Sky’s the Limit: Fontaine sends NU to NCAA Title Game with OT Winner

Story by Mike Puzzanghera and Jack Sinclair

Photos by Sarah Olender

ERIE, PA — Skylar Fontaine has been the best defenseman in Hockey East — and maybe even the country — in each of the past two seasons. Since she joined Northeastern, she’s been an impact player.

That impact may never have been as big as it was in Thursday’s intense game against Minnesota-Duluth, as the senior racked up 16 shots on goal, and, in a moment frozen in time, scored with 26 seconds left in overtime to send Northeastern to their first national title game in program history.

“I love playing fast games because, I mean, I do have speed myself, so it’s always a fun time when you’re playing other teams that are equally as fast and can push me and push my teammates,” Fontaine said.

The Huskies had to battle Thursday afternoon in the first game of the NCAA Frozen Four, but they were up to the task. After going down 2–0 in the second period, they scored a power-play goal early in the third before striking again a few minutes later. The third period and most of overtime featured the Huskies bombarding the Duluth net, but Emma Söderberg stopped 44 shots to keep the Bulldogs in the game before Fontaine broke the dam.

“They gave us everything we could handle,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said. “[I’m] obviously thrilled for the opportunity to play in our first ever national championship game, and just really proud of my team and their resiliency.”

It was an unusually quiet start for the Huskies. The high-flying top line of Alina Mueller, Maureen Murphy, and Chloé Aurard was shut down by the Bulldog defense. Duluth was flexible and responded well to the Northeastern pressure. They allowed the Huskies to get deep into their zone, then used their speed and size to create some strong transition offense.

The Huskies were more than capable of hanging around and keeping pace, but that was all they did for the first period, as Duluth bullied the Husky forwards away from the slot. Northeastern tried a season-low three shots on goal in the first period. Despite the difference in shot totals, Aerin Frankel kept the puck out of the back of the net, keeping the period scoreless. 

“We hadn’t seen that speed in a while, and they were doing a good job of taking away time and space, and then we weren’t making good decisions with the puck,” Flint said.

Bulldog forward Mannon McMahon finally broke the deadlock halfway through the second. With Aerin Frankel tangled up to the side of the Northeastern net, the goal was open for Duluth’s Kailee Skinner. Her shot missed wide, but the rebound bounced off the boards straight to McMahon, who backhanded it in for her first goal of the season, which stood after a review.

Duluth grabbed their second just over five minutes later, with Taylor Anderson slamming one in from the slot to beat Frankel. Anna Klein caused problems all game for Northeastern’s blueliners, and it was her effort down the wing and behind the goal that allowed the Bulldogs time to enter on the rush behind her. She fired in a shot that got blocked in front, but it squirted out to Anderson, who switched it to her forehand and beat Frankel high as she was trying to recover. After nothing between the two sides in the first, the Bulldogs had a 2–0 lead.

“We were peppering shots and [Frankel] happened to save a lot of them so props to her for that,” Anderson said. “We did a great job getting shots on net, and we were just focusing on going hard to the net and burying it.”

But that second goal hit the switch for Northeastern. They turned up their intensity and piled on 16 shots in the period, including five from Mueller and four from Fontaine. That energy put Duluth on their back foot and, after Tessa Ward took a penalty for slashing, the Bulldogs took two of their own: Anneke Linser sat for tripping and Gabbie Hughes hit the sin bin for interfering with Molly Griffin.

With 50 seconds to go in the period, Northeastern had a five-on-three chance and, though they didn’t strike before the end of the frame, they would keep the advantage — and their momentum — to start the third.

It took 40 seconds for the Huskies to get on the board, as a Skylar Fontaine seam pass to a wide-open Maureen Murphy on the backdoor was enough to beat Söderberg. Fontaine’s assist tied the Northeastern record for points by a defenseman, a record that has stood since the late 1980s.

The Huskies now had the momentum they needed. Söderberg’s net was peppered from all directions as Northeastern put her rebound management to the test. The Swedish netminder passed with flying colors until a rebound off an Andrea Renner wrister bounced right to Katy Knoll, who popped the puck into the back of the net to tie the game at two.

The goal was made possible by a huge effort from Veronika Pettey, who poked the puck away from the Bulldogs in the D zone, chased it all the way back, stole it on the forecheck, and played it to Renner.

“It was a great, great play, and she battled in the corner too to win the puck,” Flint said. “I was telling them all game, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get pucks to the net,’ and Katy Knoll got to the net and banged in the rebound there and it was just a nice goal. It was a huge goal for us, gave us a ton of momentum.”

The game was knotted up with 15 minutes left, and neither team was willing to concede another goal. The puck flew up and down the ice as both teams looked for an offensive foothold. Spectacular goaltending on both ends kept things even after 60 minutes.

In overtime, the pace didn’t change. The Huskies stayed on the gas pedal while the Bulldogs waited in the D zone to break out for transition chances. That style of play gave Duluth their best scoring chance of the extra frame, as Anna Klein broke through and held off pressure from Northeastern’s defense before switching the puck to her backhand. She waited for Frankel to drop before cutting around her, but she couldn’t control the puck and or put a shot on frame. If she had, it likely would have gone in with Frankel out of position.

