Women’s Hockey Fries Friars Again

By Jack Sinclair

When two of the best goaltenders in Hockey East face off, the game is almost always going to be a low scoring, defensive battle.

But not when one of the two teams is the Northeastern women’s hockey team.

The Huskies hit the ice as if yesterday’s 4–1 win had never ended. They looked fresh despite the 20-hour turnaround. Providence didn’t. Northeastern was outskating the Friars to every loose puck and cycling the puck in the offensive zone like it was the middle of the third period.

The fiery start paid off, as Chloé Aurard found herself with a look at Providence goaltender Sandra Abstreiter’s cage. Abstreiter saved the initial wrister but couldn’t hold on to the puck, and Aurard tapped it in to open the scoring. 

Even after the goal, the ice was still slanted in the Huskies’ favor. Providence struggled to break out of their own zone; when they managed to clear the puck, they were shut down before they could reach the red line. Northeastern’s pressure was overwhelming, and Skylar Fontaine was quick to capitalize for her 100th collegiate point. She was assisted by Alina Mueller, who fired an insane cross-ice pass to find Fontaine open.

While Northeastern maintained their hold over the game, Abstreiter stood strong, keeping the deficit at two. 

The Friars upped the tempo, controlled the puck in their offensive zone, and even started testing Northeastern goaltender Aerin Frankel. The Huskies didn’t slow down either, and possession swung rapidly as neither team established itself anywhere. Both goaltenders were solid, but Abstreiter stood out, making multiple acrobatic saves.

But alas, all good things must come to an end. Aurard and Mueller barreled into the zone and a simple one-pass play gave Mueller a great look. It was all she needed, as she roofed the puck past Abstreiter for the Huskies third goal and her third point of the game. The period ended with the Huskies leading three goals to zero.

The Huskies continued to have their way with the Friars in the third period, then an early penalty gave Northeastern another power-play chance. Less than thirty seconds later, Tessa Ward collected and converted a juicy rebound after Abstreiter couldn’t control a missile from Veronika Pettey.

Providence tried to generate some offense, and even forced Frankel to make a couple of tough saves. But every time Providence tried, the Huskies pushed the puck right back up the ice with equal intensity.

“I never have any issue with our effort on the ice,” Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito said. “But it’s the execution, making sure we’re working smart. We always work hard, but making sure we are working smart from the first drop of the puck. We have progressed in that area for sure.”

A few minutes later, the Huskies struck again to move into blowout territory. Mueller scored her second goal of the game on a clever wraparound shot from behind Abstreiter’s net.

“[Mueller and Aurard] have been moving their feet a lot more,” Carpenito explained. “The first couple games we played were in January. It’s going to take every player a few games to turn themselves into midseason form.”

The Friars, already reeling from yesterday’s tough loss in Matthews Arena, were well and truly beaten. The remainder of the game was a formality, with Carpenito rolling out his bottom six forwards for longer shifts. However, as is so common with these Huskies, they didn’t get the memo that the game was decided. The fourth line generated lots of great offense, though Abstreiter refused to concede another goal.

The game ended with a 5–0 Huskies win, their third in three tries against Providence this season. The Huskies improved to 8–1–1 on the year while Providence fell to 9–4–1, meaning the third-place Huskies trail the second-place Friars by just four points despite having four games in hand. (Northeastern trails first-place Boston College by five points with three games in hand.)

“Today might have been our most complete game of the year,” Carpenito said. “We were moving our feet, we were getting pucks to the net, I thought we matched Providence’s intensity and their physical play as well.”

Porter Protects, Murphy and Mueller Match, Aurard Overcomes

Story by Jack Sinclair

Photos by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — On one end a new face; on the other, a lot of empty seats.

On Sunday afternoon, the Northeastern and Maine women’s hockey teams faced off for the third time this month. Maine came to the arena with a severely shortened bench, including just five defensemen and nine forwards.

Northeastern (6–1–1) had five more skaters on their bench than Maine (4–5–0). Among them was Maureen Murphy, who transferred to Northeastern after two years at Providence. After some post-transfer eligibility issues prohibited her from playing, Murphy was finally unleashed on Sunday. She took over at right wing on the top line with Alina Mueller and Chloé Aurard.

“It was great,” Murphy said after the game, “I hadn’t played a game in a long time, and my teammates were also very supportive. They welcomed me in with open arms.”

All three would score a goal by the end of the day, and the line’s chemistry was obvious.

“Obviously, Alina and Chloe are great people and great players,” Murphy said. “We talked a lot before the game and between periods and last night, so a lot of communication.” 

In the past few games, it took 15 minutes for Northeastern to begin generating sustained offense. Tonight, they quickly established themselves in the offensive zone. It paid off, as two-and-a-half minutes after puck drop, Alina Mueller coolly netted her third goal of the season, assisted by Skylar Fontaine.

Maine goaltender Loryn Porter, coming off a two-week break from game action, had allowed a goal on the first shot she had faced. She was quick to remedy that, shutting out the Huskies for the rest of the period. Porter made some spectacular saves, including a dive across her crease to rob Murphy.

