The Huskies gave us a taste of what the upcoming season would be like in their preseason exhibition game against the PHF’s Boston Pride. After a physical, hard-fought matchup between the professional organization and the college squad, Northeastern ended up victorious, with goals from sophomore forward Taze Thompson, senior forward Katy Knoll, and graduate student forward Alina Müller sealing the 3-2 win.
Northeastern came out of the gate incredibly strong. In just the third minute of the game, sophomore forward Skylar Irving raced from the defensive zone to the opposite left wing and laid a perfect central pass to a waiting Thompson. The Harvard transfer easily slotted it past Pride goaltender Corinne Schroeder to put Northeastern ahead early.
Irving and Thompson, as well as Knoll, are projected to be the Huskies’ second line this season.
Northeastern kept their composure throughout the start of the period, with senior netminder Gwyneth Philips making quick, clean saves in the net against the professional team. Philips, who steps up into the role of starting goalie for the Huskies this season, held her composure throughout the game, proving that Northeastern is still incredibly solid at her position.
“Everyone’s been questioning, ‘Aerin Frankel’s gone, how’s your goaltending?’ But I feel really good about it,” said head coach Dave Flint.
The second line again shone for the Huskies, with the next goal of the game coming off the stick of Knoll. A rebound off of an Irving shot found itself in front of Knoll, and the veteran slipped the puck past Schroeder to give Northeastern a 2-0 lead.
The Pride did not stay down for long, though. With just under three minutes left in the period, they capitalized on a miscommunication from the Huskies. In the midst of a Northeastern line change, defender Kali Flanagan raced down the center of the ice with the puck and had a wide-open lane to slap a shot past Philips. The ex-Boston College captain’s goal shrunk the gap in the score to 2-1.
The chaos didn’t stop there. With 23 seconds left on the clock, Philips made a save off forward Sammy Davis’ shot, but a miscommunication from the defense left too much open space in the net. Forward McKenna Brand poked the puck softly, and it slid past the goal line, tying the game at two.
The second period of play featured far more physicality on both sides of the ice. Northeastern was holding their own against the older, more experienced Pride team. However, the physical play got to be just a bit too much, as freshman defender Jules Constantinople got called for a cross-checking penalty, giving Northeastern their first chance to show off their ever-formidable penalty kill.
The Pride did not have much of an advantage for long. Just 38 seconds into the power play, defender Kaleigh Fratkin got called for tripping to put the teams at even strength once again. The high physicality continued throughout the rest of the period, but neither team was able to find the back of the net.
Just one minute into the third, though, Northeastern’s first line struck, as team captain Müller used her speed and stick-handling skills to put herself into a perfect position to tap the puck past Schroeder. The familiar surge of Müller alongside fellow graduate student forwards Maureen Murphy and Chloé Aurard overwhelmed the Pride defense, as the projected first line that had been so dominant for the Huskies last season stepped up to put the home team ahead 3-2.
The third period also gave a glimpse into the depth of Northeastern’s goaltending, as senior Alexa Matses and sophomore Paige Taborski split the period in net, with Taborski in particular putting on a fantastic display. In her first-ever minutes on the ice for the Huskies, she made arguably the best save of the game after a quick passing sequence from forwards Allie Thunstrom and Loren Gabel left her alone to stop the shot. Taborski flashed her lateral movement skills to trap the puck against her chest and protect the lead.
“[Taborski] was really good,” Flint said. “Last year she was a redshirt for us because we had four goalies. We knew she wasn’t going to play, so this is her first real action. She got tested, and she did awesome.”
One theme throughout the whole game for the Huskies was the number of players they got on the ice. It was the first opportunity for the eight incoming freshmen to play in a competitive setting, and they held their own.
“We played 27 players, with eight freshmen in there,” Flint said. “We just wanted to give everybody a chance to see where we were at. … There were some little freshmen mistakes, but overall, they impressed me. I really wasn’t sure how this was going to go. We kind of threw them right to the wolves. They’re playing at a higher level than they’re used to playing.”
This victory was a fantastic way to head into the regular season for the Huskies and just another reminder of their upside.
“With this team, the sky’s the limit,” Flint said. “We’ve got a ton of talent, some really good veteran leadership, so for us, we’ve got to bring it every day and be ready. [The team] understand[s] that everyone’s trying to knock us off.”
Northeastern’s regular season begins Sept. 30 at 6 p.m., when they host the first of a two-game series against Long Island. Mike Puzzanghera, Catherine Morrison, and Emma Sullivan will be on the call on WRBB 104.9 FM radio.