ERIE, PA — There really wasn’t a more heartbreaking way for it to end.
Just over three minutes into overtime, Daryl Watts banked a pass from behind the net off Megan Carter’s shoulder and into the Northeastern goal, giving Wisconsin their sixth national championship and second in a row, and ending the best season any Northeastern University team has ever had.
“Disappointing, obviously, the way it ended,” head coach Dave Flint said. “Also, wish it was maybe a better goal that ended that game, but that’s the way it goes, that’s the breaks and I’m proud of my team. They battled all year long.”
The two teams skated to a scoreless tie through two and a half periods before Wisconsin’s Makenna Webster laced in a rebound with nine minutes to play. Northeastern walked up the ice and, 35 seconds later, Chloé Aurard hit a missile past Kennedy Blair to knot things up again.
It was made possible by an excellent keep from Brooke Hobson at the blue line, as she chopped the puck down low to allow the Huskies to continue their attack.
The game between the two best teams in the country certainly lived up to its billing. The teams flew up and down the ice, traded shots back and forth, and got into physical scrums after nearly every whistle. By the end of the night, they did not like each other one bit.
The defensive work from Northeastern’s forwards — mainly the third line of Tessa Ward, Mia Brown, and Miceala Sindoris — was noticeable all game, as they forechecked and backchecked well to limit Wisconsin’s grade-A chances. Offensively, Alina Mueller was bright, as she always is. The Swiss phenom dangled between players with ease in all three zones and provided the primary assist for Aurard’s goal with a neat drop pass to her fellow European linemate.
Aerin Frankel stood on her head for the whole game, as she always does. She made a remarkable stop to keep Badger forward Casey O’Brien off the board in the second as O’Brien raced in all alone. She stifled a few Watts snapshots to keep her fellow top-three Patty Kaz finalist out of the back of the net. She directed a Webster attempt off the post and out. It was a remarkable game from the best goalie in the country.
But an unfortunate bounce ended the season.
“She gave us a chance, and that’s what we asked of her and she does that every time she steps in the net,” Flint said. “She’s proven she’s the best goalie in the NCAA — I’d say the best player in the NCAA and is a huge, huge reason for our success.”
It was only the second loss of the year for the Huskies: they lost a 2–1 game against BC on December 13 and were undefeated the rest of the way. They won Hockey East with ease, blistered past Robert Morris for the program’s first NCAA Tournament win, and came from behind to beat Minnesota-Duluth in the Frozen Four to earn their first-ever title game appearance.
Such a bright season of firsts came with a darker side: their first-ever loss in a national championship game.
“There were some skeptics questioning whether we were even good enough to be here and I think we set the record straight,” Flint said. “We earned our spot here and in the championship game, and we gave Wisconsin everything they could handle. I’m just proud of my team’s effort and what they’ve done all year long and all the accomplishments that they’ve had.”
With only Veronika Pettey receiving honors on Senior Day, there is an expectation that many of the team’s seniors will return for a fifth season. Frankel has already confirmed she will. This Northeastern team has the pieces and has the potential to return to the title game, and they’ll hope for a better break when they get there.
WRBB would like to thank those reading for their support all year. The station will be the first one in Matthews next year when puck drops for another fantastic season for Northeastern women’s hockey.
Another thank you is in order for the entire Northeastern Athletics staff. They have moved heaven and earth to make sure we can bring you the best possible coverage of everything Husky Sports, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
WRBB is calling the NCAA Women’s Hockey National Championship Game tonight live from Erie, Pennsylvania. Jack Sinclair, George Barker, and Mike Puzzanghera will be on mic, with coverage beginning at 7:15 PM Eastern.CLICK HERE to listen.
ERIE, PA — A perennial national title contender vs. an 18-game winning streak. The two seed vs. the one seed. Anyone trying to draw up a national title game couldn’t have picked a better one than Wisconsin vs. Northeastern.
It’s Wisconsin’s ninth national championship appearance, and third in the last four tournaments. They are the reigning national champions, and flew to a 12–3–1 record in the toughest conference in the country, the Western College Hockey Association (WCHA). With two wins to snatch the conference title, and two more to get here, the Badgers are now 16–3–1. Two of those playoff wins came against No. 3 Ohio State, including a 4–2 win Thursday night. This is a scary, scary team.