Maine, with their reduced bench, played conservatively. They allowed Northeastern to cycle the puck around the perimeter and simply parked the bus in front of Porter. Despite this, the Huskies created good looks at the net. Porter fought everything off, and her skaters blocked several shots as well.

“I’m going to have nightmares about Porter,” Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito said.

Both teams returned to the ice for the second period with fresh legs. Maine tried to generate some offense, even forcing Husky netminder Gwyneth Phillips to make her first saves of the game early in the second. Northeastern didn’t take too kindly to that, and upped the tempo of the game.

The Black Bears devoured ice, taking lengthy shifts in their defensive zone for almost two minutes at a time. Northeastern continued to pound shots at Porter and any skater who dared step into a shooting lane. Porter, who had saved 24 consecutive shots after the initial cough-up, was finally beaten again after a quick scrum in front of her. It was Murphy who knocked the loose puck in for her first goal as a Husky.

“We had a lot of momentum and a lot of possession throughout the entire game,” Murphy noted. “Obviously, Maine’s goalie played great. I don’t know, I just ended up in front of the net. Even if I hadn’t put it in, I knew Chloé was there too.”

The Black Bears then went on the power play after Ani FitzGerald was called for tripping, but the Huskies’ lethal penalty kill unit silenced it with ease. The Huskies started pressuring the Black Bears again, but got caught in a change. Maine’s Ida Press recognized the error and quickly dished to Morgan Sadler on the wing. Sadler sniped the corner of the cage for Maine’s first goal in Matthews Arena this season. 

Maine continued their surge into the third period, forcing an offensive zone faceoff early. Ali Beltz won the puck back on the forecheck and fired a quick wraparound shot from the goal line. Phillips positioned her pad slightly above the ice, and the puck slid through the opening and into the net. Maine, despite their shortened bench, had tied the game. 

Northeastern once again turned up the tempo and poured on the pressure. They smothered the Maine skaters, won every puck battle, and allowed Maine only the occasional look at Phillips’ net. Loryn Porter was unfazed by it all, stopping every shot that came her way. Northeastern played superbly, but Porter was playing 4D chess while the Huskies were playing checkers. 

End of regulation. Game tied 2–2.

The teams slowly felt each other out as the overtime began. Northeastern got the first few looks, but Porter was still too much to handle. However, Maine’s Ally Johnson was whistled for body checking on Murphy, giving Northeastern a power play; though the Huskies couldn’t capitalize, they firmly established themselves on Maine’s side of the ice. In the last minute of overtime, Chloé Aurard took the zone, skated into the slot, shook off a defender, and finally beat Porter with a blistering, game-winning wrister.

“I was on my offhand, and I know Chloé has a great shot,” Murphy explained. “I was yelling ‘Shoot, shoot, shoot,’ and she heard me, picked her spot, and scored it. It was a nice shot.”

“I thought we were really, really, good,” Carpenito said. “I thought we were executing well, I thought we had good presence up front. I thought defensively we were fantastic.”

The Huskies’ next scheduled game is Friday at 7 PM Eastern against #7 Providence, though this is subject to change given pandemic concerns. Check WRBB’s schedule page for coverage information.

Women’s Hockey Ties New Hampshire, Falls in Shootout

By Jack Sinclair

Durham, NH — After winning the first game of the series comfortably, 3–1, the Northeastern women’s hockey team made the trip up to Durham to face the New Hampshire Wildcats on their home ice.

Throughout this young season, the Huskies have struggled early in games. Saturday night was no different, as they looked sluggish compared to the much slower Wildcat skaters. Early penalties against Wildcats Maddie Truax and Kyla Bent did little to kickstart the slumbering Husky offense. Northeastern struggled with passing accurately and struggled even more with putting their shots on target.

Their defense struggled as well, allowing New Hampshire to put three clean shots on goal in the first 10 minutes. A stretch pass from the Wildcats’ Emily Rickwood to a surging Nicole Kelly yielded a one-on-one chance against Husky goalie Frankel. Frankel couldn’t stop the puck, and Kelly slid it five hole for a one-goal lead.

Northeastern’s sloppy play did not stop, as the Huskies were called offsides as they tried to enter the offensive zone. Their defense improved, as they severely limited the Wildcats’ chances, but their offense didn’t respond. The Huskies concluded the opening period with only three shots on goal.

The story flipped on its head for the second, as the Huskies finally showed signs of offensive life. The game swung their way after three successive penalties against the Wildcats gave Northeastern several good looks on the man advantage. The third time was the charm, as Brooke Hobson netted Northeastern’s first power-play goal of the season to tie things up.

Northeastern finished the period strong, firing 14 shots to New Hampshire’s three.

“Our second period was awesome,” said Northeastern Associate Head Coach Nick Carpenito. “We were moving our feet, we were executing really well, we were making passes.”

The third period proved to be the most erratic. A quick penalty against Northeastern was quickly cancelled out by a Wildcat penalty, resulting in four-on-four play. It was then that Alina Mueller and Chloé Aurard used the extra space to generate a goal. Aurard found Mueller on the end of a give-and-go, and Mueller beat Ava Boutilier between the Wildcats’ goalposts. 

