BOSTON — The similarities between Uconn and Northeastern are staggering. The teams both find themselves near the top of the Hockey East conference, with winning percentages that are nearly identical. They boast the first and second overall goaltending teams in the nation, top ten penalty kills, and middle-of-the-shot offenses. The two teams are within a half-short of each other in both shots allowed per game, and shot attempts per game.
Based on the above information, it would not be a surprise that the Husky-Husky matchup ended in a tie, as Friday’s clash ended up. In the end, Northeastern let a two-goal lead slip away but salvaged the extra point in a 2-2 tie and shootout victory at Matthews Arena.
“Giving up a two goal lead, not thrilled about that, but that’s hockey sometimes,” said Northeastern coach Dave Flint. “But overall, a good hockey game and two of the top teams in the league battling it out. So we’re happy with the outcome.”
While Friday’s matchup was a thriller, the teams’ previous contests earlier this season told a different story. The two programs met for a series on Nov. 3 and Nov. 4, with both games ending in a shutout for Uconn Those wins have come in a span in which Uconn commanded Hockey East. In their first three Hockey East games they went 0-3, yet since Oct. 20, they have gone 15-0-3 and taken a strong lead in the conference.
Tia Chan, one half of UConn’s star-studded goalie tandem, did not get off to her best start on Friday. On the night’s first shot on goal from Allie Lalonde, Chan allowed a juicy rebound which Northeastern’s Taze Thompson cleaned up for her 12th goal of the season.
Throughout the game, the Huskies defenders did a nice job pushing up in the neutral zone — led by Megan Carter’s efforts.
“Megan is big and strong and fast and can get up and play near the net and make things happen,” Flint said of her offensive game.
And make things happen she did, as she led a rush into the Uconn zone making a great pass to Ella Blackmore on the way. Blackmore then found linemate Mia Langlois, who connected with a quick one-timer for her third goal of the season.
The rest of the period featured domination from Uconn, as they controlled the puck for the bulk of the action. After five minutes of dictating the game, Uconn eventually cut the deficit to one, as Coryn Tormala led a three-on-two break, feeding Ashley Allard, who made a nifty move and cleanly scored on a near-empty net.
The equalizer came midway through the third period, when a strange bounce allowed Ainsley Svetek to sneak a shot past Gwyneth Phillips from near the blue line.
Though Northeastern had two late power play opportunities, Uconn showcased their stellar penalty kill. In the four minutes with an extra attacker, Northeastern was only able to muster a single shot on goal.
While each goaltender let in two goals, the poise they showed in the waning minutes of the game and into overtime was incredible and a prime showcase that encompasses the stellar season both Phillips and Chan have had.
The mirror image of these two teams continued into overtime, as both teams mustered only three shots on goal each, and few notable opportunities. This meant that the game would end in a draw and that the extra point in the Hockey East standings would come down to a shootout.
The shootout started with a bang with Northeastern’s leading goal scorer, Peyton Anderson, sneaking a puck past Tia Chan. However, the next five shots would all be saved, granting the shootout win to the Huskies from Boston.
Next up, the Huskies will face the Maine team that held them to a single goal in two games in their series in Orono in January in a game that could tie them for second place with Boston College in Hockey East standings.
WRBB will have live coverage from Matthews Arena as Northeastern takes on Maine. Matty Wasserman and Emma Sullivan will have the call on 104.9 FM for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.