“They’ve earned the right to be here,” Wisconsin head coach Mark Johnson said. “It’s been a challenging year for everybody in college sports, and to get to play in the national championship game this year is pretty special. Hopefully we can take advantage of it and look back on it with great memories.”
Speaking of scary, their opponent is Northeastern. The Huskies will play in their first national championship game Saturday after winning their first-ever Frozen Four game Thursday afternoon over Minnesota-Duluth, 3–2, in OT. They haven’t lost since December 13 and won their fourth-straight Hockey East title this year.
“I started at Northeastern in 2008, and this was one of my goals, to get the program back to national prominence and compete for a national championship,” head coach Dave Flint said. “A lot of hard work from our players, our staff, and our support staff got us to this point.”
This game features six All-Americans, five top-10 Patty Kaz finalists, two top-three Patty Kaz finalists, and the national goaltender of the year. With so many stars out on the ice, the Huskies are hoping that their depth, something they’ve relied on all year, will be a factor.
“If we can shut down their first line and a couple players here and there, I think that will lead to success offensively,” Northeastern senior Tessa Ward said. “If everybody’s going, then I think we’re going to do well.”
On the Wisconsin side, they’re hoping that their experience in tournament games will give them an extra boost and help them avoid any initial nerves.
“We have plenty of experience on our team with about half of our girls being in this game before,” senior defender Grace Bowlby said. “I think that that brings a calming presence towards the younger girls so it’s pretty valuable.”
Take a look at how each of these teams got here and what to expect from them.
Last two in Erie
Northeastern: The Huskies haven’t had to battle much this year. They stormed through Hockey East with ease and, in the first game of this tournament, fought off a physical Robert Morris team without too much trouble.
But Duluth tested them all Thursday afternoon. They peppered Aerin Frankel with shots in the first, swarmed her net to create problems in front all game, and took a 2–0 lead into the third period.
“It’s definitely different from what we see in Hockey East,” Ward said. “WCHA is a lot more physical, a lot faster every game than what we were initially expecting, but I think our team responded well to the physicality of the game, and we were able to keep our composure and make the plays that we needed to play to get things done.”
But Northeastern battled back. They got a Maureen Murphy power-play goal less than a minute into the third period and, a few minutes later, got the tying goal from Katy Knoll after relentless forechecking from Veronika Pettey.
“It was definitely good that [Duluth] were physical knowing that this next game is also going to be, but I think that just drives us to have more of a chip on our shoulder, making sure that we’re not taking any penalties or anything. It just allows us to kind of compete harder and win those battles,” Pettey said.
They bombarded the Duluth net with shots from the second period on, but goalie Emma Söderberg kept the Bulldogs in it. That didn’t last forever though, as Skylar Fontaine buried the winner in OT to send the Huskies to the final.
One of the biggest keys for Northeastern in that game was the defensive play from their forward group. That play from Pettey started with a poke check at Northeastern’s blue line, and ended with her chasing the puck down to win it off a Bulldog behind their net before feeding a pass to the slot.
“We always talk about our performance in the D zone as the most important throughout the game, so I think we’ve just been emphasizing it a lot and as a forward, it still makes a huge difference,” Pettey said. “We’ve been talking about blocking shots and sealing off players from coming to the net so I think that, for me, focusing a lot on the D zone is really important.”
Northeastern’s third line, in particular, created many opportunities with their defensive work. Miceala Sindoris got a good snap shot on Söderberg in the third period before turning to set up Ward on a rush later in the frame after good work in the neutral zone.
“Defensively, I’ve come a long way in the past couple of years since I started here my freshman year, and it’s something that I really take pride in,” Ward said. “I think our line yesterday played really well defensively and that’s something that on the bench we’re always talking about. Offense starts in the D zone, and if we can get those pucks out and get those pucks deep that makes a huge difference in the momentum of the game.”
Wisconsin: The Badgers had a tougher conference path than the Huskies, but the result was the same, as they claimed their ninth WCHA title. They were matched up against a familiar foe to open the tournament in the Providence Friars.
Wisconsin made quick work of the Hockey East runner-up, cruising to a 3–0 win. They continued their hot streak in the semifinals, jumping on the Ohio State Buckeyes just over a minute into the first period. Wisconsin’s third line of forwards produced that first goal, and they would produce the next two as well.