Other than that chance, the Bulldogs didn’t force Frankel to do too much at the other end, and struggled to get out of their own zone at times.

“We had a little bit more of an easy time at the beginning where we were really spreading the D zone, using the width of the ice with the weak side and we were able to find pretty good passing lanes, and they definitely adjusted and made it a lot harder on us,” Duluth head coach Maura Crowell said. “I think we forced plays up the walls a little more than I would have liked and needed to find space in the middle.”

With 40 seconds to go in overtime, the Huskies won an offensive zone faceoff with the third line on the ice. After the Bulldogs collected the puck behind their own net, forecheck pressure from Ward and Mia Brown forced Clara van Wieren to try a seam pass up to Naomi Rogge. Fontaine jumped that pass, kept it in the zone, and skated across to the left circle. Her hard shot powered its way through Söderberg and into the back of the net.

“We talked about it all game that they look [weak side],” Fontaine said. “I decided to step into it, caught it and was trying to shoot [the] opposite way of the way I was going to throw the goalie off, and [it] ended up working out and going in.”

Through three periods, the game felt a lot like Northeastern’s last NCAA Tournament appearance, where they bowed out against Cornell, 3–2, in OT. In that game, the Huskies went down early before scoring twice in the third to tie it. But this time around, it was Northeastern who found the winner.

“It kind of did throw me back a little,” Fontaine said. “I definitely think this year we’re more disciplined, we lean on each other, we have great culture that we always know we believe in one another, and we have great communication. This year, we’re very deep, and there’s trust in every single person on this team.”

“This game just showed what every team is made of in this tournament and that every team is going to bring their best,” Fontaine continued. “This was a great opportunity for us to realize that games aren’t going to be 5–1 [or] 6–1. I think that this really pushed us, and it prepared us for what Saturday is going to be like.”

For Duluth, the game ended an impressive tournament run. The five seed beat fourth-seeded Colgate 1–0 in overtime in the first round before pushing Northeastern to the brink.

“It’s everything I’ve wanted to do since I’ve gotten to Minnesota-Duluth,” Crowell said. “I’ve wanted to add years to the banners around the rink. I’ve wanted to bring the ultimate trophy back. So fell a little short here but getting to the Frozen Four is really really difficult. I don’t care what year it is; it’s really hard. We have eight coveted spots in our tournament so getting in itself is really challenging, and then coming in, winning, pushing the number one team to overtime. It says a lot about our team and where we’re at.”

The Huskies will play in their first-ever national championship game Saturday night at 7:30 against the winner of Wisconsin–Ohio State. Jack Sinclair, George Barker, and Mike Puzzanghera will be on the call for WRBB, with coverage starting at 7:15 PM Eastern.

Huskies Face Minnesota-Duluth in First-Ever Frozen Four Appearance

By Mike Puzzanghera

Historically, Hockey East teams haven’t found much success against Western Hockey College Association (WCHA) programs in the NCAA Tournament. The WHCA is 19–1 against Hockey East opposition, with that lone win coming from Boston College in 2011. With Northeastern set to face Minnesota-Duluth in the Frozen Four Thursday afternoon, head coach Dave Flint shrugged off the historical balance of power.

“Well, guess what: they haven’t played Northeastern yet,” he said. “Hopefully it’ll be 19–2 after tomorrow.”

The Huskies have every reason to be a little bit cocky. They’re the No. 1 seed in the tournament, they haven’t lost since December 13, and they just ran through No. 8 seed Robert Morris, 5–1, in the quarterfinals.

But Minnesota-Duluth is more the more battle-tested of the sides. Since they play in the WHCA, they’ve gone up against a higher caliber of opposition than the Huskies have. The Bulldogs faced No. 2 Wisconsin twice, No. 3 Ohio State three times, and tournament snub Minnesota twice.

Let’s take a quick look at both teams before they meet.

Last time out

Northeastern: For a full look at the Huskies’ season, look here.

In addition to that, they looked every bit like the No. 1 seed against Robert Morris. They controlled the pace of the game in five-on-five, scored a shorthanded goal on the PK, and, though they couldn’t get much going on their one power play, they didn’t need to. 

They got contributions all across the lineup. In particular, Skylar Fontaine shined with two goals and an assist, Alina Mueller and Chloé Aurard each had a goal and assist, and Katy Knoll was bright all throughout, tossing seven shots on goal and notching an assist on the second Fontaine tally.

But Northeastern’s secondary scoring is equally important. Though four of the five goals Monday afternoon came from the starting five, it was fourth-liner Katie Cipra who sank the dagger in the third.

“A lot of teams hone in on our first line and try to match lines against them and I think it’s important that we get that secondary scoring,” Flint said. “Our second, third, and fourth lines have really stepped up in key points this year and provided us with timely goals and if we’re going to be successful here on Thursday we’re going to need that again.”

With the quick turnaround to the semifinals, Flint had a simple message for his team.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel here or trying to change what we’re doing,” Flint said. “We’re going to do what we do best.”

