Hockey East Announces Intention to Play 2020–21 Season

By Milton Posner

Hockey East announced Wednesday that it intends to play a league season with all member schools participating, though it acknowledged the need for real-time scheduling changes in light of pandemic developments. The news was first reported by Jimmy Connelly.

The priority will be completing the league season, although teams can play other games if they can schedule them. The conference also intends to hold its annual tournament as usual, with eight teams playing across two weekends. Per Connelly, play is likely to begin in mid-to-late November or later, and will include as many as 30 league games.

For Northeastern, the biggest non-conference question is whether the 69th Annual Beanpot Tournament — typically the highlight of the season and by far the biggest draw among the student body — will be played in February, as it has been every year since 1955. If the Hockey East season is in full swing by then, the tournament stands an excellent chance of being played. But apart from shifts in the state of the pandemic, the wild card could be Harvard, which — unlike Northeastern, Boston University, and Boston College — does not play in Hockey East and has already suspended all sports until January 1.

On July 17, Northeastern announced the suspension of fall sports, encompassing soccer volleyball, field hockey, and cross country, with the hope that those sports could commence in the spring. Teams can practice in the meantime in accordance with Northeastern, NCAA, and public guidelines.

The conference said that schedule details, including competition specifics and a start date, will be released later. It acknowledged the need to develop multiple balanced schedule models for both men and women to accommodate interruptions. Exactly whether or when those interruptions might occur is anyone’s guess, though it’s worth noting that Massachusetts, where seven of the 11 Hockey East schools are located, has seen the rate of new cases rise and fall in recent weeks, though it has generally trended lower.

The league cited its geography as an asset in creating flexible competition schedules while mitigating non-essential travel. Per Connelly, this entails limiting travel to day trips to prevent overnight hotel stays. Only teams travelling to Orono, Maine and Burlington, Vermont — as well as the Maine and Vermont teams anytime they travel — will stay overnight.

The conference did not specify whether fans will be permitted to attend games, though the experiences of professional sports league around the globe indicate that the games will likely to closed to spectators. Hockey East’s professed commitment to athlete safety — whether through workout and resocialization protocols or an NCAA-guideline-compliant return to play — also makes fan presence unlikely.

Northeastern’s men’s and women’s hockey squads both have success to build on from last season. The men went 18–13–3 (11–12–1 HEA), and though they faltered somewhat down the stretch, they provided the year’s most electric moment when Jordan Harris sniped home a double-overtime goal to seal the Huskies’ third-straight Beanpot championship.

The women (32–4–2, 24–3–0 HEAW) also won a Beanpot title on a double-overtime goal, but it ultimately amounted to just one special moment in a campaign chock full of outright dominance. Behind the offensive powerhouse of Alina Mueller and Chloe Aurard — plus the scintillating goalkeeping of Aerin Frankel — the Huskies seldom stumbled, frequently handing out lopsided clobberings and going more than a month between losses. They will return all but three players from a team that breezed to its third-straight Hockey East Championship, spent much of the season ranked third in the nation and, poised for a serious run at a national championship before the season shut down.

Northeastern Tops BU, Clinches Playoff Spot

By Christian Skroce

BOSTON — It was do or die time for Northeastern as they took a five-game losing streak into their regular season finale against Boston University. And to no one’s surprise, things were tense (and a little weird) from the very beginning.

The Huskies began the game on the penalty kill after backup goalie Curtis Frye was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Frye lifted a cross-ice shot during warmups that struck a BU player, which caused the referees to review the “play” just before puck drop. Because of the penalty call, senior forward Grant Jozefek spent the first two minutes on the sin bin while BU started the game on the power play. Despite a less than ideal start, the Huskies responded well in the first period and easily killed off the penalty.

Northeastern responded in a big way just six minutes after the penalty kill, as a well-constructed power play goal gave them the early lead. The Huskies combined excellent puck movement with great positioning as Aidan McDonough finished off a pass from Grant Jozefek. Northeastern controlled play for the rest of the period and headed into the first intermission with a one-goal advantage.

