Photos by Sarah Olender
BOSTON — The Northeastern women’s hockey team isn’t used to playing competitive games this season.
But on Sunday night they had to adjust, as a talented New Hampshire squadron kept them on their toes for most of the game. Still, three third-period goals rocketed the Huskies to a 4–1 victory. Skylar Fontaine, Tessa Ward, Chloé Aurard, and Miceala Sindoris lit the lamp, and Alina Mueller posted another multi-point performance. The win extended the Huskies’ unbeaten streak to 15 games and improved their record to 15–1–1.
The Huskies started off the first period strong, pinning the Wildcats deep in their own end. New Hampshire had learned from the previous day’s affair, and were packing the center of the ice to keep the Huskies on the perimeter. Ava Boutillier rarely had to work for a save, as eight of Northeastern’s 15 shots were blocked by the skaters in front of her.
Northeastern, displaying their unrelenting perseverance, kept pressuring the Wildcats, but Boutilier and company were unwilling to concede. New Hampshire was no longer happy sitting back and trying to prevent the Huskies from scoring, and instead turned the tables by ratcheting up their forecheck. The Huskies suddenly found themselves backed into their own zone, something they didn’t face in previous matchups.
The action went up and down the ice. Both teams tried to create scoring chances off the rush, but each goaltender reached deep into their bag of tricks to keep the game scoreless.
Northeastern hit the ice for the second period frustrated with their lack of scoring, as they turned their pace up to 11 and outskated the Wildcats at every opportunity. New Hampshire couldn’t keep up.
“I told them just to simplify,” said Northeastern head coach Dave Flint. “We were trying to make big plays and stretch passes. We were feeding into what [UNH] was doing.”
And five minutes in, the Huskies took the lead. The Husky first line took the ice for a power play and moved the puck around the perimeter trying to create shooting space. Mueller received the puck from Brooke Hobson in the left faceoff circle, and reared back for an attempt at the back of the net. As Boutilier and the Wildcat blockers prepared for the shot, Mueller sniped a quick pass to Fontaine, who was patiently waiting on the right side of the net. Everyone in the arena was caught off guard as Fontaine easily slotted the puck home for a goal.
The Wildcats stayed persistent, however, and kept the Huskies off the board for the remainder of the period. The Wildcats killed three of four Husky power plays on the evening, including one later in the second. The Wildcats also had four power plays; the Huskies’ fearsome four killed all of them.
The third period is when things started to go wrong for the visiting squad. With just over 10 minutes remaining, Northeastern’s Ward found herself in a prime opportunity as she picked off an errant puck in the neutral zone and skated it across the blue line with minimal coverage between her and the net. She flicked the puck onto the far side of her stick and shoveled it towards the goal, above Boutilier’s left shoulder, and into the back of the net.
“When Tessa came up with that big goal, I think everyone was kind of like ‘Okay, here we go,’ It loosened things up a bit,” Flint said.
Just a minute later, the Huskies found themselves in the offensive zone again, as Mueller shot the puck from about 10 feet out. Boutilier saved it but couldn’t control the rebound, and that was all Aurard needed to get her 11th goal of the season.
Then, just when the Wildcats thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. Sindoris received the puck in the left faceoff circle with just over seven minutes to play and sniped it home for the fourth Husky goal of the night, and the third of the final period.
The Wildcats attempted to get themselves back in the game in the final minutes, and they did so valiantly, limiting the Huskies’ zone time and even firing one past Frankel with 3:30 remaining to break the shutout. However, there wasn’t enough time left to mount a serious comeback.
“I thought [it was] a hard fought win,” Flint said. “We had to grind it out. They made us really work for it.”