Duluth: The Bulldogs had to battle for their spot in the Frozen Four, but after 6:39 of overtime, they found the winner through Ashton Bell. Her snipe went post-and-in to finally beat Colgate goalie Kayle Osborne and send the five-time national champs back to the semifinals.

Junior Emma Söderberg made 30 saves in the win, a huge bounce-back game for Duluth. Before that, they had lost 7–2 in the WCHA playoffs to Ohio State.

“That game against OSU is not the type of hockey we play as a team so it was easy to come back to the right style; that was an exception,” Söderberg said.

Approach

Northeastern: The Huskies floored the gas against a slightly slower Robert Morris team Monday. But now, they’ll be up against a classic western team: one that plays with speed. It’s a big strength Duluth has, as well as the size of their D corps.

“They’re fast, and I still think we’re faster,” Flint said. “So the transition game is going to be key. And I think that the depth of our lineup will be hopefully a factor too.”

Northeastern is also keying in on the defensive zone. With the imposing first line of Gabbie Hughes, Anna Klein, and Taylor Anderson bearing down on them, the D corps will need to be at their sharpest.

“If we’re sound defensively and we’re keeping them to the outside, we can shut down their first line, which I think is one of their strengths, then I think we’ll be able to be successful,” goaltender Aerin Frankel said.

The Bulldogs also play more of a possession style than many of the teams Northeastern has faced, similar to how the Huskies play themselves.

“They’re going to try to take a lot of time and space, but we’re going to take it away from them,” Frankel said.

Duluth: The Bulldogs know that this is a team that plays similarly to how they do — with speed, in possession, and they excel in transition. To slow that down, they need to be on the gas pedal.

“A big focus of ours is to come out and have a really good start and put a lot of pressure on them right away, and hopefully that will lead to more offense,” defenseman Ashton Bell said. “Obviously always having a good D zone and playing gritty in the D zone is our style of play.”

There are plenty of Huskies that need to be keyed in on, but Fontaine especially caught the eye of Duluth head coach Maura Crowell.

“On the back check, you have to be responsible, understanding that it’s not just the three forwards that are going to attack offensively there’s going to be a jump-up D making it even more complicated,” Crowell said. “A lot of our defensemen are offensive, obviously Ashton in particular, but a lot  of them can jump up into the play, so I think we’re familiar with that style.”

The Bulldogs are aware of these threats, and they know that they have a path to victory.

“I think our style of play is going to be something that they’re not used to. We’re fast, we bring a different brand in our toughness and our defensive structure,” Crowell said.

X Factors

Northeastern: This is a physical game, which means it’s built for Tessa Ward. The grittiest player on the ice, Ward’s aggression and forechecking make her an ideal weapon against a strong team that holds possession well. Another key forechecker is Peyton Anderson, who flies forward to apply pressure (it was that pressure that created the Cipra goal on Monday). 

Another player to watch, outside of The Fearsome Five, is Knoll, who was one of the best players on the ice Monday and is knocking on the doorstep for a goal.

The Huskies’ top-ranked penalty kill is another key. With Duluth having only four power-play goals on the year, Northeastern can gain an advantage there, potentially creating another shorthanded goal.

Duluth: Anna Klein and Gabbie Hughes are the two obvious picks, as they make the team go with their scoring and playmaking. Bell is one of the best two-way defenders in the country.

Outside of their top group, a key player to watch is Clara van Wieren. The freshman has seven goals on the year and is one of the Bulldogs’ best secondary scorers. She can leverage her size to body off defenders and create scoring lanes and passing angles.

Puck drops at 2 PM for this Frozen Four matchup. WRBB will have the call with Jack Sinclair, George Barker, and Mike Puzzanghera on the mic, with coverage beginning at 1:45.

Frozen Four Fantasies Fulfilled: Top-Seeded Huskies Outrun RMU, 5–1

Story by Mike Puzzanghera and Jack Sinclair

Photos by Sarah Olender

ERIE, PA — With 1:10 left in the second period, Alina Mueller took a penalty with the Huskies up 2–0. Robert Morris’s Emily Curlett struck on the power play seconds later to make it a one-goal game. After a long stretch of possession and dominance in the second, Northeastern, for the first time all afternoon, looked to be on their back foot.

As Mueller skated onto the bench, she turned to head coach Dave Flint to complain about the questionable body-checking call that sent her to the sin bin.

“I said, ‘Hey, listen, it’s done now. If you’re upset about it, go score a goal,’” Flint recalled.

Mueller did just that, slamming home a rebound with 3.5 seconds to go in the period to swing the momentum right back and send the Huskies into the locker room up 3–1.

That momentum carried No. 1 Northeastern all the way Monday afternoon, as they advanced to their first Frozen Four in program history with a controlling 5–1 win over eighth-seeded Robert Morris in the first game of the NCAA Tournament.

“Since I’ve been a freshman, we’ve grown so much, we’ve come so far,” defenseman Skylar Fontaine said. “A lot of time and effort has been put in, especially this year with everything being so unpredictable. It’s just a great feeling to come out here and everyone playing with the biggest hearts and me as a senior, this is just a great experience, and I’m grateful for it.”

