Northeastern will challenge, but fall behind its Boston counterparts

Kendall Coyne (Northeastern - 77) celebrates her first of two goals in the game. The Northeastern University Huskies defeated the visiting Clarkson University Golden Knights 5-2 on Thursday, January 5, 2012, at Matthews Arena in Boston, Massachusetts. (Melissa Wade)
Kendall Coyne has accounted for 49 percent of her’ team’s scoring during her career. (Melissa Wade)

Northeastern Huskies
USCHO prediction: Third
Coaches’ prediction: Third
Last season: Third (14-17-5, 11-8-2 Hockey East)

The names
College hockey doesn’t have a disabled list, or it would be easier to track why the losses start to mount at Northeastern.

“This year, I’m excited for the fact that we have, as of right now, a healthy roster,” coach Dave Flint said. “We’ve been battling injuries the last couple years.”

Injuries compound the other problems which teams face.

“Last year, we had to deal with nine freshmen,” Flint said. “With that came some growing pains and some ups and downs and inconsistency in our play.”

If the Huskies can avoid the injury bug, this figures to be a good year at Northeastern.

“We graduated some good kids and some good players last year, but we only graduated three goals total,” Flint said.

The graduation hit came at the other end of the ice.

“I think one of the big questions for us this year will be in goal,” Flint said. “We lost Chloe Desjardins, who set the school record for games played. I think we’ve got three capable goalies. They’re going to battle it out.”

Offensively, Flint seems to have found a running mate for star senior Kendall Coyne in Denisa Krížová.

“Last year going into the season, I thought the two of them would really do well together,” he said. “For whatever reason early on, Denisa had some growing pains. I think she felt a little bit of pressure, being a young kid playing on Kendall’s line. I took her off there to get her a little more confidence and not feeling like she always had to get Kendall the puck. The second half of the year, we put them together, and they were unbelievable. We’re going to start with the two of them back together, and they really developed chemistry in the last season and the start of our practices here, they really looked good together. It’s just a matter of finding who is best in the middle for those two. That’s always the question when you have an Olympic athlete that’s on another level; you’ve got to find players that can play with her, and I think Denisa is going to do a good job.”
The numbers
Coyne has led the Huskies in scoring in each of her three seasons, over which she had 165 points while her team scored 337 goals. That means she contributed a point on 49 percent of her team’s scoring.

“I want us to not rely on her so much,” Flint said. “I feel like the past several years, we’ve relied too much on Kendall.”

The prognosis
It can be hard to avoid relying on Coyne when she’s so explosive. In Northeastern’s first series this year, it scored 11 goals. Coyne once more leads the attack with five points.

The Huskies may need to ride her as far as she can carry them, and worry about diversifying next season when she is gone.

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