BOSTON — Alina Müller is the all-time leading point scorer in Hockey East history.
Northeastern can finish no worse than first in conference play by the conclusion of the regular season for a fifth-straight season.
In other words, it was just another Friday night at Matthews arena for a Huskies program that has seen so much history made over the last six years. This time around, the end result was a 4-0 victory over Holy Cross at Matthews Arena .
After losing the opening faceoff, the Huskies rebounded by dictating offensive play throughout the rest of the first period. By the end of the 20 minutes, Northeastern managed to put 16 shots on goal and kept the Crusaders to just three of their own.
And it was just 95 seconds into regulation that Müller broke the ice — and the record — with her 168th point in Hockey East play.
Müller carried the puck into the offensive zone before saucing a pass across the ice for forward Molly Griffin. The junior first attempted a shot on goal from the top of the faceoff circle that was blocked in front by junior defender Vaia Graves. The puck ended right back up with Griffin who then fired the puck again, this time across the crease to an awaiting Müller. The graduate student forward batted the puck out of the air and put it past junior netminder Madison Beck for the 1-0 lead.
“That’s a pretty incredible list of people that she just topped,” said associate head coach Nick Carpenito. “It’s no surprise, she’s been consistent throughout her whole career, so for her to get an honor like that, the best part about it is that she doesn’t care. She’ll take it, we’ll take it, and we’re super proud of her.”
Over the course of the first period, Northeastern drew three penalties and were unable to convert on the ensuing advantages. With 54 seconds left in the period however, freshman defender Casey Borgiel and senior forward Katy Knoll received matching roughing penalties that carried over into the second period. Sophomore forward Madison Michals also was sent off for body checking, meaning the Huskies would enter the second period with a power play.
As the frame started, it was all Northeastern with their top power play unit back on the ice. Senior forward Peyton Anderson, who scored on the power play last weekend against UVM, potted her eighth goal of the season 58 seconds into the period.
Graduate student forward Chloé Aurard skated across the top of the zone to the left faceoff circle with the puck on her stick. Aurard fired a pass to a waiting Anderson from right on the doorstep, who then buried the puck in the back of Beck’s net for the 2-0 lead.
For a Crusaders team whose penalty kill now is at a kill rate of 78.4% after Friday’s matchup, they did not make it any easier for themselves by taking seven against the Huskies — who once again converted on their fourth opportunity thanks to graduate student Maude Poulin-Labelle.
The defender was left all alone at the top of the left faceoff where she fired a slapshot past Beck to give Northeastern the 3-0 lead off a cross ice feed from senior defender Megan Carter.
“[The power play] was good,” Carpenito said. “Our execution over the last couple of weeks was just okay. We simplified things a little bit, we had a couple of specific things we were going to look for based on their coverage of our power play last time, so it was nice to cash in.”
Graduate student forward Maureen Murphy also picked up an assist on the goal, and then took a body checking minor 10 minutes later to put the Crusaders on the power play for the first time in the game.
The ensuing advantage for Holy Cross resulted in a flurry of shots on goal and the two minutes on the power play was the best they looked all game. At one point, senior netminder Gwyneth Philips lost complete control of the puck after it bounced off her shoulder. It trickled just wide of the net before hitting the back boards, ending the rush of offense for the Crusaders and keeping the score 3-0.
In the third, it was the same story with the Huskies maintaining control of the puck and peppering Beck with shots. By the final buzzer they put 51 shots on goal to the Crusaders 16, including 18 in the third period.
At the opposite end of the ice, Philips was perfect, stopping all 16 shots she faced for her ninth shutout of the season. While the low shot counter speaks highly of the defense in front of her, the netminder herself noted how these types of low event games can be their own type of challenge.
“Those are sometimes some of the hardest games, when you go for so long without getting a shot,” Philips said. “I definitely go in knowing that throughout that game, I have to stay completely zoned in. I narrate the game a little bit to myself just to stay completely dialed because it is pretty easy to tune out a little bit.”
The final goal of the game came off the stick of Carter, who similar to Anderson was left alone in the middle of the zone. Carter rifled the shot past Beck for the fourth goal of the game and her third of the season with 4:51 remaining.
Carter, who missed time earlier this season with an injury, has found her footing as the de facto leader on the blue line for the Huskies. Carpenito was quick to point out how valuable her play has been since returning from the break.
“She’s done an amazing job,” he said. “She’s starting to peak at the right time, which we’re happy about. She’s someone we’re going to look to to produce offensively for us in big moments, but also shut down other teams’ big lines and big moments as well.”
With the conclusion of the game the Huskies added another three points in conference bringing their season total up to 61 — a mark no team can beat with three weeks left in the regular season.
It’s the fifth season in a row Northeastern will be at the top of the regular season standings, the trophy Carpenito believes is hardest to win because of the yearly consistency it requires.
“We’re proud of it,” he said. “And they’ll enjoy it for the next couple of days. That’s one of our goals that we can check off, it’s time to just maintain that consistency.”
It wasn’t the best game by any standards from the Huskies, something Philips admitted, even after one of their better performances of the season against UVM last weekend.
“We saw what we could do Saturday against Vermont,” she said. “I thought we played our best game, so I think we’ve just got to get back to that, build from there, and I think we have a really good shot at reaching all the goals that we’ve been working towards.”
The Huskies return to the ice at Matthews Arena versus New Hampshire on Thursday for a 6 p.m. matchup against the Wildcats. WRBB will be live before puck drop with Daisy Roberts and Khalin Kapoor for the last Northeastern game before the Beanpot tournament.