Despite some nice Northeastern chances throughout the second period, BU controlled the majority of play. The best chance for Northeastern came about 15 minutes into the period, as Matt Filipe nearly found fellow forward Neil Shea on a breakaway, though the pass trickled just wide of Shea’s stick.

The Huskies held their lead after two periods despite a late-period scare. With just 20 seconds left in the frame, BU forward Trevor Zegras sent a long-range shot on Pantano, who had difficulty holding onto the puck. With both teams fighting for the puck to the immediate right of Pantano, BU defenseman Cam Crotty eventually redirected the puck into the net. However, it was determined after a lengthy review that Crotty interfered with Pantano, causing the goal to be waved off and allowing NU to escape the second frame with the 1–0 lead.

After an admittedly sluggish second period, the Huskies found their grove once again just 43 seconds into the third frame, as Matt Filipe finished a rebound off a long-range drive from defenseman Ryan Shea.

The Huskies’ momentum was short-lived, however. BU responded with their own goal just three minutes later when senior forward Patrick Harper sent in a bullet from the near face-off dot. Despite the goal light going off, play continued for the next two minutes with the referees saying the shot had not gone in. A review of the play determined what everyone already knew — the Husky lead was down to one.

With their season on the line, Northeastern did what they do best: block shots and clog shooting lanes. Despite some nice chances for BU, the Huskies maintained their lead for the rest of regulation. Northeastern combined impressive defense with timely offense, as the Huskies enjoyed several stretches of offensive zone time to further drain the clock.

BU would not go quietly, however, as with just 1:44 left Northeastern was called for a tripping penalty, giving BU a man advantage for the rest of regulation. The Terriers turned it into a two-man advantage, playing the entire power play with goalie Sam Tucker on the bench. Despite the six-on-four Terrier advantage, Northeastern held its own defensively, as BU would have virtually no chances on the power play. Matt Filipe cleared the puck for the final time as the Husky bench celebrated the breaking of a five-game losing skid with an intense 2–1 victory over their crosstown rivals.

“I thought our kids played a gutty, tough, and determined game,” coach Jim Madigan said. “We wanted to make sure that we earned our way into the playoffs and just not backed into it and tonight’s win was that.”

Captain Ryan Shea echoed his coach’s thoughts, saying, “We didn’t want to leave it up to chance. We didn’t want to risk our season and watch them [UNH] at 7 o’clock . . . We just wanted to get the job done ourselves.”

“This is a building we haven’t had much success in over the years,” Madigan said of Agganis Arena. The Huskies avenged their 6–3 defeat at Agganis earlier this year while playing in front of one of the Terriers’ largest crowds this season.

On Pantano’s performance, Madigan explained, “I thought he was really dialed in today. He was tracking pucks well and getting the puck out of the crease. I also thought our guys defended well, getting in front of shots and limiting BU’s opportunities.” Madigan said the team understood how dominant Boston University can be offensively, noting “With these guys [Patrick Harper, Trevor Zegras, Patrick Curry] you can just try to contain them and hope that they don’t get the opportunities where they can get going.”

The win places Northeastern (18–13–3, 11–12–1 HEA) in seventh place in Hockey East to finish the regular season and gives them a spot in the Hockey East Tournament. Northeastern will have a quarterfinals series away at UMASS Amherst next weekend, with the game times still to be announced. The Huskies are 1–2 against the Minutemen this season, with both losses coming on the road. Northeastern will have its work cut out for them if they are going to truly turn their season around, though this win gives them the confidence boost they will need to have any chance.

Women’s Hockey Advances to Hockey East Final

By Jack Sinclair

Reminder: Northeastern will play Connecticut in the Hockey East Championship game Sunday at 2 PM. Christian Skroce and Dale Desantis will be on the call from Lawler Rink at Merrimack College, with coverage beginning at 1:45 PM EST.

Northeastern established themselves as the team to beat early in the season. They clinched the number one seed at the end of January and have lost just four games all season. The reward for their regular-season dominance was a first-round playoff series against the eighth-seeded Vermont Catamounts, who they swept back to Burlington last weekend.