However, the strong play from the forwards would disappear, seemingly to never return. Things got sloppy again as the Huskies turned the puck on their way into the neutral zone, and the Wildcats used this to put pressure on Frankel. As per usual, Frankel was cool under pressure — until a freak bounce careened off the glass behind her and rebounded off her skate as she moved to seal off the goalpost. Wildcats goal. Tie game. The goal was credited to Chavonne Truter, but the replay revealed the true nature of the score. 

After 60 minutes, the game was tied 2–2. A thrilling overtime period yielded no scoring and the game went to a shootout. Both goaltenders stood strong, but it was New Hampshire’s extra skater, Paige Rynne, who became the hero of the night. Rynne stepped up in round five of the shootout, skated to Frankel’s left, and beat her with a confident, quick wrister to give New Hampshire a much-needed shootout win. Though the game counts as a tie for record purposes, New Hampshire (3–8–1) gets two points while Northeastern (4–1–1) gets one.

“We need to just be better,” Carpenito said. “A big part of it is the mental part of the game. This year is very very difficult, so I can understand how we would have some mental lapses. At the end of the day, with the talent we have, we need to find a way to be better.”

The Huskies struggled with communication for most of the night, missing passes and running into each other several times.

“The team that is mentally toughest is the one that rises to the top,” Carpenito said. “Right now we are not there, but I believe we are more than capable of getting there.”

The Huskies will battle Providence (7–1–1) this Tuesday at Matthews Arena. Mike Puzzanghera and Sarah Olender will call that game, with coverage beginning a few minutes before the 7 PM puck drop.

Northeastern Tops Maine as Frankel Ties School Shutout Record

By Jack Sinclair

BOSTON — After three weeks of waiting, the No. 3 Northeastern women’s hockey team finally hit the ice for a Hockey East matchup against the Maine Black Bears Sunday evening.

Entering the contest, the Huskies’ only action of the season was a split home-and-home against No. 9 Boston College. The Black Bears had played six games, losing only two, and came into Matthews Arena two weeks after a split series against Providence.

Northeastern started the game playing, well, like a team that hadn’t played in three weeks. They were rusty, missed passes, and overskated the puck. The sloppy play gave Maine a few looks at the net, but Aerin Frankel fought off the Black Bears attempts with ease. She would eventually save 16 shots en route to her 20th career shutout, tying Erika Silva for the Northeastern record.

After a rough first stretch, the Huskies turned the tide in their favor. They dominated at both ends, holding Maine on their own half of the ice for the rest of the period.

“We went into the locker room, and just had to hit that reset button,” Northeastern Head Coach Dave Flint said. “We reminded everybody of what we needed to do to be successful.”

Flint’s words clearly resonated, as the Huskies came out of intermission on fire. Just under 30 seconds into the second period, Husky stars Alina Mueller and Skylar Fontaine connected on a give-and-go which Fontaine slotted past Maine goaltender Loryn Porter to break the scoreless tie.

“Sky’s best asset is her speed,” Flint said. “It allows her to be more offensive than a lot of defensemen because she has that ability to get back. Our philosophy as a team is we don’t have three forwards and two defensemen — it’s to attack with five and defend with five. When we have someone like Skylar, or [Brooke] Hobson too, they can get up during the rush and get back to defend.” 

The lead didn’t deter the Huskies from applying more pressure. Forward Andrea Renner was a constant thorn in Maine’s side, as her forechecking gave the Black Bear defenders nightmares. Renner pursued the puck all around the Huskies’ offensive zone and fired many quick wristers toward the cage. Porter held fast, and fought off a flurry of Northeastern shots on goal. 

Porter played like she was possessed by the spirit of Patrick Roy, making over 19 saves in the second period to keep the score at 1–0.

The Huskies entered the third period with a burst of energy similar to the beginning of the second. Relentless offensive pressure was the name of the game, as they threw in shots on goal from all over. Hobson eventually found the back of the net for her first point of the season and the second goal by a Husky defender on the evening. 

A couple minutes later, freshman forward Ani FitzGerald picked the pocket of Maine’s Ali Beltz in the neutral zone and carried the puck home for her first college goal, Northeastern’s third of the game.

“[They’re] big shoes to fill,” Flint said of FitzGerald taking Jess Schryver’s spot on the Huskies’ vaunted top line. “Any time you put a younger player in a position like that, you’re realistically putting them on a line with two of the best players in the world. She just needed to go to the net when they have the puck, but she’s also dynamic enough to create her own play.”

Flint adjusted his strategy after the third goal, going with his third and fourth lines of forwards. The lower lines didn’t take their feet off the gas, and continued to test Porter. The game ended with the Huskies still controlling the tempo, even though they couldn’t beat Porter a fourth time. Porter ended the game with an impressive 44 saves; she’s posted a .943 save percentage on the year. 

The Huskies will rematch Maine tomorrow at Matthews Arena. Mike Puzzanghera, Jack Sinclair, and Sarah Olender will call that game, with coverage beginning at 3:45 PM Eastern.

Northeastern Women’s Hockey Bests BC to Kick Off Season

By Mike Puzzanghera

CHESTNUT HILL, MA — It took Northeastern about a period and a half to shake off the rust, but the Huskies are back and rolling as they scored three times in the third period to beat Boston College, 4–1.