Northeastern started strong with quite a few quick chances — namely from Mueller and Katy Knoll — but Colonials netminder Raygan “Ray Gun” Kirk was equal to all of them. In fact, as with UConn in the Hockey East semifinal, it took a penalty kill to get Northeastern going.

Mueller kicked a loose puck clear in front of Aerin Frankel, collected it behind the Northeastern net, and started the breakout. At the blue line, she split Robert Morris’s two leading scorers, Lexi Templeman and Micheala Boyle, with a beautiful deke and shot clear through the neutral zone to create a three-on-one chance. She slid the puck to Chloé Aurard, who set up her shot and picked her spot, beating Kirk five-hole for the first goal.

Northeastern hit the ice for the second period with one aim: extend the lead. They held the Colonials deep in their own zone, but they were up to the task. Neither team got established for any considerable zone time, and the puck changed hands constantly. 

Robert Morris was more than happy to keep the Husky lead at one, as they used their physicality to slow the high-flying Northeastern offense. The Colonials weren’t truly challenging Frankel, taking shots from the blue line and giving the senior netminder loads of time to see the puck. 

The stalemate was finally broken by Northeastern’s star defenseman, Fontaine. 

“I passed it up to Chloé Aurard, and I saw that there was so much space,” Fontaine explained. “So I took it and she gave it right back to me, and I just kind of took off and was on a sort of a breakaway.”

Minutes later, Mueller took her penalty, and Curlett scored the Colonials’ first-ever NCAA Tournament goal. The senior defenseman hit such a scorching one-timer that Frankel didn’t react to the puck until it was already in the back of the net.

“You’re not going to get too many power plays at this level and at this type of game,” Robert Morris head coach Paul Colontino said. “So you really have to make the best of them. And, you know, I thought our PP unit came out great. And yeah, in particular, Emily Curlett did just an awesome job of doing what she does on the power play — finding loose pucks and hammering them home.”

It was a punch in the mouth, and the Huskies never take kindly to those. Mueller, incensed by the penalty, was playing at her best and made the Colonials look like traffic cones. She even beat Kirk twice. The only thing the Swiss Olympian couldn’t beat was the post. She rang it twice during the period, and neither shot ended up in the back of the net.

After her discussion with Flint, Mueller finally struck, giving her team a two-goal lead after two periods. 

Northeastern got nothing out of their power play early in the third, appearing to have slowed down a bit. But just as that tone looked to seep into the rest of the game, a menacing forecheck from the nation’s best fourth line hit Robert Morris with a dagger. Peyton Anderson knocked the puck away from Gillian Thompson, and it found the stick of Katie Cipra. The human highlight reel on skates switched the puck to her backhand and flipped it past Kirk.

If it wasn’t a done deal after four goals, Fontaine made it five with her second of the night. She played the puck across to Katy Knoll on the rush and cut to the net like a goal-seeking missile. Knoll sent it right back to her, and Fontaine tipped it in with only one hand on her stick to seal the win.

“It’s like a test in school, you know if you prepared for it or not, and they’ve done a great job preparing for this,” Flint said. “There shouldn’t be any jitters or anything like that when we come to Thursday.”

Northeastern’s victory advanced them to their first-ever Frozen Four, setting a new high-water mark for the program. The Huskies will play the winner of the Colgate–Minnesota-Duluth Thursday at 2 PM for a spot in the national title game. WRBB will call the semifinal game, with Jack Sinclair, George Barker, and Mike Puzzanghera on the mic.

No. 1 Huskies to Open NCAA Tournament vs. No. 8 Robert Morris

Story by Mike Puzzanghera

Photos by Jordan Baron and Sarah Olender

The stage is set in Erie, PA, and even with their opening-round NCAA Tournament game on a Monday afternoon, the Northeastern women’s hockey team is ready and raring to go. The top seed in the country breezed through Hockey East this season, and they enter the tournament on a 20-game unbeaten run. 

Their opponent? Upstart College Hockey America (CHA) champs Robert Morris, who won their conference tournament as the #3 seed and scooped up the NCAA’s eighth-seed with the automatic bid.

These teams haven’t faced off since October 2014, making Kendall Coyne the last Northeastern player to score against the Colonials. That’s how long it’s been. Because of that, Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said the prep is just a bit more difficult this time around.

“We’ve got one video of them, and it was of their last game, and I think they had like 30 seconds of a power play,” Flint said.

So what can Northeastern fans expect from Robert Morris? Well, they aren’t going to run and gun as the Huskies love to do. They’re a slower, bigger, more physical team than most of the opponents Northeastern has battled all year.

“If we slow down and play at their pace, then that’s what they want, they’re going to have a good chance,” Flint said. “If we play with our speed, and have all four lines going, I think we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

Let’s take a deep dive into both teams ahead of their first-round meeting on Monday.

How they got here

Northeastern: We know this story already, but if you don’t: The Huskies, the number one team in the country, haven’t lost since December 13 against Boston College (the sixth seed in this tournament). Since then, the only games that weren’t resounding, dominant wins were a 2–2 tie (and shootout loss) at New Hampshire when a fortuitous bounce beat Aerin Frankel late in the third to send it to OT, a 3–2 OT win against road warriors Maine, and a 2–1 win over UConn (who handed it to BC 5–1 on the road just days before) in the Hockey East semis.

