Toward the end of a hard-fought game, the Northeastern and UConn women’s hockey squads were deadlocked at one. When a two-minute boarding minor sent Northeastern to the penalty kill, it appeared the momentum had swung UConn’s way. But off a UConn turnover, Skylar Fontaine and Chloé Aurard rewrote the script.
Jack Sinclair and Catherine Morrison on the call:
Cover image by Mike Puzzanghera. Read our full written coverage here.
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.
To watch this year’s Northeastern team was to watch hockey’s version of a freight train.
They were dependable. They were powerful. And they were liable to barrel through anything and anyone who stood in their way.
The result is a regular season statistical footprint that looks like someone turned down the difficulty sliders. As the Huskies prepare for the Hockey East Tournament and a likely NCAA Tournament bid, let’s examine that footprint.
This is the points percentage you get from a 17–1–1 record. Put another way, it’s what you get when you lose your second game to a No. 9 Boston College squad with six more games under their belt, tie New Hampshire, and win everything else in sight.
Only Penn State is in their neighborhood this season, boasting an .889 percentage with one fewer game played. Even if the Nittany Lions win their last two regular season games, they’ll still fall short of the Huskies.
When gauged by the two-points-for-a-win, one-for-a-tie system used in non-pandemic years, it emerges as the best pound-for-pound regular season in five years. The last team that fared better: the 2015–16 BC Eagles, who won 40 games in a row before losing the national championship to Minnesota. They’re in rarefied air here.
0.65 and .971
These are Aerin Frankel’s goals against average and save percentage stats, respectively. If they hold through the playoffs, they would best the NCAA single-season records of 0.71 and .963, set in 2016–17 by Wisconsin’s Ann-Renée Desbiens.
Frankel’s defenders deserve plenty of credit. Lauren MacInnis, Brooke Hobston, Lily Yovetich, Abbey Marohn, Skylar Fontaine, and Megan Carter have largely shielded her from the brunt of Hockey East’s best attackers. That’s why Frankel doesn’t have as many saves as some of her conference counterparts, and it’s why she won’t approach her own save total from last season or Desbiens’s from 2016–17.
But when she was challenged, she was without peer in Hockey East or anywhere else. A 366-minute shutout streak carried her to the Northeastern and Hockey East shutout records — plus the program goalie wins record — and she’s poised to build on those next season. Best of luck to the rest of the conference.
The team’s weeks-long clean sheet allowed the offense to score 43 unanswered goals.
No, you didn’t misread that. Your glasses aren’t smudged and neither is your screen. You haven’t stepped through any sort of wormhole. Sandwiched between a Claire Tyo goal on January 22 and a Chavonne Truter tally on February 13, the Northeastern women’s hockey team scored 43 unanswered goals. Seven of the other nine Hockey East teams didn’t match that total over the entire season.
It was keyed by a 20–0 combined score in two games against Holy Cross at the hands of 11 different scorers. In the second game, 12 Husky goals against 12 Frankel saves meant that the netminder probably could have watched Netflix in net the whole game without changing the outcome. And while Holy Cross and Merrimack are certainly not the best Hockey East had to offer this season, the Huskies also blanked then-No. 7 Providence during the streak to complete a three-game season sweep of the Friars with a combined 13–1 score.
The amount of goals Northeastern allowed in 19 games. This was easily the best mark in the nation; Minnesota-Duluth is the current runner-up with 17 goals allowed, but has the advantage of having played three fewer games than the Huskies. Minnesota-Duluth has two games left to play to make the Huskies’ number look even more peerless.
Northeastern countered those 13 with 80 goals of their own, a more than six-to-one advantage. They were dueling with a broadsword; everyone else had sporks.
Even when they challenged themselves by putting opponents on the power play, it was still too easy. In 54 penalty kills this year, Northeastern allowed only two goals and scored five. Think about that for a minute; even with one arm tied behind their back, Northeastern still handily outperformed their full-strength competition. Heck, five shorthanded goals is more than four Hockey East teams got on their power plays all season.
Northeastern head coach Dave Flint has mentioned that they sometimes get “too cute” in their offensive zone, that they spend too much time looking for the perfect shot. Northeastern totaled a Hockey-East-best 736 shots on goal this season, a whopping 140 shots more than runner-up UConn. Imagine what the number would be if they took Flint’s words to heart and shot more aggressively.
Collectively, these stats reflect the sort of wire-to-wire dominance that doesn’t come along every year. This is one of the best teams in recent memory, and they stand a legitimate chance of what that 15–16 BC team failed to do: become the first Hockey East team to win a national championship.
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.
The No. 2 Northeastern Huskies traveled up to Burlington, Vermont on Friday for the first of two games against the Catamounts. The Huskies entered Gutterson Fieldhouse riding a 15-game unbeaten streak, while the Catamounts were fresh off a hard-fought series split against Boston University.
It was a rather inauspicious first period for the Huskies. The sharp edge of their play was dulled by the physical play of the Catamounts. Passes missed tape, and the puck was constantly ceded in the neutral zone.
However, when the Huskies did break into the Catamount zone, they looked threatening. The top trio of Alina Mueller, Maureen Murphy, and Chloé Aurard dominated the puck, cycling it crisply around the ice. But they couldn’t find the back of the net.
The action bounced up and down, with neither team establishing themselves in either zone. Megan Carter was shaken up on an ugly collision with Vermont’s Theresa Schafzahl that gave the Huskies their first power play. They dominated the ice and managed to slip the puck in after a chaotic scrum in front of the net, but the effort was waived off. After a review, the call stood, and the score remained 0–0.
The action continued to go back and forth, with Vermont’s physical play causing Northeastern some difficulty.
“We were a bit too perimeter,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said. “We weren’t getting pucks in deep. We needed to get bodies in front of the net.”
