Northeastern and Boston College’s women’s hockey teams last met Feb. 1. Some may recognize that day at last year’s Beanpot semifinals, where the Eagles pulled a stunning upset, beating the Huskies 3-1 to advance to the finals. But Northeastern was committed to avenging that loss, as they shut out the Eagles with a 4-0 victory at Matthews Arena Friday.
The first period of play was incredibly back-and-forth. Neither side managed to get a lot of consistency in the offensive zone, and the game was led by breakaways. BC posed the first real threat of the game when junior defender Lily Yovetich took a hooking penalty two minutes into the period, putting Northeastern on the kill. But the Huskies were able to limit the Eagles’ offense, their ever-stalwart penalty kill stepping up once again.
Northeastern continued to pressure in the first period, mostly through distance shots from the blue line, but came up short of a goal by the time the buzzer rang for the end of the period. Head coach Dave Flint commented on his message to the team in the first intermission.
“I told them ‘keep doing what we’re doing,’” Flint said. “I said that we need to get to the front of the net more, we were a little bit too perimeter in the first period, and when we have our success, we’re getting to the front of the net, in the dirty areas. I thought they did a great job with that in the second and third.”
With the message from Flint received, the Huskies took the ice with a whole new mentality. Just under six minutes into the period, graduate student forward Chloé Aurard left a puck to be picked up by Yovetich. Yovetich skated into the corner and found a pass to graduate student forward Alina Müller near the blue line. Müller, with a gaping space in front of her, skated a few strides forward before powering a howitzer past graduate student goaltender Abigail Levy.
“Big players step up in big games, and that’s what [Müller] did today,” Flint said. “She was awesome today. [She had some] highlight goals, she was all over the ice. Her energy has been great all week, and it carried right into today.”
With Müller breaking the ice, the floodgates opened up for Northeastern. Although they weren’t able to capitalize on a hooking penalty to freshman defender Cailin Flynn, with six minutes remaining in the period, Müller chased senior defender Alexie Guay behind Levy’s cage. Müller applied a strong forecheck, won the puck, and made a centering feed to senior forward Katy Knoll. Knoll tapped the puck just over Levy’s pads and into the back of the net, notching the Huskies’ second score of the period and Knoll’s 10th of the season.
Knoll took to the ice on a line with Aurard and Müller this game with graduate student forward Maureen Murphy being absent due to playing for Team USA in the upcoming Rivalry Series. Knoll noted how her gameplay was impacted by the presence of her linemates.
“It’s always great when I can play with players of that caliber,” Knoll said. “We have that all up and down the lineup. [Müller and Aurard] are special to play with and it’s always such a fun time when I can get up there and play with them. I’m glad it worked out today really well.”
The second period came to a close with Northeastern leading the shot tally 30-11, outshooting BC 20-5 in the second period alone. However, the Huskies had no intention of taking their foot off the gas pedal. After killing off another penalty early in the period, they got a power play of their own after senior defender Deirdre Mullowney was called for interference.
Northeastern’s power play took some time to settle in this season but seems to have hit its stride. The unit executed a perfectly calculated play, with tape-to-tape passes between all five forwards resulting in a clean pass from Müller to a one-timer off the stick of Aurard. Levy was able to make the first save but couldn’t control the rebound, and Knoll was waiting on the edge of the crease. All she needed to do was tap the puck into the empty corner of the net, putting the Huskies up 3-0 just 24 seconds into the power play and 13 minutes left in the game.
“I think at the beginning of the season, it takes a bit for the players to mesh,” Knoll said about the power play. “Once you finally set in with a core group of players and it starts clicking, it’s kind of contagious. … Now it seems to be working out for us.”
Even with the three-goal buffer, the Huskies continued to pressure the Eagles’ defense, and it paid off for them once more. After Aurard won the puck through a scrum along the boards, she found herself with open space to skate down the center of the ice. With Müller streaking past BC defenders, Aurard fed a pass perfectly to the stick of the Northeastern captain, who tipped the puck just out of the reach of Levy’s glove. Müller’s second of the day was the dagger for a resounding 4-0 shutout against the crosstown rival Eagles.
With top players Murphy and senior defender Megan Carter unavailable for this matchup, Flint expected success from all his players, and he was very pleased with the performance that Northeastern had.
“I thought we played great,” Flint said. “Everybody’s goal lineup gave the effort. [It was] one of our more complete games. BC is a good team with good players, and with Murphy out and Carter out, some people needed to step up, and everybody upped their game.”
Especially with a rivalry as prevalent as the Northeastern-Boston College one, Knoll mentioned how much today’s win meant to the team in both the short and long term.
“We always know BC is a strong opponent,” Knoll said. “It’s always a super emotionally charged game, and we knew it was going to be an exciting environment in here today. We just wanted to go out there and feed off that energy and really wear them down today, especially for tomorrow.”
Northeastern will look to carry their recent momentum into tomorrow’s game at Boston College. The Huskies will head to a hostile environment in Conte Forum to try and sweep their second consecutive series. Daisy Roberts and Catherine Morrison will provide game coverage Saturday at Conte Forum for the 2 p.m. puck drop on WRBB Sports+.