Northeastern (1–0) faced the tough task of opening their season on the road against the ninth-ranked team in the country, the BC Eagles (4–3). With BC coming off a weekend sweep of UConn and playing some good hockey, Northeastern was thrown into the deep end in game one.

Things didn’t start well for the Huskies — they made some sloppy passes in the opening frame and gifted BC some chances, which they eventually took advantage of. BC’s Jillian Fey scored her third goal of the season 18 minutes in with a shot from the point. Off the replay, it looked like the shot deflected off NU captain Brooke Hobson in front of the net to beat Aerin Frankel in goal.

The Huskies got their goal in the second, though. After absorbing BC pressure in their own zone for almost five minutes, Northeastern hit back on the rush. Megan Carter grabbed a loose puck and fired a rocket of a pass to Katy Knoll to release the break. Knoll went forward down the left and played a pass across to Andrea Renner in between the circles. Renner, after missing a few chances early, didn’t miss again, and went five-hole on BC goalie Maddy McArthur for her first goal in over a year.

Renner missed all of last season with an injury, and her goal highlighted a great all-around game in her return. It was her first goal since the Hockey East championship game in 2019, also against BC.

Northeastern started the third period on the kill, but maintained offensive pressure throughout BC’s power play and added momentum through the period. They finally took their first lead of the season six minutes in, as Knoll scored a miraculous backhanded goal off a great feed from freshman Lily Yovetich. Yovetich found Knoll cutting in between the circles and the sophomore grabbed the puck and flicked it past McArthur for her second point of the game.

The fourth line added the Huskies’ third goal, as they capped a great game as a unit with a goal from Kate Holmes. Micaela Sindoris and Katie Cipra won the puck behind McArthur’s net, and Cipra managed to slide the puck out to Holmes, who was parked in front of the net. Holmes generated an insane amount of power from only a few feet out, leaving McArthur with no chance at a save and putting NU up 3–1.

A minute and a half later, the reigning Hockey East Player of the Year made her presence felt. Alina Mueller took a pass, beat two defenders, and sniped the bottom right corner of the net, beating McArthur glove-side (where she had made plenty of big saves all game) and capping the scoring for Northeastern.

“It feels great that we got on the ice and the girls got to play a game,” Northeastern Head Coach Dave Flint said. “The victory was just the icing on the cake.”

It was a strong all-around performance. Renner was incredible on offense, creating multiple chances with powerful shots to test McArthur and logging a goal to go cap it off (though she’ll probably want a scuffed shot on a first-period power play back). Frankel made 25 saves in net, including some tough ones against reigning National Rookie of the Year Hannah Bilka. And Hobson was as sure-handed as ever captaining the side and leading the defensive unit. But Flint was quick to point out some errors the team made, particularly early on.

“There were too many turnovers, we weren’t moving the puck quick enough,” Flint said. “When you haven’t played a game in that long, it’s different than practice.”

The Huskies will be at home next time out against the same BC unit, facing off at Matthews Arena on Sunday. Milton Posner and Catherine Morrison will broadcast that game, with coverage beginning at 4:45 PM Eastern.

2020–21 Women’s Hockey East Preview: Northeastern Huskies

Last year: 32–4–2 (24–3–0, first place conf.), third straight conference championship

Head Coach: Dave Flint (12th season)

Preseason Poll Finish: First

Losses: D Paige Capistran, D Codie Cross, F Matti Hartman, F Jess Schryver

Additions: F Maureen Murphy, F Molly Griffin, F Ani Fitzgerald, D Lily Yovetich, D Abbey Marohn 

By Jack Sinclair

After the pandemic robbed Northeastern of a promising run in the NCAA Tournament, this season is set to be quite the revenge tour for the Huskies. Luckily, the key parts of last year’s success are returning, with the Huskies losing only three seniors to graduation. The high-flying offense is set to make a return as Alina Mueller, one of the nation’s top scorers, and her linemate Chloé Aurard both head into their junior years.

Most exciting for the Huskies is the addition of Providence transfer forward Maureen Murphy. Murphy is looking to return to the ice after her 2019–20 season was cut short due to injury. She notched 22 goals and 21 assists during her sophomore campaign with the Friars, and even managed seven goals in 11 games before her injury last year. Murphy will likely be replacing Jess Schryver on the top line of forwards, and will add another scoring threat to an already deadly group.

The loss of the Class of 2020 is not small, however. The graduating seniors left Matthews Arena as the winningest class in program history, and for good reason. Two-way center Matti Hartman was a true 200-foot player, while defenders Paige Capistran and Codie Cross were cornerstones of the Huskies’ blue line. While their leadership will be missed, the addition of freshmen forwards like Molly Griffin and defenders Lily Yovetich and Abbey Marohn should serve to fill the gaps.

Between the pipes returns Aerin Frankel, who boasted an NCAA-leading .956 save percentage and a strong 1.07 goals against average. Frankel was also a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, joining her teammate Alina Mueller in that recognition.

