The Huskies have planted themselves atop the Hockey East standings and brought the Beanpot home, but their goals hardly end there. As the third-ranked team in the nation with one of the best defenses in the nation, the best goalie in the nation, and one of the best forwards in the nation, the Huskies’ aspirations extend beyond the Beanpot and beyond Hockey East. Their campaign to an NCAA Frozen Four continued today, as the Huskies rematched the Providence Friars a day after the Friars handed the Huskies their first loss in 11 games.
Providence Forward Sara Hjalmarsson struck first, weaving her way through the Northeastern defense and slipping the puck past freshman goaltender Gwyn Phillips after a nifty move to get her out of position.
The remainder of the first period saw Northeastern gain their footing on defense, and the beginning of their onslaught of shots on Providence goalie Sandra Abstreiter. Before the period ended, they fired nine shots on net to swing the momentum their way.
The start of the second period saw the puck spend a considerable amount of time on the Providence end of the ice. The Friars generated a couple of transition chances through the neutral zone, but the Huskies made sure that they couldn’t establish themselves on their end. Four minutes into the period, Skylar Fontaine slipped the puck to Alina Mueller on the edge of the crease and the nation’s second-leading scorer wasted no time, deking out the Friar netminder and scoring her 21st goal of the season.
Six minutes and one Husky power play later, Katy Knoll forced a turnover on the Providence end, took advantage of poor positioning on the part of the Providence pipe protector, and broke the tie.
The second period saw some good looks on goal for Providence, as the Huskies struggled to stop their transition offense through the neutral zone. But Phillips, along with the defenders in front of her, held fast, preserving the 2–1 lead.
The third period saw Providence dig deeper into their bag of tricks, as they worked into some three-on-two and two-on-one situations on offense, but Phillips made some huge stops to avoid a tie.
By this point, the NU offense was really rolling. The puck snapped from stick to stick and cycled up and down the rink, and the Friars could not get the puck out of their end. Five minutes into the period, Lauren MacInnis, the double-overtime hero from the Huskies’ Beanpot win, found herself with a good look at the Providence goal. Mia Brown screened the Providence netminder well, blocking her view of the puck, and MacInnis sniped the top right corner from the edge of the left circle, putting Northeastern up, 3–1.
The third period rolled on, with Providence getting a few more chances to score — mainly because Northeastern head coach Dave Flint gave ice time to some younger players — but the Huskies held their lead. Providence pulled their goalie with just over three minutes to go in the period, desperate to spark their offense. Unlike the last time the Huskies defended a six-on-five, they did not allow a goal, and Katy Knoll broke through the neutral zone for her easiest goal of the season.
Northeastern’s 4–1 win is their first against Providence this season after two losses. The Huskies will close their regular season with a home-and-home against Merrimack College before the Hockey East tournament the following week.