Men’s Hockey: Inter-‘Net’ Inconsistency

Men’s Hockey: Inter-‘Net’ Inconsistency

Call it the post-Gibson syndrome.

Whether or not the Northeastern men’s hockey team will recover from this condition remains to be seen.

First-year Huskies coach Greg Cronin arrived on Huntington Avenue last April just as goaltender Keni Gibson, the 2004-05 runner-up for Hockey East Player of the Year, was packing his bags after four years of dependable play.

Unfortunately for Cronin, already with offensive issues to deal with in the coming season and a small group of returning blueliners, a departed Gibson may in fact be the hardest problem to solve.

As the months moved by and the season neared, this issue between the pipes was rising in urgency. Who would, in fact, be the go-to guy? Cronin, after adding freshmen Doug Jewer and Jake Thaler to a roster that already included senior Tim Heneroty (three career starts) and junior Adam Geragosian (two career starts), didn’t have an answer.

That was in October.

“I don’t know,” Cronin said when asked who would start against North Dakota for the team’s opening series of two games in Grand Forks, N.D. “I don’t know yet. I don’t have a good feel for it right now, which isn’t good.”

Perhaps Gibson’s monopoly of the goaltending spot for the Huskies between 2001 and 2005 had something to do with a year-long unease about who could take command in the net for NU.

With 2,084:44 minutes, Gibson led the nation in time spent on the ice during the 2004-05 season, on a team far from elite in the Hockey East. For his career, the Stittsville, Ontario native left NU ranked first in career goals against average (2.69), save percentage (.909) and shutouts (seven).

Cronin, when asked whether Heneroty would receive playing time after backing up Gibson and Geragosian in 2004-05, didn’t have a clear-cut answer. Geragosian posted a 3.68 goals against average in the previous season, while allowing five goals in one start during the 2003-04 campaign.

The additions of Jewer and Thaler only seemed to beg the question further.

“I was hoping somebody would emerge with a little bit more of a leadership role right now,” Cronin said in October.

North Dakota, was a foreshadowing of things to come for the Huskies in net. Jewer got the nod on the first night, while Geragosian was in for the second night. Heneroty, who did not play in any games during 2004-05, hasn’t been heard from. Thaler, who suited up in the team’s trip to Maine and against UMass-Lowell on Saturday, has been almost as anonymous.

Still, narrowing the choices to two hasn’t been a sign of success for Cronin. The team has one victory for the year and a number of close, heartbreaking losses to ranked teams.

Cronin most recently found himself starting Jewer for three straight games. However, the freshman suffered an injury in the third period against UMass and was helped off the ice.

After an impressive 30-save performance by Geragosian Saturday night in Lowell, this revolving topic completed another circle.

“You’ve got to [lean on Geragosian],” Cronin said. “He was brilliant the last five or six minutes of the third period and in OT. I always say I reward guys that play well and I thought Geragosian played terrific.”

Whether or not Geragosian wants to be the team’s No. 1 man, he finds the ongoing fluctuation between him and Jewer can be a positive.

“It’s definitely a healthy competition,” Geragosian said. “We’re trying to make each other better. Whoever’s heart is in it more will play.”

Geragosian, who was used prominently in November and December, has 863:50 minutes and played in 17 games so far this year. He’s close to doubling Jewer in both categories as the freshman has tallied 476:25 minutes and played in nine games. The Huskies’ goals against average figures are startlingly similar. Geragosian has posted a 3.26 while Jewer is at 3.27.

“[Greg] just wants someone to go in each night and play solid,” Jewer said. “He has no favorite right now and I think he’s been fair to both of us.”

NU, with 12 games left on its schedule including both Beanpot contests, still has a lot to aim for despite its 1-16-5 record (1-11-5 Hockey East).

A key priority, perhaps, is curing the post-Gibson syndrome.

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