Skylar Fontaine, the reigning Hockey East Defenseman of the Year, returns to her throne at the top of the Huskies defense for her senior season.

Bottom Line: The Huskies do not need to improve on much from last season, but they will anyways under the leadership of Dave Flint. The addition of Maureen Murphy makes them arguably the most talented offense in the nation, and Aerin Frankel is a top-two college goalie. The only area of slight concern is the defense without captain Paige Capistran, but there is more than enough talent on this team to overcome that challenge. The rest of the NCAA had better look out; the beast of Huntington Avenue is ready to finish what the pandemic cut short last season.

IT’S A THREE-PEAT! Women’s Hockey Wins Hockey East Championship

By Christian Skroce

NORTH ANDOVER, MA — There was a theme for the 2020 Hockey East Championship, a theme the Northeastern Huskies hammered home forcefully and often: goals, goals, and more goals. That theme propelled the Northeastern Huskies to an unforgettable 9–1 victory over UConn and their third consecutive Hockey East Championship.

Northeastern began the day with 149 goals on the season, and they decided to add to that in a big way. The Northeastern Huskies played the Huskies of UConn, a team they had beaten three times during the regular season by a combined score of 10–2. By the time Sunday’s game wrapped up, Northeastern had doubled that margin.

Northeastern came out firing early and often, applying heavy pressure on the UConn defense and tallying several opportunities in the first five minutes. Junior defenseman Skylar Fontaine gave Northeastern its first goal of the day as she finished off a brilliant feed from forward Alina Mueller. Including the two quarterfinal games against Vermont, the semifinal against Maine, and her goal on Sunday, Fontaine had scored or assisted on the Huskies’ last eight goals.

Northeastern doubled its lead soon after, as Jess Schryver finished off an excellent pass from Chloé Aurard for a 2–0 lead. The goal was initially called back for interference, but replay confirmed the score.

UConn’s lone goal came just two minutes later, as an awkward bounce off the boards put goalie Aerin Frankel in a difficult position and allowed UConn forward Catherine Crawley to put the puck in the back of the net.

That’s when Northeastern really decided to take things seriously.

The Huskies stayed aggressive for the rest of the game, tallying minutes upon minutes of offensive zone time with exquisite puck movement that made it seem like they had eyes in the back of their heads. Mueller triggered the avalanche with a minute to play in the first period, fielding a pass in the high slot and firing an impeccably placed rocket into the bottom left corner.

The second period was easily the lowest-scoring, but its lone goal was easily the most impressive of the night. Just one minute in, Matti Hartman was skating away from the goal near the right dot when a quick pass flew behind her. Without looking at the goal, Hartman subtly flipped her stick behind her back and poked it through traffic for the Huskies’ fourth score. It’s difficult to tell from looking at her reaction whether or not she was trying to score, but the result was gorgeous either way.

Hartman’s fellow captains Capistran and Brooke Hobson logged assists on the play. After the game, Hartman remarked that three had been waiting for a such a goal for some time, and that they finally got their chance.

The third period was a nonstop Northeastern tidal wave, with goals from Chloé Aurard and Katie Cipra coming in the first 40 seconds.

By the end of the period Jess Schryver, Codie Cross, and Peyton Anderson had joined the party, yielding the 9–1 final score that set records for goals and scoring margin in a Hockey East Championship. Eight different Northeastern skaters punched home a goal, with Schryver the only double-dipper among them.

“I had confidence in the team, seeing how relaxed they were before the game,” coach Dave Flint said. “I felt good about them going out and taking care of business.”

Hartman spoke on the team’s recent results, noting “with the recent success, it’s important to remember where you came from. Freshman year was tough and so was sophomore year. We were about .500 that year, and we’ve tried to remember that struggle going into games like this.”

Mueller took home Tournament MVP for her efforts throughout the Hockey East Tournament, including a one-goal, three-assist performance in the championship. Mueller now has 66 points on the year as the leader one of the most formidable attacks in college hockey. Aurard matched Mueller’s performance with four points of her own in the championship game.

Head coach Dave Flint praised the entire first line, noting that they played like a “buzz saw” for the entirety of the contest. Flint also reflected on his time at Northeastern after the game, explaining that he has learned to focus on the players in the locker room rather just look ahead to victories and bring in recruits. Flint emphasized the impact former Husky Kendall Coyne had on the locker room during her junior year and says that competitive mindset has been maintained during the past several years.

Aerin Frankel took home goalie of the tournament, although she didn’t have much to do in this game. Northeastern’s defense stepped up on the biggest stage, forcing UConn into several turnovers throughout the game and preventing the bad Huskies from having significant offensive zone time.

Flint briefly discussed the future after the game, stating, “You can get up there and you can achieve excellence, but how are you gonna sustain it? That’s the challenge for us now looking ahead to the [NCAA] tournament.”

Northeastern will likely play Princeton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament next weekend, though specific details will be announced later. WRBB will have the call for that quarterfinal matchup.

Women’s Hockey Advances to Hockey East Final

By Jack Sinclair

Reminder: Northeastern will play Connecticut in the Hockey East Championship game Sunday at 2 PM. Christian Skroce and Dale Desantis will be on the call from Lawler Rink at Merrimack College, with coverage beginning at 1:45 PM EST.