Most recently, they beat Providence (the seventh seed in this tournament) 6–2 to capture their fourth straight conference title. They won this game with zero points combined from Alina Mueller, Chloe Aurard, and Katy Knoll — three of their top four scorers.

That’s right. They didn’t even need those stars to produce to take the win. It’s a level of depth that Flint takes tremendous pride in.

Also of note, they’ve played Providence four times this year. Take a guess at the aggregate score of all those games, just for fun.

Was that guess 19–3? If so, congrats! If not, that’s okay, you can’t be blamed for not anticipating that level of dominance over a fellow top-ten team. That’s just where the Huskies are right now.

They enter this tournament as the hottest team in the country and the number one team in the country. It’s a lethal combination.

Robert Morris: The Colonials are the surprise team in this tournament. They ran through the CHA Tournament, beating RIT, Mercyhurst (in OT), and fellow tourney Cinderella Syracuse, days removed from knocking off top seed and eventual NCAA Tournament snub Penn State. They did so off the back of a goaltending timeshare that got hot at the right time — Molly Singewald, Arielle Desmet, and Raygan Kirk each started a tournament game, with Singewald and Kirk recording shutouts.

Though the CHA has just one representative in this year’s tournament, there are some good teams across the conference. The Colonials paled in comparison to them, going 0–4 against Penn State, 3–2 against Syracuse, and 3–1–1 against Mercyhurst. It’s that Penn State record that’s really eye-popping here, as the Nittany Lions looked poised to make the NCAA Tournament this season and were easily the best regular-season CHA team.

The gap between the top teams and bottom in the CHA is huge. RIT and Lindenwood sat at the bottom of the conference this year, combining for a 3–29–1 record. Eight of RMU’s 16 wins came against those two teams. 

Make no mistake — Northeastern has wins against teams like these in Hockey East, with four straight wins over Merrimack and Holy Cross in January and February. But Northeastern’s record against top teams puts them more than a cut above RMU.

Players of note

Northeastern: The Fearsome Five of Alina Mueller, Chloé Aurard, Maureen Murphy, Skylar Fontaine, and Brooke Hobson is the best unit of skaters in the country, plain and simple. All five were Hockey East All-Stars this year, including Murphy, who amassed 14 points in just 10 regular-season games. They possess speed, skill, and that mysterious clutch gene that gets talked about but never defined. Whatever it is, they have it (especially Aurard).

They also have the best goaltender in the country. Aerin Frankel has shattered Northeastern program records almost every time she has taken the ice this year, and her overall stats are straight out of a video game. An 18–1–1 record, a 0.698 GAA, a .969 save percentage, and NINE shutouts all lead the country. 

In every press conference, she receives what we here at WRBB have dubbed “the question”: something like, “Aerin, how do you stay ready to make important saves when the puck is down on the other end of the ice all the time?” Frankel will always sit back and answer that she’ll communicate with her D corps and stay on her toes or, as she did after the 12–0 win over Holy Cross, Frankel will have some fun with it and say that she “can’t be sleeping out there.”

But it’s not just that starting group that is of note for this Northeastern team. A special highlight and shoutout to NU’s fourth line, who have grinded all year and, especially in the playoffs, provided clutch scoring. Peyton Anderson, Kate Holmes, and Katie Cipra use their elite speed to forecheck well and win the puck down low. Cipra scores maybe the nicest goals in all of college hockey (both men’s and women’s), and is no stranger to SportsCenter. 

Add to that group extra skater Molly Griffin, who doubled her season point total in the three playoff games, and you have a threatening, speedy fourth line — quite possibly the best in the NCAA — that not only gives the top groups some rest, but scores some key goals.

“It’s a huge luxury to have,” Flint said. “And it only makes your top kids fresher in the third period, especially if we do have to shorten it up for some reason. They’re going to be a lot fresher than the other teams’ top units.”

Robert Morris: The Colonials are led by senior Lexi Templeman (seven goals and 22 assists in 24 games), who is averaging nearly a point per game across 129 career games. Templeman was the only Colonial named to a CHA All-Star team, earning her place on the first team alongside multiple Penn State honorees. It’s Templeman who makes the offense click: the captain’s +16 rating leads RMU.

Junior Michaela Boyle is another key forward and RMU’s leading goalscorer with 10 after amassing 22 as a sophomore. The two of them are joined on RMU’s top power-play unit by Maggie Burbidge and defensemen Emelie Harley and Emily Curlett.

“One of their lines kind of really makes them go, but the other ones really work hard and they generate a lot of shots,” Flint said of the Colonials.

Curlett is one of the most prolific defensemen in the country. She has amassed 90 points in her career, and finished 2019–20 tied for first nationally with 13 power-play goals. Harley stands at an intimidating six feet and, despite that size implying physical play, she limits her penalties — only three all year.

RMU has used a timeshare in goal all year, but expect sophomore Raygan Kirk to start Monday afternoon. She got the start in the CHA title game against Syracuse and is the Colonials’ go-to netminder. Across 14 appearances, Kirk is 8–4–1 with a 1.68 GAA and .945 save percentage. 

