It was a tale of two seasons for Northeastern in 2014-15 — as the Huskies trudged through a 0-8-1 start before concluding the year on a 16-6-3 run, finishing sixth in Hockey East and coming within one overtime period of its first Beanpot title since 1988.
Northeastern will roll into the new season with a fair share of question marks — especially in net — but still possess enough firepower to make some noise in Hockey East this season.
The return of senior captain Kevin Roy will once again give the Huskies offense a shot in the arm, as the All-American forward has averaged 41 points a season over his three campaigns at Matthews Arena.
Junior forward Mike Szmatula's withdrawal to join the Minnesota Golden Gophers stands as a tough pill to swallow, but the Huskies still boast an impressive supporting cast behind Roy, led by juniors Dalen Hedges (34 points) and Zach Aston-Reese (23 points), as well as an intriguing pair of freshmen in Adam Gaudette and Lincoln Griffin.
On defense, Northeastern's blue-line grouping should continue to gel over the course of the season. Bruins draft pick Matt Benning — who finished fourth amongst Hockey East defenseman with 24 assists last season — has made big leaps over each of his first two seasons, while senior Colton Saucerman and sophomore Garret Cockerill should also make sizable contributions.
Without question, however, the biggest uncertainty for Northeastern lies in net, as the Huskies will have to make due after losing reliable backstop Clay Witt to graduation. Primary goaltending responsibilities are expected to fall on redshirt junior Derick Roy, whose performance in net could ultimately make or break the Huskies' hopes for a fruitful season.
Avoiding an early-season slide will be crucial for Jim Madigan's group this season, but Northeastern's first-half slate of games certainly pulls no punches, as its first 14 games feature clashes with eight programs that posted a combined record of 311-190-58 last year.