PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Many have said there’s no love lost between the Northeastern Huskies and Providence Friars, a fact evident in their Friday night tilt at Schneider Arena. Even with penalties galore for both sides, the Huskies skated to the 4-1 win in a handed fashion to get back in the win column.
For the first 10 minutes of the game, neither side got sustainable offensive zone time. A lot of passes for both teams ended up bouncing away or getting blocked by errant sticks in the shooting lanes.
The Huskies broke the ice first thanks to a beautiful faceoff win from freshman forward Lily Brazis. Brazis, who had won another faceoff cleanly in the neutral zone just seconds prior, fed the puck back from the dot directly to senior forward Peyton Anderson who waited at the top of the crease. Anderson put the puck over the right arm 0f graduate student netminder Sandra Abstreiter, and put Northeastern up 1-0 with 6:16 remaining.
As the period continued, Providence seemed to gain some momentum offensively, however the Huskies turned that right around with a second tally, this time from graduate student forward Chloé Aurard. Thanks to sophomore defender Tory Mariano’s slap shot from the top of the zone, Aurard got her stick down on the ice and tipped the puck perfectly up over the shoulder of Abstreiter to make the score 2-0 with 4:55 left in the period.
Junior defender Lily Yovetich, who was all over the ice in the first period and made strong defensive plays, took a hooking penalty with just over four minutes left in the frame. While the penalty does leave a stain, Yovetich arguably had her strongest game of the season Friday night. She was fast on the back check and put herself in passing lanes to block Providence attackers.
The Huskies easily killed the Friar’s advantage and sent the game into the second period up 2-0.
As they started the second frame, Northeastern dominated play for much of the first 10 minutes. That strong play resulted in a goal for the fourth line as a rush into the offensive zone turned into Brazis saucing the puck across the ice to Anderson who fed a wide open forward Mia Brown at the top of the crease. The graduate student, with a yawning cage thanks to Abstreiter sprawling across the other side of the net, tapped it in for the 3-0 lead with 15:23 remaining in the period.
Two of the goals scored tonight were generated by the Huskies’ fourth line. The line usually plays third unit minutes for head coach Dave Flint, however over the last few games he’s opted to move them down on the linesheet. He was still pleased with their effort and what they were able to contribute on the ice.
“For them, that was their best game of the year so far,” he said. “It was great. I gave them a shout out in the locker room after the game. Just saying how great I thought they played.”
Aurard and Friars’ graduate student forward Hunter Barnett received matching penalties at 6:58, Aurard for tripping and Barnett for body checking. On the 4-on-4, both sides managed to set up one good offensive chance before Providence’s graduate student forward Caroline Peterson put the Huskies on the power play with a holding call at 8:46.
Northeastern’s power play this season has not been as dominant as it has been in the past. Coming into tonight they had scored four goals on 30 attempts, for a 13% conversion rate. On five chances tonight, they generated just three shots on goal.
Graduate student forward Maureen Murphy put Northeastern back on the penalty kill with just over five and a half minutes left, however Peterson took her second penalty of the game 21 seconds later, resulting in more 4-on-4 play.
Peterson came streaking out of the box and tried to set up a breakaway chance, however pressure from a rushing graduate student defender Maude Poulin-Labelle negated any chance she had. The Friars did not waste the offensive zone time however and brought the score within two thanks to junior defender Claire Tyo.
Providence managed to set up the cycle on the 4-on-4 that ended up with graduate student Sara Hjalmarsson in line with Northeastern’s senior goaltender Gwyneth Philip’s net. The forward fed junior defender Brooke Becker at the top of the zone who found Tyo waiting open at the faceoff circle to the left of Philips. Tyo managed to get the puck through traffic and off a Husky stick on a wrist shot that made its way into the back of the goal with 4:01 on the clock in the second.
The Huskies did not let the opposing goal run down their momentum, as they stole the puck back from the Friars and generated more of their own opportunities at the other end of the ice. They capitalized on senior forward Katy Knoll driving to the net and trying to stuff the puck home. Knoll tripped and landed hard on the other side of the crease and took three Friars with her in her tumble, leaving Poulin-Labelle open to tap the puck in.
In the final 20 minutes of play, both sides carried their chippiness from the previous two periods in and ramped it up by 100. Six penalties were called in the third, and all but one were in the final nine minutes of play.
Most notably was the trip by Hjalmarsson on Murphy, who transferred from Providence back in 2020. She found herself on the receiving end of the brunt of the hits from the Friars over the course of the game.
“It’s just two teams that are super competitive, right?” Flint said. “ I think it got a little chippy. I think we held our composure pretty well. You know, that happens sometimes. It’s part of the game, and hopefully it doesn’t carry over into tomorrow.”
Despite the score being all but decided in the game’s closing minutes, the chippy play continued when a wild sequence in the final minute led to Anderson knocking into Abstretier in the crease. Abstreiter responded by throwing her hands out towards Anderson’s head. With Abstreiter standing up and moving out of her crease, freshman forward Holly Abela took advantage of the scrum to shovel the puck into the back of the net. The goal did not stand due to interference with the goaltender due to Anderson knocking Abstreiter back, even though the netminder was the one who stood up and moved out of the net, leaving it free.
With a final score of 4-1, Northeastern takes down their first nationally ranked opponent of the season and gets back in the win column, improving to 8-1 on the season. Even with the shutout last weekend to the Black Bears, Flint seemed pretty upbeat about the loss and how that translated into the game on Friday.
“The loss of Maine I think was good for us because it’s a little reality check,” he said. “Those are good early in the year, kind of grounds you a little bit so we you know, for us this was a big game for us.”
The good news for the special teams is once again how outstanding the penalty kill was for the Huskies. Leaving Providence, they’ve killed all 25 penalties they’ve taken the season, including the four tonight, though two of the four penalties were under 22 seconds due to Providence players taking their own penalties to negate the advantage soon after.
Both teams will be back in action Saturday night for the rematch at Matthews Arena. WRBB will have full coverage on WRBB Sports+ with Khalin Kapoor and Emma Sullivan on the call when the puck drops at 7 p.m.