2020–21 Women’s Hockey East Preview: Holy Cross Crusaders

Holy Cross: Last Year: 5–23–5 (5–20–2, ninth place conf.), missed tournament

Head Coach: Katie Lachappelle (second season)

Preseason Poll Finish: 10th

Losses: F Maggie Hallisey, F Sarah Stevens, F Rachel Moore, D Charlotte Abrecht, D Hannah Gillis, D Victoria Young

Additions: G Madison Beck, F Lilly Feeney, F Millie Sirum, F Brynn Saarela, D Grace Johnson, D Vaia Graves

By Jack Sinclair

The Holy Cross women’s hockey program can perhaps best be summed up by an Instagram comment.

It was November 11. After weeks of infuriating silence, Hockey East finally announced the details of the conference schedule, and posted a graphic on Instagram announcing the info. At the bottom were the logos of the dozen member schools. One user chimed in, “Wait Holy Cross is in Hockey East?”

Holy Cross was last year’s persona non grata in Hockey East, and this year looks no different. After losing a significant portion of last year’s talent to graduation or transfer, the Crusaders will depend on a very young and very inexperienced roster.

Holy Cross will be looking to improve on a dismal 2019 season, where they just barely finished above last-place Merrimack. The Crusaders will need to bolster their defense, as they allowed the most goals in all of Hockey East last year. Whether they can keep up with fellow bottom feeders Merrimack and Vermont will really come down to their defense’s ability to keep the puck out of the back of the net. An offensive improvement is also needed, as last year Holy Cross scored a league-low 27 goals. They were shut out 12 times.

Bottom Line: Holy Cross will not contend this year, plain and simple. Their goals will be to improve on last year’s season and to grow the young talent they have. Head Coach Katie LaChappelle also has a year under her belt now, meaning Holy Cross definitely has the opportunity to improve.

Women’s Hockey Smashes Holy Cross for Third Straight Time, Moves into First Place in Hockey East

By Catherine Morrison

Photo by Sarah Olender

Wednesday night’s tilt was one of extremes. Northeastern looked to grab the top spot in Hockey East, while Holy Cross was just barely holding off Merrimack to stay out of last place. The contest came a week after the teams’ last meeting, when Northeastern notched their biggest win in 20 years.

Tonight’s first period looked very different from the last game, with Holy Cross staving off Northeastern’s superior offense for the first 15 minutes. But it could only last so long before Northeastern seized control. Codie Cross skated around the goal, knocked the puck off a defender’s stick, and watched her first goal of the season skid in. It was Northeastern’s 24th first-period goal on the year.

The Huskies kept their momentum going, and a minute later Tessa Ward fired at Crusader goalie Julia Pelletier. Pelletier blocked the attempt, but Northeastern’s Peyton Anderson was there to clean up the rebound shot that became Northeastern’s second goal. The play was reviewed to determine whether Anderson had kicked the goal in, but the footage confirmed that the puck hit her leg, so the call stood.

With thirty seconds left in the period, Northeastern got another rebound goal when Anderson shot from just in front of the blue line. Again Pelletier rejected the shot, but Chloe Aurard knocked it in for her 12th goal of the season and Northeastern’s third in four minutes. On the play, Cross logged the first of her four assists on the night.

Holy Cross made a last-ditch attempt to get on the board with Bailey Bennet shot, but Aerin Frankel made a midair block. When Bennet skated away she was knocked down by Megan Carter, starting a Holy Cross power play that would continue into the second period.

Holy Cross couldn’t convert on the power play, and when Frankel leg-blocked another Bennet shot a few minutes later, any momentum the Crusaders has built on the power play finally evaporated. It didn’t take long for Northeastern to continue their goalfest, and Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week Katy Knoll got her chance when Pelletier blocked a shot by Matti Hartman. The puck went careening towards Knoll, who quickly slammed the puck in off the rebound.

Pelletier made a great save against Alina Mueller, but was stymied by Hartman, who received the puck from Jess Schryver, faked Pelletier out, and easily knocked the puck in for the fifth goal of the game. Northeastern dominated the second period, with 21 shots on goal to Holy Cross’s nine.

Five minutes into the third, it looked like yet another Husky was going to add a goal when Skylar Fontaine made a great shot at the goal, but it was slightly off and caromed off the pipe. Kate Holmes — who would have received an assist had Fontaine’s shot found the back of the net — decided that assisting Mia Brown was just as good. The resulting goal looked effortless.

With just under eight minutes left and the game comfortably in hand, Northeastern head coach Dave Flint pulled Frankel in favor of freshman Alexa Matses. It was Matses’ first collegiate appearance and, although she looked green, she held down the fort. With just seconds left to play, Mueller sped towards the goal and slid the puck in behind Pelletier, with Cross earning her fourth assist and fifth point. The game ended with a 7–0 Husky win.

Holy Cross looked a bit tighter on defense compared with last week’s 11–0 drubbing at Northeastern’s hands. Pelletier made some great saves, but without sufficient backup from her teammates she didn’t stand a chance against the onslaught of Husky rebound goals. Northeastern scored multiple goals in every period, with seven total goals from seven different players.

The win earned Northeastern a season sweep over Holy Cross. This was to be expected given Northeastern’s unanimous first-place finish — and Holy Cross’s last-place finish — in the Hockey East preseason poll. But the 24–0 combined scoring margin was impressive even for this matchup.

Northeastern improved to 14–2 (11–2 HEAW) and leapfrogged Boston College for first place in the Hockey East standings. On the cusp of the season’s halfway point, they are ranked third in the nation.

The Huskies have a whopping 25 days off before their next tilt against Vermont on December 30th.