As a result, they headed up to Lawler Rink in North Andover, MA, to play a neutral-ice semifinal matchup against the University of Maine Black Bears. Maine’s journey to the semifinal game was not as smooth as Northeastern’s, as they barely edged Vermont out for the seventh seed, but their sweep of BU in an away series was impressive. The Black Bears came to Lawler Rink riding the high of their sweep, and this revealed itself early in the game.

Maine burst out of the gates firing. They were flying up and down the rink, and drew an early penalty. Less than a minute into their man advantage, Maine’s Ida Press slipped the puck past Hockey East Goaltender of the Year Aerin Frankel.

The Black Bears didn’t stop there, staying one step ahead of the Huskies by establishing a strong 1–2–2 trap on defense. This slower pace cramped Northeastern’s usual high-octane play style, and if not for the efforts of Frankel the score could have easily gotten out of hand. Maine managed to draw another penalty towards the end of the period, but the strength of Northeastern’s penalty kill was on full display, as they held the puck in Maine’s end of the rink for the duration of the penalty. 

The second period started, and Northeastern’s goal was clear. Establish their brand of hockey and simply keep the puck away from the Black Bears. Maine was ready for this, and jammed their bodies into the neutral zone, making it impossible for the line of Alina Mueller, Chloe Aurard, and Jess Schryver to blitz their way into the attacking zone on transition.

This resulted in a hard-fought stalemate of a period, with both teams fighting along the boards for possession. Northeastern managed to get some glimpses at the Black Bears’ goal, with a few great chances coming for Mueller in particular. Maine goaltender Carly Jackson used every square inch of her leg pads to keep the puck out of the back of the net and made some incredible saves to preserve her team’s lead going into the third period.

Whatever coach Dave Flint told the Huskies during the second intermission worked. Just over a minute of a power play carried over from the second period was all it took for Skylar Fontaine to send a rocket from just in front of the blue line into the back of the net. 

This was the cue for the Huskies. They had exposed a weakness in Maine’s trap: they simply could not keep up with the Huskies. The Black Bears had spent a lot of the game holding onto the puck and working slowly from their end of the ice into the Huskies zone. This proved costly, as their fatigue was apparent early on in the third period.

It took only two minutes for the Huskies to pounce on the tiring Black Bears and go up 2–1. Swiss Sensation Alina Mueller found herself with miles of space in the slot off a lovely feed from Skylar Fontaine. Mueller wasted no time, taking only one touch of the puck before sliding it coolly into the bottom left corner of the goal. 

Maine, despite their early skid, managed to establish their brand of hockey once more, and began to work into the Huskies zone. The defense held fast, and the Huskies were more than happy to dump the puck back into the Maine zone, switch out for some fresh legs, allow Maine to work their way back to their end of the ice, rinse, and repeat. Maine got a few looks at the net, but Frankel was having a grand total of zero percent of the Black Bears’ nonsense, and coolly protected her net. 

In the closing minute of the game, the Black Bears pulled their goaltender in a last-ditch effort to even up the score. Unlike the Beanpot final, there was no last-gasp goal. Fontaine forced a turnover in the neutral zone and sniped the empty net to ice the game for the Huskies. Fontaine has either scored or assisted on the Huskies’ last seven goals going back to last week’s doubleheader against Vermont.

The Huskies sealed their fourth straight Hockey East Championship appearance and will fight Sunday afternoon for their third straight title.

Men’s Hockey Media Day

By Milton Posner

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for the Huskies. After losing star sophomore forward Tyler Madden to injury, the Huskies dropped two games against first-place Boston College, including their worst loss since 1992. After losing senior Grant Jozefek to injury in the second BC game, the Huskies were swept by last-place Vermont.

The Huskies look to rebound with a home-and-home against Boston University this weekend. Both games are critical, as the Huskies — who sit in eighth place, one point ahead of New Hampshire — need to finish in the top eight to make the Hockey East Tournament.

The Friday game begins at 7 PM, the Saturday game at 4 PM. WRBB will call both games, with Matt Neiser and Adam Doucette on the Friday game and Christian Skroce and Adam Doucette on the Saturday contest. Both broadcasts will go live about 15 minutes before game time.

