IT’S A THREE-PEAT! Women’s Hockey Wins Hockey East Championship

By Christian Skroce

NORTH ANDOVER, MA — There was a theme for the 2020 Hockey East Championship, a theme the Northeastern Huskies hammered home forcefully and often: goals, goals, and more goals. That theme propelled the Northeastern Huskies to an unforgettable 9–1 victory over UConn and their third consecutive Hockey East Championship.

Northeastern began the day with 149 goals on the season, and they decided to add to that in a big way. The Northeastern Huskies played the Huskies of UConn, a team they had beaten three times during the regular season by a combined score of 10–2. By the time Sunday’s game wrapped up, Northeastern had doubled that margin.

Northeastern came out firing early and often, applying heavy pressure on the UConn defense and tallying several opportunities in the first five minutes. Junior defenseman Skylar Fontaine gave Northeastern its first goal of the day as she finished off a brilliant feed from forward Alina Mueller. Including the two quarterfinal games against Vermont, the semifinal against Maine, and her goal on Sunday, Fontaine had scored or assisted on the Huskies’ last eight goals.

Northeastern doubled its lead soon after, as Jess Schryver finished off an excellent pass from Chloé Aurard for a 2–0 lead. The goal was initially called back for interference, but replay confirmed the score.

UConn’s lone goal came just two minutes later, as an awkward bounce off the boards put goalie Aerin Frankel in a difficult position and allowed UConn forward Catherine Crawley to put the puck in the back of the net.

That’s when Northeastern really decided to take things seriously.

The Huskies stayed aggressive for the rest of the game, tallying minutes upon minutes of offensive zone time with exquisite puck movement that made it seem like they had eyes in the back of their heads. Mueller triggered the avalanche with a minute to play in the first period, fielding a pass in the high slot and firing an impeccably placed rocket into the bottom left corner.

The second period was easily the lowest-scoring, but its lone goal was easily the most impressive of the night. Just one minute in, Matti Hartman was skating away from the goal near the right dot when a quick pass flew behind her. Without looking at the goal, Hartman subtly flipped her stick behind her back and poked it through traffic for the Huskies’ fourth score. It’s difficult to tell from looking at her reaction whether or not she was trying to score, but the result was gorgeous either way.

Hartman’s fellow captains Capistran and Brooke Hobson logged assists on the play. After the game, Hartman remarked that three had been waiting for a such a goal for some time, and that they finally got their chance.

The third period was a nonstop Northeastern tidal wave, with goals from Chloé Aurard and Katie Cipra coming in the first 40 seconds.

By the end of the period Jess Schryver, Codie Cross, and Peyton Anderson had joined the party, yielding the 9–1 final score that set records for goals and scoring margin in a Hockey East Championship. Eight different Northeastern skaters punched home a goal, with Schryver the only double-dipper among them.

“I had confidence in the team, seeing how relaxed they were before the game,” coach Dave Flint said. “I felt good about them going out and taking care of business.”

Hartman spoke on the team’s recent results, noting “with the recent success, it’s important to remember where you came from. Freshman year was tough and so was sophomore year. We were about .500 that year, and we’ve tried to remember that struggle going into games like this.”

Mueller took home Tournament MVP for her efforts throughout the Hockey East Tournament, including a one-goal, three-assist performance in the championship. Mueller now has 66 points on the year as the leader one of the most formidable attacks in college hockey. Aurard matched Mueller’s performance with four points of her own in the championship game.

Head coach Dave Flint praised the entire first line, noting that they played like a “buzz saw” for the entirety of the contest. Flint also reflected on his time at Northeastern after the game, explaining that he has learned to focus on the players in the locker room rather just look ahead to victories and bring in recruits. Flint emphasized the impact former Husky Kendall Coyne had on the locker room during her junior year and says that competitive mindset has been maintained during the past several years.

Aerin Frankel took home goalie of the tournament, although she didn’t have much to do in this game. Northeastern’s defense stepped up on the biggest stage, forcing UConn into several turnovers throughout the game and preventing the bad Huskies from having significant offensive zone time.

Flint briefly discussed the future after the game, stating, “You can get up there and you can achieve excellence, but how are you gonna sustain it? That’s the challenge for us now looking ahead to the [NCAA] tournament.”

