A tough season for Northeastern will come to an end Saturday night when the Huskies finish the regular season at Boston University. For the second consecutive year Jim Madigan's team will miss the Hockey East playoffs.
The season started with promise as the Huskies got off to a 2-0 start with wins over Merrimack and Boston College. The positive vibes would not last long as the losses started piling up, and two prominent underclassmen, Joseph Manno and Cam Darcy, would leave school.
In his second year behind the bench, Jim Madigan's club just did not have the depth to keep up with the rest of the teams in the league. Too often there were players on the ice who just did not belong out there against the elite of Hockey East.
Inconsistent goaltending on-going for a few years now reared its ugly head again this season as senior Chris Rawlings would play some solid games, then let in an inexcusable soft goal like he did in this Friday's game at Maine. It was a harmless wrist shot from a very poor angle on the right side that somehow found its way to the back of the net. Even his coach was dismayed about the goal after the game, saying the team could not afford to let in goals like that. Unfortunately it was not the first time an untimely soft goal cost the Huskies a game this season.
An issue with depth became even more of a concern in the second half as injuries added up with players such as Ludwig Karlsson, Drew Ellement and eventually Garrett Vermeersch and even the exceptional Kevin Roy. In this past Saturday's game at Maine, Madigan was forced to dress 10 defensemen and eight forwards to fill out the line chart.
There were positives such as a big first-round Beanpot victory over BU, but BC proved to be too tough in the championship game of the famed tournament. Roy notched a hat trick in the opening round win over BU and scored the first two goals against BC en route to winning the tournament's MVP.
Roy, an Anaheim Ducks draft pick, is a player that the coaching staff can build a team around, assuming he sticks around. Junior Cody Ferriero, a San Jose Sharks prospect, should return for his senior season.
Next year, Jim Madigan will again have serious issues to deal with. Goaltending will be a major concern once again with no proven goaltender at this level and as of yet no recruit to come in and try to fill the void. The third and fourth lines and the bottom of the defensive pairings will again be a problem.
There is also the concern that Madigan was away from coaching for too long. The former Huskies player and assistant coach had been away from the bench for almost two decades before taking over the head job when Greg Cronin left two summers ago.
If year three of the Madigan era does not go any better than the first two, the grumblings on Huntington Avenue will grow even louder.
Jeff Cox covers college hockey for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.