct result of supreme individual effort in a team mindset, a late switch with another defender that allowed him to intercept a pass and put the puck in the empty net from the red line. Goals or no goals, Vitale's a hell of a player who will end up on an NHL team.

The Huskies play again tonight at 7:00. I'm going to try something new for the game, which coincides with this blog's 100th post, a surprising achievement for my generally lazy demeanor.

No comments: