By: Christian Skroce
BOSTON – Despite a rough end to the regular season, the Northeastern women’s hockey team came up big when it mattered most to reach the Hockey East semifinals for the eighth year in a row.
Coming into the tournament as the No. 4 seed, Northeastern (17-16-3) played host to the fifth-seeded New Hampshire (14-15-7) in a best-of-3 series in the quarterfinal round.
Game 1 of the series didn’t exactly start the way the Huskies had hoped. Although it was Northeastern with most of the chances early on, UNH was able to get on the board first 8:23 into the game on Carlee Toew’s fourth goal of the season. However, the Huskies responded in a big way with three straight goals to close out the first period. Denisa Krizova scored the first of the three just 53 seconds after New Hampshire’s goal. Lauren Kelly and Skylar Fontaine then added a goal each to give Northeastern a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.
UNH cut into the deficit in the second period after a strike from Taylor Wenczkowski. But it was the Northeastern defense that came up big in the end as the team held the Wildcats to just five shots in the third period to give the Huskies the 1-0 series lead.
In the second game of the series, it was redshirt junior Tori Sullivan who got the scoring started for the Huskies with a goal midway through the opening frame. UNH responded quickly, though, as Nicole Dunbar knotted the game at one less than a minute later. The score remained tied until 71 seconds into the second period, when Sullivan put Northeastern back on top after firing home a rebound off a shot from McKenna Brand.
Sullivan’s second goal of the day proved to be the difference, as the Northeastern defense took over to limit UNH to just 12 shots in the final 40 minutes of the game, allowing the Huskies to come away with a 2-1 lead and a series sweep.
Northeastern returns to Matthews Arena on Saturday for the Hockey East semifinals, where they will battle 3rd seeded Maine. The winner will move on to play the either UConn or Boston College in the Hockey East championship at Matthews Arena on Sunday at 1:30 PM.