By: Joe Barbito
BOSTON – For the first time in program history, the Northeastern women’s ice hockey team has won the Hockey East Championship with a 2-1 win over seventh-seeded Connecticut.
The game opened with Denisa Krizova creating a two-on-one up ice as she forced the puck off Emily Ried’s stick, sliding a pass across the slot to McKenna Brand, who then lifted a back hander over the shoulder of Annie Belanger. With her assist on that goal, Krizova earned her 24th career Hockey East playoff point, tying Marie-Philip Poulin of Boston University for most in conference history.
Not even a minute later, Natalie Snodgrass went to work in the Northeastern (19-16-3) end of the ice. She battled off Maddie Hartman below the goal line and ripped a pass to Morgan Wabick, who then rifled it past Aerin Frankel at the 1:20 mark of the first period. That would end up being the only goal Frankel allowed as she tallied 30 total saves in the game.
With two minutes left to go in the first period, Tori Sullivan won an offensive zone draw for Northeastern and slipped the puck back into open ice. McKenna Brand skated up to it and sniped a shot past Belanger for her second of the game. It would prove to be the game-winning goal as neither team would score in the following two periods.
Northeastern became the second four-seed ever to win the Hockey East Tournament, and will advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history, and the first since 2016.
In addition to taking home the Bertagna Trophy, four Huskies were named to the All-Tournament Team: goaltender Aerin Frankel, defenseman Lauren Kelly, and forwards McKenna Brand and Denisa Krizova. Defenseman Kayla Mee and forward Natalie Snodgrass were UConn’s representatives on the All-Tournament Team.
Aerin Frankel won Tournament MVP honors. Against Maine, she mad 24 total saves including 15 in the third period alone. The freshman had 30 against the Huskies today. Frankel is the first freshman to win MVP honors since 2006.
Northeastern will learn where they are headed for the NCAA tournament at 9 p.m. tonight.