Northeastern established themselves as the team to beat early in the season. They clinched the number one seed at the end of January and have lost just four games all season. The reward for their regular-season dominance was a first-round playoff series against the eighth-seeded Vermont Catamounts, who they swept back to Burlington last weekend.

As a result, they headed up to Lawler Rink in North Andover, MA, to play a neutral-ice semifinal matchup against the University of Maine Black Bears. Maine’s journey to the semifinal game was not as smooth as Northeastern’s, as they barely edged Vermont out for the seventh seed, but their sweep of BU in an away series was impressive. The Black Bears came to Lawler Rink riding the high of their sweep, and this revealed itself early in the game.

Maine burst out of the gates firing. They were flying up and down the rink, and drew an early penalty. Less than a minute into their man advantage, Maine’s Ida Press slipped the puck past Hockey East Goaltender of the Year Aerin Frankel.

The Black Bears didn’t stop there, staying one step ahead of the Huskies by establishing a strong 1–2–2 trap on defense. This slower pace cramped Northeastern’s usual high-octane play style, and if not for the efforts of Frankel the score could have easily gotten out of hand. Maine managed to draw another penalty towards the end of the period, but the strength of Northeastern’s penalty kill was on full display, as they held the puck in Maine’s end of the rink for the duration of the penalty. 

The second period started, and Northeastern’s goal was clear. Establish their brand of hockey and simply keep the puck away from the Black Bears. Maine was ready for this, and jammed their bodies into the neutral zone, making it impossible for the line of Alina Mueller, Chloe Aurard, and Jess Schryver to blitz their way into the attacking zone on transition.

This resulted in a hard-fought stalemate of a period, with both teams fighting along the boards for possession. Northeastern managed to get some glimpses at the Black Bears’ goal, with a few great chances coming for Mueller in particular. Maine goaltender Carly Jackson used every square inch of her leg pads to keep the puck out of the back of the net and made some incredible saves to preserve her team’s lead going into the third period.

Whatever coach Dave Flint told the Huskies during the second intermission worked. Just over a minute of a power play carried over from the second period was all it took for Skylar Fontaine to send a rocket from just in front of the blue line into the back of the net. 

This was the cue for the Huskies. They had exposed a weakness in Maine’s trap: they simply could not keep up with the Huskies. The Black Bears had spent a lot of the game holding onto the puck and working slowly from their end of the ice into the Huskies zone. This proved costly, as their fatigue was apparent early on in the third period.

It took only two minutes for the Huskies to pounce on the tiring Black Bears and go up 2–1. Swiss Sensation Alina Mueller found herself with miles of space in the slot off a lovely feed from Skylar Fontaine. Mueller wasted no time, taking only one touch of the puck before sliding it coolly into the bottom left corner of the goal. 

Maine, despite their early skid, managed to establish their brand of hockey once more, and began to work into the Huskies zone. The defense held fast, and the Huskies were more than happy to dump the puck back into the Maine zone, switch out for some fresh legs, allow Maine to work their way back to their end of the ice, rinse, and repeat. Maine got a few looks at the net, but Frankel was having a grand total of zero percent of the Black Bears’ nonsense, and coolly protected her net. 

In the closing minute of the game, the Black Bears pulled their goaltender in a last-ditch effort to even up the score. Unlike the Beanpot final, there was no last-gasp goal. Fontaine forced a turnover in the neutral zone and sniped the empty net to ice the game for the Huskies. Fontaine has either scored or assisted on the Huskies’ last seven goals going back to last week’s doubleheader against Vermont.

The Huskies sealed their fourth straight Hockey East Championship appearance and will fight Sunday afternoon for their third straight title.

Mueller Named Player of the Year, Huskies Dominate WHEA Awards

By Matt Neiser

Surprise, surprise.

Well, not really.

In the midst of one of the greatest season in programs history, nine players on the No. 4 Northeastern women’s hockey team and head coach Dave Flint were honored with a slew of awards for the 2019–20 campaign, the conference announced this week.

Freshmen Megan Carter and Katy Knoll, sophomores Alina Mueller and Chloe Aurard, juniors Skylar Fontaine and Aerin Frankel, seniors Matti Hartman and Paige Capistran, and head coach Flint were all recipients of various conference awards, as voted on by the league’s 10 head coaches.

Headlining the honors were Mueller and Flint, who took home two of the most prestigious awards on Friday.

Mueller was unanimously selected the Cammi Granato Award winner as the Player of the Year in Hockey East. With 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in Hockey East play, Mueller led the conference in scoring by a wide margin; the next closest player (teammate Chloe Aurard) was 10 points behind. Mueller led the conference in both points and assists as well, in addition to her nine game-winning goals and three shorthanded goals. If ever there was a time for a unanimous selection, Mueller’s season fits the bill.

Mueller also earned a pair of statistical awards during her otherworldly regular season. The sophomore was named both the league’s Scoring Champion and the PNC Bank Three Stars Award winner.