WRBB Sports caught up with head coach Jim Madigan and captain Ryan Shea at Northeastern’s Wednesday practice at Matthews Arena.

Jim Madigan

I saw in your postgame press conferences that you were down to ten forwards. How is Jozefek doing?

Jozefek is day-to-day and we’re hoping he can play on Friday. He skated yesterday, he skated today, he looks good. So he’s getting close. Madden’s getting close, but he probably won’t go on Friday.

How’s the morale of the team?

We’re not a fragile group. We’ve lost four in a row; we haven’t lost four in a row all season. And Vermont was an emotional game for them up there. It was their coach’s last weekend, their senior night, and they’d been playing well. We’re not looking at it as “we just lost two games to the last-place team.” They’re a good team. Every team in this league is a good team.

But I think when people see that we’ve lost four in a row and we lost to Vermont they think that it’s doom and gloom here. Certainly there are things we need to clean up and get better at, but we’ve had two real good practices here yesterday and today. We got back to some fundamentals and some basics yesterday and today and we’re excited about the opportunity to play on Friday. We still control our own destiny in terms of the playoffs. We’re a point ahead of New Hampshire for that eighth spot; we play BU here at home [which] is a very good team and is a rival for us. Expect our guys to be ready.

Was that the message this week to the team, that there’s still a lot in front of you despite the way things have gone the last couple games?

What happened the last two weekends is in the rearview mirror. [We need to] learn from those situations, but it’s all about what’s in front of us, the opportunity to make the playoffs, playing well this weekend, focus in on Friday and be ready to play BU. We’ve played well at home all season long.

And it’s BU. It’s going to be an emotional game. The last time we played them was the Beanpot. So we know they’re going to be hungry. They’re fighting for a playoff seeding more than a spot. We’re in a spot where we can not just sneak into the playoffs, but if we play well this weekend we could move up in the standings. So there’s a lot to play for.

You’ve talked a lot in the last couple of weeks about the leadership of your veteran guys at a time like this. What is it you’re expecting from them to push this team back to where it can go?

To lead. To let their actions show on the ice. Make sure that — there’s going to be adversity as there is in every game — they get us through those tougher times in a game. Be a difference maker. I thought last weekend on the back end Ryan Shea tried to be a difference maker. Matty Filipe scored a big goal for us to get us going on that second night. We can play better when we score that first goal. Last time we played BU we were down 2–0 after one and came back.

Those guys need to step up and show the way for the younger guys. Since the Lowell game they’ve been playoff-type games, so this is the biggest game of the season because it’s the second-to-last game of the regular season.

Looking ahead to BU, what have you seen from them since the last time you guys faced off, and what are some strengths and weaknesses you’re looking forward to?

Their strengths are — and we’ve seen them a couple of times on video since we played them — they’re great in transition. They’re fast, they want to play fast, they want to score off the rush. You can’t turn pucks over in the neutral zone because [Trevor] Zegras and some of their forwards are just too good in transition that way.

And they jump up into the play. [David] Farrance is leading the league [and the nation] in scoring from the defender [position]. He’s up in the play a lot. So we’ve got to manage pucks, we’ve got to play in their zone, we’ve got to get pucks below the goal line and make them defend, and forecheck as much as we can.

Ryan Shea

So what do you do as a senior right now? What are you trying to say to your teammates?

Everyone knows where we are right now. UNH is playing well — obviously they’ve got a tough opponent in BC — but my message is if we play the way we know how to play against BU — we beat them in the past and we played them well even when we lost — but we just gotta get to the playoffs because once you get to the playoffs it’s a whole new season.

Before I came in, when they won Hockey East the first time, they had to beat Notre Dame and they had to beat all these top teams and they beat UMass Lowell in the championship. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, being an underdog. I think that’s honestly a positive for us, because it’s kind of gives us a chip on our shoulder that we need right now that.

You mentioned you beat them before; that was a pretty emotional ending. Any concerns that you know they’ll be carrying into this weekend series?

