Women’s Hockey Catapults Catamounts, 3–1

By Jack Sinclair

The No. 2 Northeastern Huskies traveled up to Burlington, Vermont on Friday for the first of two games against the Catamounts. The Huskies entered Gutterson Fieldhouse riding a 15-game unbeaten streak, while the Catamounts were fresh off a hard-fought series split against Boston University. 

It was a rather inauspicious first period for the Huskies. The sharp edge of their play was dulled by the physical play of the Catamounts. Passes missed tape, and the puck was constantly ceded in the neutral zone.

However, when the Huskies did break into the Catamount zone, they looked threatening. The top trio of Alina Mueller, Maureen Murphy, and Chloé Aurard dominated the puck, cycling it crisply around the ice. But they couldn’t find the back of the net.

The action bounced up and down, with neither team establishing themselves in either zone. Megan Carter was shaken up on an ugly collision with Vermont’s Theresa Schafzahl that gave the Huskies their first power play. They dominated the ice and managed to slip the puck in after a chaotic scrum in front of the net, but the effort was waived off. After a review, the call stood, and the score remained 0–0.

The action continued to go back and forth, with Vermont’s physical play causing Northeastern some difficulty.

“We were a bit too perimeter,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said. “We weren’t getting pucks in deep. We needed to get bodies in front of the net.” 

The period ended with the Huskies’ penalty kill on the ice after Skylar Fontaine was called for checking with 20 seconds left. The kill unit allowed Vermont a few chances, but Aerin Frankel made herself look twice as big as she moved across the crease. As soon as the penalty was killed off, the Huskies found themselves on an odd-man rush. A swiftly moving Molly Griffin took the puck deep into the zone before sliding it across to Tessa Ward, who slotted it home to give the Huskies a one-goal lead. 

The momentum swung the Huskies’ way, and their attacking zone presence instantly increased. The Catamounts struggled to get the puck past their blue line, as the Husky forecheck applied unrelenting pressure. 

After about 10 minutes of domination, the Catamounts finally put pressure on the net. Frankel was firing on all cylinders, darting back and forth across the crease as shots came flying in from all directions.

The Catamounts’ efforts did not bear fruit, and the Huskies marched back down the ice. A thundering slapshot off Carter’s stick was tipped by Veronika Pettey, giving the Huskies their second goal of the period and Pettey her second on the year.

Vermont hit the ice for the third period with a reignited fury. They pursued the puck faster than Northeastern was ready for, and the Huskies found themselves on the back foot early. Frankel continued to stand strong against the UVM attack. The action bounced back and forth, with neither team holding the puck for much longer than thirty seconds. Five minutes into the period, the Catamounts finally beat Frankel when a spinning Corinne McCool cut the deficit to one. 

Vermont continued to challenge, forcing Frankel to make a number of difficult saves. The Catamounts fought with desperation, and pulled their goalie with two minutes to go. After a scrum in the neutral zone, Megan Carter batted the puck out, caught a lucky bounce off the boards, and slid the puck into the gaping net.

“They play a lot like us,” Flint said. “If you’re standing around staring at the puck, you’re going to get in trouble, and I feel like we did that a couple times . . . It was one of the toughest games we’ve had in a while.

The Huskies’ 3–1 win boosted them to 16–1–1 and cemented their position atop the Hockey East standings. They will look to extend their unbeaten streak to 17 tomorrow against Vermont (6–3–0) in their final regular-season game.

Frankel Secures Shutout Record as Northeastern Annihilates Holy Cross

Story by Jordan Baron

Photos by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — You don’t often get the opportunity to see a hockey team beat their opponent by over ten goals, nor is it common to witness a player surpass a seemingly insurmountable record.

On Saturday afternoon at Matthews Arena, the No. 3 Northeastern women’s hockey team provided both, annihilating the Holy Cross Crusaders 12–0 on the back of Aerin Frankel’s fifth consecutive shutout and record-breaking 25th career Hockey East shutout.

“It’s obviously something that has taken a body of work over four years and credit to my teammates for helping me so much and being there for me when I need them,” Frankel said. “I think they knew that tonight could be the night, and they helped me a lot.”

Northeastern passed around the scoring plate, as 10 skaters launched pucks across the line into the Holy Cross net. Katie Cipra, who had two goals on the season coming into Saturday, doubled her total on two snipes from the slot. Skyler Fontaine notched one each in the second and third periods, and Chloé Aurard added to her marvelous weekend with her fourth goal in two days. Junior forward Alina Mueller added a five-point performance with a goal and four assists.

