Huskies Best Catamounts in Regular Season Capper

By Khalin Kapoor

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.

Women’s Hockey Catapults Catamounts, 3–1

By Jack Sinclair

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.

2020–21 Women’s Hockey East Preview: Vermont Catamounts

Last Season: 10–18–8 (7–14–6, eighth place conf.), swept by Northeastern in quarterfinals

Head Coach: Jim Plumer (ninth season)

Preseason Poll Finish: Eighth

Departures: G Sierra Natzke, D Emma Katzman, F Abby Cleary, F Ali O’Leary, F Allie Granato, F Ève-Audrey Picard,

Additions: D Bella Parento, F Maddy Skelton, G Jessie McPherson, F Natálie Mlynková

By Sarah Olender

Already, the University of Vermont Catamounts are starting the season off at a disadvantage with the postponement to the start of their season. Due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Vermont, the university decided that men’s and women’s ice hockey and basketball will not begin until after December 19.

As a young team, Vermont didn’t lose much, with only five players departing. But after an eighth-place finish last season, and with only four new players hopping on board, the Catamounts aren’t expected to fare much better than they did last year.

Freshman forward Natálie Mlynková arrives by way of the Shelburne Stars, a junior ice hockey team in Ontario where she scored 43 goals last year. She will be expected to play a significant offensive role this season for a team that often struggled to score last season. She will have at least some company, as last year’s top four scorers — Theresa Schafzahl, Maude Poulin-Labelle, Corinne McCool, and Sini Karjalainen — are all returning.

Bottom Line: The Catamounts have not found success in the last few years of play. Fortunately, the team is keeping its top four scorers, who now have experience under their belt. Though new forward Natálie Mlynková could make some noise, Vermont is unlikely to make a drastic leap forward.

A previous version of this article misstated which players departed and joined this offseason.