Right now both teams are on losing streaks. They lost to UConn, Merrimack, and BC and we got swept the last two weekends, but they’re going to be pretty upset because of the Beanpot and especially how it ended with the power play in the OT. But that’s in the past for us. If I was in their locker room I’d be trying to take — not runs at people — but make sure you get an extra bump in or an extra slash. They don’t like us and, honestly, we don’t like them. So we I think we play two different types of styles, and I think if we stick to ours we’ll come out on the good side of it.

Are you feeling the sense of urgency from your teammates? Do they understand what they’re up against this this weekend?

Yeah for sure. Everyone was a little down after Vermont. We gave them their first two wins in Hockey East. We kind of had the look on our face like “the season’s over” and it’s not even close to being over. I know the seniors definitely don’t want to be over, and I think once some of the younger guys see like the reception we have on Senior Night and all the families coming out and how important these four years were to us, I think we’ll step up our play right away after that. There’s no better night to start then Senior Night.

In the Vermont game you came out in the third period and really tried to get people energized. How do you think your on-ice leadership will factor in Friday and Saturday against BU?

Just controlling our emotions. There’s going to be there’s going to be a lot of talking and chirping back and forth between the teams. We just got to stick to the way we play. We don’t need to worry about the refs, we don’t need to worry about their coaching, their coaching style, their top players. Every team’s got top players; it’s Division I hockey.

I think, especially on senior night, we’ve got to set an example. There’s no room for error. We’ve got to have our best game every game no matter if it’s two more games or we end up making it to the Hockey East Championship. Our seniors, older guys, and younger guys — they’re not freshmen anymore — everyone needs to have their best game. It’s like we’re playing the Beanpot championship every night. You don’t want to make that mistake that ends up costing the season.

How have you guys managed the workload and the fatigue given that you haven’t been at full strength for a little while?

That hasn’t been bad. [If] we have a hard weekend where we play a team that’s heavy and strong, we’ll have short practices, kind of more of a rehab-type week. I think they do a good job with that.

During the game, you got to kind of manage it within yourself. For me, it’s making sure you don’t take that extra-long shift that’s going to affect your next one because I might be out there the shift after. And same with a guy like Jordan Harris, and Solow, Filipe because Madden’s out and someone has to fill that extra center spot right now.

But like I said earlier, it’s a chip on your shoulder once Madden went down, everyone thought the world was over. We won a couple games and obviously we’re in a little slump right now but hopefully we have Jozefek back and Filipe’s already back, so that’s a positive.

Women’s Hockey Wins Game One Quarterfinal Behind Explosive Third Period

By Matt Neiser

BOSTON — Finally, playoff hockey is upon us.

After a season of hard work to put themselves in pole position heading into the postseason, the first-seeded Northeastern Huskies have the chance to defend their Hockey East crown for the second consecutive season. The women kicked off their playoff campaign with game one of a best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series against the eight-seeded Vermont Catamounts at Matthews Arena. 

Despite being the lowest-seeded team in the tournament, the Catamounts put up quite the fight against the No. 4 nationally ranked Huskies. After two periods of deadlocked action, the Huskies used an early third period haymaker to put Vermont on their heels and followed up with a flurry of strikes to send the Catamounts crashing to the mat, pulling away to a 5–1 victory.

Northeastern (29–4–2) showed no sign of postseason nerves. Senior assistant captain Matti Hartman netted her eighth goal less than five minutes into the game, firing home a close-range shot off of a feed from sophomore Mia Brown.

Many may have thought the Huskies would quickly pull away after a start like that. Credit Vermont (10–17–8) for keeping their heads held high and refusing to kneel. The Catamounts used an aggressive, effective forecheck to disrupt Northeastern’s offense and keep them from cleanly carrying the puck forward.

“On their forecheck they were relentless; they were all over us. There were some things we talked about on our breakout that we weren’t really executing, and then the times that we did get out we were turning the puck over in the neutral zone,” said Husky head coach Dave Flint. “And then, all of a sudden, things aren’t going your way, everyone starts gripping their sticks a little tighter.”