Northeastern will likely play Princeton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament next weekend, though specific details will be announced later. WRBB will have the call for that quarterfinal matchup.

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.

IT’S A BEANPOT SWEEP!

By Dale Desantis

BOSTON — It was déjà vu in the best way for the Huskies.

Twenty-four hours after Jordan Harris’ game-winner propelled the men’s team to a Beanpot championship, Lauren MacInnis, refusing to let Harris be the only #2-wearing Husky defender to sink Boston University with a double-overtime goal, ended the night.

It was the Huskies 17th Beanpot title, their first since 2013, and the first time since 1988 that both Northeastern teams held the title simultaneously.

The Huskies and Terriers had squared off three times this year, and although Tuesday night’s game had no Hockey East repercussions, the two foes were physical throughout, knowing the gravity of what was at stake. A record crowd of 1,790 at Walter Brown Arena knew it too. After the drama of the men’s game the night before, expectations were high.

BU opened the scoring early. BU’s Kristina Schuler blew by Brooke Hobson in neutral ice to dip and dunk on Aerin Frankel with unbelievable pace. The No. 9/9 Terriers were the underdogs against the No. 2/3 Huskies, so the opening goal was vital against the stout Husky defense.

It was all BU for most of the opening period as the Huskies looked flat. BU Goalie Corinne Schroeder looked comfortable in the net and defenders Abby Cook and Alex Allan were aggressive on everything coming into their zone. Finally, Northeastern caught a break in the waning minutes of the first as Chloe Aurard ripped one five-hole on a two-on-one breakaway, bringing the Huskies even.

After the break, it seemed like Northeastern would take control of the game. They started to settle the puck more, with Alina Mueller’s tremendous handling creating great opportunities. Eventually lightning struck twice, as Chloe Aurard, the eventual MVP, put away her second goal of the game and third of the tournament with 13:26 left.

Then all hell broke loose. Two minutes after Aurard’s goal, NU’s Skylar Fontaine was assessed a game misconduct after getting into it with Breanna Scarpaci in front of the net. Scarpaci was hit with a two-minute cross-checking minor, but Fontaine’s contact-to-the-head roughing penalty deprived Northeastern of its best all-around skater for the rest of the game.

After two minutes of four-on-four play, the Huskies still had three minutes of disadvantage to kill. They managed just one, as Abby Cook launched an absolute rocket from the blue line to bring the Terriers back in the game.

It looked as though the opportunity was starting to slip away from Northeastern, but as they have all season, they fought back. Late in the third period, Jess Schryver converted the Huskies’ first power-play goal of the night. Mueller’s wrister rebounded perfectly to the freshman forward as she shoved it between Schroeder’s legs to regain the lead with five minutes to play.

But as we learned on Monday night, no one raises the trophy until the final whistle blows. BU pulled its goalie around the two-minute mark, accelerating their offense. They put bodies in front of Frankel, clogging the doorstep and dumping pucks in from all angles. With only twenty-two seconds on the clock, a Nadia Mattivi slap shot trickled behind Frankel, where BU captain Sammy Davis gave it a little tap in to tie the game.

The hockey gods were laughing at Northeastern. It felt way too much like the night before. But the Huskies were about to be blessed for the second time in 24 hours. After five minutes of one overtime and 16 minutes of another, after the game had, for record and statistical purposes, ceased to count, after the only purpose was pride and glory, MacInnis stepped into the spotlight.

With Fontaine gone, head coach Dave Flint sent extra minutes MacInnis’ way. On her first power play of the season, after playing more minutes than she had all year, MacInnis fired a rebound into the back of the net and etched her name into Beanpot lore.

Flint explained that MacInnis has spent many hours in practice on the scout power play facing the team’s legendary penalty kill, and thus was prepared for the moment.

The team will now look forward to Hockey East playoffs and potentially a Frozen Four appearance at Agganis Arena in a few weeks. But for now, they can bask in the glory of a trophy that eluded several talented classes. For the first time since 2013, they are the Queens of the Beans.

Women’s Hockey Very Vehemently Vanquishes Vermont

By Catherine Morrison

Fifteen minutes into Saturday afternoon’s matchup with the Vermont Catamounts, Northeastern allowed a goal, the first in nearly three weeks. The team had played 315 consecutive minutes (more than five games) without letting their opponents on the board.