After every Hockey East contest, the Three Stars of the game are announced. The Three Stars Award is given to the player that accumulates the most “points” based on these recognitions, with first being worth the most points and third the least. Mueller was named the first and second star four times apiece and the third star on a trio of occasions, earning her the overall award.

For the second year in a row, Flint was voted as the Coach of Year. Northeastern’s helmsman led the Huskies to a program-record 24 conference wins and their second consecutive regular season title. Flint’s never-too-high, never-too-low mentality has been a staple of his teams’ success over the years and helped the Huskies to new heights this year.

Mueller (unanimous), Aurard, Fontaine (unanimous), and Frankel were each named First-Team All-Stars and collectively comprised two-thirds of the team’s selections. 

Second only to her linemate Mueller, Aurard racked up 34 points on 15 goals and 19 assists in Hockey East play. Individually, her goal and assist tallies rank third and second in the conference. Aurard was the only player in Hockey East to record two hat tricks, and she matched Mueller’s three shorthanded goals. Talk about a lethal duo on that top line.

Fontaine, Northeastern’s star blueliner, led Hockey East defensemen in myriad categories, including goals (13), assists (21), points (34), rating (+42) and shots on goal (155). Fontaine was a vital contributor to Northeastern’s elite offense and defense, often her blinding speed and smooth stickhandling to initiate attacks and stymie opponents’. 

Fontaine was also honored with the Best Defenseman Award. She is the first Northeastern player to win the award since its inception ten years ago.

Stalwart as ever in net, Frankel compiled one of the best seasons in Hockey East history. Her .967 save percentage is the highest mark in conference history, while her .84 goals against average ranks third. Frankel also led the conference with nine shutouts, as well as wins and win percentage (.864) with a 19–3–0 record in Hockey East play. A top-10 Patty Kazmaier candidate, Frankel consistently gives the Huskies a chance to win every game. The junior netminder was also named Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season.

Carter and Knoll, the most prominent members of the Huskies’ standout freshman class, were both named to the Pro Ambitions All-Rookie Team. 

Carter was a pivotal part of the conference-best Northeastern defense, her size and physicality perfectly complementing Fontaine’s speed and shiftiness. The blueliner led Hockey East freshmen with 41 blocked shots in the regular season, while chipping in two goals and nine assists.

Knoll made an immediate offensive impact for the Huskies. The Amherst, New York native oscillated between the first and second forward lines for most of the season, earning two Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Month nods (November, December) and a WCHA National Rookie of the Month award as she led Northeastern freshmen in scoring with 10 goals and 16 assists (26 points). Those numbers were good for fourth, second, and third among Hockey East first-years.

Matti Hartman, the Huskies’ second-line center, was named the conference’s Best Defensive Forward. Hartman excelled on the forecheck, pinning opposing teams in their own zone and regaining possession for the Huskies by forcing turnovers. When opponents actually made it down to the Northeastern end, her excellent positioning clogged passing lanes and disrupted attacks. Hartman is the third Husky to earn the honor, joining alumnae Casey Pickett and Hayley Scamurra.

Paige Capistran is the first-ever Northeastern recipient of the Sportsmanship Award. Voted by her teammates as captain for the first time in her final campaign, Capistran has been a Husky mainstay over the past four years and always exemplified leadership qualities on and off the ice.

A quick anecdote about Capistran to cap things off, as it’s one of my favorite stories and really illustrates what she’s meant to the program. In the waning seconds of regulation in last year’s Hockey East Championship, all hell broke loose. A waved-off empty netter, a thrown notebook, and a late Boston College faceoff goal to force overtime left the Huskies reeling as they headed back to their locker room to regroup.

Was it captain Brittany Bugalski that settled things down and rallied the troops? One of the assistant captains, maybe? According to Kasidy Anderson, it was actually Capistran, who up to that point was known by the media as more of a quiet presence than an outspoken leader. Anderson recalled that Capistran reminded everyone to forget about the chaos that had just happened, even though it “sucked,” and focus on the task ahead. It would have been easy to blame officials or lament bad luck, but the now-captain displayed true sportsmanship, shrugging it all off and getting her team back on track as they went on to claim the trophy.

The Huskies will look to return to the championship again this weekend, starting with their semifinal matchup against Maine at 12 p.m. today. WRBB will provide written coverage of the game.

Women’s Hockey Sweeps Vermont, Advances to Hockey East Semifinal

By Matt Neiser

BOSTON — Fresh off a 5–1 win in game one, Northeastern looked to close out their Hockey East quarterfinal series against the Vermont Catamounts with a sweep on Friday at Matthews Arena. Early struggles plagued the Huskies once again, but a second-period goal from junior Skylar Fontaine gave them the spark they needed to finish the job as they pulled out a 3–1 victory.

“Usually a coach can go into a one–eight series and be like ‘ah, okay’, but I wasn’t at all confident that we were just gonna walk through this,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said. “Credit to Vermont, they made us work . . . neither game was easy.”

Much like the day before, the Catamounts came out of the gates with their signature forecheck and stymied the Huskies’ offense. Northeastern came close to escaping the first period unscathed, but a late mistake did them in. 