The period ended with the Huskies’ penalty kill on the ice after Skylar Fontaine was called for checking with 20 seconds left. The kill unit allowed Vermont a few chances, but Aerin Frankel made herself look twice as big as she moved across the crease. As soon as the penalty was killed off, the Huskies found themselves on an odd-man rush. A swiftly moving Molly Griffin took the puck deep into the zone before sliding it across to Tessa Ward, who slotted it home to give the Huskies a one-goal lead.
The momentum swung the Huskies’ way, and their attacking zone presence instantly increased. The Catamounts struggled to get the puck past their blue line, as the Husky forecheck applied unrelenting pressure.
After about 10 minutes of domination, the Catamounts finally put pressure on the net. Frankel was firing on all cylinders, darting back and forth across the crease as shots came flying in from all directions.
The Catamounts’ efforts did not bear fruit, and the Huskies marched back down the ice. A thundering slapshot off Carter’s stick was tipped by Veronika Pettey, giving the Huskies their second goal of the period and Pettey her second on the year.
Vermont hit the ice for the third period with a reignited fury. They pursued the puck faster than Northeastern was ready for, and the Huskies found themselves on the back foot early. Frankel continued to stand strong against the UVM attack. The action bounced back and forth, with neither team holding the puck for much longer than thirty seconds. Five minutes into the period, the Catamounts finally beat Frankel when a spinning Corinne McCool cut the deficit to one.
Vermont continued to challenge, forcing Frankel to make a number of difficult saves. The Catamounts fought with desperation, and pulled their goalie with two minutes to go. After a scrum in the neutral zone, Megan Carter batted the puck out, caught a lucky bounce off the boards, and slid the puck into the gaping net.
“They play a lot like us,” Flint said. “If you’re standing around staring at the puck, you’re going to get in trouble, and I feel like we did that a couple times . . . It was one of the toughest games we’ve had in a while.
The Huskies’ 3–1 win boosted them to 16–1–1 and cemented their position atop the Hockey East standings. They will look to extend their unbeaten streak to 17 tomorrow against Vermont (6–3–0) in their final regular-season game.
BOSTON — The Northeastern women’s hockey team isn’t used to playing competitive games this season.
But on Sunday night they had to adjust, as a talented New Hampshire squadron kept them on their toes for most of the game. Still, three third-period goals rocketed the Huskies to a 4–1 victory. Skylar Fontaine, Tessa Ward, Chloé Aurard, and Miceala Sindoris lit the lamp, and Alina Mueller posted another multi-point performance. The win extended the Huskies’ unbeaten streak to 15 games and improved their record to 15–1–1.
The Huskies started off the first period strong, pinning the Wildcats deep in their own end. New Hampshire had learned from the previous day’s affair, and were packing the center of the ice to keep the Huskies on the perimeter. Ava Boutillier rarely had to work for a save, as eight of Northeastern’s 15 shots were blocked by the skaters in front of her.
Northeastern, displaying their unrelenting perseverance, kept pressuring the Wildcats, but Boutilier and company were unwilling to concede. New Hampshire was no longer happy sitting back and trying to prevent the Huskies from scoring, and instead turned the tables by ratcheting up their forecheck. The Huskies suddenly found themselves backed into their own zone, something they didn’t face in previous matchups.
The action went up and down the ice. Both teams tried to create scoring chances off the rush, but each goaltender reached deep into their bag of tricks to keep the game scoreless.
Northeastern hit the ice for the second period frustrated with their lack of scoring, as they turned their pace up to 11 and outskated the Wildcats at every opportunity. New Hampshire couldn’t keep up.
“I told them just to simplify,” said Northeastern head coach Dave Flint. “We were trying to make big plays and stretch passes. We were feeding into what [UNH] was doing.”
And five minutes in, the Huskies took the lead. The Husky first line took the ice for a power play and moved the puck around the perimeter trying to create shooting space. Mueller received the puck from Brooke Hobson in the left faceoff circle, and reared back for an attempt at the back of the net. As Boutilier and the Wildcat blockers prepared for the shot, Mueller sniped a quick pass to Fontaine, who was patiently waiting on the right side of the net. Everyone in the arena was caught off guard as Fontaine easily slotted the puck home for a goal.
The Wildcats stayed persistent, however, and kept the Huskies off the board for the remainder of the period. The Wildcats killed three of four Husky power plays on the evening, including one later in the second. The Wildcats also had four power plays; the Huskies’ fearsome four killed all of them.
The third period is when things started to go wrong for the visiting squad. With just over 10 minutes remaining, Northeastern’s Ward found herself in a prime opportunity as she picked off an errant puck in the neutral zone and skated it across the blue line with minimal coverage between her and the net. She flicked the puck onto the far side of her stick and shoveled it towards the goal, above Boutilier’s left shoulder, and into the back of the net.
“When Tessa came up with that big goal, I think everyone was kind of like ‘Okay, here we go,’ It loosened things up a bit,” Flint said.
Just a minute later, the Huskies found themselves in the offensive zone again, as Mueller shot the puck from about 10 feet out. Boutilier saved it but couldn’t control the rebound, and that was all Aurard needed to get her 11th goal of the season.
Then, just when the Wildcats thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did. Sindoris received the puck in the left faceoff circle with just over seven minutes to play and sniped it home for the fourth Husky goal of the night, and the third of the final period.
The Wildcats attempted to get themselves back in the game in the final minutes, and they did so valiantly, limiting the Huskies’ zone time and even firing one past Frankel with 3:30 remaining to break the shutout. However, there wasn’t enough time left to mount a serious comeback.
“I thought [it was] a hard fought win,” Flint said. “We had to grind it out. They made us really work for it.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.