But in a reminder of the just how special this season has been, even a moment of disappointment was surrounded by overwhelming dominance. The Huskies thrashed Vermont, 10–2, for their sixth straight win.

They didn’t take long to get going, with Katy Knoll converting on a backhand just 36 seconds into the first period.

Five minutes later Chloe Aurard got in on the fun, taking advantage of a neat pass by Jess Schryver just in front of the goal to knock in the puck.

The Catamounts had an opportunity to shorten the Huskies’ lead when Tessa Ward went into the penalty box for cross checking. Although Vermont got a few good shots in, they couldn’t get past the indestructible Aerin Frankel.

With just 23 seconds left in the power play, Vermont was given a second chance when Skylar Fontaine was called for high sticking, making it five-on-three. Northeastern controlled the puck throughout the power play and much of the rest of the period. However, with five minutes to go, Vermont’s Val Caldwell shot from the right circle and ended the five-game shutout streak.

Northeastern rebounded four minutes into the second period when Lauren MacInnes put one home in from the right circle on a Veronika Pettey assist.

Vermont replaced goaltender Blanka Škodová with Natalie Ferenc in the hope of turning things around. The Catamounts were quickly given an opportunity to close the gap when Kristina Shanahan made a great shot at the goal, but Frankel turned her away.

Four minutes in, the Huskies capitalized on a Vermont penalty for too many players on the ice when Matti Hartman fired home a power-play goal from the left circle.

Apparently unsatisfied with one power-play goal, the Huskies made Vermont pay for a hooking penalty when Aurard notched her second goal of the game.

Vermont called a timeout, trying to regain control of a game that was quickly slipping away. The timeout appeared to do some good, as a few minutes later Shanahan’s ninth goal of the year cut the Husky lead to 5–2. But the Catamounts couldn’t celebrate for long, as Northeastern scored its third power play goal of the game when Schryver beat Ferenc for her third goal of the season.

With a little over eight minutes left in the second period, Aurard collected a rebound in front of the goal and netted her second hat trick of the season.

Clearly, the Huskies were not happy about the Catamounts taking away their shutout streak. With three minutes left, Peyton Anderson passed to Katie Cipra who knocked it in the back of the net, making the score 8–2 and ending an absolutely bonkers second period.

For the third period, coach Dave Flint replaced Frankel with freshman goaltender Gwyneth Philips, who hadn’t allowed a goal in 184 minutes of collegiate action. With a six-point lead, Flint must’ve felt comfortable giving Philips a little more playing time. Vermont also decided to change goalies, giving third-stringer Sierra Natzke her third career appearance.

Natzke faired about as well as expected, giving up a between-the-legs goal to Alina Mueller four minutes in.

Two minutes later, Northeastern captain Peyton Anderson snapped one home, producing the 10–2 final score.

The Huskies moved to 21–3–1 (18–2–0 HEAW), hold a nine-point lead atop the Hockey East standings, and will look to widen the margin on Tuesday against second-place BU. Christian Skroce, Matt Neiser, and Catherine Morrison will have the call, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM EST.

Women’s Hockey Smashes Holy Cross for Third Straight Time, Moves into First Place in Hockey East

By Catherine Morrison

Photo by Sarah Olender

Wednesday night’s tilt was one of extremes. Northeastern looked to grab the top spot in Hockey East, while Holy Cross was just barely holding off Merrimack to stay out of last place. The contest came a week after the teams’ last meeting, when Northeastern notched their biggest win in 20 years.

Tonight’s first period looked very different from the last game, with Holy Cross staving off Northeastern’s superior offense for the first 15 minutes. But it could only last so long before Northeastern seized control. Codie Cross skated around the goal, knocked the puck off a defender’s stick, and watched her first goal of the season skid in. It was Northeastern’s 24th first-period goal on the year.

The Huskies kept their momentum going, and a minute later Tessa Ward fired at Crusader goalie Julia Pelletier. Pelletier blocked the attempt, but Northeastern’s Peyton Anderson was there to clean up the rebound shot that became Northeastern’s second goal. The play was reviewed to determine whether Anderson had kicked the goal in, but the footage confirmed that the puck hit her leg, so the call stood.

