Northeastern Sweeps Home-and-Home with UNH

Story by Jordan Baron and Jack Sinclair

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.”

Huskies Top UNH to Win Tenth Straight

By Jordan Baron and Jack Sinclair

DURHAM, NH — “It’s easy to get complacent when things are going well.”

Northeastern head coach Dave Flint was adamant about his women’s hockey team’s need to stay vigilant. On the tail of a six-game shutout streak, his Huskies were absolutely rolling. And they kept rolling when they trekked up to New Hampshire for the first game of a home-and-home against the Wildcats. The Huskies fell short of a win the last time they played the Cats, coming away with only a 2–2 tie — the last time they didn’t win.

Revenge was on the menu, and it was ordered before the appetizers. It took only two and a half minutes for the Huskies to open the scoring. A quick one-two play through the offensive zone from Maureen Murphy to Alina Mueller was all it took to create an excellent scoring chance, which Mueller seized for her eighth goal of the season. Mueller would add another assist during the contest, bringing her season point total to a team-high 28.

Northeastern’s appetite for destruction seemed insatiable, as they poured the pressure on the not-so-Wildcats. The puck rarely left New Hampshire’s side of the ice, as goaltender Ava Boutilier was the only thing preventing the Huskies from scoring again.

But it was impossible for her to repel the Huskies alone. Ten minutes after the first Husky goal, Chloé Aurard picked a corner of the net and sniped the puck home for a 2–0 lead. 

The Huskies kept the pressure on, but Boutilier stood on her head, keeping the Wildcats’ deficit at two as the period ended.

The teams switched sides, and New Hampshire hoped to tilt the ice in their favor. But Megan Carter, who netted two goals in the Huskies’ 12–0 domination of Holy Cross last weekend, scored a highlight goal after a coast-to-coast journey.

“She’s been great. She’s always had some offensive upside,” said Flint. “It’s started to click the last couple of games.”

The Huskies would hold their three-goal lead for the rest of the period, finishing another scoreless frame for senior goaltender Aerin Frankel. That all changed in the third period, as the resilient Wildcats attacked with multiple shots against Frankel’s pads, one of which rebounded to freshman forward Chavonne Truter’s stick. Truter took advantage and, with no Husky blockers home to assist Frankel, slotted the puck through an opening in Frankel’s seemingly impenetrable wall, lowering the deficit to two.

Frankel’s shutout streak was over at a preposterous 366 minutes. The Huskies unanswered goal streak was also snapped . . . at 43.

“We came out flat in the third period, and they were coming at us hard,” Flint said. “They didn’t think the game was over and I think we kind of thought it was. So they outworked us, they popped one in, and then all of a sudden we realized, ‘Oh wait, we’ve got a game here.’ We ramped it back up and did what we needed to do, but we can’t do that. Especially down the stretch when playing against good teams.”

After a timeout to discuss, the Huskies took the ice and didn’t look back, dominating the Wildcat D-zone. A penalty-filled game — 11 penalties and seven power plays in all — came to a fitting climax in the final minutes, as Mueller and Wildcat skater Nicole Kelly got into a bit of a scuffle; both were thrown into the sin bin for roughing.

With Mueller and Kelly on timeout, the Huskies prepared for four-on-four hockey, but the Wildcats had other plans. As the clock ran under the three-minute mark, the Wildcats removed Boutilier from the goal, hoping to gain an advantage by forcing the Huskies onto the shorthand. Unfortunately for them, Katy Knoll pounced on an errant pass near the blue line and earned herself the easiest goal in the history of college hockey.

“I was actually surprised,” Flint said. “I didn’t know they had pulled the goalie. I think they were just looking like, ‘Hey, we got nothing to lose here so let’s try to get the goalie out and see if we can pop a quick one in.’”

Just 40 seconds later, the Wildcats tried the strategy again, and again they were punished, as Carter picked off the puck near the Husky blue line, skated into the neutral zone, and rocketed a perfect 80-footer for her second goal of the afternoon. 

The Huskies were not done yet, as Aurard received a pass from Lauren MacInnis and drove it home for her second goal of the afternoon and her 11th of the season, pushing the score to 6–1. The remaining minute and a half passed in no time at all, as the Huskies took the win in dominant fashion.

