Some thoughts from live at this weekend's games.
The Huskies were the better team, when they wanted to be. When they brought enough intensity, they were able to control the puck and set up shop in the Union zone. Unfortunately, there were stretches where they sat back. In particular, the first period on Friday and the first part of the third period on Saturday. The NU offense and power play was like an overly attractive secretary - it looked good, but didn't accomplish much. Some great tape-to-tape passing, but not enough good quality scoring chances on net. It didn't feel like Hanson stole any from them.
At the other end, Union did a better job of getting pucks in dangerous spots near the net. Pantano looked okay - nothing great, but he made the saves he was supposed to make. I thought they dodged a bullet a few times in the third period on Friday, Union set up some nice shots to the far post and while Craig was moving across, they didn't put these on net. He had a really nice poke save on Saturday in the first period. The Huskies defense looked solid, again, when they wanted to be. They were a little lazy skating back a few times. And caught on counterattacks too. I came away cautiously optimistic about Pantano - as I said earlier, maybe they don't need him to be amazing and steal games, just don't lose them. 1 GAA in each of the first two is a nice start. Defensemen - please do NOT blindly flick the puck towards the net when you're in the corner, that's how Union's goal on Friday happened, you set them up better than they could've.
Buecheler and Kesselring impressed me. Big guys who played smoothly and seemed as if they'd been playing at this level for a while. Kesselring and van Riemsdyk are big dudes. I expect BvR to camp out in front of the net and bang in some rebounds this year. Ryan Shea looks like a senior leader who is very confident moving forward with the puck. Filipe led by example, by going into the corners hard at times when his teammates didn't seem to. Madden still looks like a guy who needs to put on some muscle. He still tries that drag move too much, and defenders will just stand him up and knock him down. Hughes had a great burst of speed on his goal on Saturday along the boards, just passed it underneath the goalie.
A lot of it was what you'd expect in week one - not everything is clicking along yet. I get that. But the schedule gets a lot tougher very soon, and they'll need a more consistent effort in those, otherwise better teams will make them pay. The defense did a good job especially in game two of keeping Pantano clean.
The experience - I've been to Union for an NU game once before (showing my age, Joe Vitale had the tying goal). The place was mostly full, and there were plenty of NU fans scattered about on Friday. Few on Saturday. The place doesn't get too loud - a few "Let's go U" cheers from the old timers, otherwise the students over in the corner quietly sit there. Their band needs some help - the kid on the drum is really excited about his role and has a great time banging away but it overpowers the rest of the sound. A nice clean facility with friendly people. Even the little kid ahead of me who tried taunting us until his mother told him that might not be a good idea - at which point I thought, hmmm as a 19 year old I might've been stupid enough to respond.
The band played "Stacy's Mom" during the intermission, and there's a big banner behind the goal for a sponsor, "NORTHEASTERN Fine Jewelry" - it made us feel right at home.
As always, glad to be able to do Northeastern things with Northeastern people. An opportunity that is few and far between when you live 450 miles away and usually watch the games on a computer screen. Go Dogs.