Women’s Hockey Bests Providence, 4–1

Story by Jack Sinclair

Photos by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — A tale as old as time. Two bitter rivals. One sheet of ice.

The No. 7 Northeastern Huskies took on the No. 4 Providence Friars this afternoon in the first game of a home-and-home. The last time they met, Northeastern shut out Providence, 4–0, at Matthews Arena. The Huskies boasted a larger winning percentage coming in, but Providence sat atop the Hockey East standings by virtue of having several games in hand.

The game began slowly, with both teams feeling each other out and the pace far below what both they were capable of. But Chloé Aurard did not get the memo. After Lauren MacInnis went to the box for tripping, Aurard broke out of the zone on the penalty kill and scorched through the Friars’ defense. She almost lost control of the puck, held on with some slick stick work, and slid a backhand shot past Providence goalie Sandra Abstreiter. 

The awkward “getting to know you” phase continued after the goal, with neither team committing too far up the ice. After about 10 minutes, they finally picked up the pace. Each team’s strategy became apparent; Providence was going to test Frankel, opting to shoot when a pass was equally viable. Northeastern was going to rely on their speed to get in behind the Friars’ slower defenders and create scoring opportunities. Both Abstreiter and Aerin Frankel stood strong in net, though, and the period ended with no additional scoring. 

Northeastern started the second off on the back foot, with a penalty bleeding over from the first. After killing it off, the Huskies quickly resumed their stranglehold over the game. They immediately rooted themselves deep in the Providence zone, then Katy Knoll tapped in the puck after an incredible seam pass from Andrea Renner for her fourth goal of the season, and Northeastern’s second of the evening. 

“[Veronika Pettey] does a phenomenal job distributing the puck. Katy and Renner do a great job getting pucks to her. On top of the fact that they [shoot] pucks so well,” Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito said. “If our first line isn’t producing as much as they normally would, we’ve got three other lines that are more than capable of doing it.”

Providence wouldn’t just lie down and die, though. With the memory of the 4–0 shutout just a few short weeks earlier fresh in their minds, the Friars turned up their game. They stopped trying to outskate the Huskies and instead focused on possession.

After 15 minutes of back-and-forth action, Providence went on the power play after Alina Mueller, Northeastern’s best penalty killer, was whistled for cross-checking. Providence pounced on the opportunity, and in the dying moments of the period, scored. It was Claire Tyo who fired a scorching wrist shot from the faceoff circle to beat Frankel blocker side, halving the Friars’ deficit. 

The Huskies did not take kindly to Providence’s audacity to score against them. Northeastern would keep the puck in Providence’s zone for almost two minutes at a time. The shorthanded Friars were gasping at air like a fish out of water, and it showed. The Huskies were relentless, and even though Abstreiter did her best to keep her team in the game, Veronika Pettey beat her for the Huskies’ third goal of the affair. 

The Friars were on the ropes. Down 3–1, they threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Huskies. They tried mixing up their lines to get something going. They tried cherry-picking at Northeastern’s blue line to create breakways. They even tried to outskate the Huskies with some dump-and-chase action. But nothing got past Frankel, as she made everything look exceedingly easy, as per usual.

With about three minutes left to go, Providence head coach Matt Kelly decided to throw the kitchen sink out there too. He pulled Abstreiter, gambling on his team’s ability with the additional skater. It didn’t work out; Northeastern immediately broke out of the zone, Miceala Sindoris found Molly Griffin open in the slot, and Griffin potted the puck for her first collegiate goal. 

After their fourth goal, and with only a couple minutes left to play, the Friars knew the game was over. The Huskies, again, missed the memo. Coach Carpenito rolled out his fourth line of forwards, and they immediately put the pressure back on Abstreiter, forcing her to make a couple of saves before the final whistle. 

The Huskies played without forward Maureen Murphy, who transferred from Providence after last season. Murphy started on the top line in the Huskies’ last game and did not appear to sustain an injury, and although Carpenito declined to offer specifics, at least one report indicated that Murphy’s former team was giving a hard time in granting the release. Murphy played her first game after the last NU–Providence team, and Carpenito confirmed that she would not play in either game against Providence this weekend.

The Huskies also lost forward Ani FitzGerald, who collided with teammate Skylar Fontaine, hit the ice hard, and was helped off the ice unable to put weight on her right leg.

Northeastern (7–1–1) will make the trip down to Providence (9–3–1) tomorrow for the second game of the home and home series. Jack Sinclair will have the review.

Huskies Top Maine as Frankel Breaks NU Shutout Record

By Sarah Olender

BOSTON — With Patty Kazmaier top-three finalist in Alina Mueller, Hockey East’s best defenseman in Skylar Fontaine, and now the record-breaking Aerin Frankel holding down the fort in goal, the Northeastern women’s hockey team is a threat to any team in the country. 

Maine doesn’t have many advantages against the No. 3 Huskies, but they gave them a run for their money Sunday evening at Matthews Arena. 

The game started out with Northeastern playing their usual 110 percent, but Maine definitely kept the pressure on. The Black Bears started by firing more shots on goal, blocking more shots, and being more aggressive in scrums for the puck.

Maine was also much stronger on defense than they were Saturday evening, allowing only one goal the whole game and clearing the puck out of the zone on every rebound. They helped out goalie Loryn Porter, who logged incredible performances in both games. 

“I think we got exactly what we expected,” Northeastern Associate Head Coach Nick Carpenito said. “We expected a fast, gritty, physical Maine team [with] quality defense, great goaltending. They were very tough to penetrate, and we were fortunate enough to break through a couple times this weekend.”  

The first two periods were back and forth with neither team scoring, although Northeastern fired 32 shots on goal to Maine’s 12. At this point, both teams got increasingly aggressive, often breaking into shoving fits in front of the net after the whistle. There also were more aggressive plays, leading to more penalties. 

A few times on the power play, and even on the Huskies’ notoriously lethal penalty kill, Chloe Aurard just missed key scoring chances. But after 42 minutes of scoreless hockey, she redeemed herself. Ani FitzGerald fed Aurard, who received it on her skates, kicked it to herself, and scored what ended up being the only goal of the game. 

The Huskies needed a Frankel shutout to pull out a win, and that’s exactly what they got. Her 21st shutout in a Husky uniform broke Erika Silva’s 20-year-old program record.

“She is a phenomenal person, phenomenal leader, you know just a great character person,” Carpenito said. “She obviously works hard and every bit of this honor she deserves.”

This record comes at the beginning of her senior season, meaning she still has time to widen the margin between her and the rest of the pack. Even now, she’s played 10 fewer games in a Husky uniform than Silva did.

On the other side of the rink, Porter didn’t smash any records in net, but her performance was impressive nonetheless. Her 40 saves Sunday night gave her 84 in the two-game series.

“She was awesome,” Frankel said. “She was really strong the whole weekend and it really frustrated some of our forwards. Anytime you have a goaltender like her it’s hard and it slows down the opponent, but she did an awesome job seeing shots.”

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.