By Gordon Weigers, news staff
In a heated affair that saw a total 114 penalty minutes, the Northeastern men’s hockey team skated past the Acadia University Axemen 3-1 in their only exhibition game of the season on Saturday, Oct. 1.
Northeastern received goals from sophomore forward Adam Gaudette, sophomore defenseman Eric Williams and junior defenseman Trevor Owens. Williams, who had one goal and one assist, and junior defenseman Garret Cockerill, who had two assists, both had multi-point nights for the Huskies in their victory.
Acadia, who held the No. 1 ranking among Canadian college teams last year, came out with a chip on their shoulder. In the first period, freshman Northeastern forward Grant Jozefek took a huge hit in open ice from Acadia freshaman defenseman Alexander Lepkowski. Lepkowski received a five-minute major penalty for contact to the head and a game misconduct for the hit, which created animosity between the two teams early.
Later in the same period, senior forward Sam Kurker and Acadia freshman forward Nick Betz exchanged shoves and threw gloved fists at one another, with each earning himself a 10-minute misconduct in the process. Acadia finished the game with 20 total penalties, adding up to 78 penalty minutes.
Saturday’s contest marked the first time NU’s group of highly-touted freshmen donned the red and black to skate with the pack. Forwards John Picking, Biagio Lerario, Matt Filipe and Jozefek didn’t find their names on the scoresheet on Saturday night, but they learned just how fast-paced the college game can be. Rookie defenders Nick Fiorentino, Jeremy Davies and Ryan Shea looked very confident in their first go-around with Northeastern and should provide very strong depth on the back end for a team that graduated three integral members of its defense last year.
Filipe, a third-round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2016 NHL entry draft, is a strong forward whose imposing 6-foot-2-inch frame will challenge opposing goalies. He spent time on the power play, mostly positioned in front of the net, creating space for his linemates.
Another freshman who saw a lot of ice on special teams was Jozefek. Known by scouts as a skilled forward that can set up teammates and finish off plays, he spent a lot of time on the point during the power play, firing one shot on goal in the process.
Jozefek played on a line with junior forward Dylan Sikura and Gaudette. Jozefek has taken the spot of recent graduate Mike McMurtry on a line that became one of the most productive in college hockey during the second half of last season. Jozefek’s offensive skill set gives this line a chance to be deadly for the Huskies this season.
“It was the first game for all of [the freshmen],” head coach Jim Madigan said after the game. “They’ll be different players at the end of this month than they were in September.”
One aspect of the NU win that flew under the radar was the play of junior goalie Jake Theut. He and sophomore Ryan Ruck split time in the game and combined for 22 saves. Theut is in his third year with the Huskies and has yet to appear in a regular season game, but one wouldn’t have been able to tell that with his performance on Saturday night. Now the presumptive second-string goalie behind Ryan Ruck, Theut is likely to get a few starts this season. While that may have been a scary thought for Husky fans in past years, Theut looks primed to make a name for himself on Huntington Ave. in 2016-17.
Northeastern will start the regular season on the road against No. 2 Quinnipiac this Friday at 7 p.m. Last year, The Huskies hosted the Bobcats at Matthews Arena in a tight game that ended in a 3-3 tie.
“They play the same way all the time,” Madigan said. “They’re hard and heavy on pucks, they’re physical, they go hard to the net, they end plays quickly in the defensive zone. There’s a winning tradition there at Quinnipiac.”
Gordo’s goal of the week
The goal of the week is back, and while I only had three goals to pick from this week, the Huskies did score one beauty. This week’s honors go to someone who is a candidate for the goal of the week every time he touches the puck: Adam Gaudette.
Gaudette’s first period goal against Acadia was a classic Gaudette goal. Cockerill picked up the puck in the defensive zone and spotted Gaudette hanging out by the Acadia blueline. He flung the pucks around the boards and had it carom perfectly to Gaudette. A two-on-one developed with Gaudette and Sikura, both flying into the zone with solid speed. Gaudette looked at Sikura to see if a pass could be made, but the lane was clogged up by the Axemen defender. Gaudette made a quick move before ripping a low shot right through the pads of goalie Devin Williams. Known for his awesome cellies, the sophomore forward kept it low-key for the exhibition affair, simply throwing his arms in the air and accepting a bear hug from Sikura and Owens.
Photo by Justine Newman.