Story by Matty Wasserman
Photos by Kayla Shiao
BOSTON — Matthews Arena was electric on Tuesday night. The roars of the jam-packed DogHouse student section echoed through the arena with every Northeastern rush, shot, and hit throughout the contest.
But the No. 3 ranked Huskies, with the bright lights of the Beanpot shining down upon them, failed to deliver in front of their largest crowd of the season, falling 3-1 to the Boston College Eagles.
“Everyone was fired up. That was a great atmosphere, that was the most fans we’ve had in the building in a while, and I wish we gave them a little better outcome,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said after the loss.
Northeastern doubled the shot total of Boston College, outshooting the Eagles 50-25. The Huskies outshot BC a shocking 24-5 in the first period alone, but remarkably headed to the intermission trailing 1-0. The Eagles took an early lead on Alexie Guay’s unassisted score 13:19 into the first period.
“I thought we played well enough to win. Put 50 shots on net, I like our chances,” Flint said.
Northeastern dominated zone time and opportunities in the first two periods. The Huskies’ second-line forwards — Maddie Mills, Skylar Irving, and Maureen Murphy — knifed through the Eagles defense seemingly every shift and had a plethora of Grade-A chances in the low slot and in front of the crease. The three skaters combined for 13 shots but couldn’t find the back of the net.
The story of Tuesday’s loss is what could’ve been. Northeastern, much like their previous matchup against the Eagles two weeks ago, dominated between the blue lines and shut down any semblance of a consistent BC offensive zone presence. But unlike that matchup, where Northeastern netted five goals on their 36 shot attempts, tonight, the Huskies struggled to put any pucks into the Eagles net.
“That’s the best game we’ve played in a while. Sometimes, when you outplay the other team and you deserve to win, you don’t win,” Flint said.
The difference in the contest was the brilliance of BC’s senior netminder Abbey Levy. Levy has been the backbone of the Eagles’ team all season, averaging 36.5 saves per game, by far the most in the NCAA. Levy’s .938 SV% is tied for 12th nationally, but her volume and workload is substantially more than any of the other top goalies.
Tonight, BC needed all 49 of her saves to top Northeastern.
“Abbey has been great for us all year, she’s been tremendous. You need a goaltender to keep winning, and that’s what she helped us do today,” Eagles head coach Katie Crowley said.
Despite the 1-0 BC lead after two periods, it felt as though the Eagles were hanging on by a thread. Levy’s heroics had somehow kept BC in the lead, and it was only a matter of time until the ultra-talented Huskies asserted themselves.
Finally, Northeastern tied the game with Chloé Aurard’s beautiful forehand finish 12:26 remaining in the third period. It was sparked by a great defensive takeaway and rush by forward Peyton Anderson, who set up Aurard perfectly with a centering feed.
But just 12 seconds after Aurard’s equalizer, center Tessa Ward was whistled for a hit from behind, sending the Eagles to the power play. And while Northeastern’s 90.9 PK% is best in Hockey East, it yielded another goal to Guay just 1:30 after Aurard’s score.
Northeastern goaltender Aerin Frankel was screened nicely and never saw the puck leave Guay’s stick from just inside the blue line. It was the junior defenseman Guay’s first career two-goal game.
The immediate answer from BC sucked the life out of Matthews, and Northeastern struggled to maintain consistent puck possession and get into the teeth of Eagles defense in the final minutes of play. While the Huskies had dominated the first two periods in shot volume, each team had nine shots in the third period.
“You know every time you come to face [Northeastern], you have to play almost a perfect game,” Crowley said. “We were able to put it all together today.”
While the Eagles depart Matthews with a statement victory, Northeastern now needs to rebound from a two-game skid. Each of the Huskies’ four losses this season have come without star center Alina Müller, who’s currently at the Olympics with Team Switzerland. The Huskies will need to overcome her absence for the next three weeks and find ways to generate scoring without such a lethal weapon.
“I don’t want [the players] to get too frustrated. I think if we can play like we played tonight down the stretch, I think we’re gonna be fine,” Flint said.
Though Northeastern likely envisioned itself defending its Beanpot crown in front of a packed Matthews next Tuesday, it will instead settle for a third-place matchup with the Boston University Terriers. Before then, Flint’s squad will regroup and face the Merrimack College Warriors at Lawler Rink on Friday at 2 p.m. Rae Deer, Matty Wasserman, and Mike Puzzanghera will be on the call for WRBB Sports.