Fontaine was whistled for a tripping penalty with less than a minute to go in the period, sending the Huskies to the penalty kill for the first time on the night. Despite Northeastern boasting the third-best penalty kill in the nation (.924), a goal is bound to trickle in every now and again — especially against the third-best power play unit in Hockey East.

In this case, “now and again” meant “with 16 seconds left in the frame.” Senior co-captain Eve-Audrey Picard, desperate to extend her season and career, was in perfect position to tuck home a rebound after a saved shot from Ali O’Leary. 

Vermont built on that momentum in the second period, continuing to dictate the run of play. Both teams generated a couple of clean opportunities early in the frame, but none of them found paydirt. The period seemed destined to mirror Thursday’s second period, where the Catamounts dominated the Huskies and almost doubled their shot total.

Fontaine had other things in mind.

In signature fashion, the Northeastern blueliner picked up the puck behind her own net with one thing in mind: head 200 feet down the ice and make something happen. Accelerating out of the Husky zone, Fontaine left two Catamount skaters in her dust as she flew all the way to the opposing end line. Once there, she flung the puck out in front of the net and ricocheted it perfectly off of Vermont netminder Blanka Škodová to level the game at one goal apiece.

The goal wasn’t called at first, but Fontaine was adamant that the puck crossed the line. The officials proved her right when, after a lengthy review, they confirmed the goal. Because Fontaine’s coast-to-coast journey was initiated by an Aerin Frankel save, the Husky netminder notched her second career assist.

“My thought process, honestly, was just ‘get the puck to the net.’ We needed something to work out for us, and I saw an opening so I just threw it and it ended up going in,” Fontaine said with a laugh.

Just like the day before, a single goal jolted the Huskies back to their style of play. Their energy immediately picked up; they began swarming around the Catamount zone and seemed destined to score another goal soon.

Destiny became reality 59 seconds later, when freshman Peyton Anderson streaked into the slot and muscled home a rebound off a Fontaine shot from the right circle. The goal was Anderson’s second game-winner and seventh overall in her first collegiate campaign.

Firmly back in control, Northeastern wasn’t going to let the lead slip away. In the third period, they reminded everyone in attendance how dangerous they are when firing on all cylinders. They attacked relentlessly, racking up a whopping 19 shots on net. Vermont allows an average of 23 shots per game, and the Huskies nearly equaled that total in just 20 minutes.

One of those 19 shots found its way into the back of the net, courtesy of Alina Mueller. Following two quick Catamount penalties, Mueller and Co. found themselves on an extended five-on-three power play. Just before the first penalty expired, the Swiss sensation received a pass in the high slot and blasted a snipe into the top corner of Škodová’s net.

With the goal, Mueller crossed the 60-point mark (25 goals, 35 assists) on her standout sophomore season. She becomes just the third player in program history to reach that milestone, following Vicky Sunohara (78 in 1988–89) and Kendall Coyne (68 in 2012–13 and 84 in 15–16).

That’s vaunted company right there. Coyne is one of two Huskies to win the Patty Kazmaier Award as the best player in college hockey. Both Coyne and Sunohara have won Olympic gold medals for their respective countries (United States, Canada), including two for the latter. Mueller, a top-10 Patty Kazmaier finalist in both of her seasons at Northeastern, seems more than capable of filling their shoes.

The insurance goal gave Northeastern a little breathing room and let them really open up their attack. For the last five minutes or so of the game, the puck rarely left the Vermont zone as the Huskies pressed on. The only thing keeping the contest from becoming a blowout was Škodová, who stood on her head down the stretch to throw her team a lifeline. Despite giving up three tallies, the sophomore blew away her previous career-high in saves (34) with 41 stops on the night. The Catamounts needed that number to be at least 43 though, as they couldn’t claw their way back from the 3–1 deficit.

Fontaine, one of Northeastern’s x-factors, had a hand in all three Husky goals, notching a goal and two assists.

“She brings so much to the table; offensively, defensively, [she] gives you that spark when you need it,” Flint said. “She’s the best defenseman in Hockey East and one of the best in the country, and she shows it every night.”

Frankel continued her stellar postseason play, making 25 saves as she improved her Hockey East playoff record to 10–0–0. While discussing other teams in playoff race, Flint remarked that a hot goalie is an essential part of a championship team.

“We’ve got one of the hottest goalies in the country right now, so that’s always reassuring going in. It can be scary for your opponents,” Flint said.

With the win, Northeastern advances to the semifinals of the Hockey East Championships next Saturday. With other series ongoing, their opponent has yet to be determined.

The victory is the Huskies’ 30th of the season, an impressive feat that no Northeastern team has reached before. They aren’t resting on their laurels, though; they’ve already got their eyes set on the next round.

“It’s very exciting. This week we’re gonna put in a lot of work to get to the weekend and hopefully do well,” said Fontaine.

Flint echoed that sentiment, emphasizing there’s still work to be done.

“I liked how we responded. Credit to the team, we’ve done that all year,” he said. “We get our backs against the wall, a little adversity, they crank it up.

“Moving forward, we can’t start slow the rest of the playoffs, because the teams are getting better, and we’re gonna be behind too much and it’s gonna be too late. So, hopefully they heard that message and next weekend we start a lot faster.”