Porter Protects, Murphy and Mueller Match, Aurard Overcomes

Story by Jack Sinclair

Photos by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — On one end a new face; on the other, a lot of empty seats.

On Sunday afternoon, the Northeastern and Maine women’s hockey teams faced off for the third time this month. Maine came to the arena with a severely shortened bench, including just five defensemen and nine forwards.

Northeastern (6–1–1) had five more skaters on their bench than Maine (4–5–0). Among them was Maureen Murphy, who transferred to Northeastern after two years at Providence. After some post-transfer eligibility issues prohibited her from playing, Murphy was finally unleashed on Sunday. She took over at right wing on the top line with Alina Mueller and Chloé Aurard.

“It was great,” Murphy said after the game, “I hadn’t played a game in a long time, and my teammates were also very supportive. They welcomed me in with open arms.”

All three would score a goal by the end of the day, and the line’s chemistry was obvious.

“Obviously, Alina and Chloe are great people and great players,” Murphy said. “We talked a lot before the game and between periods and last night, so a lot of communication.” 

In the past few games, it took 15 minutes for Northeastern to begin generating sustained offense. Tonight, they quickly established themselves in the offensive zone. It paid off, as two-and-a-half minutes after puck drop, Alina Mueller coolly netted her third goal of the season, assisted by Skylar Fontaine.

Maine goaltender Loryn Porter, coming off a two-week break from game action, had allowed a goal on the first shot she had faced. She was quick to remedy that, shutting out the Huskies for the rest of the period. Porter made some spectacular saves, including a dive across her crease to rob Murphy.

Maine, with their reduced bench, played conservatively. They allowed Northeastern to cycle the puck around the perimeter and simply parked the bus in front of Porter. Despite this, the Huskies created good looks at the net. Porter fought everything off, and her skaters blocked several shots as well.

“I’m going to have nightmares about Porter,” Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito said.

Both teams returned to the ice for the second period with fresh legs. Maine tried to generate some offense, even forcing Husky netminder Gwyneth Phillips to make her first saves of the game early in the second. Northeastern didn’t take too kindly to that, and upped the tempo of the game.

The Black Bears devoured ice, taking lengthy shifts in their defensive zone for almost two minutes at a time. Northeastern continued to pound shots at Porter and any skater who dared step into a shooting lane. Porter, who had saved 24 consecutive shots after the initial cough-up, was finally beaten again after a quick scrum in front of her. It was Murphy who knocked the loose puck in for her first goal as a Husky.

“We had a lot of momentum and a lot of possession throughout the entire game,” Murphy noted. “Obviously, Maine’s goalie played great. I don’t know, I just ended up in front of the net. Even if I hadn’t put it in, I knew Chloé was there too.”

The Black Bears then went on the power play after Ani FitzGerald was called for tripping, but the Huskies’ lethal penalty kill unit silenced it with ease. The Huskies started pressuring the Black Bears again, but got caught in a change. Maine’s Ida Press recognized the error and quickly dished to Morgan Sadler on the wing. Sadler sniped the corner of the cage for Maine’s first goal in Matthews Arena this season. 

Maine continued their surge into the third period, forcing an offensive zone faceoff early. Ali Beltz won the puck back on the forecheck and fired a quick wraparound shot from the goal line. Phillips positioned her pad slightly above the ice, and the puck slid through the opening and into the net. Maine, despite their shortened bench, had tied the game. 

Northeastern once again turned up the tempo and poured on the pressure. They smothered the Maine skaters, won every puck battle, and allowed Maine only the occasional look at Phillips’ net. Loryn Porter was unfazed by it all, stopping every shot that came her way. Northeastern played superbly, but Porter was playing 4D chess while the Huskies were playing checkers. 

End of regulation. Game tied 2–2.

The teams slowly felt each other out as the overtime began. Northeastern got the first few looks, but Porter was still too much to handle. However, Maine’s Ally Johnson was whistled for body checking on Murphy, giving Northeastern a power play; though the Huskies couldn’t capitalize, they firmly established themselves on Maine’s side of the ice. In the last minute of overtime, Chloé Aurard took the zone, skated into the slot, shook off a defender, and finally beat Porter with a blistering, game-winning wrister.

“I was on my offhand, and I know Chloé has a great shot,” Murphy explained. “I was yelling ‘Shoot, shoot, shoot,’ and she heard me, picked her spot, and scored it. It was a nice shot.”

“I thought we were really, really, good,” Carpenito said. “I thought we were executing well, I thought we had good presence up front. I thought defensively we were fantastic.”

The Huskies’ next scheduled game is Friday at 7 PM Eastern against #7 Providence, though this is subject to change given pandemic concerns. Check WRBB’s schedule page for coverage information.

Huskies Top Maine as Frankel Breaks NU Shutout Record

By Sarah Olender

BOSTON — With Patty Kazmaier top-three finalist in Alina Mueller, Hockey East’s best defenseman in Skylar Fontaine, and now the record-breaking Aerin Frankel holding down the fort in goal, the Northeastern women’s hockey team is a threat to any team in the country. 

Maine doesn’t have many advantages against the No. 3 Huskies, but they gave them a run for their money Sunday evening at Matthews Arena. 

The game started out with Northeastern playing their usual 110 percent, but Maine definitely kept the pressure on. The Black Bears started by firing more shots on goal, blocking more shots, and being more aggressive in scrums for the puck.

