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With no playoffs in 2010, where does NU hockey go from here?

Northeastern finished their season 0-4-1 in their last five games against Boston College, New Hampshire and Boston University to be knocked out of the Hockey East playoffs. Coming in, fans knew it was a rebuilding year, and in a conference like Hockey East that rebuilding year can be enough to be knocked entirely out of the postseason. So where do the Huskies stand after this rebuilding year?

For Kyle Kramer, Chris Donovan, Jimmy Driscoll and Greg Costa, 2010 was a disappointing end to their careers at Northeastern’s beloved Matthews Arena. After just a year ago being in the thick of everything in college hockey (in 2009 the Huskies were ranked as high as #2 in the nation), the Northeastern Huskies seemed to revert to what is sadly a much more familiar form.

Those four seniors, who have been key members of the hockey team since arriving on Huntington Avenue’s campus, will be added to the list of Northeastern hockey players who have played a full collegiate career without holding a single trophy. No Beanpot, no Hockey East title, no final entry on the resume.

Not that it’s all negative. Chris Rawlings showed flashes of true talent, perhaps being capable of filling the role that Brad Thiessen filled just a year ago; a netminder that can carry NU through a bad offensive night. As Rawlings matures, the sky might be the limit.

In terms of skaters, injury recovery can only help the Huskies. Being without Steve Qualier for the entire season was a bad blow to Northeastern, Chris Donovan missed some time, as did Drew Muench, a young defender expected to make an impact. Last year’s backup goalie, Mike Binnington, never ended up on the ice at all. How the Huskies recover from those injuries may determine how much of a step forward we can expect next year.

Any newcomers or newly healthy skaters will join captain Wade MacLeod as well as Tyler McNeely and Alex Tuckerman, who have all proven themselves capable scorers. Look for recruits—Greg Cronin has unquestionably raised the level of players who come to Northeastern as opposed to the Bruce Crowder era, where Northeastern was publicly happy to pick scraps from the other Hockey East powers and hope for the best. That’s changed, which is fantastic because that needed to change.

Matthews Arena went through some beautiful renovations in 2010. Now 100 years old, the historic old barn has always been great for the hockey team but now is a veritable monument to the kind of old arenas that just aren’t common anymore. Yet, because of the rebuilding hockey team, it was as if there were a sign on the ice saying “pardon our appearance while we redesign our team.” It needed to happen, and missing the playoffs doesn’t derail that schedule one bit. The future is still bright for Northeastern hockey. It’s just that 2010 was an uncomfortable trip down memory lane.


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