“They’ve shown improvement the last six or eight games, they’ve really stepped their game up,” Johnson said of his third line. “I was very happy for them in [the semifinal] because they got rewarded on what they’ve been able to do the last several weekends for us and so hopefully that confidence that they came away from [the semifinal] springboards them into tomorrow night’s game.”
It took only two minutes of the second period for Wisconsin to strike again. Six minutes later, they made it 3–0.
The Buckeyes weren’t done though, as they grabbed a goal of their own with six minutes on the clock in the second.
Ohio hit the ice for the third reenergized, and they cornered Wisconsin in their own zone. Eight minutes into the third, the Buckeyes got one back. They continued to pound the Wisconsin net, but the stingy Badger defense, as well as some stellar goaltending by Kennedy Blair, kept the Buckeyes down by one. Ohio opted for the empty net in the dying moments of the game and a turnover in the final seconds of the game gave the NCAA’s leading goal scorer Daryl Watts a clear path to the empty net, icing the game at 4–2.
The Badgers shuffled their lines before the WCHA tournament, shifting Watts to the second line to play with Lacey Eden and Delaney Drake and, while they’ve struggled a bit to get going in this tournament, it creates a ridiculously effective second unit. They also rock a top line with Sophie Shirley, Britta Curl, and Brette Pettet that has combined for 59 points in 20 games.
In the back, Bowlby is an All-American defender with elite playmaking ability, and leads the Badgers with 17 assists. Nicole LaMantia is an All-WCHA Second-Team performer who operates on their second pair to give them defensive depth. Natalie Buchbinder is another big performer who offers senior leadership on the third pair. She missed time at the beginning of the year, but is back on the ice and making her impact. From front to back, the team is about as good as it gets.
“We just emphasize that everyone has each other’s back,” Bowlby said. “Hockey’s a game of mistakes and mistakes are going to happen, it’s how you handle them and bounce back from them.”
What to expect
This game will be FAST. Both teams play with speed in all zones. Wisconsin fits the traditional western mold of a fast, physical team, while Northeastern has shredded the idea that eastern teams can’t play with pace. As Skylar Fontaine said on Thursday, she loves to play with speed, since she does have speed herself.
“There’s gonna be a lot of talented players out there and it’ll just be a fun, fun game to be a part of,” Bowlby said.
Expect goaltending to be a factor as it was for Northeastern Thursday afternoon. Wisconsin’s Kennedy Blair is a very good goalie. Is she at Aerin Frankel’s level? No, no one is. But her 1.51 GAA and .933 save percentage while playing against WCHA opposition is impressive nonetheless.
More than anything else, expect a fantastic hockey game.
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.
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.
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.
BOSTON — Coming off of one of their best seasons — if not their best season — to date, Northeastern women’s hockey had set the stage for a historic achievement.
On Saturday night at Matthews Arena, they reached new heights after defeating Providence 6–2 to win their fourth straight Bertagna Trophy and cement themselves as the best team in the country.
Going into the championship game, Northeastern (20–1–1) knew they had to give it their all. They dominated from the drop of the puck, holding possession for long stretches in the first period. Providence (12–7–1) attempted to keep up by applying immense pressure, playing close man-to-man, and trying to deny Northeastern scoring chances. However, it was hard to stop the Huskies from making Providence goaltender Sandra Abstreiter work extra hard in her zone.
“I told them pregame ‘Let’s try to pop one in, first five minutes,’” Hockey East Coach of the Year Dave Flint said.
And just like that, Northeastern did. Katie Cipra skated a beautiful stretch from the blue line and backhanded the puck nicely over Abstreiter to open the scoring.
That seemed to flip a switch for the Friars, who upped the pressure for the second half of the period. Despite giving Northeastern a tougher time in the offensive zone, they still couldn’t establish a rhythm of their own.
Going into the second, both teams had dominating shifts, but a mistake by Abstreiter gave the Huskies their next goal. She allowed a Tessa Ward missile from the blue line to clang off the post, then found herself tangled up as the puck caromed off her and across the line.
A goal like that can be hard on a team — especially in a game this important — so the Friars needed something quickly. They seemed to figure it out when first-line forward Caroline Peterson got them on the board midway through the period.