“I thought it was a great continuation from last night,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said. “We were firing on all cylinders, and it was good to see. We got production from everybody, rolled all the lines. It was a great, great game and obviously really happy for Aerin.”

The Huskies outshot the Crusaders 55 to 12, leaving Frankel with a pretty slow day on the job. Still, there were some interesting moments, as Holy Cross freshman forward Bryn Saarela fired some decent shots that were blocked. The Crusaders had a particularly good opportunity in the third period on a rebound that caught Frankel on the wrong side of the net, but a brilliant diving block by Carter preserved the shutout.

“It kind of happened quickly and behind me but I think the puck hit off me, bounced over to a Holy Cross player and she was about to stuff it home and [Carter] kind of dove out of nowhere and blocked it for me,” Frankel said. “I said ‘thank you’ to her of course, because that was probably the hugest save of the night. She always has my back tonight and every night, just always a sound defenseman for me.”

Carter did a wonderful job on the offensive end as well, defending the blue line well and keeping the puck in the Huskies’ offensive zone. She even added her own goal in the third off a rebound to put the Husky goal column in double digits.

The scoring didn’t start right away, but the penalties did. Just 74 seconds into the game, Crusader freshman forward Lily Feeney was called for tripping and journeyed into the box, putting the Huskies in a fantastic position to strike. The Crusaders did well to kill it though, and surprisingly held the fearsome five of the Husky power play to just two shots, one off the post and the other blocked by junior goaltender Jada Brenon. Brenon, who gave up all eight goals the night before, allowed eight more on Saturday before giving way to junior Sarah Street in the second.

After the Huskies killed a Holy Cross penalty, Cipra started the scoring, skating up the right side and firing a shot into the open left half of the net to put the Huskies on the board. Later on in the second, Cipra picked up the puck at the blue line after Fontaine kept it in the zone, skated into the slot, and fired a wrister into the top-right side for her second of the game.

“Those were some snipes, weren’t they?” Flint said. “This week in practice, she looked awesome. I was joking with her . . . I said ‘I don’t know what you have been eating this week, but you look awesome, and you’re playing great.’ We were trying to get to that third one to get her a hat trick, their goalie made a nice save in the second period to keep her from getting that.”

Mia Brown added the second goal of the first period off a brilliant pass from Veronika Pettey to get herself on the board. The Huskies entered the locker room ready to continue their onslaught. 

Pettey started the scoring in the second off a rebound close to the Crusader goal, assisted by Katy Knoll and Carter. After Cipra’s second goal, Mueller got herself on the board; a pass bounced to her stick, and we all know what happens when Mueller gets open space near the net. 

Just 40 seconds later the Fontaine show began, as she drove up the left side of the ice and fired towards the net from behind, looking for a teammates’ stick. It worked out even better, as Brenon didn’t press her leg tight enough against the left post. The puck skirted off her skate and into the goal to put the Huskies up by six. 

After goals from Aurard and Knoll — who scored off a beautiful feed from Andrea Renner — Fontaine picked up another goal on the power play, absolutely nuking the puck into the right side of the net for her second of the night.

Carter added her goal to start the third before Peyton Anderson decided she had gone too long without a major contribution. The sophomore notched a power play goal to put the Huskies up by 11 before assisting on the last goal of the game, a rebound shot from Tessa Ward off a blocked Anderson shot attempt.

“The thing I’ve been trying to instill in them for the last few years is ‘you don’t stop, you don’t lay off the gas,’” Flint said. “Just because you get up a couple goals, you don’t coast. Championship teams, they play hard all the time. They play at the same level, whether they’re up 10 or down 10. And I thought we got a great effort out of them today.”

The Huskies scored three of their 12 goals on the power play, and successfully killed one Crusader power play each period. Northeastern holds the nation’s longest unbeaten streak at 13 games, hasn’t allowed a goal in 380 minutes, and has scored 40 unanswered goals.

Frankel now has five straight shutouts and seven on the season. She added to her personal record of 320 straight scoreless minutes. Her 25th career shutout surpassed the previous Hockey East record of 24, set by Katie Burt of Boston College.

“I actually had no idea,” she said when asked if she’d thought about it. “Someone told me a few days ago before the first game. When I had the record for shutouts at Northeastern, I also didn’t know about that. So that was a pretty cool moment for me. But finding out about this one’s obviously an honor as well. There’s been a whole slew of amazing goaltenders that have come through Hockey East and it’s really awesome to have my name up there as well.”

