No. 1 Huskies Stamp Ticket to Fourth Straight Conference Championship

Story by Catherine Morrison

Photos by Mike Puzzanghera

BOSTON — A spot in the championship game was on the line for Northeastern as they faced the University of Connecticut on Wednesday afternoon at Matthews Arena. Northeastern, as the newly minted top-ranked team in the nation, was the favorite. UConn was the underdog after upsetting nationally ranked Boston College for their spot in the semifinals.

The match of the Huskies was bound to be tense, and neither team disappointed. UConn battled hard, but a late shorthanded goal gave the Huskies a dramatic 2–1 win.

UConn (9–10–1) came out strong in the first period with a great shot by Danika Pasqua that led to Husky goaltender Aerin Frankel flipping head over heels to make the save. Northeastern (19–1–1) battled UConn for control of the puck, but shot only twice in the first fifteen minutes.

Northeastern’s luck appeared to change after a timeout at the five-minute mark, as the first line came out firing at freshman goaltender Tia Chan. Chloé Aurard gained the puck, skated around the back of the net, and dished to Alina Mueller in front. With ten seconds left in the period, Mueller tapped it in for the first goal of the night.

Once Northeastern gets a goal, it’s often over for their opponent. The Huskies like to pile the goals on, as they did in their 7–0 quarterfinal win over New Hampshire. But the other Huskies weren’t about to give up so easily.

The opening of the second period resembled the opening of the first, with the puck not spending extended time in either offensive zone. Northeastern looked like they were about to get an insurance goal when Aurard appeared to shoot the puck past Chan, sending the red goal light flaring. But after a few seconds, the light turned off, signaling the puck hadn’t quite made it and keeping the score at 1–0.

A couple minutes later, UConn retaliated with one of their own when Coryn Tormala sent what looked like a pass to the net from the back corner that bounced off Aerin Frankel and tied the score 1–1.

“I think she wished she had that first one back, but when I look back at this year, that was that was the first goal that I say ‘Oh, you know, she should have had it.’”

Northeastern stayed in their offensive zone for much of the rest of the period but couldn’t get anything past Chan.

As the seconds trickled down in the third period, it began to seem like overtime was on the horizon. With five minutes left of regulation, Northeastern’s Brooke Hobson slammed Taylor Wabick into the boards, sending Wabick onto the ice and Northeastern head coach Dave Flint into apoplexy. Wabick left the ice of her own accord and Hobson earned a two-minute penalty for boarding.

If Northeastern were any other team, hope might have been lost. But Northeastern has an elite penalty kill unit and was prepared to fight until the end. Thirty seconds into the penalty kill, two-time-defending Hockey East Defenseman of the Year Skylar Fontaine dished to Aurard, who dumped it in for the win.

“They were lining up for the face off and I just had this feeling in the back of my head, we got a really good chance of scoring a goal here,” Flint recalled. “Anytime Alina, Chloé, and Skylar are on the penalty kill and all on the ice, I like our chances of scoring a goal if the other team turns a puck over.”

UConn pulled Chan with two minutes left, hoping to get something going with an extra forward. But they were stymied by the home Huskies and only narrowly avoided two empty-net goals by Mueller.

“It’s okay for us to have some of those games,” Flint said, “to grind out games and compete, battle and have some adversity and then come out on the winning end, because that makes us a better team.”

Northeastern will play for their fourth consecutive Hockey East Championship on Saturday night. Their foe is No. 9 Providence, who the Huskies swept in three regular-season matches. WRBB will call that game live from Matthews Arena, with coverage beginning at 6:50 PM Eastern.

UConn’t Take It With You: Northeastern Wins Fifth in a Row

Story by Mike Puzzanghera

Photos by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — Last year’s women’s Hockey East championship game saw Northeastern put nine goals past UConn in a thorough blowout. It was a primetime showing of the dominance Northeastern displayed throughout their previous three title-winning seasons.

Tuesday night’s rematch at Matthews Arena featured far, far fewer goals. But it may have been a better demonstration of just how much control Northeastern can have over the rest of Hockey East, as the Huskies easily pushed their rival pups away from the dinner bowl, keeping all the food for themselves in a 2–0 win.

