Vermont Sweeps Huskies Out of Playoff Picture
Last year the Huskies came a point away from making the playoffs after splitting the final weekend. This year, they made sure not to leave until the last minute. After back to back home loses to the Vermont Catamounts, the Huskies have practically sealed their playoff fate with 3 weeks left in the year.
The Huskies 3-1 loss to Vermont was the latest disappointing effort from the team picked to finish 6th by Hockey East coaches. The loss extends the home winless streak to 9 games, which is the longest in 15 years. It also gives the Catamounts their first ever weekend sweep on the road against NU. And it gives them a sweep of the season series for just the second time since they joined Hockey East in 2005. But more importantly, it leaves Northeastern in last place, needing to make up a 4 point game and jump 2 teams in the final 7 games of the season.
For the second night in a row, the Huskies scored first. Cody Ferriero’s 9th goal of the year came on a Northeastern power play minutes into the 2nd period. But Vermont would answer soon after when Chris McCarthy beat Bryan Mountain with a wrist shot.
McCarthy would give Vermont the lead in the 3rd period on a weak shot that trickled through the five hole of Mountain. Like Rawlings on Friday, Mountain played well enough to win, despite allowing some questionable goals. The senior finished with 26 saves, but remains winless through his 7 starts.
The Huskies would come close to a tying goal several times in the final minutes, but Vermont goalie Brody Hoffman turned in another stellar performance. The comical streak of opponents picking up weekly awards after facing the Huskies will likely continue this week with Hoffman, who was excellent for the Catamounts all weekend.
Brett Bruneteau’s empty net goal with 30 seconds left would seal the 3-1 win for Vermont.
The Huskies now find themselves a long shot to make the playoffs (playoffstatus.com puts it at 11%) and frankly, this isn’t a team deserving of making the playoffs. Blame injuries, turnover from the new coaching staff, or just plain bad luck if you want, but Northeastern should not be in this position, especially after the events of last season.
The Huskies have had problems with defensive breakdowns and poor goaltending all season, but this weekend they finally figured it out on that end. Unfortunately, the offense once again disappeared. At no point this season (not even the Hunstville weekend) has this team got solid play on both ends of the ice in a series. It seems that when one group steps up, another steps back. The result is a team that has been massively underwhelming and a record that reflects that.
Last year, it seemed like the team just quit on the coaching staff as the season came to an end. Signs of that are beginning to pop again this year. With their backs against the wall, the Huskies could have come out this weekend and grinded out a win or two against a team with less skill than them. But they didn’t do that. They came out flat in the biggest series of the season. Their response to Vermont’s physicality and intensity was to shut down and stop working and they got the result they deserved.
The Huskies will travel to Amherst on Tuesday to make up the game against UMass that was postponed by the blizzard. I’m sure there will be a line shake up or some other sort of cosmetic changes, but unless there is a full blown attitude change and a renewed focus, you can write off the rest of this season.