Story by Khalin Kapoor
Photos by Sarah Olender
It was an inauspicious ending to the 2020-2021 season for the Northeastern women’s hockey team. After dominating the entire regular season to the tune of a 17-1-1 record and recording their fourth straight Hockey East championship, the Huskies lost an OT heartbreaker in the NCAA National Championship to the Wisconsin Badgers. In the first Frozen Four appearance in program history, they made it as close as possible to a National Championship, yet fell just short. However, this was still one of the best teams in recent memory, and they look just as good going into the 2021-2022 season.
Returning is the entire core leadership group for the Huskies, headlined by captain Brooke Hobson and assistant captains Aerin Frankel, Andrea Renner, and Alina Mueller.
Head Coach Dave Flint knows just how important it is to have this strong leadership group back, remarking, “One reason that we’ve been so successful the last few years is because the leadership’s been really good.”
With the leaders returning, it is one less thing to worry about for the coaching staff and it allows them to focus on their on-ice success.
Joining the team this year are freshmen forwards Taylor Guarino and Skylar Irving, defenseman Victoria Mariano, and goaltender Paige Taborski. Also incoming via transfer is former Cornell star forward Maddie Mills, who joins the Huskies as a graduate student. Mills averaged over a point a game at Cornell and was an absolute menace on the power play, potting 23 goals in three years. She and Maureen Murphy played together at Shattuck St. Mary’s with Aerin Frankel, and will look to show off their chemistry while skating on the second line for the Huskies. Freshman Skylar Irving has turned heads so far to begin her first year, flashing breakneck speed and showing great chemistry on a line with Mills and Murphy. That line accounted for 3 of Northeastern’s 4 goals in their first and only preseason game against Franklin Pierce.
It’s tough to identify just one main strength for this team. Of course, there is reigning Patty Kaz winner and brick wall in disguise, Aerin Frankel, who had a record setting 366-minute shutout streak last year. There is also the incredible d-core headlined by Brooke Hobson, Lauren Macinnis, and Skylar Fontaine, which is a force on the blueline. What about the sensational special team’s unit that allowed just two power play goals and scored five shorthanded goals last year? This team was a juggernaut last year, and with the addition of Mills as well as freshman standout Skylar Irving, they project to be even better this year.
With almost the entire roster returning , the way last season ended will stay fresh in their minds as they begin play in 2021. Coach Flint does not want his team to dwell on the tough final loss, but to use it as motivation to be even better this year. This is a team with lots of experience winning big games and now experience losing a big game. All of the returning players have last year’s loss in the back of their minds heading into this season, and it is up to them to instill that same drive into the new faces this year. They know how talented they are as a roster, and they know what it takes to get to the National Championship. All that’s left is to put it all out on the ice and see where the season takes them.
The schedule this year looks much more interesting than it did last year. Last year, due to Covid-19, teams were restricted to conference play. This year, however, that is not the case. Flint has highlighted non-conference games against Princeton and Cornell to be key matchups. The Huskies are traveling to Princeton for a two-game set starting on Nov. 26, and Maddie Mills will get her chance at a revenge game when Cornell comes to Matthews on the weekend of Dec. 4.
It wouldn’t be a preview of the upcoming season without mentioning that the Beanpot is back! Northeastern will be hosting games at Matthews Arena for the Beanpot starting Feb. 8. Knock on wood, there will be fans in attendance. The entire team is excited to have that energy back in Matthews for all games, so it’s up to the fans to get in there and support our Huskies this year! The revenge season begins Friday, Oct. 1, as the Huskies take on Holy Cross in Worcester, and they are going to be out for blood.