Boutilier, despite allowing four goals, made 35 saves against Frankel’s 23, as the Huskies outshot the Wildcats 41–24. Still, even with all this positivity, Flint knows there are things to work on. 

“I think we were looking for the perfect play and the tap-in goal instead of simplifying a little bit, getting pucks to the net, outnumbering them down low, and banging in rebounds,” he said. “That’s what most of your power-play goals are going to come from, and I think we need to simplify that a little bit. We’re trying to get a little too cute on the power play.”

The Huskies will have a chance to improve on those power plays tomorrow, as the Wildcats will make the trip down I-95 to face Northeastern in Matthews Arena. George Barker, Jack Sinclair, and Jordan Baron will have the call when the puck drops at 5 PM Eastern.

“They’re going to come at us hard like they did today,” Flint said. “They battle, they’re aggressive, they hunt down pucks, and we need to be ready to play with the intensity that they do.”

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.

Dogs Over Cats

By Sarah Olender

BOSTON — Going into Friday night’s game, with New Hampshire stalling near the bottom of the Hockey East standings and Northeastern hovering in third, it was natural to expect a blowout. The reality was far closer.

“I thought at times out execution was good,” Northeastern Acting Head Coach Nick Carpenito said. “I thought at times our execution was not so good and I think that’s just going to come with playing more.”

By the end of the first period, the Wildcats were outshooting the Huskies 14–6, not what anyone expected from a conference cellar dweller playing against a strong Husky defense. But one of the six Husky shots was a gorgeous strike from Katie Cipra, who wove between the Wildcat defenders and effortlessly found the top right corner of the net for the Huskies first opening-period goal of the season.

“She’s got [some] of the best hands I’ve seen in a long time,” Carpenito said. “She makes it look effortless. If you give that kid a little bit of space, she’s going to make you pay. To have somebody with that talent on the fourth line, I think it speaks so much to our depth and why we’re so successful.”

Katy Knoll kept things rolling to start the second period, tipping a shot from defender Megan Carter past Wildcat goaltender Ava Boutilier. In an TV interview after the period ended, Knoll noted that she and Carter — who is her roommate — practiced this shot before the game. It was rewarding, she said, to see their practice pay off. 

However, the celebration was short lived. Brianna Brooks quickly answered, freezing Husky defender Lily Yovetich in a two-on-one and firing an unobstructed shot past goalie Aerin Frankel.

“It was definitely a little bit of an unfortunate bounce,” Frankel commented. “I think I made the stop and the puck actually bounced up and went behind me. I feel like there’s some tough bounces that we’re going to run into and it happens and that’s just hockey.”

The goal was the first Frankel allowed in nearly a month, as she recorded shutouts in the only two games Northeastern played during that span. Just four days after breaking the program’s career shutout record, Frankel nabbed another piece of Husky history.

In the third period, Northeastern’s Ani FitzGerald drew a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty from Nicole Kelly when the Wildcats’ star freshman forward contacted FitzGerald’s head. During this power play, the Huskies fought hard and spent an overwhelming amount of time in the offensive zone, yet could not find the back of the net. Within the first 13 minutes of the period, they had 19 shots on goal, as many as they’d had in the first two periods combined.

FitzGerald, shaken up from the hit, sat for a shift, with Knoll replacing her on the first line. When FitzGerald returned, she was tagged with her own penalty for goalie interference. With about 90 seconds to go, the Huskies had no choice but to bring out their lethal penalty kill lineup of Alina Mueller, Chloe Aurard, Brooke Hobson, and Skylar Fontaine. New Hampshire compounded the pressure by pulling Boutilier, leaving Northeastern to rebuff a four-on-six in their own defensive zone. 

“Whenever we’re protecting the lead, typically we got that lead because we were aggressive and we were taking away space and we were putting on pretty solid pressure,” Carpenito said. “So we didn’t really change up our penalty kill philosophy too much.”

Good call. With 30 seconds to play, Hobson fired the puck out of the zone. As it caromed off the pipe of New Hampshire’s goal, Tessa Ward got there first and slotted home an empty netter to yield the 3–1 final score.

The Huskies (4–1–0) will rematch the Wildcats (3–8–0) tomorrow in New Hampshire at 6 PM Eastern. Jack Sinclair and George Barker will call the game, with coverage beginning about 10 minutes before puck drop.