However, the Huskies answered with some sweet revenge. Providence had reportedly made things unnecessarily difficult when Maureen Murphy was transferring to Northeastern, and Murphy’s absence from the teams’ regular season tilts was suspect. Now, in her first game against her old squad, Murphy scored the third goal for Northeastern on the power play, prompting an eruption from her linemates and the bench.
“She’s been one of my best friends all throughout high school and it was so exciting for me to hear that she made the decision to come to Northeastern.” tournament MVP Aerin Frankel said. “It’s amazing that we can have her, she’s just a huge piece to the puzzle . . . Just seeing her get that rewarding goal, especially against a team that she just came from and has played on before, just speaks measures to her and her work ethic, and she left it all out there.”
The Huskies’ domination only amplified in the final period. Molly Griffin and Miceala Sindoris each notched a goal, bringing the game to 5–1 six minutes into the third.
At this point the Friars were trapped. They managed to score once more, with senior Giana Savastano getting her first collegiate goal.
“She’s been tremendous.” Providence coach Matt Kelly said. “She’s been a D up until a week ago, then she went up to forward. She’s a kid that just has a motor.”
But then Northeastern shut the door. In a last-ditch attempt to narrow the score, Providence pulled Abstreiter with about three minutes left. But all that did was give the Huskies another scoring chance, as two-time Hockey East Best Defenseman Skylar Fontaine showed off her stellar pokecheck, accelerated down the ice to beat Friar Ariane Julien, and hooked the puck into the empty net while sliding down the ice.
That was all she wrote. Northeastern had their fourth straight championship. For the senior Huskies, this was an honorable moment.
“Some people go through their whole career and never win one championship, so winning a championship is pretty remarkable, but to win four in a row is usually unheard of,” Flint noted. “For them to never have lost a Hockey East playoff game is a credit to them.”
Now all that’s left for the Huskies is the ultimate goal: a national championship. After being unable to take their talents all the way last season due to the pandemic, they’ll finally get their shot on the biggest stage.
“We’re all super motivated and fueled having that opportunity taken away from us,” Frankel said of the team’s cancelled NCAA Tournament game last season. “It’s something that a lot of teams had to go through, so I think everyone has that competitive edge on their shoulder this year.”
WRBB will cover those games when they’re announced. Stay tuned on our social media for updates.
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.”
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.”
When two of the best goaltenders in Hockey East face off, the game is almost always going to be a low scoring, defensive battle.
But not when one of the two teams is the Northeastern women’s hockey team.
The Huskies hit the ice as if yesterday’s 4–1 win had never ended. They looked fresh despite the 20-hour turnaround. Providence didn’t. Northeastern was outskating the Friars to every loose puck and cycling the puck in the offensive zone like it was the middle of the third period.
The fiery start paid off, as Chloé Aurard found herself with a look at Providence goaltender Sandra Abstreiter’s cage. Abstreiter saved the initial wrister but couldn’t hold on to the puck, and Aurard tapped it in to open the scoring.
Even after the goal, the ice was still slanted in the Huskies’ favor. Providence struggled to break out of their own zone; when they managed to clear the puck, they were shut down before they could reach the red line. Northeastern’s pressure was overwhelming, and Skylar Fontaine was quick to capitalize for her 100th collegiate point. She was assisted by Alina Mueller, who fired an insane cross-ice pass to find Fontaine open.
While Northeastern maintained their hold over the game, Abstreiter stood strong, keeping the deficit at two.
The Friars upped the tempo, controlled the puck in their offensive zone, and even started testing Northeastern goaltender Aerin Frankel. The Huskies didn’t slow down either, and possession swung rapidly as neither team established itself anywhere. Both goaltenders were solid, but Abstreiter stood out, making multiple acrobatic saves.
But alas, all good things must come to an end. Aurard and Mueller barreled into the zone and a simple one-pass play gave Mueller a great look. It was all she needed, as she roofed the puck past Abstreiter for the Huskies third goal and her third point of the game. The period ended with the Huskies leading three goals to zero.
The Huskies continued to have their way with the Friars in the third period, then an early penalty gave Northeastern another power-play chance. Less than thirty seconds later, Tessa Ward collected and converted a juicy rebound after Abstreiter couldn’t control a missile from Veronika Pettey.