Huskies Knock Out Crusaders with Series of Unholy Crosses

Story by Milton Posner

Photos by Jordan Baron

WORCESTER, MA — There’s plenty to be said for competitive sporting events, games where the outcome remains in doubt until the very end as the suspense ratchets ever higher. The moments forged in that pressure are the defining ones that teams and fan bases hold aloft in recalling the narrative arc of the season. They’re the ones that get remembered.

But unmitigated bludgeonings have their place too. These are the games that are decided before they begin, the ones that replace dramatic endings with a runaway train of dominance and give us a chance to see just how talented one side is.

Friday night’s game between the Northeastern and Holy Cross women’s hockey teams had the potential to be such a rout. The Huskies won all three of last season’s contests by a combined score of 24–0. The most lopsided showing, an 11–0 demolition on November 29, featured two five-point individual efforts and was the largest shutout margin the team had posted in the 21st century. And entering Friday, the Huskies had won more Hockey East games this season than Holy Cross had won in their two-and-a-half years in the conference.

But you know what? That doesn’t guarantee anything. These are two different teams. Holy Cross has some new freshmen. They’re on their home ice. And for all we know . . . 

Never mind. It took only 43 seconds for Chloé Aurard to slot home Northeastern’s first goal of the game. (The goal was awarded to Skylar Fontaine before scorers ascertained that Aurard had tipped the puck in.)

Holy Cross was overmatched from the start. Northeastern’s speed, quickness, strength, and skill advantages were obvious, and the Huskies leveraged them to control the pace and tenor of the action.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the performance of their vaunted all-conference top line of Aurard, Alina Mueller, and Maureen Murphy. Not only are they easily the best line in the conference, you arguably couldn’t construct a better one even if you raided the other nine Hockey East teams for parts. Before the first period ended, Murphy and Aurard had cashed in again.

“My philosophy has always been that if you can load up one line and make a really dangerous line, I like to do that,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint, who returned to the bench after a month away due to personal reasons, said. “Every time they step on the ice, they make teams sweat. They work hard, they’re starting to get some chemistry now, Maureen’s getting more games with them, and they’re starting to click. It’s really nice to see.”

And Aurard wasn’t even done. When a Northeastern power-play rush sent Holy Cross netminder Jada Brenon sprawling on her back into the net, Aurard tossed one into the unobstructed top shelf to complete her hat trick halfway through the game. It was her first hatty of the season, second against Holy Cross, and third in a Husky uniform.

“I always harp on her to shoot the puck more, and she shot it tonight,” Flint said bluntly. “It’s a miracle; it’s weird how the puck goes in when you shoot. She did a great job tonight, she was opportunistic, and she’s got two pretty good linemates helping her out there.”

Tonight, more than ever, Flint was right. Though reigning Hockey East Player of the Year Alina Mueller tried just three shots all game, she notched four assists to lead the team, three of which came on her linemates’ goals. She played a fluid, controlled, precise brand of hockey, and even sent an overeager Lilly Feeney into a different area code with the slickest move of the night.

The Crusaders hung with the Huskies in stretches during the second period, even putting them on their heels a few times with a newfound forecheck aggression. But the Huskies weathered the storm each time, and consistently extended possessions by outhustling the Crusaders to loose pucks and errant passes.

“I liked how fast we were playing,” Flint observed. “We were quick in transition, quick moving the puck. They play a 1-2-2 and try to force you to dump the puck. So we were just looking to get pucks behind their D and establish the forecheck.”

Holy Cross could only evade fate for so long, and in the last few minutes of the period, Skylar Fontaine and Katy Knoll rang the bell to put the game far out of reach.

Fontaine’s goal was Northeastern’s third power-play tally on their fifth try, something Flint cited after the game as an example of an early-season deficiency his team had greatly improved upon. And if that wasn’t enough, the Huskies outscored the Crusaders on the Crusaders’ power plays.

Oh and sure, let’s throw in a Peyton Anderson capper for good measure.

The 8–0 final score represented the Huskies’ largest goal tally and margin since a 9–1 evisceration of Connecticut in last year’s Hockey East Championship. In one game, they raised Jada Brenon’s goals against average by four tenths — in February.

“They gave the full effort, which I’m proud of,” Flint said. “Some of the games this year, we get up a couple of goals, put it in cruise control, and coast to the finish line. Tonight we didn’t.”

