By James Duffy, News Correspondent
After routing Simon Fraser University on Sunday afternoon at Matthews Arena, the Northeastern University men’s hockey team looks geared up to start the 2015-16 season. The Huskies tallied 10 goals in the exhibition against the Canadian squad, including a third-period hat trick from freshman forward Jason Cotton. After an extremely impressive performance in their preseason contest, the team now looks ahead to what should be an exciting season.
Led by senior forward Kevin Roy, the top active scorer in the nation, Northeastern is poised to compete in the tough Hockey East Association. Roy, a two-time candidate for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award, is looking to stock his trophy case in his last season with Northeastern. After starting slow last season, he played well in the latter part of the year and helped propel Northeastern to sixth in Hockey East and 23rd in the country. In a division that features the reigning national champion, Providence College, and three other teams ranked in the top 15 nationally, Roy and the Huskies will have their work cut out for them.
The Huskies are currently considered to be a middle-tier team in Hockey East, behind frontrunners Boston College, Boston University and Providence, and about on par with teams like University of Massachusetts Lowell, University of Notre Dame and University of Vermont.
In addition to Roy, Northeastern has six of its top-seven scorers from last season returning to Matthews this year. The only loss on offense was junior forward Mike Szmatula, who transferred to the University of Minnesota in the offseason. Despite the loss of Szmatula, with returning players like junior forwards Matt Benning and Dalen Hedges, as well as a talented incoming class of freshmen, the offense should have no trouble finding the back of the net.
Headlining the class of freshmen are forwards Cotton, Adam Gaudette and Lincoln Griffin. Gaudette tallied a goal and an assist in the match against Simon Fraser, and Lincoln Griffin scored in the game’s final period. The defense was also infused with some new players as freshmen Jon Barry and Eric Williams, who netted a goal, made their Husky debuts on Sunday. Although Northeastern may not have the same quality as a school like Boston University in its recruiting class, when considering the freshmen and the returning players, this roster can hold its own against any competitor.
While Kevin Roy is the name everyone knows when talking about Northeastern hockey, it’s his brother, Derick, who might be the most important piece of the puzzle this season. In a world of college hockey dominated by goaltending, the Huskies will need a lot from the junior keeper. Just looking around the league over the past few years, it’s obvious how important goaltending is. Last season, Jon Gillies, one of the top goalies in the country, carried Providence to a national championship.
Derick Roy has shown flashes of brilliance in his short career at NU, including two separate 38-save performances and great games in wins over Yale University and University of Notre Dame last season. Having been handed the reins as the starter, he needs to be a little more consistent in net. If Derick can manage to play to his potential, the sky is the limit for this Northeastern squad.
This season should be a challenging but exciting one for Northeastern. With a difficult out-of-conference schedule, highlighted by matchups with Minnesota, St. Lawrence University, Quinnipiac University and Michigan State University, along with the already competitive Hockey East games, no win will come easy. But they have bite to match the bark that rings from the Dog House.
James Duffy can be reached at Sports@HuntNewsNU.com