Midway through the first period, after Northeastern controlled the puck for the opening, they nabbed their first goal. In what looked like a broken play, Chloé Aurard lost the puck as she tried to toe drag past a defender, but picked up the loose puck and looked to pass. She found Alina Mueller waiting at the back door and Mueller let herself in, poking a one-timer past Samantha Carpentier-Yelle.

The goal was Mueller’s team-leading sixth goal and 14th point of the season. For a team that has struggled early in games this year, the first-period tally was a good sign.

“One of the challenges we gave to the team today was that we wanted them to come out to a quick start,” acting head coach Nick Carpenito said.

That opening goal was all the Huskies needed, but that didn’t stop them from getting another. Peyton Anderson found Miceala Sindoris waiting in the slot three minutes into the second, and Sindoris made no mistake, scoring her first of the year.

Northeastern’s Aerin Frankel was rarely tested in net en route to her fifth shutout of the season, though she did make one excellent save to deny Coryn Tormala on a two-on-one. And the local Huskies even outplayed the visitors on the penalty kill, preventing the invasive species from creating many good looks.

Carpenito hailed the job assistant coach Lindsay Berman has done leading the penalty kill units.

“Anytime you have the offensive ability that we have on our penalty kills, if they can create an opportunity, then go for it,” Carpenito said. “A lot of teams are running a 1-3-1 [power-play set-up] this season, so that could leave them a little bit vulnerable up top. With the speed we have, if we have the ability to stretch the ice with possession, obviously responsibly, then we’re going to take advantage of it and create opportunities.”

The Huskies’ fifth win in a row — and second straight shutout — pushed them to 9–1–1 on the season. They’re only getting hotter as their schedule heats up, and they’ll aim to continue that momentum on Friday at home against Merrimack. WRBB will have the call, with coverage kicking off at about 4:20 PM Eastern.

2020–21 Women’s Hockey East Preview: UConn Huskies

Last Year: 19–18–2 (13–12–2, fifth place conf.), lost to Northeastern in final

Head Coach: Chris Mackenzie (eighth season)

Preseason Poll Finish: Fourth

Losses: G Morgan Fisher, F Briana Colangelo, F Jessie Aney, F Catherine Crawley, F Leona Sim, D Tristyn Svetek

Additions: G Tia Chan, F Kathryn Stockdale, F Jada Habisch, F Valérie Haché, F Kate Klaasen D Alexandra-Anne Boyer

By Jack Sinclair

The UConn Huskies had a lot of success last season, putting them in an excellent position going into this year. Despite a fifth place finish to the regular season, the Huskies found an extra gear in the tournament. Led by star forward Natalie Snodgrass, UConn upset some strong competition before being blown out in the championship game by the juggernaut that is Northeastern. Snodgrass notched a team-leading 16 goals and 33 points last year, and will be looking to build on that breakout success. 

A huge blow to the Huskies’ hopes is the loss of two of their top three forwards. Catherine Crawley and Briana Colangelo both graduated, forcing the Huskies to make up for the 50+ combined points the two contributed.

Another setback is the loss of starting goalie Morgan Fisher. Although sophomore backup Samantha Carpentier-Yelle saw some ice time last season, she will have to step up in order to replace Fisher’s production. Carpentier-Yelle showed promise in the limited time she stood between the pipes, posting a .929 save percentage and a 7–3 record, in 12 appearances. The Huskies brought in freshman goalie Tia Chan to alleviate Carpentier-Yelle’s workload, but whether they will equal last season’s effort is a major question.

Other newbies include forwards Kathryn Stockdale and Jada Habisch. They most likely will not be the answer to the losses of Crawley and Colangelo, but their production can definitely ease the burden on the upperclassmen. Also arriving is defender Alexandra-Anne Boyer, who will strengthen the team’s blue line following the graduation of Tristyn Svetek. 

Bottom Line: The Huskies lost several key contributors from last year’s squad. However, returning star Natalie Snodgrass and a slew of fresh talent are poised to overcome those challenges. The Huskies will play aiming to prove that last year’s deep tournament run was not a fluke, and that they can compete with the best in the conference. That said, the talent gap between the Huskies and the top teams is still apparent, and lots of work is needed before they join the conference’s elite.