Story and Photos by Sarah Olender
BOSTON — Coming off of a 3–0 win against the Merrimack Warriors Friday night, the Northeastern Huskies were still feeding off of that energy.
Northeastern’s three seniors were honored before their last regular-season home game. Codie Cross, from Alberta, Canada, Paige Capistran, from Manchester, New Hampshire, and Matti Hartman, from Etna, New Hampshire, were all recognized for their contributions to the program.
Cross played a shift in the first period, but an ongoing lower-body injury kept her from playing heavy minutes. Capistran and Hartman both played their hearts out, as did many other Huskies.
“They’re great leaders on and off the ice and really nice people, and I think they’ve done a lot for this program,” junior goaltender Aerin Frankel said. “Our culture has grown a lot, and it started with them as freshman learning from their seniors and they’ve done a really good job carrying that out to this team.”
Even though the Huskies’ position in Hockey East was determined more than three weeks ago, head coach Dave Flint still wanted to finish the year strong.
“I get more passionate, I think, on senior weekend,” he said. “Even though it was a long time ago for me, I remember what it was like . . . so I always want the seniors to go out on a winning note.”
The energy that Flint wanted was evident throughout the first period and most of the game. The Huskies started strong, maintaining possession for most of the period.
With nine minutes remaining, Northeastern center Tessa Ward received a penalty for cross-checking. While most teams might be nervous when down a player, the Huskies seem to gain confidence. Only eight percent of the team’s penalty kills have ended in goals, compared with the Huskies’ 15 percent success rate on the power play.
This penalty kill was no different. Alina Mueller fired a shot into the back of the net for her third shorthanded goal this season.
The Huskies notched a second goal when Miceala Sindoris’ slick puck handling and blocked wrister led to a loose puck in the slot. Brooke Hobson was trailing the play and positioned herself perfectly to slap it home.
In the second period Merrimack increased their intensity and energy. They had many attempts on goal, but none passed through Frankel. The Husky goalie fired her team up near the end of the second period when she made an initial save, saw the puck was open and vulnerable behind her, dove backward to make a second save, and perfectly cleared the puck to Katy Knoll. Knoll found Tessa Ward, who carried the puck up the ice, wrapped around the net, and perfectly fed Mia Brown for the third and final goal of the game.
The third period was a slow and scoreless one for the Huskies. While they maintained possession for most of the period, they did not get as many shots on goal as they would have liked.
Near the end of the game, a Tessa Ward checking penalty and a Chloe Aurard slashing call brought the fierce penalty kill squad back out onto the ice. It was fitting that the successful penalty kills would seal an illustrious defensive record — when the clock showed zeros, Aerin Frankel had recorded her 10th shutout of the year, breaking Erika Silva’s 20-year-old school record. Frankel also equaled Chanda Gunn’s 19-year-old record of 23 wins.
“It’s a cool thing to know, but it’s not super important to me personally,” Frankel said. “It’s more important to me that we keep winning.”
The Huskies (28–4–2, 24–3–0 WHEA) kick off the Hockey East Tournament this week with a best-of-three quarterfinal series against the Vermont Catamounts. Tune in for WRBB’s coverage from Matthews Arena, with the first game starting at 1 PM EST on Thursday.
“We need to be focused, we need to be ready,” Flint said. “It’s playoffs, anything can happen.”