BOSTON – The first meeting this season between the Northeastern Huskies and Boston College Eagles on Oct. 29 was billed as a marquee matchup between two top-10 opponents. Three months ago, the Eagles were 6-0 and ranked fourth in the country, and the Huskies were ranked sixth with an 8-2 record.
Since that weekend series in late October, the Huskies have gone 12-0-1, asserting themselves as the premier team in Hockey East and a national contender. Meanwhile, BC has cratered, posting a dismal 4-10 record and sinking in the standings.So it was no surprise that Northeastern was heavily favored for Tuesday’s matchup at Conte Forum.
The Eagles were scrapping hard in the first period, forcing Northeastern into uncharacteristic turnovers in the offensive end. The Eagles boast an incredibly young defensive nucleus, but matched the energy and experience of the Huskies at the beginning of the contest.
“[In the] first period we were slow, BC came out hard at us,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said after the game.
Forward Katy Knoll got the Huskies on the board with 3:46 to go in the first period, after Eagles goaltender Abigail Levy lost control of the rebound and let the puck slip through her pads.
Levy has been a bright spot for BC this season, entering Tuesday with a .936 SV%, which is good for 12th best in the country. Levy had a roller-coaster of a game, making a highlight-reel save to rob Huskies forward Andrea Renner in the second period on the power play. But she also struggled at times on Tuesday, most notably ceding a five-hole goal to defenseman Victoria Mariano in the closing minutes on a soft wrister from the point.
The talent gap between the two sides became more evident in the second period, when the game devolved into special teams warfare as three penalties were called in a thirty second stretch. Forward Alina Mueller scored a shorthanded goal on a two-on-one breakaway to put the Huskies up 2-0 with 13:31 to go in the second period.
Mueller’s goal is the Huskies’ fourth shorthanded goal of the season, which leads the country. Northeastern has now given up just six power play goals this season, meaning Northeastern’s GF% on the penalty kill is 40%. That is beyond lunacy. Northeastern didn’t convert any of its own power play chances tonight, something the Huskies don’t see often, but it had good looks consistently. The Huskies lead the country in shot attempts on the power play this season, which bodes well for its ability to maintain this production into the future.
Mueller added a second goal later in the period, her eighth of the season. Mueller’s skating ability in the open ice is impressive, but it’s the craftyness and accuracy of shots in traffic that separates her most.
“Alina’s really been hitting her stride lately, just coming up with big goals for us. And she was huge tonight. Came up with two big ones when we needed it,” Flint said.
Frankel Reaches 3,000 Saves
While the game itself was all but sealed with Mueller’s second goal of the period, there was one other important milestone to recognize: the 3,000th career save for Aerin Frankel.
“Amazing that she hit over 3,000 saves,” Flint said. “Think of all the great goalies that have come through Northeastern, for her to hold that record is pretty remarkable.”
Frankel’s 25 saves on Tuesday were enough for her NCAA-best seventh shutout this season. There’s little that Frankel has left to achieve in her decorated career as Northeastern goalie, except perhaps win a national title. But in the meantime, she continues to dominate on a nightly basis and dismantle the field in every statistical category, with a .966 SV% and 0.84 GAA. It’s difficult in the moment to place her career in the proper historical context, but the consistency is what’s perhaps most astounding. Consider this: Frankel has allowed four goals in a game once since Feb 23, 2019.
Northeastern will see this Boston College team yet again in two weeks for the Beanpot semifinal. Before then, the Huskies look to continue their winning streak as they take on Boston University on Friday at Matthews Arena. WRBB will have live coverage of Friday’s action, with Catherine Morrison and Emma Sullivan on the call at 4 p.m.