BOSTON — If last Saturday’s game at Matthews was a stalemate, this one was a rout as Northeastern completed the weekend sweep of New Hampshire with a final score of 8-2.
From the jump Northeastern rushed the net, with the second line in particular trying to stuff in the puck from a scramble in the crease less than a minute into the game. UNH Senior netminder Nicky Harnett was able to stifle all of the chances the Huskies put on their net early, robbing junior Molly Griffin multiple times as the forward tried to stuff home the puck from the blue paint.
UNH was able to get some momentum back, and overall in this game had a much more impressive offensive showing than on Friday, when the Huskies defeated them 5-0. They were able to put nine shots on goal through the first 20 minutes, tripling their amount from the first period the previous night.
Northeastern gained momentum with 6:23 remaining in the first period, when UNH graduate student forward Gabby Jones took a hooking penalty after taking down graduate student forward Chloé Aurard. Aurard had her revenge soon after, tipping home a shot from the blue line by graduate student forward Alina Müller to put the Huskies up by one.
In the second period, the Wildcats were able to maintain possession of the puck very well to start and kept Northeastern out of the offensive zone thanks in part to a key turnover caused by graduate student defender Emily Rickwood.
That didn’t last long as the home team managed to set up in their zone just over four minutes in. Müller fed a cross ice pass to junior defender Lily Yovetich who waited at the faceoff circle to fire a shot on goal. The pass ended up deflecting off Aurard’s stick into the crease. Graduate student forward Maureen Murphy easily put the puck into the back of the net to bring the score to 2-0 with 15:52 remaining in the period.
Murphy waited just two minutes to score her second of the game, this time off a tic-tac-toe play. Graduate student defender Maude Poulin-Labelle forced a turnover at the red line to get the puck up ice to Müller. Müller dished it back to Poulin-Labelle between the circles, who in turn put it back on the forwards stick, faking out Harnett who came all the way over to the right of her net. Müller finished it off by feeding Murphy on the other side who put the puck into the yawning cage with 13:47 on the clock.
With the assists on the second Murphy goal, Müller moved up to second all time for points in a Northeastern uniform.
“I’m not sure if she even knew,” said Northeastern’s head coach Dave Flint. “I said something after the game and congratulated her… She’s earned it, and it’s pretty impressive to get to 209 points.”
Müller’s 209th career point came while the previous record holder was in the building – UNH’s current head coach Hilary Witt, who played 140 games as a husky between 1996 and 2000.
As the game continued, Northeastern got some help from some of their youngest players on the ice as an all freshman connection put the score to 4-0. Forward Lily Shannon forced a turnover in the corner to get the puck up the boards to Jules Constantinople at the blue line.
The defender fired a shot on goal that Harnett rebounded off their blocker, right onto the stick of a waiting Mia Langlois. Langlois quickly shot the puck on net where it trickled past Harnett and into the goal for her first NCAA score.
While the period on the score sheet was all Northeastern, they didn’t make it easy on themselves in the last few minutes. Constantinople put them down a player thanks to a roughing call after she took down senior forward Jada Christian in the neutral zone.
The Huskies were able to end the period without giving up a goal, thanks in part to a key play from junior defender Abbey Marohn. Senior netminder Gwyneth Philips got caught up out of the crease, but her defender dove across the goal to block the puck from crossing the line with her stick.
Thirty seconds of the power play carried over into the third however that ended up not making too much of a difference as the Huskies penalty kill again showed their dominance by killing off the last 30 seconds to start the third.
UNH finally got on the board thanks to sophomore forward Kira Juodikis with 16:16 remaining in the game. Harnett cleared the puck all the way down into the offensive zone for Juodikis who managed to get the breakaway on the Northeastern net. Poulin-Labelle tried to get back but Juodikis had just a step on her allowing the Wildcat to backhand the puck past Philips’ outstretched leg.
The Huskies commanding lead began to slip slightly, after sophomore defender Tory Mariano caught Jones up high in an open ice hit. After a review, officials deemed that Mariano’s shoulder caught Jones in the head, leading to a five minute major assessed to the Huskies.
On the advantage, Jones herself brought the score within two after being left alone at the faceoff circle. She fired the hard shot on net, bouncing it off Philips’ blocker and in for her third goal of the season. Sophomore defender Marina Alvarez and junior forward Nicole Kelly had the assists on the play.
In the dying seconds of the major to Mariano, Aurard broke up the rush all on her own by batting the puck away from graduate defender Lauren Martin. Aurard carried the puck in with no skaters back and easily deked out Harnett to find the back of the net for the second time in the game.
It’s the 11th short handed goal of her career, which now leads the NCAA in the category, and the third Northeastern has scored while down a player this season.
Two more power play goals for Northeastern followed the short handed one thanks to a holding call on senior defender Rae Breton and a tripping call on Rickwood. The first tally came again after Murphy put a shot on net, looking for the deflection from senior forward Katy Knoll who couldn’t quite control it. However senior forward Peyton Anderson was waiting on the other side of the crease and she was able to get her stick on it and score.
Then sophomore Skylar Irving wasted no time on the Rickwood penalty and slapped her second goal of the season home with 4:54 to play. Poulin-Labelle fed the forward perfectly from the middle of the zone to pick up her second assist of the day.
Coming into the weekend, the Northeastern power play had scored just five times on 42 opportunities. Through two games against UNH, they doubled that total, and now sit at a 20% conversion rate. The Northeastern staff opted to switch things up on the power play, putting five forwards out on the ice for the first unit.
“It’s really, really fun,” said Murphy, on playing with the top unit. “Obviously we’re blessed in the sense we have multiple people that can play on each power power play. And I like, just having Alina, Chloe, Katy, like they can fill pretty much any role you ask of them so I wouldn’t look at it as five forwards, just like what’s the best combination we can have.”
Poulin-Labelle also noted that the changes to the power play were necessary, but that the Huskies knew it would start clicking eventually.
“We got some good looks in a couple of the games,” she said. “It just didn’t go in. And I think we didn’t panic. We just kept practicing and looking at what we could do better.”
With under two minutes to play, Northeastern wasn’t quite done. Murphy rang a hard shot off the post from the right of Harnett, and UNH cleared the puck out to center ice. Aurard soon regained the zone and got it back to Murphy who took another shot from the same spot as the first, this time converting. 8-2 Huskies with 1:43 left, as Murphy completed the hat trick.
“Honestly I didn’t do much on any of them really,” Murphy said of her three goals. “So I kind of just have to give credit where credit’s due for Maude, and Chloe, and Alina for putting me in situations to get the puck.”
Her head coach however was a bit more complimentary on the effort the forward provided on the ice, especially with how she hadn’t been scoring many goals to start the season.
“She was a little snakebitten early in the year,” he said. “It wasn’t for a lack of opportunities, she just wasn’t finishing them. Today, she buried her opportunities.”
Throughout the game Northeastern played without two of their key defenders, as neither senior Megan Carter and freshman Kristina Allard played. Flint said both Carter and Allard are day-to-day after suffering injuries in the third period of last night’s contest.
Luckily for the Huskies, the six defenders on the ice came up big, especially during the five minute power play UNH had in the third.
“I think it’s just great as a D core overall, like we all stepped up,” Poulin-Labelle said. “Some people’s first game and stuff. I think we all played well together.”
Northeastern’s next matchup is the first of a home-and-home series against Boston College at Matthews arena on Friday. Khalin Kapoor and Daisy Roberts will have coverage for WRBB when the puck drops at 1:30 p.m.