Boston, Mass. - Through two weekends of hockey, Northeastern's offense has been the third most potent in the country. The Huskies have poured in 20 goals in four games, en route to a perfect 4-0 start.
Head coach Jim Madigan said he's not worried about his team finding enough offense. And with a strong core of freshmen skill players, highlighted by Mike Szmatula, Madigan's Huskies have had plenty of offense so far.
Through his first four collegiate games, Szmatula has collected eight points (1-7=8), and looked right at home
"Every night, every single guy on the team tries to do what they do best to help our team win," Szmatula said after Northeastern took down Holy Cross Saturday night. "My job is to chip in offensively, and defensively as well."
In that win against Holy Cross, Szmatula picked up his first collegiate goal. He entered the night having tallied six assists in his first three games of the season for the Huskies. But after a couple of near-scores in his first three contests, Szmatula finally got off the snide against the Crusaders.
"I knew sooner or later pucks would start going in," said Szmatula. "I have confidence in myself, so luckily today I made a good move, and fortunately I put the puck in the net, so it felt pretty good."
And for someone playing in only his fourth collegiate game, regardless of who the opponent was, Szmatula displayed the confidence he spoke of. On his goal, he entered the zone one-on-one with a defender down the right side. After hitting the circles, he jumped inside, leaving his defender behind. As he glided from right-to-left, he fired back across the face of the goal, and over the glove for the score.
"Mike Szmatula had led three leagues in scoring, or he's been the top five in two or three leagues the last couple of years," said Madigan. "He's going to score his points."
Last season, playing for Dubuqe in the USHL, Szmatula was the fifth-highest overall scorer in the league, and led the Fighting Saints to a Clark Cup. His 37 goals was the second-highest total in the league.
At Northeastern, his skill has been on display early on. He's been thrust into a big role, occupying the second line center duties, and also playing a key role in the team's top power play unit, responsible for six of the eight Northeastern power play goals. And of Szmatula's seven assists, three have come while manning the half-wall on that special team's unit.
"If you look at both units, particularly maybe the first unit, there's a lot of skill out there, and a lot of hockey sense," said Madigan. "These two guys (Szmatula and Zach Aston-Reese) play to their strengths each and every night, and they play 200 feet, they're intelligent players, and they're humbled, young men.
"That's what's going to sustain us as we continue through the course of the season."