Vermont capitalized on the Huskies’ disarray in the second period, using a Kristina Shanahan goal to even the game just over six minutes into the frame. The Catamounts pressed throughout the second, outshooting Northeastern nine to five. But their failure to tally a second score would soon come back to bite them.

Whatever Flint and his staff said in the locker room before the third period, it worked like a charm.

After an early penalty, the Huskies went on the power play for the third time on the afternoon. After a beautiful passing sequence led to a saved shot from Jess Schryver, sophomore Alina Mueller picked the puck up near the corner of the offensive zone. As she does so often, the Patty Kazmaier candidate picked out the perfect pass to her teammate, finding Brown in open space for a one-time rocket to give the Huskies the lead.

“We stress a lot dropping into the house, and I noticed that Vermont had all their players packed in almost below the hash marks,” said Brown. “So I just was coming right down the middle, and I saw Alina so I slowed up a bit, saw her pass it, and just shot it.”

The floodgates opened after that. Mueller converted a goal of her own just 32 seconds later, and junior Tessa Ward and freshman Kate Holmes added scores over the next 15 minutes to put the contest out of reach and secure game one for Northeastern.

“Credit to Vermont for a hard-fought game,” Flint said. “They gave us all we could handle, especially in the first two periods.”

Northeastern’s depth has been a key factor for them this season — they’re one of just four Division I teams with at least five double-digit scorers, along with Wisconsin, Franklin Pierce, and Minnesota. That depth shone again on Thursday, with five goals by five different Huskies.

“That’s the way it’s gone all year,” Flint remarked. “That’s what we need if we’re gonna be successful down the stretch. We need players to step up in certain times, and that’s what we had tonight.”

Game two of the best-of-three series will commence tomorrow night at 7 PM EST, as the Huskies look to sweep the Catamounts in the quarterfinals for the second-straight year. WRBB will have full coverage of the game starting at 6:45 PM, with Matt Neiser and Dale DeSantis on the call.

“We need to be ready, “Flint said. “They’re gonna play desperate, because they have to win or their season’s done . . . we need to be ready from the drop of the puck.”

Hockey East Preview: UMass Amherst Minutemen

Last season: 31–10–0 (18–6–0 HE, first place); lost in HE semifinals to BC, lost NCAA National Championship to Minnesota Duluth

Head Coach: Greg Carvel (fourth season)

Coaches’ Poll Projected Finish: Second

Losses

  • D Cale Makar
  • D Ryan Bliss
  • D Mario Ferraro
  • F Jacob Pritchard
  • F Brett Boeing
  • F Kurt Keats

Additions

  • G Alex Camarre
  • D Gianfranco Cassaro
  • D Zac Jones
  • D Jaakko Haarti
  • F Jeremy Davidson
  • F Eric Faith
  • F Calen Kiefiuk
  • F Reed Lebster
  • F Peyton Reeves

By Jonathan Golbert

On April 12th, 2019, Cale Makar stepped onto the stage at Harborcenter in Buffalo to accept the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top NCAA men’s hockey player. On April 13th, he stepped on the ice to lead the charge for the Minutemen in the national championship against Minnesota Duluth. And on April 14th, he stepped on to a flight bound for Game 3 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after signing an entry-level Contract with the Colorado Avalanche. The player who took UMass hockey from the conference basement to the national championship in just two years was gone.

Though Makar’s departure from Amherst was expected, it still leaves a gaping hole in UMass’s defense. His accolades seem endless: fourth pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, Hobey Baker Winner, Hockey East Player of the Year, First Team All-American. But most importantly, he was a leader on and off the ice for a young, talented Massachusetts team.

The Minutemen have other departures to contend with, too. Sophomore defenseman Mario Ferraro left school early to sign with the San Jose Sharks, and seniors Jacob Pritchard, Brett Boeing, and Kurt Keats also leave holes in the Minutemen’s lines. Pritchard’s contributions will be sorely missed; he notched an exceptional 47 points last season, second only to Makar’s mind-boggling 49.