Women’s Hockey Thrashes Holy Cross

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Neiser

Fresh off a two-game sweep of Boston University last weekend, the No. 4 Northeastern women’s hockey team took on the winless Holy Cross Crusaders at Matthews Arena on Friday afternoon. The Huskies dominated throughout the game, generating their highest goal differential of the season in a 6–0 win.

Sophomore star Alina Mueller got the party started for Northeastern (8–1–0, 5–1–0)  just under halfway through the first period, rifling a one-timer top shelf off of a perfect feed from Chloe Aurard behind the net. Four and a half minutes later, junior Skylar Fontaine doubled the Huskies’ lead on the power play with a ripper from the point. Holy Cross (0–9–3, 0–6–0) goaltender Jada Brenon was screened on the play by her own teammate, never saw it coming, and let the puck fly right by into the net.

Photo by Sarah Olender

It was more of the same for the Huskies in the second period, as a Jess Schryver shot leaked by Brenon early in the period before Aurard tallied her team-leading sixth goal of the season late in the frame. Aurard’s initial attempt was saved, but the puck snuck through the legs of the goaltender and the sophomore tucked home the second effort.

After scoring her first goal of the season the game before against BU, junior Tessa Ward continued her success in front of net with a pair of third-period goals. The multi-goal game was the first of Ward’s career, earning her the first star of the game. Ward’s third-period pair capped off a successful game for the Huskies as they put six by the Crusaders in the shutout win.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Mueller added two assists to her first-period goal, marking her fourth-three point game through nine contests this season. The Winterthur, Switzerland native leads the team in points and assists at 19 and 14, respectively.

The shutout was Husky netminder Aerin Frankel’s third goose egg of the season, pumping her save percentage to a whopping .959 and dropping her goals against average to a measly 0.90. Frankel is putting together another stellar season for the Huskies, backstopping them to the 8–1–0 record they currently hold.

Photo by Sarah Olender

After Holy Cross snapped the Huskies’ 11-game unbeaten streak last season with a 5–3 victory (their only win of the year), this game probably meant a little extra to the home team. They showed no sign of weakness this time around, outshooting the Crusaders 55–16.

Northeastern’s next game is Friday against New Hampshire at Matthews Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 PM.

Men’s Hockey Ties Holy Cross

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com
Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Matthew Cunha 

Five days removed from a thrilling 3–2 win over No. 4 UMass, Northeastern men’s hockey crashed down to earth with a 2–2 tie against the Holy Cross Crusaders (1–1–1), a team that finished last season 10–21–5.

Sophomore star Tyler Madden notched his first two goals of the season for the Huskies, but didn’t really care about his own play. 

“It is something I don’t look at, especially after a loss,” said Madden, crediting the tie as something worse.

The Crusaders beat No. 6/7 Providence in their first game of the season, but lost to Hockey East bottom-feeders Merrimack 3–1 on Thursday night.

In the first period, Northeastern (3–0–1) mustered only five shots. In the second period, they added eight more, at which point the Crusaders were outshooting the Huskies 19–13.

“It might have been the worst two periods we have had in this building since [assistant] coach Keefe and I have been a part of this staff,” said head coach Jim Madigan. “It was just ugly for two periods.

“I don’t think we gave our opponent enough respect. It is one thing playing with confidence; I thought we played with arrogance. And Holy Cross shoved it up the you know what. Right up our rear ends and carried the play for two periods. I thought we were a little bit better in the third, but it is unacceptable.”

The poor starts are nothing new for the Huskies, who have yet to score a first-period goal this season.

“It is a mental approach,” said Madigan. “It is mentally being ready to start, and you need your older guys to take the lead there. We have got some younger guys who I thought played like freshman and they have been here for two months. You have got to figure this thing out. You don’t have three months to figure it out.”

Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano shut the door on multiple Crusader attempts in the first period, but with 4:35 remaining in the second, the Crusaders used a power play to break the scoreless tie. Neil Robinson flipped a slick cross-ice feed to Logan Ferguson and Pantano had no chance.

Less than two minutes later, Northeastern used their own power play to draw even. After Holy Cross’ Charlie Barrow was whistled for slashing, Tyler Madden found a loose pick, caught sophomore goalie Erik Gordon out of position, and potted it in the empty net for his long-awaited first of the season.

“Obviously you want to get that out of the way quick,” said Madden. “It took me a little bit. Once I got it out of the way I will be fine.”

Despite the poor performance in the first two periods, the Huskies were tied. The message from Madigan: “It was win a period, win a game. It has not been pretty to this point. Let’s find a way to win a game.”

Just a minute into the period it looked they were on the way. Madden, entering the zone on the rush with Matt Filipe, snuck a backhander by Gordon for his second of the night.

“I was just driving and trying to get something on the net,” said Madden. “Saw him cheating a little bit and threw it short-side.”

The Crusaders responded four minutes later. Patrick O’Leary’s pass found Conner Jean at the front of the net; Jean’s one-timer trickled into the net off the post.

“They got a second goal that was a little bounce on their end,” said Madigan. “The game probably deserved to end in a tie.”

Northeastern controlled the rest of the period but could not get one past Gordon. With just over three minutes left Madden forced a Crusader penalty with a few dekes. On the ensuing power play, the Crusaders blocked five Northeastern shots.

Play was even in overtime, with no good scoring chances until Northeastern drew a penalty with 15 seconds left. Holy Cross’ Kevin Darrar blocked Aidan McDonough’s attempt, then shot wide as time expired.

The tie will likely drop Northeastern in the rankings after their win over UMass. The Huskies travel to No.7/No.8 St. Cloud St. in Minnesota next weekend for a pair of games.

“The effort was not there tonight,” said Madden when asked how the team could improve. “At times it was, we dominated the third period. If we played like that the whole game we would have won.”