BOSTON — After sweeping their series with Boston College earlier in the season, Northeastern had their sights set on a perfect record for the year against the Eagles. The only problem was that it meant getting by graduate student goalie Abigail Levy. And Levy was fully committed to making the Huskies work for their victory.
Ultimately, Northeastern’s pressure proved to be too much, as an overtime goal with just over two minutes left on the clock gave the Huskies their eighth-straight victory.
The game started out very much in favor of the Huskies, with a hooking penalty on junior forward Olivia O’Brien seven minutes into the period capping off a rather successful stretch of play. However, the normally strong Northeastern power play ceded the best look to the Eagles when star senior forward Hannah Bilka took a point-blank shot that forced senior netminder Gwyneth Philips to make an athletic save.
After the Huskies’ power play came to an end, BC regained control of the period and maintained that grip until the buzzer sounded, with an interference penalty on senior forward Katy Knoll giving the Eagles’ offense a boost. By the end of the frame, they caught up to Northeastern’s 13 shots with 12 of their own.
“They gave us everything we could handle, we knew it was going to be a battle,” said Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito. “In the first period, we weren’t doing a very good job of getting in front of the net, we corrected that.”
Athleticism in net seemed to be the bread and butter of the matchup, as both Levy and Philips put on clinics as the clock ticked down in the second period. Northeastern’s second line in particular, Knoll, senior Peyton Anderson, and sophomore Skylar Irving, worked to make Levy’s job particularly difficult.
“[Anderson and Irving] are A-to-B players,” Carpenito said. “They get into the forecheck, create turnovers all over the ice, and they’re very good defensively. Katy Knoll, she’s a shooter, and those are two players that are going to get the puck to her.”
With four minutes remaining in the second period, Northeastern nearly found themselves behind. A heavy rush from junior forward Gaby Roy caused chaos in front of Philips’ crease, and just after the whistle blew from the officials, the puck was jostled free and poked into the back of the net. However, as the play had already been called off, the score remained deadlocked at zero as the second stanza came to an end.
The third period was a very different story, as Northeastern stepped onto the ice like a team with a mission. A bench minor against the Eagles put the Huskies on the player advantage from the get go, but they weren’t able to capitalize. Throughout the game, Northeastern’s power-play unit had been completely shut down, only making five total shots during their four advantages. However, the extended offensive zone time provided them with a substantial momentum boost as the final period began.
“We felt like their legs were starting to burn a little bit at the end of the second period,” Carpenito said. “I think our players smelled it a little bit, we felt like there was blood in the water, and they really started to pick it up.”
In particular, Northeastern’s top line of graduate students Alina Müller, Chloé Aurard, and Maureen Murphy were seen getting increased ice time, as the Huskies got more and more hungry for a game winner.
With just under two minutes left in regulation, Müller forced Levy to sprawl on the ice to make an impressive save. Murphy nearly collided with Levy as she was chasing after the rebound. The bubbling chippiness of the matchup seemed to have reached a boiling point, as junior defender Sidney Fess took issue with Murphy’s proximity to Levy. Fess and Murphy received matching roughing penalties, making the final moments of regulation play 4-on-4.
The 60 minutes of regulation was not enough for either side, but Northeastern outshot BC 16-5 in the third and continued their heavy offensive pressure into overtime.
“It’s part of what we talked about in the locker room,” Aurard said. “Games are not always going to go our way, and we just need to keep pushing, because this is what championship games are going to be. We’re going to get tough games in the future, so we need to push and hopefully win games.”
It would be due to the tricky work of Aurard that the Huskies ended up defeating the Eagles. With just over two minutes remaining in overtime, Müller won an offensive zone draw and quickly fielded the puck to Aurard. The forward faked out Levy perfectly, slotting the puck with precision into the lower left corner of the net, giving the Huskies all they needed to secure the victory.
“In 3-on-3, we always try to do takeovers, because takeovers are what works for the team,” Aurard said. “[Müller] had just won the faceoff, and I just went behind her. I went one way, shot the other way, and it went in.”
The victory caps off the seventh shutout of the season for Philips, who received high praise from Carpenito after the game.
“People ask me, ‘What has changed from [Philips] being a backup goaltender to coming in and being a full-time starter?’” Carpenito said. “The answer is nothing. She’s consistent in practice, she’s consistent in games, she’s very relaxed out there, which calms our team down, and the players want to battle for her. She’s making the saves that she needs to make, and even a couple that she shouldn’t.”
Northeastern looks to continue their win streak, now at eight games, on Saturday against Maine. It’s the third matchup between the two teams after the Black Bears shut out the Huskies at the Alfond back in October. Daisy Roberts and Catherine Morrison have live coverage from Matthews Arena when the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. on WRBB Sports+.