Quailer Return, Recovery Sparks Northeastern
by Jill Saftel/CHN Reporter
BOSTON Steve Quailer didn't look quite as comfortable Friday night as he did a week ago. That might have something to do with the fact that he wasn't watching the game from above in a suit, but playing with his teammates on the ice.
Quailer's suspension was a holdover from last season with former head coach Greg Cronin, and, after starting conference play with a tie and a loss, Northeastern needed every one of their healthy players ready to go. Specifically a player like Quailer capable of creating offense consistently.
And ready to go Quailer was, setting up Braden Pimm for Northeastern's first goal of the game, giving the Huskies an early lead against New Hampshire. With high expectations for his return, Quailer certainly didn't disappoint.
"It's the start of a new year for me. I had a rough season last year coming back from my injuries. It was a good start, and I'm definitely going to keep going on that," Quailer said Friday night. "It's tough coming back — your legs aren't quite there. I was out for a full year so it's kind of different. I've never sat a game out in my life until last season. It's hard to get back, but it takes time."
"He brings a sense of leadership to our hockey club," said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan.
Quailer was plus-1 for the night, and, at one point, tapped on the penalty box glass while teammates Joseph Manno and Josh Manson sat inside after a post-whistle squabble.
"He brings so much energy to our team on and off the ice," said Northeastern goaltender Chris Rawlings. "To have him back in the lineup, it was huge."
Rawlings had a big game himself, registering his ninth shutout and tying Northeastern's record for career shutouts. His strength in goal allowed Northeastern's offense to play much more effectively than last weekend.
The game also marked a milestone for Madigan — his first win as head coach.
"Obviously a great win for our team. We competed hard. We had a good week of practice and just bringing the game back to its simplest form in all three zones," Madigan said.
As for the accomplishment, Madigan is much more focused on his team's success than on his first win.
"The personal accomplishment, it's nice when the captain presented me the game puck, and I'll have the memory. But we needed to get the win," he said. "But being 1-1-1 in the league is more important than Jim Madigan getting a win."
Certainly some credit for the win goes to Northeastern's defense, which looked completely different from last weekend's 6-3 loss at Maine. The changes started with cutting down gaps and blocking 34 UNH shots.
Notably absent from the ice were Cody Ferriero, still carrying a suspension from last season, and Rob Dongara who has not received a suspension. He wasn't exactly a healthy scratch, though.
Perhaps Dongara will have a return like Quailer's. Still, the Huskies have a lot of work to do. A win, a loss and a tie in their first three games doesn't exactly put the Huskies at the top of any list.
Northeastern had it easy with a one-game weekend. They won't be so lucky next week with a trip to North Andover, Mass., for a game with Merrimack before hosting Boston College Saturday night.
"Certainly we have a ways to go, and we'll continue working at it but good effort," Madigan said. "We'll take this and build on it for next weekend."