BOSTON -- As the calendar flips into October each year, college hockey teams across the country feel optimism about the long season that awaits.
After Sunday afternoon’s exhibition game, Northeastern has a lot to be excited about.
In their first game action of the season, the Huskies poured 63 shots on visiting Simon Fraser University and scored a 10-2 victory at historic Matthews Arena.
"It was a first test," Northeastern head coach Jim Madigan said. "We’ve been waiting three weeks to get to this point and it’s a barometer for us to start judging ourselves. … I liked the mindset coming into the game and how we performed each period, focusing on the things we made adjustments on from in between periods."
There is certainly a lot to build on as seven of NU’s ten goals came from freshmen. Right wing Jason Cotton posted a hat trick in the third period while center Adam Gaudette, a Braintree, Mass., native and June draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, chipped in with a goal and an assist.
The Huskies jumped all over the visitors from Burnaby, British Columbia, scoring three goals and posting a 23-3 shots advantage.
It took senior captain Kevin Roy just 2:18 to put the Huskies on the board first, taking a pass from junior linemate Dalen Hedges and spinning in between the circles for a beautiful wrist shot. Senior assistant captain Mike McMurtry also got in on the scoring, posting the secondary assist to the active leading goal scorer in NCAA Division 1 hockey.
"They’re not going to dominate down low like the other two lines, but they’re smart," Madigan said. "They’re in those spaces really well and read off each other. They’re obviously all gifted, and got a lot of good looks. I thought all five lines played well tonight."
Freshman winger Patrick Schule doubled the Huskies’ lead just 30 seconds later, putting home a loose puck left in front by Clan goaltender Lyndon Stanwood who made 53 saves despite allowing all ten goals.
After killing a hooking penalty with ease about halfway through the period, the Huskies finished off a strong power play with a goal from junior Zach Aston-Reese at 14:30. He finished off a brilliant passing sequence by pounding home a pass from sophomore Nolan Stevens from in tight at Stanwood’s right side.
The Huskies added to their lead 7:03 into the middle period. After sophomore defenseman Garret Cockerill worked a defender down the wing, he fed McMurtry with a pass right to his tape in the slot for a pretty wrist shot.
Redshirt junior Derick Roy faced just three shots in the first period, but SFU could not even double its shots on goal total as sophomore Jake Theut faced just a pair in for his first collegiate action.
Gaudette became the second Husky rookie to find the back of the net, tipping home a puck trickling along the goal line at 1:32. Junior Sam Kurker fed a stretch pass to a streaking Aston-Reese, but Gaudette ensured the puck was directed into the open goal.
"Kurker’s a kid who hasn’t played a year and a half in college hockey, and I thought he did a real good job, and I thought Gaudette did a good job," Madigan said. "When we get into our league, we’re going to have to play heavy down low, and I thought that line was really heavy."
SFU scored twice in the third period with freshman Ryan Ruck between the pipes, but Cotton popped home three of NU’s final five goals to reach double-digits on the scoreboard.
After Mak Barden hit the crossbar on his goal at 1:51, junior Brendan Collier fed Cotton for a wrist shot high over Stanwood’s glove side at 3:42. Freshman Lincoln Griffin, a former teammate of Gaudette’s at nearby Thayer Academy, scored NU’s seventh goal off a long feed from Kevin Roy at 8:30.
"(It was) very important actually," Griffin said of playing on a line centered by a veteran like Collier. "In practice, when we ever have a question on a drill or pretty much anything, you go to him and he’s got an answer. It’s very great (to play with him)."
The scoring was fast and furious in the game's last four minutes as Eric Williams took a slapper from just inside the blue line that eluded Stanwood at 16:57, but the Clan got one back as Adam Callegari’s shot deflected off a Husky defender during a scramble in front at 17:33.
Cotton completed his hat trick with a pair of goals in the final two minutes. With 57 seconds remaining, the Texan collected Gaudette’s pass and shot inside the left post for the Huskies’ tenth goal.
The elder Roy was impressed with the offensive touch the team’s newcomers showed and knows their contributions will be key as the season gets going for real next Saturday against No. 20 Colgate.
"We see that they can score and make plays," Roy said. "We need some guys to come in and help us win. It’s a good start and we’ll see coming next week when we face a good opponent (like Colgate)."