Providence tried to generate some offense, and even forced Frankel to make a couple of tough saves. But every time Providence tried, the Huskies pushed the puck right back up the ice with equal intensity.
“I never have any issue with our effort on the ice,” Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito said. “But it’s the execution, making sure we’re working smart. We always work hard, but making sure we are working smart from the first drop of the puck. We have progressed in that area for sure.”
A few minutes later, the Huskies struck again to move into blowout territory. Mueller scored her second goal of the game on a clever wraparound shot from behind Abstreiter’s net.
“[Mueller and Aurard] have been moving their feet a lot more,” Carpenito explained. “The first couple games we played were in January. It’s going to take every player a few games to turn themselves into midseason form.”
The Friars, already reeling from yesterday’s tough loss in Matthews Arena, were well and truly beaten. The remainder of the game was a formality, with Carpenito rolling out his bottom six forwards for longer shifts. However, as is so common with these Huskies, they didn’t get the memo that the game was decided. The fourth line generated lots of great offense, though Abstreiter refused to concede another goal.
The game ended with a 5–0 Huskies win, their third in three tries against Providence this season. The Huskies improved to 8–1–1 on the year while Providence fell to 9–4–1, meaning the third-place Huskies trail the second-place Friars by just four points despite having four games in hand. (Northeastern trails first-place Boston College by five points with three games in hand.)
“Today might have been our most complete game of the year,” Carpenito said. “We were moving our feet, we were getting pucks to the net, I thought we matched Providence’s intensity and their physical play as well.”
BOSTON — Going into Friday night’s game, with New Hampshire stalling near the bottom of the Hockey East standings and Northeastern hovering in third, it was natural to expect a blowout. The reality was far closer.
“I thought at times out execution was good,” Northeastern Acting Head Coach Nick Carpenito said. “I thought at times our execution was not so good and I think that’s just going to come with playing more.”
By the end of the first period, the Wildcats were outshooting the Huskies 14–6, not what anyone expected from a conference cellar dweller playing against a strong Husky defense. But one of the six Husky shots was a gorgeous strike from Katie Cipra, who wove between the Wildcat defenders and effortlessly found the top right corner of the net for the Huskies first opening-period goal of the season.
“She’s got [some] of the best hands I’ve seen in a long time,” Carpenito said. “She makes it look effortless. If you give that kid a little bit of space, she’s going to make you pay. To have somebody with that talent on the fourth line, I think it speaks so much to our depth and why we’re so successful.”
Katy Knoll kept things rolling to start the second period, tipping a shot from defender Megan Carter past Wildcat goaltender Ava Boutilier. In an TV interview after the period ended, Knoll noted that she and Carter — who is her roommate — practiced this shot before the game. It was rewarding, she said, to see their practice pay off.
However, the celebration was short lived. Brianna Brooks quickly answered, freezing Husky defender Lily Yovetich in a two-on-one and firing an unobstructed shot past goalie Aerin Frankel.
“It was definitely a little bit of an unfortunate bounce,” Frankel commented. “I think I made the stop and the puck actually bounced up and went behind me. I feel like there’s some tough bounces that we’re going to run into and it happens and that’s just hockey.”
The goal was the first Frankel allowed in nearly a month, as she recorded shutouts in the only two games Northeastern played during that span. Just four days after breaking the program’s career shutout record, Frankel nabbed another piece of Husky history.
In the third period, Northeastern’s Ani FitzGerald drew a five-minute major and game misconduct penalty from Nicole Kelly when the Wildcats’ star freshman forward contacted FitzGerald’s head. During this power play, the Huskies fought hard and spent an overwhelming amount of time in the offensive zone, yet could not find the back of the net. Within the first 13 minutes of the period, they had 19 shots on goal, as many as they’d had in the first two periods combined.
FitzGerald, shaken up from the hit, sat for a shift, with Knoll replacing her on the first line. When FitzGerald returned, she was tagged with her own penalty for goalie interference. With about 90 seconds to go, the Huskies had no choice but to bring out their lethal penalty kill lineup of Alina Mueller, Chloe Aurard, Brooke Hobson, and Skylar Fontaine. New Hampshire compounded the pressure by pulling Boutilier, leaving Northeastern to rebuff a four-on-six in their own defensive zone.
