BOSTON — Before the puck dropped at Matthews Arena on Sunday afternoon, Northeastern women’s hockey saw the fruits of last year’s labor raised to the rafters of the century-old building. Updated banners reflecting last season’s Hockey East regular season and playoff titles now hang above the ice.
Then this year’s team showed why they might be even better than last year’s, topping the New Hampshire Wildcats 4–1 in their home opener. The Huskies have won their first five games for the first time since 2000–01.
Northeastern spent more than five of the first 20 minutes on the power play. Despite some excellent passes and shots from sophomore forward Alina Mueller — one of which clanged off the pipe — the Huskies failed to convert. Nine first-period saves by Northeastern goalie Aerin Frankel — including five in the first five minutes — kept the game scoreless.
Northeastern defender Skylar Fontaine got aggressive in the second. After two blocked attempts and two misses, she broke the tie with seven minutes left in the period.
The Huskies meshed well throughout, particularly evidenced when a penalty against UNH gave the Huskies 73 second of extra attacker time. The Huskies held the puck throughout the penalty.
Frankel continued to amaze, even getting bonus help from her teammates. When Frankel lost her stick during a UNH power play, defender Mia Brown returned it to her just in time for Frankel to notch an incredible save. On another play, senior defender Codie Cross helped Frankel dismiss an airborne attempt.
In the waning seconds of the second period, the Huskies found themselves short-handed after defender Brooke Hobson was called for tripping. Undeterred, sophomore Chloe Aurard netted a nifty turnaround goal.
Aurard wasn’t done. Seven minutes later, she forced home her second goal of the afternoon and fifth on the year.
With three minutes left in the game, UNH pulled goalie Ava Boutilier in the hope of breaking the shutout. The gamble succeeded, as Nicole Dunbar netted the Wildcats’ first goal of the game. But less than two minutes later, Northeastern’s Veronika Petty negated it with an empty net goal to put the contest out of reach.
The Huskies will look to stay undefeated at Providence on Friday at 6 PM.