Story by Emma Sullivan
Photos by Sarah Olender
STATE COLLEGE, PA — The end of the era no one wanted to see has come for the Northeastern Huskies.
After a historic fifth straight Hockey East title, multiple record-breaking performances by players at all positions, and the second Frozen Four appearance for the program, the 2021-22 season came to an end in a heartbreaking 2-1 double overtime loss to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
It was hard fought on both sides, as a national playoff game tends to be. Up and down the ice the offense and defense battled hard in their zones and highlight performances came from those in net. Northeastern’s Aerin Frankel and UMD’s Emma Söderberg were lights out for most of the game, barring the three times the puck found the back of the net.
The first period was a lot of back and forth play stretching across the ice. Northeastern struggled to figure out UMD’s game and adjust to the more physical style that the Bulldogs brought to the ice. Through the first 20 minutes, UMD had seven more shots on goal than the Huskies were able to generate, for a total of 13-6 by the buzzer.
The second started out much better for the Huskies, as they dominated play and were able to maintain possession in their own offensive zone longer than they had in the first. Their persistence paid off after chaos in front of the net resulted in multiple Northeastern players banging away at the puck in the crease.
Forward Katy Knoll put the puck seemingly in the net but was blocked by a sliding Bulldog going across the crease before the rebound landed on the stick of forward Skylar Irving. The freshman tapped the puck in the back of the net, and Northeastern took the lead 1-0 with 16:25 remaining in the period. Knoll and linemate Maddie Mills had the assists on the play.
The momentum seemed to be firmly on the Huskies’ side before the second period came to an end, as they generated 14 shots on goal in the frame. As the second period came to a close, Söderberg had her best save of the night flying across the crease to glove a shot from defender Skylar Fontaine keeping the score at just 1-0.
“They got it all the way across, and I was able to just get there with my glove,” Söderberg said of her save.
Her teammate, forward Naomi Rogge was grateful for Söderberg’s ability to make and the execution of the save.
“That was my girl I was back checking to,” Rogge said with a laugh. “I remember I went back to the bench. Coach was like ‘That’s a great save’ I was like ‘Yeah it was, thank you.’ She saved my butt.”
The third period felt as if it was only a matter of time before the Bulldogs put the puck in the back of the net, which they eventually did with 9:55 remaining in the game. Forward Taylor Anderson utilized the Huskies screening Frankel themselves to put a hard shot from just inside the hash marks past the netminder and into the back of the net. Rogge and forward McKenzie Hewett had the assists on the game tying score.
The score remained 1-1 through the remaining time in the period, then the following first overtime period, and over 18 minutes of the second overtime. Frankel, at the end of the first period of extra play, robbed the Bulldogs with an acrobatic save, arching her back and getting her shoulder on the puck to keep forward Gabbie Hughes from ending the game.
However, with 1:45 left on the clock in double overtime, the Huskies season died after a turnover at the blueline resulted in the puck ending up on the stick of forward Élizabeth Giguère. The dynamic player sauced a pass to a wide open Rogge in front of Frankel’s net. Rogge then put the puck up and over Frankel’s shoulder, sealing the win and the Bulldog’s berth in the NCAA title game.
Postgame there was nothing but respect from both leaders behind the bench. Northeastern head coach David Flint praised UMD’s play and the overall product on the ice from both sides.
“It’s unfortunate that a team had to lose today,” he said. “It was a great hockey game, it could have gone either way. And you know all the athletes left it all on the ice, just really proud with the effort of my team.”
Maura Crowell, the Bulldogs head coach, also credited Northeastern with playing an incredible game. Hockey East was not as dominant as the WCHA has been this season, however Crowell didn’t think Northeastern was at a disadvantage.
“I think that they can play in our league no problem,” she said. “I thought they were fantastic, even better than last year. They were super fast, really good on transitions, their second line is lethal. Their [defenders] are so active, they’re more active than most of the [defenders] in our league. Following them and making sure we’re being responsible, I think they challenged us just as much as anyone else we faced this year.”
For Flint and his group, it’s the end of the road. Now the Huskies have to bid farewell to 12 seniors who have given their all for the program their entire tenure on Huntington Avenue.
“It’s a pretty special group,” Flint said. “I talked to them in the locker room about all they’ve achieved, how they’ve elevated the program to the level that it’s at. What they’ve achieved may never be accomplished again. I’m just extremely proud of all of them.”
Senior captain Brooke Hobson, who is one of those players set to graduate this spring, had nothing but respect and admiration for her teammates.
“I’m super proud of this group,” she said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be here for five years. Our team developed greatly obviously we’ve been performing well on the ice but a lot of people don’t know how great the culture is behind closed doors. I’m really proud I’m a part of this group and everybody knows that we’re proud of each person on this team. I got to spend one to five years with them and as coach Flint was saying — this program’s in good hands. I have nothing but faith in Northeastern hockey in the future.”
Looking at the list of players, from Hobson, to Frankel, to Fontaine, to Mills, Brown, Ward, MacInnis, Sindoris, Jurusik, Cipra, Foote, Tucker, and Renner. To all they’ve accomplished as a team and to all they have done for this program, their legacy will forever be cemented in the Northeastern history books.
“They’re players you just don’t replace,” Flint said.
To all the members of the Northeastern Huskies, especially to the graduating seniors, thank you for a magical run this season. WRBB will be back on the air when the team once again dazzles at Matthews Arena starting this fall.