Maine was also much stronger on defense than they were Saturday evening, allowing only one goal the whole game and clearing the puck out of the zone on every rebound. They helped out goalie Loryn Porter, who logged incredible performances in both games. 

“I think we got exactly what we expected,” Northeastern Associate Head Coach Nick Carpenito said. “We expected a fast, gritty, physical Maine team [with] quality defense, great goaltending. They were very tough to penetrate, and we were fortunate enough to break through a couple times this weekend.”  

The first two periods were back and forth with neither team scoring, although Northeastern fired 32 shots on goal to Maine’s 12. At this point, both teams got increasingly aggressive, often breaking into shoving fits in front of the net after the whistle. There also were more aggressive plays, leading to more penalties. 

A few times on the power play, and even on the Huskies’ notoriously lethal penalty kill, Chloe Aurard just missed key scoring chances. But after 42 minutes of scoreless hockey, she redeemed herself. Ani FitzGerald fed Aurard, who received it on her skates, kicked it to herself, and scored what ended up being the only goal of the game. 

The Huskies needed a Frankel shutout to pull out a win, and that’s exactly what they got. Her 21st shutout in a Husky uniform broke Erika Silva’s 20-year-old program record.

“She is a phenomenal person, phenomenal leader, you know just a great character person,” Carpenito said. “She obviously works hard and every bit of this honor she deserves.”

This record comes at the beginning of her senior season, meaning she still has time to widen the margin between her and the rest of the pack. Even now, she’s played 10 fewer games in a Husky uniform than Silva did.

On the other side of the rink, Porter didn’t smash any records in net, but her performance was impressive nonetheless. Her 40 saves Sunday night gave her 84 in the two-game series.

“She was awesome,” Frankel said. “She was really strong the whole weekend and it really frustrated some of our forwards. Anytime you have a goaltender like her it’s hard and it slows down the opponent, but she did an awesome job seeing shots.”

Northeastern Tops Maine as Frankel Ties School Shutout Record

By Jack Sinclair

BOSTON — After three weeks of waiting, the No. 3 Northeastern women’s hockey team finally hit the ice for a Hockey East matchup against the Maine Black Bears Sunday evening.

Entering the contest, the Huskies’ only action of the season was a split home-and-home against No. 9 Boston College. The Black Bears had played six games, losing only two, and came into Matthews Arena two weeks after a split series against Providence.

Northeastern started the game playing, well, like a team that hadn’t played in three weeks. They were rusty, missed passes, and overskated the puck. The sloppy play gave Maine a few looks at the net, but Aerin Frankel fought off the Black Bears attempts with ease. She would eventually save 16 shots en route to her 20th career shutout, tying Erika Silva for the Northeastern record.

After a rough first stretch, the Huskies turned the tide in their favor. They dominated at both ends, holding Maine on their own half of the ice for the rest of the period.

“We went into the locker room, and just had to hit that reset button,” Northeastern Head Coach Dave Flint said. “We reminded everybody of what we needed to do to be successful.”

Flint’s words clearly resonated, as the Huskies came out of intermission on fire. Just under 30 seconds into the second period, Husky stars Alina Mueller and Skylar Fontaine connected on a give-and-go which Fontaine slotted past Maine goaltender Loryn Porter to break the scoreless tie.

“Sky’s best asset is her speed,” Flint said. “It allows her to be more offensive than a lot of defensemen because she has that ability to get back. Our philosophy as a team is we don’t have three forwards and two defensemen — it’s to attack with five and defend with five. When we have someone like Skylar, or [Brooke] Hobson too, they can get up during the rush and get back to defend.” 

The lead didn’t deter the Huskies from applying more pressure. Forward Andrea Renner was a constant thorn in Maine’s side, as her forechecking gave the Black Bear defenders nightmares. Renner pursued the puck all around the Huskies’ offensive zone and fired many quick wristers toward the cage. Porter held fast, and fought off a flurry of Northeastern shots on goal. 

Porter played like she was possessed by the spirit of Patrick Roy, making over 19 saves in the second period to keep the score at 1–0.

The Huskies entered the third period with a burst of energy similar to the beginning of the second. Relentless offensive pressure was the name of the game, as they threw in shots on goal from all over. Hobson eventually found the back of the net for her first point of the season and the second goal by a Husky defender on the evening. 

A couple minutes later, freshman forward Ani FitzGerald picked the pocket of Maine’s Ali Beltz in the neutral zone and carried the puck home for her first college goal, Northeastern’s third of the game.

“[They’re] big shoes to fill,” Flint said of FitzGerald taking Jess Schryver’s spot on the Huskies’ vaunted top line. “Any time you put a younger player in a position like that, you’re realistically putting them on a line with two of the best players in the world. She just needed to go to the net when they have the puck, but she’s also dynamic enough to create her own play.”

Flint adjusted his strategy after the third goal, going with his third and fourth lines of forwards. The lower lines didn’t take their feet off the gas, and continued to test Porter. The game ended with the Huskies still controlling the tempo, even though they couldn’t beat Porter a fourth time. Porter ended the game with an impressive 44 saves; she’s posted a .943 save percentage on the year. 

The Huskies will rematch Maine tomorrow at Matthews Arena. Mike Puzzanghera, Jack Sinclair, and Sarah Olender will call that game, with coverage beginning at 3:45 PM Eastern.