Special Teams

Northeastern: A power play that’s scoring at a 22 percent clip. A kill unit with more shorthanded goals for than power-play goals against. There’s only so much that can be said about how they operate. The power play moves the puck around quickly, and both units can score almost at will. The penalty kill is tops in the country with a 97 percent success rate.


First power play: Mueller, Aurard, Murphy, Fontaine, Hobson

Second power play: Knoll, Renner, Ward, Anderson, Carter

First PK: Mueller, Aurard, Fontaine, Hobson

Second PK: Knoll, Murphy, Carter, Abbey Marohn

Third PK: Ward, Brown, MacInnis, Yovetich

Robert Morris: RMU’s power play is also quite good — with a conversion rate of 18 percent — which goes without saying with a player like Templeman leading the top unit. The kill is successful on 88 percent of their attempts. Again, another good rate, but they’ll have to kick it up to another level to deny NU’s man advantage.

Of note: As Flint said, the team only has 30 seconds of film on the RMU power play. Expect this to be a key factor. It’s no secret that the Huskies have an elite penalty kill, but the lack of footage at their disposal might cause some problems early, particularly against the top group.

First power play: Templeman, Boyle, Burbidge, Harley, Curlett

Second power play: Diffendal*, Fiala, Marcovsky, Rice, Thompson

*Diffendal, Marino, and Wagner have all seen time on the power play this year, but expect Diffendal to take that spot first Monday.

First PK: Templeman, Boyle, Curlett, Harley

Second PK: Fiala, Burbidge, Rice, Thompson

Recent tournament history

Northeastern: The Huskies have never advanced to the Frozen Four. The closest they came was a heartbreaking 3–2 OT loss in 2019 to Cornell at Matthews Arena in a year where Northeastern earned the third seed in the tourney. That felt like their shot. Last year they picked up the third seed and had a lot more confidence coming in, but COVID-19 halted the whole tournament.

“It’s in the minds of all our returners and there’s obviously something to prove,” Flint said. “They felt like a really good opportunity was taken away from them last year, so they want to make good on it this year.”

One huge thing that held them back in 2019 was not having Mueller. The Swiss star, just a freshman that year, suffered a broken hand in the conference tournament and did not play against Cornell. It was a game the Huskies started slowly in but, as they did all of 2018–19, they battled back to tie it in the third.

“I think part of the slow start was definitely some nerves,” Flint said. “I think also the team was unsure without their best player, with Alina, there might have been some doubts . . . The team was resilient in the fact that they didn’t pack it in after a 2–0 deficit and they battled back. They just ended up coming up a little short.”

This time around, Mueller is on track to play. Flint has no doubt she’ll be on her game.

“Alina gets excited for scrimmages,” Flint said. “So for her, she’s just excited to play and obviously it’s a big game and she’s been on the big stage many times so she knows what it takes. She’s not going to be the least bit phased or rattled. I think her demeanor and her poise will rub off on some of the players that might be nervous.”

Robert Morris: This is only RMU’s second national tournament appearance. In their first go at it in 2017, they also picked up the eighth seed before running into the buzzsaw that was top-seeded Wisconsin. Led by Annie Pankowski, the Badgers rolled to a 7–0 win, and went on to finish as runners-up to Clarkson. Certainly, the Colonials will be hoping for a much better performance in Erie this year. Maybe they’ll pick up a little bit of a home-state advantage.

Puck drop is set for 2 PM between No. 1 Northeastern and No. 8 Robert Morris, the opening game of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Huskies Chase Wildcats Out of the Doghouse

Story by Rae Deer and Milton Posner

Photos by Jordan Baron

BOSTON — The forecast for Sunday night’s women’s hockey game was straightforward.

New Hampshire was one of the few teams to meaningfully challenge the No. 2 Northeastern Huskies this season. They’re strong. They’re physical. They have a great goaltender. And they’ll make the Huskies work hard for everything. And after one gritty, aggressive, competitive period, that’s what it looked like was in store.

But the Huskies have a Hockey East Championship to defend, and a five-goal onslaught in the second period proved just how hard they’d fight to keep it. They flattened the Wildcats 7–0 and will face UConn in the semifinals on Wednesday night.

“We played fast from the drop of the puck and were relentless for the full 60 minutes,” head coach Dave Flint said.

Both squads were quick on their feet from the beginning and favored using their bodies and sticks to get on the puck. After an aggressive last meeting between the teams, Sunday brought a new level of animosity and extracurricular hits. Players seemingly got into it after every other whistle, either jawing at each other or letting loose a few shoves.

“We talked about everybody keeping their composure,” Flint said. “They’re a physical team and they’re trying to get us off our game. I told them, ‘Don’t let them do it. Don’t fall into the trap. If they make you mad, do it on the scoreboard.’ I think they were a little pissed off at some of the plays, but they kept their heads, played hard, and took care of it on the scoreboard.”

