Story by Matty Wasserman
Northeastern’s second trip to Schneider Arena this season got off to an ominous start. Providence winger Lindsay Bochna dumped in a rebound score just over a minute into first-period action after Aerin Frankel couldn’t locate the puck off the initial save. For Northeastern, there were flashbacks to last month’s ugly shutout loss in the same building.
Despite outshooting Providence 33-20 in that game, the Huskies lacked aggression in the first meeting. But tonight, the concern for Dave Flint’s club only lasted briefly, as superstar winger Maureen Murphy rifled a beautiful snipe past Providence goalie Sandra Abstreiter from the left circle, just two minutes after Bochna’s goal. For Murphy, it was her first goal back at Schneider after transferring from Providence in 2020, where she was one of their best offensive weapons. She was set up on a beautiful feed across the ice from Alina Mueller, the first of her three points on the night.
It was a huge boon to the Huskies lineup to return the senior Mueller to the lineup.
“She brings another dimension to our team, offensively and defensively,” Flint said following the game. “She plays with so much confidence on the ice.”
Although Murphy’s first goal evened the score and squashed the flashbacks to last month’s effort, Flint was still unhappy with his team’s energy and aggression in the first period.
“I thought we came out flat the first ten minutes. They were all over us,” Flint said postgame.
Northeastern’s forecheck began to heat up towards the end of the first period, generating chances inside and forcing Abstreiter – one of Hockey East’s best goaltenders – to make some difficult saves.
The second-period scoring outburst was due for the Huskies, started by feisty fourth-line center Kate Holmes as she snuck a five-hole goal past Absteiter for her first score of the season. It was set up on a well-executed dump off from Skylar Fontaine on the fastbreak – something the Huskies are accustomed to from the offensive-minded defenseman and conference-play points leader in Hockey East. Just over a minute later, Northeastern executed on the power play with a deflection goal by Mueller – announcing her presence on the first power play unit in her return to action.
The floodgates opened after Northeastern continued to dominate in front of the net and apply pressure on Abstreiter. Maddie Mills scored her fifth of the season just four minutes after the Mueller goal, expanding the lead to 4-1 and bringing Mills’ total points on the season up to 13. and putting it out of reach for the Friars – can this be moved to the paragraph for the fifth goal?.
The fifth and final goal for the Huskies was Murphy’s second of the night. Once again, she was fed a perfect cross-ice pass from Mueller, and dangled around Abstreiter to find the back of the net.
Abstreiter’s 5 goals allowed on the 36 shots she faced – a .861% clip – doesn’t do justice to her performance. Although the Huskies only outshot the Friars 36-30, Abstreiter was forced to make many more difficult saves directly in front of the net than Frankel. The shot quality was also the difference Flint noticed from the Huskies first performance at Schneider to the second.
“We were going to the net hard,” Flint said. “We were getting in front of the goalie, we were getting rebounds, and we were hungry around the net.”
The 5-1 win solidifies Northeastern’s firm grip atop the Hockey East standings, moving to 7-2 in conference with 21 points – five more than the second place team, Boston University.
The team must regroup quickly and get set to face the Friars again tomorrow on their home ice at Matthews Arena for the series finale between the two Hockey East opponents. The puck drops at 2 p.m. tomorrow, and Catherine Morrison and Daisy Roberts will be on the call.