And of course we’d be remiss to omit Aerin Frankel, the Northeastern goaltender whose play seems like that of someone who can read the minds of her opponents. Though Northeastern’s overwhelming forecheck meant that the puck spent relatively little time in Frankel’s neighborhood, she still had to ensure 17 shots — including some tricky ones — didn’t find their way into the back of the net.

“She had a couple of nice saves on our penalty kill,” Flint notes. “That’s why we’re successful. The team plays loose because they have confidence in their goaltending. They can play a little bit more wide open, take some chances . . . We had a couple breakdowns and Aerin was there to pick up the pieces.”

In doing so, she built on a number of season statistics that look as though they were conjured on a video game with the difficulty sliders dropped to the floor. She has a remarkable seven shutouts, a ridiculous .974 save percentage, and a preposterous 0.58 goals against average, all of which lead the nation. Her 24th career Hockey East shutout — which ties Katie Burt’s record — pushed her shutout streak to 260 minutes, one game shy of her 315-minute stretch from last season.

The team’s statistics are similarly cartoonish. In 320 consecutive minutes of shutout hockey, they’ve rattled off 28 unanswered goals. They’ve won their last eight and are unbeaten in their last 12, the latter being the nation’s current best. They are 12–1–1, the new standings overlords in Hockey East, and a profoundly, strikingly dangerous opponent. And they’ve reminded us of the joys of sports turning into a runaway train.

Holy Cross will step into the lion’s jaws again tomorrow. George Barker, Mike Puzzanghera, and Jordan Baron will have what promises to be an immensely entertaining call from Matthews Arena, with coverage commencing at 3:20 PM Eastern.

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.

Women’s Hockey Falls to BC, 2–1

By Catherine Morrison and Milton Posner

BOSTON — As the Northeastern women’s hockey team trudged to the locker room, passing through the walkway lined with cardboard cutouts of Husky fans and a few curious cardboard dogs, the question was “how.”

Not necessarily how the game was lost, but how did Boston College score two goals in such bizarre fashion? How did Hanna Bilka fire a puck parallel to the goal line into a trio of Huskies and somehow find the back of the net?

How did Aerin Frankel, arguably the best goaltender in the country, let Jillian Fey, who scored just two goals last season, beat her for the second time in two games?

“She went out to play the puck and their kid came up from behind her, she didn’t see it and she didn’t see their player,” Northeastern Head Coach Dave Flint explained. “She jarred the puck loose, and then just got it and wrapped it in. We need to just be better on communication, the D needs to communicate with her. She needs to understand too, that if there is a lot of pressure back there just to dump that puck into space. It’s a learning lesson for everybody, and that’s the first time I can recall that’s happened to us in a long time. So it’s just an unfortunate miscue.”

BC (5–3–0, 5–1–0 WHEA) had already played seven games this season, and Northeastern (1–1–0 HEA) only one. That kind of difference, especially given the team’s November delays due to COVID-19 protocol, make finding a rhythm difficult.

“We had two and a half weeks where we didn’t touch the ice when we got shut down and then we [had] five days to get ready for BC,” he said. “I don’t think we had our game legs either today. Game shape is different from practice, you’ve got to play games to get those legs, so the tough part is when you’re having these weird stretches of game, no game.”

This is not to say that the Huskies didn’t display any fire. They managed to tie the game a few minutes before Fey’s goal, with Katy Knoll slotting home a loose puck off a blocked Peyton Anderson shot.

Knoll, with one of the only bright spots of the game, has had an electric start to the year with two goals in two games after notching just 10 goals total last season. The sophomore will certainly be one to watch as she takes on more responsibility.

Her goal came after sustained pressure in the Eagles’ zone, something Northeastern had a hard time doing in stretches. And when they did, BC netminder Abigail Levy stood tall, stifling or redirecting 34 shots on the evening.

“She’s a big goalie, takes up a lot of net,” Flint noted. “We didn’t make it difficult for her the first two periods. She was seeing all the shots and we weren’t jumping on rebounds, but the third period she came up with some big saves for them and helped secure the win.”

The Fey slip-up notwithstanding, Frankel played a strong game, as BC peppered her with a number of strikes from in close.

“She played great,” Flint said. “We were just sloppy on our own end, and usually that’s one of our strong suits, so we need to be better. Aerin kept us in it the whole time, and that’s what she usually does. We just need to get better, and this week we’ll work on some D-zone, and we have some good video from today’s game that we’ll break down on Tuesday.”

The Huskies’ next game is a New Year’s Day road tilt against Connecticut, though Flint acknowledged that the team is looking for games for this upcoming week.

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.

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.”