Durham, N.H. — Northeastern dominated their Friday night matchup against New Hampshire, tallying five goals while shutting out UNH. The defense from the forecheck to the penalty kill was outstanding for the Huskies, and didn’t allow UNH to have momentum in the matchup. Two goals were scored on four power play opportunities, a vast contrast to the struggles they have had thus far into the season.
Early on in the first period the Wildcats were forced onto the penalty kill twice. UNH managed to kill both the penalties after blocking almost all the Huskies shot attempts. For the very few shots that trickled through the defense, graduate student goaltender Ava Boutilier was able to make the save.
“Sometimes it felt like we were playing against six goalies,” said Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito about UNH’s shot blocking in the game.
The Wildcats ability to block shots was prevalent early on but some adjustments by the Huskies gave way to more opportunities later in the game.
The first goal of the game came at even strength on a flukey scrabble in front of the UNH net. UNH sophomore defender Marina Alvarez was taking the puck behind the net and mishandled it. The puck bounced off the post and graduate student Maureen Murphy came flying in off the forecheck for the Huskies. The forward put the puck on net, and Boutilier made an initial save at the line. While no goal was initially called, the play wasn’t whistled down, and UNH senior defender Rae Breton jammed herself into the net trying to prevent the goal but in the process kicked the puck across the goaline.
The Huskies’ next opportunity came on the power play when junior forward Nicole Kelly was called for interference. Northeastern’s quick passing and rotation in the offensive zone opened a lane for graduate student Alina Müller to fire a quick wrister past the glove of Boutilier. Murphy and senior forward Katy Knoll were credited with assists on the play.
In the waning minutes of the second period graduate defender Maude Poulin-Labelle was called for interference putting the Huskies on the penalty kill for the first time in the game. They managed to kill the penalty and had a short-handed opportunity from graduate student forward Chloé Aurard.
In the beginning of the third period, only leading by two, the Huskies were forced on the penalty kill again as junior defender Abbey Marohn was called for holding. Northeastern managed to kill the penalty and keep momentum.
Halfway through the third Knoll registered her first goal of the night giving the Huskies a 3-0 lead. Knoll, with speed, managed to get some separation from her defender and cut her way into the slot. From there she rifled a wrister past the outstretched blocker of Boutilier.
“Whenever she’s coming over the top, which she tends to do when she wheels the zone, she has certain checkpoints that she looks for for those lanes to the net,” Carpenito said. “When she found those checkpoints, if she had the opportunity to shoot, she shot and she was finding it tonight against a really good goalie in Boutilier.”
Knoll wasn’t finished quite yet as she would quickly net another goal for the Huskies to give them a 4-0 lead. UNH would lose the puck in the middle of their defensive zone while trying to clear. Knoll on the forecheck quickly snatched the puck and put it in the back of the net.
“[I’m] feeling good,” Knoll said. “I’m glad I could help contribute and put the game away in the third.”
Knoll is now up to nine goals on the season to lead the Huskies. She’s tied for second on the team in points behind Murphy.
“Katy Knoll does Katy Knoll things,” Carpenito said in summary of her performance.
Northeastern ended up back on the power play once again as Breton was charged with holding. Graduate student forward Mia Brown found the back of the net on the power play. Poulin-Labelle left a drop pass for sophomore forward Skylar Iriving who shot it from the high slot producing a rebound off the pad of Boutilier. Brown spun around and knocked the rebound home to give the Huskies the five goal win over UNH.
“We got back to the foundation of what we are trying to do,” Carpenito said about the power play. “I thought we executed really well, and it’s nice to see that finally clicking.”
Some things to note going into Saturday’s rematch: Northeastern played much of the third period with four defenders. Freshman Kristina Allard was visibly injured in the third period with a lower body injury, and senior Megan Carter was also absent during most of the third period.
The Huskies will face the Wildcats Saturday, back home at Matthews. Matty Wasserman, Emma Sullivan, and Zach Lyons will be on the call on WRBB Sports+ before the 3 p.m. puck drop.