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.

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.

Huskies Fry Friars by Four

Story by Sarah Olender

Photos by Jordan Baron

BOSTON — Coming off a disappointing overtime shootout loss to New Hampshire, the #4 Northeastern women’s hockey team was looking for a rebound win against #7 Providence. 

The first period bored anyone who watched it. Northeastern botched two power-play chances, looked slow, and missed their passes, but both teams played a mediocre 20 minutes and spent time in both zones.

The second period started off at the same pace. Providence fended off Northeastern pretty well considering they were playing only 10 forwards and six defenders. But their skaters started getting noticeably tired, and if there’s one thing an opponent can’t do against Huskies, it’s show any sign of weakness. One drop of blood in the water and Northeastern will sense it and attack.

The Huskies first smelled out the weakness about 16 minutes into the second period when Providence’s Isabelle Hardy was whistled for interference. This power play was the final push the Huskies needed. Six seconds in, the Husky forwards tied up the Friar defense, giving Skylar Fontaine the time and space to find a gap in goalie Sandra Abstreiter’s guard and send a shot screaming into the back of the net. 

“I noticed that I had a ton of room to walk into the zone,” Fontaine explained. “So I looked up to notice there was a lot of traffic and . . . I saw there was like a little hole there.”

Twenty-five seconds later, the Huskies used the momentum Fontaine had given them to capitalize again. Peyton Anderson took a shot that Abstreiter saved, but the puck slipped free in front of her. Brooke Becker tried to clear the rebound, but Anderson got there first and doubled the lead.

With seven seconds left in the period, Chloé Aurard got a penalty for high sticking, putting the Huskies at a disadvantage going into the third. But as Providence went on the man advantage, it became evident that the whole team was losing steam. As the Friars got tired, they got sloppy, knocking Northeastern into the boards and tripping them. They couldn’t keep up with the Huskies’ passes and their defenders often failed to get back in time.

Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito said that he wanted to use a cycle-heavy game to make the Friars chase them, a strategy that proved extremely effective.

“I think we did a really good job with that and a byproduct of that is when they chase us, they’re gonna get tired,” said Carpenito. “Towards the end of the game, it was pretty clear that we started to wear them down a little bit.”

Ten minutes into the third, Andrea Renner became the first Husky to take advantage of the Friars’ tired legs. Renner bulleted into the offensive zone on a breakaway, Abstreiter aggressively came out in front of the crease to meet her, and Renner darted to Abstreiter’s right for a clear backhanded shot.

Six minutes later Aurard did the same thing, zipping by Providence’s defense on a breakaway and slotting the puck under Abstreiter’s right leg to bring the score to 4–0. 

Not only did Northeastern silence the best power-play unit in the country, they even effortlessly killed off a three-on-five in the game’s closing minutes after Tessa Ward was called for high sticking and Hobson was whistled for roughing. The Huskies played quick shifts, constantly cycling on new legs to keep their play competitive and energized. 

The game could easily have been closer if Aerin Frankel hadn’t halted all 32 of the shots that came her way. Frankel held down the fort by blocking multiple rebounds, angling herself correctly for shots, and seeing through the many bodies that Providence put in front of her. 

The win moved Northeastern (5–1–1) into third place in Hockey East with three games in hand over the teams ahead of them. Northeastern also further proved their adaptability, maintaining a constant attitude amid a schedule riddled with last-minute game cancellations and substitutions.

“We need to take every opportunity we have and give it our all,” Fontaine said. “Good things happen when we work hard.”

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.

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.”

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 Honors Seniors, Sets Records, Sweeps Merrimack

Story and Photos by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — Coming off of a 3–0 win against the Merrimack Warriors Friday night, the Northeastern Huskies were still feeding off of that energy. 

Northeastern’s three seniors were honored before their last regular-season home game. Codie Cross, from Alberta, Canada, Paige Capistran, from Manchester, New Hampshire, and Matti Hartman, from Etna, New Hampshire, were all recognized for their contributions to the program.

Cross played a shift in the first period, but an ongoing lower-body injury kept her from playing heavy minutes. Capistran and Hartman both played their hearts out, as did many other Huskies.

“They’re great leaders on and off the ice and really nice people, and I think they’ve done a lot for this program,” junior goaltender Aerin Frankel said. “Our culture has grown a lot, and it started with them as freshman learning from their seniors and they’ve done a really good job carrying that out to this team.”

Even though the Huskies’ position in Hockey East was determined more than three weeks ago, head coach Dave Flint still wanted to finish the year strong.

“I get more passionate, I think, on senior weekend,” he said. “Even though it was a long time ago for me, I remember what it was like . . . so I always want the seniors to go out on a winning note.”

The energy that Flint wanted was evident throughout the first period and most of the game. The Huskies started strong, maintaining possession for most of the period.

With nine minutes remaining, Northeastern center Tessa Ward received a penalty for cross-checking. While most teams might be nervous when down a player, the Huskies seem to gain confidence. Only eight percent of the team’s penalty kills have ended in goals, compared with the Huskies’ 15 percent success rate on the power play.

This penalty kill was no different. Alina Mueller fired a shot into the back of the net for her third shorthanded goal this season. 

The Huskies notched a second goal when Miceala Sindoris’ slick puck handling and blocked wrister led to a loose puck in the slot. Brooke Hobson was trailing the play and positioned herself perfectly to slap it home.

In the second period Merrimack increased their intensity and energy. They had many attempts on goal, but none passed through Frankel. The Husky goalie fired her team up near the end of the second period when she made an initial save, saw the puck was open and vulnerable behind her, dove backward to make a second save, and perfectly cleared the puck to Katy Knoll. Knoll found Tessa Ward, who carried the puck up the ice, wrapped around the net, and perfectly fed Mia Brown for the third and final goal of the game.

The third period was a slow and scoreless one for the Huskies. While they maintained possession for most of the period, they did not get as many shots on goal as they would have liked.

Near the end of the game, a Tessa Ward checking penalty and a Chloe Aurard slashing call brought the fierce penalty kill squad back out onto the ice. It was fitting that the successful penalty kills would seal an illustrious defensive record — when the clock showed zeros, Aerin Frankel had recorded her 10th shutout of the year, breaking Erika Silva’s 20-year-old school record. Frankel also equaled Chanda Gunn’s 19-year-old record of 23 wins.

“It’s a cool thing to know, but it’s not super important to me personally,” Frankel said. “It’s more important to me that we keep winning.”

The Huskies (28–4–2, 24–3–0 WHEA) kick off the Hockey East Tournament this week with a best-of-three quarterfinal series against the Vermont Catamounts. Tune in for WRBB’s coverage from Matthews Arena, with the first game starting at 1 PM EST on Thursday.

“We need to be focused, we need to be ready,” Flint said. “It’s playoffs, anything can happen.”