Story by Emma Sullivan
Photos by Kayla Shiao
BOSTON — The Northeastern University Huskies unbeaten streak came to an end Friday afternoon as they faced the University of Vermont Catamounts at home in Matthews Arena. For the first time since Oct. 9 the Huskies lost a game, this one by a score of 2-1, thanks to strong defense in front of the net by the Catamounts and backstopped by an overall brilliant performance by sophomore goaltender Jessie McPherson.
Friday, even if the Huskies didn’t give up two goals within the first minute or so as they did last week, their slow start to games continues to haunt them. Neither team was really able to get a lot off in front of their opponents net, but control seemed to fall in the hands of UVM for much of the game.
UVM struck first with 8:01 left in the first period with forward Kristina Shanahan making a beautiful play in front of the Huskies’ net after receiving a pass directly onto her stick. Shanahan then rifled a bullet up and over the right shoulder of Huskies goalie Aerin Frankel to give the Catamounts a 1-0 lead. The captain’s 12th goal on the season came from assists off her linemates, forwards Alyssa Holmes and Theresa Scharfzahl, who picked up their 14th and 15th assists respectively.
The Huskies followed up the allowed goal with more desperate plays in an attempt to get anything going offensively. That would be cut short after defenseman Megan Carter took a tripping penalty with 3:18 remaining in the period. Forward Katy Knoll would have the best opportunity of the period for Northeastern while on the penalty kill after she snagged the puck and took it all the way down ice for a breakaway chance. The puck just went off the crossbar: Northeastern was able to kill off the advantage for UVM, but entered the first intermission down 1-0.
When the second period opened, the Huskies applied more pressure than they had to start the previous 20 minutes of play. McPherson in net for UVM turned away everything that Northeastern had to throw at her. Knoll would put the Huskies back on the penalty kill after being called for body-checking with 11:51 remaining. Northeastern got another chance on the breakaway, this time from forward Chloé Aurard who tried to just tuck the puck up and over McPherson’s pads, but the goaltender shut the door on Aurard to preserve the lead.
The Huskies were able to get on the board thanks to forward Maureen Murphy. With 7:07 remaining, Murphy parked herself in front of the net and was able to tip a shot from forward Maddie Mills through the five hole of McPherson. Murphy became the first Huskies player to score 30 points this season with her 15th goal of the year. Also getting an assist on the play was forward Skylar Irving to bring this game to a tie.
A string of penalties would hinder both teams chances to snag the lead before the period came to an end. Aurard was called first for a roughing penalty after a scrum alongside McPherson’s net at 5:35 remaining, but it was killed off without too much trouble. Then two Catamount penalties would give Northeastern the five-on-three advantage for almost 40 seconds. With 1:3o left in the period, UVM defenseman Antonia Matzka was sent to the box for body-checking. Before the period came to an end, Schafzahl would also be assessed a penalty, this one for tripping with 8.1 seconds remaining.
Northeastern opened the second period on the two man advantage, but were unable to get any shots off before the first penalty expired. By the time the second penalty came to an end, the Huskies were only able to get one shot on goal which was turned away. Both goaltenders would have to make incredible saves as play continued. Skylar Fontaine received her own tripping penalty with 15:17 remaining.
On the power play for the fourth time in the game, UVM was finally able to capitalize off of the advantage. Defenseman Bella Parento took a hard shot from just outside the faceoff circle to the left of Frankel which ended up beating the goaltender over the shoulder. Shanahan and Holmes would tally their second points of the game with the assists with 13:46 remaining.
Huskies defenseman Lauren MacInnis put them right back on the penalty kill with another tripping call this time with 13:31 left to play. Northeastern was able to kill off this penalty until UVM defenseman Ellice Murphy tripped Mills to put the teams at four-on-four at 12:30 left. The Huskies tried to make the most of the power play opportunity, but any chances they did generate ended up going wide or were saved by McPherson.
Northeastern would get one last shot on the power play before time expired when Holmes went to the box with 3:58 remaining. The Huskies power play, which for such long stretches of time this season has been stellar, was unable to convert today. In the last minute of regulation, Northeastern continued to apply as much pressure as possible. Two incredible saves however, including the highlight reel one below from McPherson, kept the Huskies from scoring and brought the game to an end with the Catamounts on top.
“Credit to Vermont they played great,” said Huskies head coach Dave Flint of the game. “They played hard, they got some good goaltending, some timely goaltending and took advantage of their opportunities.”
Flint wasn’t “upset that we got a loss right now because I think it’s a good wake up call for us.”
“We haven’t been playing the way we’re capable of,” he added. “We haven’t been executing the way a championship team needs to.”
The Huskies will look to get back in the win column on Tuesday when they face off against the Boston College Eagles for the first game of the 2022 Beanpot Tournament at Matthews Arena. WRBB will have coverage of the game starting at 7 p.m. with Catherine Morrison, Rae Deer, and Matty Wasserman on the call.