Story by Mike Puzzanghera
Photo by Sarah Olender
Let’s start with the obvious. The correct answer for “which Northeastern women’s hockey games should I watch this year?” is all of them. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if not. This is an electric team that plays enjoyable hockey week in and week out in addition to being one of the best teams in the country.
But aside from watching every game, here are five dates when watching Northeastern women’s hockey should be your top priority.
Oct. 8 at Boston University
Northeastern and BU didn’t get to play each other last year. BU missed quite a few games due to positive COVID tests, and after the initial schedule was abandoned a few weeks into the season, the two never met.
The rivalry will finally be renewed on the second weekend of the season, with Northeastern travelling over to Commonwealth Ave. to Walter Brown Arena. A lot of Terrier talent has left since the last time these teams played, namely All-Hockey East mainstay Jesse Compher, but the fact that this big rivalry occurs so early in the year makes it a key game. Northeastern and BU later play a home-and-home Jan. 21-22.
Oct. 9, Nov. 5-6 vs. Providence
This isn’t just one series, but any game in Hockey East’s newest fierce rivalry is one to note. Perhaps fueled by the offseason transfer of former Friar star Maureen Murphy to Northeastern, each game between these two was physical to the end in 2020-21. Particularly, the Hockey East championship game at Matthews Arena (which Northeastern won 6-2) was a battle.
Providence played the whole Hockey East tournament with a COVID-depleted roster. Taking that Providence team with players such as Sara Hjalmarsson and, well, giving them a full roster, makes them much more dangerous.
The Huskies go down I-95 to Providence Oct. 9, then have a home-and-home with the Friars Nov. 5-6.
Nov. 26-27 at Princeton
The Tigers were set to play Northeastern in the first round of the 2020 NCAA Tournament before COVID-19 halted that in its tracks.
Since that point, the Tigers haven’t played a game. The Ivy League cancelled all athletics in 2020, leaving Princeton without a schedule.
For that reason alone, these two games need to be watched. There’s some unfinished business between these teams, and given Princeton’s status as a perennial contender in the ECAC, these will be two of the games of the year.
Dec. 4-5 vs. Cornell
This is the first chance Northeastern will have to get revenge for their 2019 NCAA Tournament loss to Cornell, when the Big Red came to Matthews Arena and snuck out with a 3-2 overtime win, after Gillis Frechette got loose on a 1-on-1 and buried her shot past Aerin Frankel.
Cornell is a much different team now. They’ve lost many of those stars from 2019, including new Northeastern addition Maddie Mills. Northeastern is different as well, but in a better way. They brought in plenty of talent, as incoming freshmen and transfers. Plus, they’ll have Alina Mueller this time (Mueller missed the 2019 meeting with a hand injury).
These games will be intense. Cornell fans, mainly alumni, always travel well. They packed the Matthews Arena seats in 2019. Northeastern projects to be the better team this season, but these two games should be down to the wire.
Feb. 1 vs. Boston College (Beanpot)
The Women’s Beanpot is back at Matthews Arena for the first time since 2017, and the opening round pits last year’s first- and second-place teams in Hockey East. Any Beanpot game is worth watching, but with Northeastern hosting it, the hope for the Huskies will be that they can lift the trophy on their home ice, like BU did in the last Beanpot in 2020.
Without the allure of TD Garden, attendance at the Women’s Beanpot has historically been lower, even when accounting for how many fewer seats there are in college arenas compared to TD Garden. Hopefully 2022 will bring out a full-force student section at Matthews.