Head Coach Greg Carvel brings a nine-player freshman class to boost his roster, including New York Rangers’ third round Pick Zac Jones. Jones is the star of this recruiting class: an offensive defenseman who moves the puck well and fits perfectly into the UMass blue line. He will be joined by a crop of USHL talent, plus goalie Alex Camarre and defensemen Jaakko Haarti and Gianfranco Cassaro. Jones and forwards Reed Lebster and Peyton Reeves have the best chances of starting on opening night for the Minutemen.

Junior forwards Mitchell Chafee and John Leonard have demonstrated an eye for goal and excellent passing vision, and will be expected to step up their point production. Long Island native Bobby Trivigno also looks to make his mark after a successful 28-point rookie season. After a three-point performance against UNH in Game 1 of the Hockey East Playoffs, Trivigno received high praise from Carvel, who said, “He’s probably our most important player… He’s the best forward on our team. He’s outstanding.”

Sophomore Marc Del Gaizo played on the top pair with Cale Makar last season and is expected to contribute from the blue line again this year. He is a powerful skater with an excellent shot, comfortable with the puck in both zones. With man-advantage mainstays Makar and Ferraro on to the NHL, Del Gaizo will often be directing the Minutemen power play squad from the point.

One of the more interesting storylines for Amherst will be identifying their top netminder. Both Matt Murray and Filip Lindberg are solid; Murray started the season as Carvel’s number one, but Lindberg took over the starting role come playoff time and was absolutely lights out. Lindberg posted a staggering 1.60 GAA and .934 SV% over 17 games for the Minutemen last year, but without two of his best defenders, he’ll have his work cut out for him.

Bottom Line: The loss of Makar is a crushing blow, but most of last year’s offensive core is returning for the 2019–20 season. With Del Gaizo set to step up and lead from the blue line and reinforcements coming in Zac Jones and others, they’ve hedged their bets to try to reload the defense. UMass will remain an offensive powerhouse, but with the departures of Makar and Ferraro, a weakened defense, and an underwhelming recruiting class, they might fall just short of the Hockey East regular season crown.

Northeastern Women’s Hockey Wins Hockey East Preseason Coaches’ Poll, Ranked 4th in National Poll

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Christian Skroce

Boston, MA – After winning the Women’s Hockey East title last season, Northeastern was unanimously chosen to top the standings once again in the preseason HEAW coaches’ poll. The Huskies received nine first place votes (Northeastern voted for Boston University, as coaches cannot vote for their own team), good for 81 points in the poll.

BU finished second (71 points), followed by Boston College (65), Providence (56), New Hampshire (42), UConn (41), Merrimack (30), Maine (29), Vermont (25), and Holy Cross (9).

The team also was ranked fourth in the first regular season national poll. The ranking matches Northeastern’s pre-NCAA Tournament ranking from last year and puts the team in good position to reach the top three. Expectations are high for the Huskies, but they have the talent and coaching to pull off some key wins. The team has thrived using an underdog mentality, but they will be tested as the perceived top dog as they try for their third straight Hockey East championship.

Northeastern has undergone a significant youth movement over the past few years. The team consists of 16 underclassmen, many of whom have already experienced a conference win. Alina Mueller, a Patty Kaizmaier top-10 finalist last year, will look to lead the young Huskies this season. The talented sophomore forward finished with 21 goals and 30 assists last year, becoming the second NU rookie to score over 50 points in a season. Joining Mueller up front is fellow sophomore Chloe Aurard, who finished last season with 31 points of her own.

Backing up the Husky forwards will be the team’s talented defenders, led by the unmatched duo of Skylar Fontaine and Brooke Hobson. The juniors’ unique combination of speed and skill that allows them to defend well and provide extra ammunition for the Husky attack. Behind them is junior goalie Aerin Frankel, who broke out last season with a 1.81 goals against average and a .932 save percentage. Frankel turned in several clutch performances for the team last season, winning Hockey East Goalie of the Year and Hockey East Tournament MVP.

The team will kick off its season on Friday, October 4, when they head to Schenectady, NY for a date with Union College.