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.”