Six minutes in, Veronika Pettey tried a backhand flip pass from behind the net to Katy Knoll out front. The connection might not have happened if not for a Wildcat skater’s deflection, and Knoll redirected the loose puck to get the scoring going.

The Huskies didn’t let up, and generated several near-chances in the offensive zone. But Wildcat netminder Ava Boutilier kept Northeastern at bay for the rest of the period.

“If you don’t get in there and bang in rebounds and make things difficult for her, if you’re perimeter, she’s going to stop pucks all night.” Flint said.

Thus, going into the second, the issue was finding ways to best Boutilier. It took seven minutes for the Huskies to figure it out, and when they did, the floodgates opened. Goals from Katie Cipra, Veronika Pettey, Skylar Fontaine, and Kate Holmes within a six-minute span effectively ended the game.

“We got stuck out there on an icing before that second goal,” New Hampshire head coach Hilary Witt explained. “We didn’t do a good enough job getting the puck deep to get a good change opportunity. We got a little fatigued and that’s how things broke down on that second goal. After that, probably not a great decision on our pinch, giving them another odd-man situation. They’re so talented that if you’re going to give them opportunities like that, they’re going to hurt you.”

And with the clock ticking down at the end of the period, Mia Brown stole New Hampshire’s cookies and ate them all by herself.

“We were like sharks around the net tonight and that’s why we were successful,” Flint remarked of the second-period run. “We were hunting pucks on the forecheck like I haven’t seen us do this year. We were all over UNH. One went in and they got hungry for a second. The confidence built up and we just kept going and going.”

Then the Wildcats got desperate. They were a lot more physical and took more penalties as they tried to keep up with the Huskies’ offensive acceleration. Northeastern rebuffed the increased sticks and shoving by breaking up the Wildcats’ setups in their offensive zone with ease. They denied any and every Wildcat scoring chance while setting up chances of their own. One such chance allowed Patty Kaz nominee, Hockey East all-star, and phenom first-liner Alina Mueller to get her piece and nail the coffin shut. 

With seven goals by seven different skaters, this game, like many this season, showed just how deep the Huskies are.

“We run four lines, we play our extra skater too. That, for me, is reassuring knowing that we can run any of those lines out there.” Coach Flint said about his skaters. “We’ve put our third and fourth lines against teams’ first lines to get mismatches for our first line. It’s nice to have that luxury.”

This is a team that has new tricks up their sleeve every time you play them, a team where each player contributes. They’re exciting, cohesive, and clearly worthy of the accolades they’ve already received. They’ll continue to chase another Wednesday night against UConn; WRBB will call that game live from Matthews Arena.

Huskies Best Catamounts in Regular Season Capper

By Khalin Kapoor

In their regular season finale on Saturday afternoon in Burlington, the No. 2 Northeastern women’s hockey team secured a weekend sweep over the Vermont Catamounts. The Huskies (17–1–1) scored late in the first period and didn’t look back from there, ultimately emerging with a 4–1 victory.

“It was a hard-fought win,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint remarked. “We did what we needed to do.”

Junior Chloé Aurard notched her 100th and 101st Northeastern points with a goal and an assist, becoming just the 32nd women’s hockey player to reach the 100-point milestone.

“She’s been a big part of our success over the past couple of years,” Flint said. “It was great to see that 100th point . . . it was quite a goal.”

The first period began with a competitive back-and-forth that led to some decent scoring opportunities for both sides. Catamount netminder Jessie McPherson made a few great saves during a Northeastern offensive stretch.

Time ticked down quickly in the first period, but it was clear that the Huskies were getting faster over time and starting to dominate puck possession. They kept the puck deep in the offensive zone for long stretches, shooting from under the dots and making Jessie McPherson’s life very difficult. Pinning Vermont in their own zone proved fruitful over a first period in which Northeastern gave up only three shots.

On the power play with just over six minutes left in the period, Northeastern forward Katy Knoll took a pass from netminder Aerin Frankel and absolutely dusted two defenders, whipping the puck past McPherson with ease. The primary assist was credited to Frankel.

The second period was much more balanced, with the Catamounts creating more scoring opportunities and nabbing some key takeaways. They controlled the puck much better than they did in the first, and it looked as if they were gaining back some momentum.

“The ice is tilting in the wrong direction right now,” Flint recalled telling his team during a timeout. “We need to take the momentum back from them. Let’s ramp it up in these last five minutes and flip the table on them.”

Northeastern did just that, crushing that momentum in the second half of the second period. Aerin Frankel shut down opposing rushes, making some spectacular saves look routine as usual. Every single time the Catamounts attempted to drive their offense in motion, Frankel stopped them in their tracks.

After one such sequence, forward Alina Mueller took the puck and sped deep into the offensive zone, flipping it in and doubling the Huskies lead. 

If that goal wasn’t the backbreaker, then Mia Brown’s missile with just over a minute left in the second was. In the span of two minutes, Northeastern took what had been a solid period by the Catamounts and turned it on its head, tripling their lead.

Both teams scored in the third; Vermont skater Sara Levesque put the Catamounts on the board three minutes in, and 10 minutes later Chloe Aurard showed off some ridiculous stickhandling off the faceoff for an unassisted goal. 

