By Daisy Roberts
BOSTON – The Northeastern Huskies hosted the second game of their series against the Providence Friars today, and the physicality from last night’s game was clearly here to stay. Players were slamming into the boards constantly, and at one point, there was physical pushing in front of the goal late in the second period. We saw some dirty play by Providence forward Caroline Peterson, hooking Alina Mueller, who just came back from injury for Northeastern. Providence ended up with four penalties over the course of the game, and knowing the strength of the Huskies’ power play unit, it should be no surprise that the one goal they scored was during the power play.
The Northeastern goal came at the end of the first period, with star defender Skylar Fontaine receiving a well placed pass in front of the net from Maureen Murphy.
“It was a great pass, honestly, it was a power play, we needed that,” Fontaine said. “It was a great way to end the first period.”
Maddie Mills was also credited with the assist, bringing her to four on the season. Murphy’s assist total is now at 7, which brings her to second on the team, only behind Fontaine herself. Once again, the strength of the Huskies on the power play shone.
The second period was not nearly as bright, as the Friars tied the game with a goal from winger Delaney Couture. The goal marked the first of her career, and it came from a defensive miscommunication amongst the Huskies. No defender was even close to being between Couture and Frankel, and Couture snuck a shot just over the right shoulder of last year’s Patty Kaz winner.
Not only did Northeastern allow a goal, but their execution seemed to be off in the second as well. Passes were being hit too hard, players were unable to receive them cleanly, and it looked a bit sloppy from the normally clinical Huskies.
“When you’re not able to make those simple receptions and passes, sometimes you tend to grip your stick a bit too much, or sometimes you tend to overcomplicate things,” Associate Head Coach Nick Carpenito said. “We might have to do a little more foundational work this week.”
Neither team was able to break the tie in the third period, with the game getting more and more physical as the clock ticked down. Providence got two penalties in the third alone, one of which being the hooking by Peterson mentioned above. The Huskies did their best to play cleanly, as Coach Carpenito noted that the Husky strategy was to rely on their speed, which worked to an extent. However, the lack of scoring from both teams sent them into an overtime period.
NCAA Women’s Hockey overtime is played 3-on-3, which Fontaine mentioned they “honestly haven’t played a lot of.”
However, Coach Carpenito’s game plan was clear: “We wanted to go with our big guns.” These big guns included Fontaine, Mueller, Mills, Murphy, Katy Knoll, and captain Brooke Hobson, who Carpenito noted all have great amounts of speed on the ice. The quick breakaway strategy was successful for the Huskies, as they outshot Providence 9–5 in the 5-minute period, but they were unable to sneak the puck past the Providence goaltender, Sandra Abstreiter.
Abstreiter has been one of the top goalies in Hockey East this season, Carpenito acknowledged.
He said, “With a goaltender like Abstreiter, she’s going to stop that first puck nine times out of 10. She’s a big goalie, so the key to doing well against someone like her is to get her to move and open up. It’s difficult to do that with a team that’s as physical and as quality defensively as Providence is.” Abstreiter only allowed 1 goal from Northeastern’s 41 shots over the four periods, practically carrying Providence to the draw today.
The scoreless overtime period meant that the extra point in the standings would be decided in a shootout. The Huskies were prepared, as Coach Carpenito noted that they practice shootouts weekly. Northeastern took the first shot, but unexpectedly, it was third-line winger Peyton Anderson who was granted the task of scoring on Abstreiter, and score she did. Anderson snuck one cleanly past the Friars goaltender.
“With Peyton Anderson, one of the most impressive things about her is her really quick release, and we knew with Abstreiter, we see her struggle with those shots on her blocker side, which happens to be one of Peyton Anderson’s favorite places to shoot, so we put her in for that reason,” Carpenito said.
Aerin Frankel also gave props to Anderson for scoring from the get-go, saying, “It was great that Peyton Anderson scored that first one, that takes a little weight off my shoulders. If she hadn’t, then my back’s a little bit against the wall, so credit to her, that makes my life a lot easier.”
Frankel was unfazed by both Providence shooters, Ciara Barone and Bailey Burton, easily saving both of their shot attempts. After Alina Mueller’s shot got saved, Maddie Mills scored craftily, getting the Huskies the extra point in the standings and making today a net positive for the team.
Today’s game was a historic one for Aerin Frankel. Her total save count went up to 2,809, breaking the school record for most career saves by a Northeastern Women’s Hockey goaltender. She laughed about this when asked, saying, “It’s an honor, I think I kind of cheated a little bit, being back here a fifth year, but can’t complain.” Coach Carpenito summed Frankel up quite perfectly in only three words: “Fantastic as always.”
Skylar Fontaine had a standout game as well, scoring the one Husky goal today as well as coming up with five blocks, bringing her total to 25, which ties her for the most in Hockey East so far this season. Carpenito had great things to say about Fontaine’s speed and presence on the ice.
He noted, “This is the first weekend that we really saw Skyler Fontaine.” Considering that not seeing Fontaine already includes 10 assists, it’s safe to say that she’ll continue to be a star for the Northeastern team this season.
This series also marked the full return of Alina Mueller, who was out for nine weeks with an injury. Yesterday, Mueller scored once and assisted twice, and although today she did not get on the points sheet, her stick work on the ice was clinical.
“I think aside from the obvious on-ice benefits that Alina brings to our team, the on-the-bench, off-ice energy that we had going into the weekend knowing she was coming back was awesome,” Carpenito said. “She hasn’t really skated at that level for about 9 weeks now, so she’s going to have to build back her lungs and just get a general feel for the game. When she does, she’s going to be dangerous.”
Mueller’s return is a timely one, as Chloé Aurard is currently with the French national hockey team. When Aurard returns, Head Coach Dave Flint will have a tough decision on his hands regarding his first line, considering how effective both Mueller and Aurard can be.
Overall, the game was a positive one for Northeastern. Providence played really physically and were strong on defense, so getting the point in the shootout was a good accomplishment. We got to see a tough battle from two teams at their best, and the Huskies should be proud they came up, in some sense, victorious. The series win was a key one, as the upcoming games for the Huskies are a tough few. Northeastern’s next opponent is the University of Vermont, who they play a series against on November 12th and 13th.