Story by Daisy Roberts
BOSTON – “Being down 2-0 is not really a place you want to be often,” said Maddie Mills, forward for Northeastern and one of the three goalscorers for the home team.
However, that was the situation the normally offensively-dominant Northeastern Huskies found themselves in 10 minutes into the second period. After one goal scored in a five-on-three double power play following penalties committed by Northeastern players Skylar Irving and Skylar Fontaine, and the second from a major defensive slip-up, leaving goalie Aerin Frankel totally exposed, Northeastern’s fate seemed dim.
“I told the team, ‘Listen, they’re outworking you all over the ice, and you deserve to be down 2-0 right now. But we’ve got plenty of time to turn it around, let’s get going, and get the next goal to get back into this, and then go from there,’” said head coach Dave Flint. And about five minutes later, they did indeed score.
A power play for Northeastern is always promising, considering the strength of their special teams unit, and the home Huskies did not disappoint. A slap shot from Fontaine deflected into the net by Chloé Aurard gave Northeastern their first glimmer of hope. Coach Flint described it as “a little shot in the arm,” and the home squad carried that momentum through to the end of the game.
However, there was a little bit of a damper towards the tail end of the second period, as an unfortunate collision caused star forward Aurard to be taken out of the game. The extent of Aurard’s injury has not been reported yet, however concussion protocol seems likely. Aurard just returned from the Olympic qualifiers this week.
The injury to Aurard caused Flint to shuffle his lines going into the third. When asked about this, he said, “We were trying to just figure out how we could get a little something out of our top two lines. Moving Katy Knoll up to that top unit and putting her on the wing would help out that unit, then we slid Murphy to the middle and we put [Peyton] Anderson up there too. We went on who we felt was playing well, and tried to put together a couple strong lines to hopefully jumpstart the offense.”
Jumpstart, they did. The second goal, also came from a power play, eight minutes into the third period, reinforcing the absolute offensive prowess Northeastern has with a player advantage. A great pass sequence from Fontaine and Maureen Murphy to Mills left Mills wide open, and she slammed the puck into the top left corner of UConn’s net.
“Getting that tying goal is very reassuring that we can win, even going down 2-0,” said Mills. “We were just trying to be positive, so I think getting that goal just increased the positivity on the bench and led us to winning the game.”
Fontaine agreed with Mills, saying, “We have each others’ backs, and I think that once we got that going and got that momentum on the ice, it was smooth sailing from there.”
The cherry on top of the tough victory for the home team came with five minutes left in the game. Knoll, with some outstanding pass vision, spotted Northeastern captain Brooke Hobson wide open in the center of the offensive zone. Receiving the pass, Hobson slapped the puck into the top right corner of the goal, an incredible finish to complete the comeback. However, they were not out of the woods just yet.
UConn head coach Chris Mackenzie made the decision to pull the goaltender, in an all-out attempt to score a game-tying goal. With Northeastern outnumbered six-to-five on the ice, it became quite chaotic around Frankel’s net. However, Northeastern kept a level head and saw the game out to completion.
When asked about the team mentality in the final minutes of the game, Mills commented, “We were just laying it all on the line, blocking as many shots as we could, and just being all around gritty on the ice until the buzzer went.”
Fontaine added, “It’s a big team identity thing, you can really see what kind of team you have in the last minute, we were up one goal, you saw everyone giving it their all. We care about every single game, and every person was just all in.”
It’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish, and Northeastern certainly finished stronger today. The win today helped solidify their strong grip on first place in Hockey East, and the team hopes to carry this momentum going forward, as they face Princeton on the road in a two-game series on Nov. 26 and 27.