Vermont outshot Northeastern 11 to three in the third, but Frankel was too talented for it to matter. The outcome was never in question after the second period. The Catamounts played well throughout, but the Huskies just played better.

“Credit to them — they came at us hard and didn’t let up once,” Flint remarked. “We had to weather a couple storms, Frankel had to make a couple nice saves there in the third to keep the score where it was, and Chloé stepped up to ice the game.”

This game marks the 11th in a row where the Huskies have allowed one or no goals. Their unbeaten streak stands at 17. The Huskies are clearly the best team in Hockey East. Friday and Saturday’s matches against a very strong Vermont team proved to be challenging at times, but in the end the Huskies took care of business once again.

Northeastern will enjoy an important bye for the first round of the Hockey East Tournament. Following a reseed after the first single-elimination round, first-place Northeastern will presumably face the eighth seed on Sunday, February 28 at Matthews Arena.

“Anything can happen in single elimination,” Flint said of the team’s playoff chances. “Over the next week . . . we’ll make sure everyone is feeling good and we’ll fine tune our special teams.”

This hockey season has been a little chaotic at times due to COVID-19. Teams were shut down, games were postponed, and a new ranking system was created. The number of games played ranged from 10 at the lowest to 20 at the highest. One of the only constants: Northeastern’s domination.

Huskies Top UNH to Win Tenth Straight

By Jordan Baron and Jack Sinclair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Women’s Hockey Washes Away Warriors

By Sarah Olender and Mike Puzzanghera

NORTH ANDOVER, MA — On Friday night, Northeastern women’s hockey handled Merrimack easily, skating almost effortlessly to a 5–0 win backed by a Maureen Murphy hat trick. By all accounts, it was their most dominant game of the year.

Until today.

Backed by a three-point effort from Skylar Fontaine and a couple of firsts, the Huskies made quick work of the Merrimack Warriors in a 6–0 win at Lawler Rink.

“That was a full 60 minutes. We were working hard the whole time, we were possessing the puck very well,” Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito said. “We did a great job keeping our heads and matching the intensity that Merrimack was bringing.”

Northeastern controlled from the start, even after Katy Knoll took a penalty four minutes in. In fact, that’s what gave them the lead. On the kill, Fontaine picked up a pass from Alina Mueller and found herself in acres of space. She ripped her shot by Merrimack goaltender Emma Gorski to give the Huskies a quick 1–0 lead. 

The Huskies were determined to widen their lead. Junior forward Emma Jurusik soon scored her first collegiate goal and first point. With a quick scrum in front of the net, Jurusik got her stick on the puck, took it back into open space, and fired a shot that the heavily screened Gorski stood no chance of saving.

Of the 11 goals Northeastern scored this weekend, this one sent the bench into the wildest frenzy.

“Jurusik is probably one of the best teammates that any of these players have ever had,” Carpenito said. “She’s always positive. She always works really hard. We always try to find an opportunity for her to play and the team loves her, the coaching staff loves her. When someone like her gets an opportunity to play and they’re rewarded for how they’re doing out there, it’s really special.”

All of this happened in the first eight minutes of the first period. Already, anyone watching knew this game was going to be eventful.

But things lulled down until the final minute of the first, when Mia Brown, coming off an injury that kept her out of the lineup for a few weeks, sniped the top corner from just above the right face-off dot, the area Carpenito referred to as “Mia’s office”.

After a couple of rough games, Northeastern’s power play is finally clicking, and they got another tally today. After an impressive play down low by Brown to win the puck, Mueller found Megan Carter between the circles. Carter, who normally isn’t that high up in the offensive zone, took her chance with glee, picking out the top corner with a bullet for her first tally of the year.

The third period started quietly. There were a few back-and-forth penalties, but nothing was brewing until Fontaine matched Northeastern’s goal total from yesterday by placing a rebound five-hole on Gorski during four-on-four play. Murphy picked up the primary helper on the goal, her fourth point of the weekend after Friday’s hat trick.

And then Husky Katie Cipra, who potted a beautiful NESN Top 10 goal earlier in the season, notched another picture-perfect snipe. She collected the puck near Northeastern netminder Gwyneth Philips, then wove up the ice, through Merrimack’s players, swooped around the goal, and fired from the left faceoff circle. She saw Merrimack’s positioning, chose to not take a wrap-around, backed into open space, took Gorski off her angle, and fired a more strategic shot. Cipra’s quick reaction helped the Huskies bring the score to 6–0. 

It seemed like Northeastern’s puzzle pieces were fitting together perfectly. New and old Huskies found the back of the net, passes connected, and nothing got past Philips.

“I thought we saw a quality Gwyneth Philips today,” Carpenito noted. “She was seeing the pucks really well, I thought she actually made a couple of big saves for us when Merrimack had a couple flurries on net. She’s an outstanding goaltender, very athletic, and we’re very fortunate to have her.”

If Merrimack had one saving grace, it was Gorski. She made many saves on rebounds, flinging herself from one post to the other. Other than that, the Huskies dominated the game and fought hard for the win.

The team’s next games will likely be announced in a few days. Check the “Schedule” tab on this website for updates on our coverage.