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A Winning Mentality: Northeastern Finding Its Groove

Kevin Roy
Kevin Roy
Matt Dewkett

With just over three minutes to play in regulation, Kevin Roy picked up the puck on the side boards near the blue line. He quickly spun around and whipped a backhand pass to Matt Benning to set in motion a power play goal that gave Northeastern a 3-2 victory over visiting Yale at Matthews Arena on Tuesday night.

It was the type of play that requires skill and precision, but it's also the type of move a player can only execute with immense confidence. It's a play that shows the progression the Huskies have made from the beginning of the season to now.

"Right now myself and everyone up front are feeling really good and we're really confident that we can score more than two goals every game that we did at the beginning of the year. Confidence has a lot to do with getting the right bounce," said Roy.

Roy, who picked up his 100th career point Tuesday, seemingly is doing all the right things with the puck at the right time. "Sometimes you say I'm not getting the bounces, but you think too much. Right now I don't think. I just shoot or pass it at the right moment," added Roy.

Of course all the confidence in the world won't help unless there is some talent to fall back on. Roy, a fourth round selection by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2012 NHL Draft, certainly has a unique skill set that makes him one of the more difficult players to defend in Hockey East.

"He's highly skilled. He's smart, he can shoot it and he can pass it. When you get that combination of those three and teams are focusing in on him. That's a dangerous combination for the opposition," Madigan explained after a recent game.

Roy isn't the only player who's feeling better about his game right now following the tough start to the season. Mike McMurtry, whose game winner against Yale broke a long goal scoring drought, said he just kept persistent and put in extra work after practice.

"It was a long time coming. I've been getting some chances, but haven't been able to put the puck in the net. I just stuck with it. Obviously tonight was a good time to get it," said the junior.

After starting 0-8-1 Jim Madigan's club has gone 7-2-1 over its last 10 games, including the current five-game unbeaten streak that it will take into this weekend's home-and-home series with Boston College. It's a marquee series that Northeastern players, coaches and fans circle on their calendars before the season starts. But, it's also a series that has significantly more importance than it would have a month or two ago when the Huskies seemed out of any race outside of not finishing dead last.

"We'll get ready for Boston College back in the league," said Madigan after Tuesday's game. "League play presents its own set of unique challenges circumstances and none greater than Boston College who is a great hockey club."

It's unclear who will start in goal Friday night when the Huskies take the ice. Derick Roy has been given the nod the past two games after primarily taking backstage role to Clay Witt, when the senior has been healthy.

"We have two real good goaltenders who we have equal confidence in. We're in a stretch of five games in nine nights which rivals an NHL schedule. You go with what you think is right for your club. It's nice when you have two good goaltenders you can call and rely on," said Madigan.

"We'll make decisions on our personal as it gets closer to the next game," added Madigan after the Yale game.

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Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.