Mottau, Northeastern prove a good hockey fit
Heather Mottau may be the easiest-to-persuade recruit ever signed by Northeastern University women’s hockey coach Dave Flint.
Flint approached the Milton native during her junior season at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Minnesota, unaware that Mottau grew up as a rink rat at NU’s Matthews Arena, where her father, Ross Mottau, was a volunteer goalie coach for the men’s hockey team for several years.
When Mottau left the Bay State to pursue her hockey passion by attending the prestigious high school in Minnesota, her dream was to return and play her college hockey at Northeastern.
“It was kind of funny when I first recruited her,” said Flint. “She said she always wanted to go to NU, and I asked why she never contacted us. She said that she never heard from me, so she figured that we weren’t interested.
“Then I find out that she has Northeastern stuff all over her dorm room at Shattuck. She came in for the interview and she knew more about Matthews Arena than I did. She called a week later and committed.”
A freshman defender, Mottau has quickly developed into a key contributor for an NU team that has won five straight and 12 of its last 13 games. Sixth on the Huskies in scoring (5 goals, 13 assists), she leads Hockey East in points by a rookie defender.
The Huskies (19-13-2, 13-6-2 Hockey East) take on Boston University on Friday night in the Hockey East semifinals.
“I’m not the biggest kid out there, so I try to use my speed to my advantage,” said the 5-foot-4 Mottau, whose cousin, Mike Mottau, starred on the blue line at Boston College.
“I do a lot of speed drills during the week, so I try to use my speed to get the puck up to the forwards.”
Mottau was scoreless in her first six games before potting a goal and two assists in a 4-3 loss to Providence in late October. And she had just one goal and six assists when NU entered semester break. But since then, Mottau has been more consistent, with four goals and seven assists in NU’s last 14 games. She owns a plus-12 plus/minus rating, fourth-highest on the team.
“The beginning of the year was frustrating because I think I was leading my team in shots and I had no points,” said Mottau, who won a state championship while skating for the U12 Dorchester Youth Hockey squad.
“I was frustrated, and would stay on the ice after practice, shooting pucks. It was really exciting to score my first goal at Matthews, where I’ve been watching my favorite players score forever. I’d been dreaming of that for a long time. My whole family was there, so it was really nice.”
Mottau choose uniform number 26 after her favorite player at NU, Joe Vitale, the Huskies’ MVP in 2008, who has spent the last three seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
At Shattuck-St. Mary’s, she finished with 56 goals and 90 assists in her career, including 12 goals and 10 assists last year. She credits her first goal at NU as being a springboard to further success.
“It gave me some confidence that I can be successful and make an impact at the college level,” she said. “It’s a good feeling when you are contributing to your team winning. Other aspects of the game are important, like plus/minus, but there is nothing like scoring for your team.”
Especially when you have been waiting all your life to do so.
Westwood’s Germano makes her mark in OT
As a third-line center at Connecticut College, Justina Germano focuses more on penalty killing than scoring goals. The Westwood resident played both roles during a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 1 seed Middlebury in the New England Small College Athletic Conference quarterfinals Saturday.
The 5-4 junior pivot won the faceoff and tipped in a shot from Shelley Moore for the game winner 10 minutes into OT against the Panthers, who were ranked fourth nationally in Division 3. Connecticut College entered the game as the No. 8 seed.
“She doesn’t score a lot as our third-line center but she has a real big defensive role, especially on the penalty kill,” said Connecticut College coach Kristin Steele .
“Her line’s job is to pen the other team in, and they do a really good job of that on the penalty kill. Justina is a really diligent hard worker and logs a lot of ice time for us. She’d like to score a few more goals but she takes her role very seriously.”
Germano and her teammates killed off nine Middlebury power plays. A 2011 graduate of Cushing Academy, Germano has three goals and one assist this season. Her last goal was on Jan. 17 in a 3-3 tie with Colby. The Camels (10-11-3) advance to play at Williams (13-9-3) in Saturday’s semifinal round.
In the spotlight
Sophomore forward Samantha Fallon of Pembroke scored her team-leading 17th goal of the season for University of Massachusetts Boston to force overtime in an eventual 2-1 loss to top seed Norwich in the ECAC East semifinals. A defenseman a year ago, she switched to forward this season and earned second-team honors in the ECAC East after scoring 17 goals and three assists, including five power-play tallies and three game winners. . . . Worcester State junior Terrence Gibson (Rockland) garnered All-New England honors after finishing in second place in the 60-meter hurdles at the New England Track & Field Championships over the weekend. Gibson’s time of 7.99 seconds was the fifth-fastest in Division 3 history for the event. Gibson also qualified for the nationals in the 200-meter run by recording a time of 21.81. Colleges from all divisions compete at the New Englands. . . . Milton’s Jen Gemma (Fontbonne Academy), a freshman forward at Bentley, earned her third Rookie of the Week honor from the Northeast-10 this season. She averaged 13.5 points and five rebounds per game for the Falcons (27-0), ranked No. 1 in Division 2, who will host Assumption in a conference semifinal Thursday night.John R. Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.