Huskies Moving on From Discipline Woes in Opener, Past
by Joe Meloni/CHN Staff Writer
BOSTON Steve Quailer and Cody Ferriero looked quite comfortable for most of the game. Sitting a couple dozen feet above the ice at Matthews Arena Friday night, they watched as their Northeastern teammates tied Massachusetts — pushing the game-tying goal past UMass' freshman goaltender Kevin Boyle with 2 seconds left in regulation.
The pair of wildly gifted forwards celebrated, as their teammates did the same below.
They weren't on the ice, though, not because of lingering injuries or a coach's decision. They sat comfortably in their suits because of off-ice issues, mistakes they made last season. Handed suspensions for their actions, it's not entirely certain when they'll play again.
Around Matthews Arena Friday night, the talk was about the Huskies' late equalizer, and the skill Northeastern showed. The atmosphere said Northeastern won, and they should have. The scoreline said 3-3 at the end overtime, though, and would have read 3-2 in favor of the Minutemen had Rocco Carzo succeeded in clearing the puck from the Northeastern zone with 12 seconds remaining.
Not helping the fact was a series of penalties taken by underclassmen defensemen and the absence of the two gifted wingers. Discipline cost Northeastern a point Friday night.
Sure, Northeastern coach Jim Madigan was right to dismiss some of the on-ice miscues as manifestations of inexperience and early season issues. Still, handing six power plays to a team like UMass is hardly a good way to the start season.
"When you start taking penalties like that back-to-back, the same guys have to get back on the ice and others are sitting on the bench getting cold," Northeastern captain Mike McLaughlin said. "Some of those guys [on the bench] are key players you want out there.
"It's an emotional game. Sometimes you can't help it and calls don't go your way. We just have to deal with it and try to be disciplined."
The absence of Ferriero and Quailer compounded the issue further.
By all accounts, both players have moved on from whatever problems justified their absences Friday night. Madigan was quick to point out that both have been good citizens since his hiring in August, and Quailer has expressed his admiration for Madigan.
This is hardly the first instance of Northeastern players missing game time due to a stupid decision or two away from the rink. None of it's happened this year, and there does appear to be a different attitude around Northeastern hockey with Madigan calling the shots. He's convince they can contend, but there's little doubting that they have few issues to get past for that to become a reality. Most notably is the class of the league — those two other schools in Boston for starters — and a club or three up north. Doing that means, beyond a strong campaign from goaltender Chris Rawlings and the team as a whole, staying on the ice. Or, more appropriately, keeping out of the penalty box and out of Madigan's office.
"We've put our foot down with that and addressed some guys that make questionable decisions [off the ice]," McLaughlin said. "The guys have been better. They're a year older. They're more responsible."
Again, the issues that kept Ferriero and Quailer off the ice Friday night occurred last season. It's not entirely clear when these suspensions expire — Northeastern heads to Orono, Maine, Sunday night for a matinee at Alfond. When they do, though, Huskies' fan better hope the pair has learned whatever lesson it needed to.
On the ice, the equally talented NU underclassmen on the blue line need to be better than they were Friday night. Step 1 for the group means staying on the ice and out of the penalty box.
"I don't think there's a discipline issue. I'm going to make sure there's not going to be," Madigan said. "You've got 10 players out there. You've got emotions building. It's the first game of the year. We had too many penalties tonight. It's something we have to address as a staff and as a team.
"We're a little short-staffed right now, as you guys know, so we're going with the same guys on the power play and the penalty kill," he continued. "When you're giving them six chances on the power play — a couple of them back-to-back there — it's straining your guys. We're going to make sure it's not a discipline issue. There were a couple of penalties that our guys took that they need to do a better job at not putting themselves in that situation. Our guys just need to be smarter."
Six months from now, most will forget about Friday's game and those played in the next few weeks. The point they barely took from UMass easily could have been two, though, and, if nothing changes, those lost points may mean a lost season at Matthews Arena.