Dogs Over Cats

By Sarah Olender

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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 Very Vehemently Vanquishes Vermont

By Catherine Morrison

Fifteen minutes into Saturday afternoon’s matchup with the Vermont Catamounts, Northeastern allowed a goal, the first in nearly three weeks. The team had played 315 consecutive minutes (more than five games) without letting their opponents on the board.

But in a reminder of the just how special this season has been, even a moment of disappointment was surrounded by overwhelming dominance. The Huskies thrashed Vermont, 10–2, for their sixth straight win.

They didn’t take long to get going, with Katy Knoll converting on a backhand just 36 seconds into the first period.

Five minutes later Chloe Aurard got in on the fun, taking advantage of a neat pass by Jess Schryver just in front of the goal to knock in the puck.

The Catamounts had an opportunity to shorten the Huskies’ lead when Tessa Ward went into the penalty box for cross checking. Although Vermont got a few good shots in, they couldn’t get past the indestructible Aerin Frankel.

With just 23 seconds left in the power play, Vermont was given a second chance when Skylar Fontaine was called for high sticking, making it five-on-three. Northeastern controlled the puck throughout the power play and much of the rest of the period. However, with five minutes to go, Vermont’s Val Caldwell shot from the right circle and ended the five-game shutout streak.

Northeastern rebounded four minutes into the second period when Lauren MacInnes put one home in from the right circle on a Veronika Pettey assist.

Vermont replaced goaltender Blanka Škodová with Natalie Ferenc in the hope of turning things around. The Catamounts were quickly given an opportunity to close the gap when Kristina Shanahan made a great shot at the goal, but Frankel turned her away.

Four minutes in, the Huskies capitalized on a Vermont penalty for too many players on the ice when Matti Hartman fired home a power-play goal from the left circle.

Apparently unsatisfied with one power-play goal, the Huskies made Vermont pay for a hooking penalty when Aurard notched her second goal of the game.

Vermont called a timeout, trying to regain control of a game that was quickly slipping away. The timeout appeared to do some good, as a few minutes later Shanahan’s ninth goal of the year cut the Husky lead to 5–2. But the Catamounts couldn’t celebrate for long, as Northeastern scored its third power play goal of the game when Schryver beat Ferenc for her third goal of the season.

With a little over eight minutes left in the second period, Aurard collected a rebound in front of the goal and netted her second hat trick of the season.

Clearly, the Huskies were not happy about the Catamounts taking away their shutout streak. With three minutes left, Peyton Anderson passed to Katie Cipra who knocked it in the back of the net, making the score 8–2 and ending an absolutely bonkers second period.

For the third period, coach Dave Flint replaced Frankel with freshman goaltender Gwyneth Philips, who hadn’t allowed a goal in 184 minutes of collegiate action. With a six-point lead, Flint must’ve felt comfortable giving Philips a little more playing time. Vermont also decided to change goalies, giving third-stringer Sierra Natzke her third career appearance.

Natzke faired about as well as expected, giving up a between-the-legs goal to Alina Mueller four minutes in.

Two minutes later, Northeastern captain Peyton Anderson snapped one home, producing the 10–2 final score.

The Huskies moved to 21–3–1 (18–2–0 HEAW), hold a nine-point lead atop the Hockey East standings, and will look to widen the margin on Tuesday against second-place BU. Christian Skroce, Matt Neiser, and Catherine Morrison will have the call, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM EST.

Women’s Hockey Continues to Starve Opponents

By Jack Sinclair

The Soviet defense of Stalingrad was largely hailed as one of the greatest defenses in history. The valor demonstrated by the Soviet soldiers in the harshest of winters during their last-ditch effort to thwart the German surge became immortalized in history.

Speaking of steadfast defenses in frigid environments . . . the Northeastern women’s hockey team.

The Huskies began tonight’s contest against the Vermont Catamounts having played 240 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal. The efforts of Aerin Frankel and Gwyneth Phillips between the pipes led the Huskies to a 16–0 combined margin over a pair of home-and-homes against Boston College and UConn.

Friday night’s game would prove no different, as the Huskies sailed past the Catamounts 4–0 and extended the shutout streak to an even 300 minutes. Northeastern (20–3–1, 17–2–0 HEAW) now leads second-place BC by eight points while Vermont (9–11–6, 6–9–4 HEAW) is tied with Maine for seventh.

The Huskies dominated tonight’s match from start to finish. Skylar Fontaine opened the scoring early in the first period, netting her 11th goal of the season.

The remainder of the first period was marred by penalties for both sides, even seeing some four-on-four action. The Huskies held the puck on the offensive end of the ice for most of the period, spearheaded by a relentless forward check.

The second period started in a similar manner to the first, with the Huskies keeping the pressure and the puck on the Catamounts’ side of the neutral zone. Vermont goalie Natalie Ferenc held off several odd-man rushes from Northeastern’s top line of Jess Schryver, Alina Mueller, and Chloe Aurard that demonstrated the line’s ability to break out of the neutral zone and run a sequence. Four minutes into the second period, and Tessa Ward slipped one past Ferenc, giving the Huskies a two-goal lead.

The latter half of the period saw the Huskies’ third and fourth lines getting more time on the ice, resulting in some opportunities for the Catamounts. The stubborn defense led by Frankel, Fontaine, and Megan Carter held fast, preserving the Northeastern shutout.

The third period began with more four-on-four hockey, and upon resuming five-on-five play, Northeastern continued to dominate Vermont, keeping the puck in the offensive zone for minutes at a time. Just under five minutes into the period, Peyton Anderson surged from Northeastern’s blue line, carried the puck to the promised land, and put the Huskies up 3–0.

The middle portion of the third period saw the teams swap power plays, but neither side unleashed a threatening shot on goal. Eventually, the Huskies pressured the Catamounts with a few good looks on goal. With just under four minutes remaining, Katie Cipra took advantage of a rebounding puck and put the Huskies ahead by a comfortable four goals.

This game demonstrated Northeastern’s capability to play at their own pace, even when their opponent can’t match it. They never allowed Vermont to string together lengthy stints on their own end, and limited the Catamounts to only 16 shots for the entire game.

The Huskies continued their defensive dominance, notching their fifth consecutive shutout. That is to say, their fifth straight hour of goalless hockey. This run comes at a great time; the season is winding down, the Beanpot is approaching, and a third consecutive Hockey East championship banner seems closer than ever.

The Huskies will remain in Burlington for the second game with Vermont, which begins Saturday at 4 PM EST.