“Whenever we’re protecting the lead, typically we got that lead because we were aggressive and we were taking away space and we were putting on pretty solid pressure,” Carpenito said. “So we didn’t really change up our penalty kill philosophy too much.”
Good call. With 30 seconds to play, Hobson fired the puck out of the zone. As it caromed off the pipe of New Hampshire’s goal, Tessa Ward got there first and slotted home an empty netter to yield the 3–1 final score.
The Huskies (4–1–0) will rematch the Wildcats (3–8–0) tomorrow in New Hampshire at 6 PM Eastern. Jack Sinclair and George Barker will call the game, with coverage beginning about 10 minutes before puck drop.
After a season of hard work to put themselves in pole position heading into the postseason, the first-seeded Northeastern Huskies have the chance to defend their Hockey East crown for the second consecutive season. The women kicked off their playoff campaign with game one of a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series against the eight-seeded Vermont Catamounts at Matthews Arena.
Despite being the
lowest-seeded team in the tournament, the Catamounts put up quite the fight
against the No. 4 nationally ranked Huskies. After two periods of deadlocked
action, the Huskies used an early third period haymaker to put Vermont on their
heels and followed up with a flurry of strikes to send the Catamounts crashing
to the mat, pulling away to a 5–1 victory.
showed no sign of postseason nerves. Senior assistant captain Matti Hartman netted
her eighth goal less than five minutes into the game, firing home a
close-range shot off of a feed from sophomore Mia Brown.
Many may have thought the Huskies would quickly pull away after a start like that. Credit Vermont (10–17–8) for keeping their heads held high and refusing to kneel. The Catamounts used an aggressive, effective forecheck to disrupt Northeastern’s offense and keep them from cleanly carrying the puck forward.
“On their forecheck they
were relentless; they were all over us. There were some things we talked about
on our breakout that we weren’t really executing, and then the times that we
did get out we were turning the puck over in the neutral zone,” said Husky head
coach Dave Flint. “And then, all of a sudden, things aren’t going your way,
everyone starts gripping their sticks a little tighter.”
Vermont capitalized on the
Huskies’ disarray in the second period, using a Kristina Shanahan goal to even
the game just over six minutes into the frame. The Catamounts pressed
throughout the second, outshooting Northeastern nine to five. But their failure
to tally a second score would soon come back to bite them.
Whatever Flint and his
staff said in the locker room before the third period, it worked like a charm.
After an early penalty, the
Huskies went on the power play for the third time on the afternoon. After a
beautiful passing sequence led to a saved shot from Jess Schryver, sophomore
Alina Mueller picked the puck up near the corner of the offensive zone. As she
does so often, the Patty Kazmaier candidate picked out the perfect pass to her
teammate, finding Brown in open space for a one-time rocket to give the Huskies
“We stress a lot dropping
into the house, and I noticed that Vermont had all their players packed in
almost below the hash marks,” said Brown. “So I just was coming right down the
middle, and I saw Alina so I slowed up a bit, saw her pass it, and just shot it.”
The floodgates opened after
that. Mueller converted a goal of her own just 32 seconds later, and junior
Tessa Ward and freshman Kate Holmes added scores over the next 15 minutes to
put the contest out of reach and secure game one for Northeastern.
“Credit to Vermont for a
hard-fought game,” Flint said. “They gave us all we could handle, especially in
the first two periods.”
Northeastern’s depth has
been a key factor for them this season — they’re one of just four Division I
teams with at least five double-digit scorers, along with Wisconsin, Franklin
Pierce, and Minnesota. That depth shone again on Thursday, with five goals by
five different Huskies.
“That’s the way it’s gone all year,” Flint remarked. “That’s what we need if we’re gonna be successful down the stretch. We need players to step up in certain times, and that’s what we had tonight.”
Game two of the best-of-three series will commence tomorrow night at 7 PM EST, as the Huskies look to sweep the Catamounts in the quarterfinals for the second-straight year. WRBB will have full coverage of the game starting at 6:45 PM, with Matt Neiser and Dale DeSantis on the call.
“We need to be ready, “Flint
said. “They’re gonna play desperate, because they have to win or their season’s
done . . . we need to be ready from the drop of the puck.”