With thirty seconds left in the period, Northeastern got another rebound goal when Anderson shot from just in front of the blue line. Again Pelletier rejected the shot, but Chloe Aurard knocked it in for her 12th goal of the season and Northeastern’s third in four minutes. On the play, Cross logged the first of her four assists on the night.

Holy Cross made a last-ditch attempt to get on the board with Bailey Bennet shot, but Aerin Frankel made a midair block. When Bennet skated away she was knocked down by Megan Carter, starting a Holy Cross power play that would continue into the second period.

Holy Cross couldn’t convert on the power play, and when Frankel leg-blocked another Bennet shot a few minutes later, any momentum the Crusaders has built on the power play finally evaporated. It didn’t take long for Northeastern to continue their goalfest, and Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Week Katy Knoll got her chance when Pelletier blocked a shot by Matti Hartman. The puck went careening towards Knoll, who quickly slammed the puck in off the rebound.

Pelletier made a great save against Alina Mueller, but was stymied by Hartman, who received the puck from Jess Schryver, faked Pelletier out, and easily knocked the puck in for the fifth goal of the game. Northeastern dominated the second period, with 21 shots on goal to Holy Cross’s nine.

Five minutes into the third, it looked like yet another Husky was going to add a goal when Skylar Fontaine made a great shot at the goal, but it was slightly off and caromed off the pipe. Kate Holmes — who would have received an assist had Fontaine’s shot found the back of the net — decided that assisting Mia Brown was just as good. The resulting goal looked effortless.

With just under eight minutes left and the game comfortably in hand, Northeastern head coach Dave Flint pulled Frankel in favor of freshman Alexa Matses. It was Matses’ first collegiate appearance and, although she looked green, she held down the fort. With just seconds left to play, Mueller sped towards the goal and slid the puck in behind Pelletier, with Cross earning her fourth assist and fifth point. The game ended with a 7–0 Husky win.

Holy Cross looked a bit tighter on defense compared with last week’s 11–0 drubbing at Northeastern’s hands. Pelletier made some great saves, but without sufficient backup from her teammates she didn’t stand a chance against the onslaught of Husky rebound goals. Northeastern scored multiple goals in every period, with seven total goals from seven different players.

The win earned Northeastern a season sweep over Holy Cross. This was to be expected given Northeastern’s unanimous first-place finish — and Holy Cross’s last-place finish — in the Hockey East preseason poll. But the 24–0 combined scoring margin was impressive even for this matchup.

Northeastern improved to 14–2 (11–2 HEAW) and leapfrogged Boston College for first place in the Hockey East standings. On the cusp of the season’s halfway point, they are ranked third in the nation.

The Huskies have a whopping 25 days off before their next tilt against Vermont on December 30th.

Women’s Hockey Thrashes Holy Cross

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Neiser

Fresh off a two-game sweep of Boston University last weekend, the No. 4 Northeastern women’s hockey team took on the winless Holy Cross Crusaders at Matthews Arena on Friday afternoon. The Huskies dominated throughout the game, generating their highest goal differential of the season in a 6–0 win.

Sophomore star Alina Mueller got the party started for Northeastern (8–1–0, 5–1–0)  just under halfway through the first period, rifling a one-timer top shelf off of a perfect feed from Chloe Aurard behind the net. Four and a half minutes later, junior Skylar Fontaine doubled the Huskies’ lead on the power play with a ripper from the point. Holy Cross (0–9–3, 0–6–0) goaltender Jada Brenon was screened on the play by her own teammate, never saw it coming, and let the puck fly right by into the net.

Photo by Sarah Olender

It was more of the same for the Huskies in the second period, as a Jess Schryver shot leaked by Brenon early in the period before Aurard tallied her team-leading sixth goal of the season late in the frame. Aurard’s initial attempt was saved, but the puck snuck through the legs of the goaltender and the sophomore tucked home the second effort.

After scoring her first goal of the season the game before against BU, junior Tessa Ward continued her success in front of net with a pair of third-period goals. The multi-goal game was the first of Ward’s career, earning her the first star of the game. Ward’s third-period pair capped off a successful game for the Huskies as they put six by the Crusaders in the shutout win.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Mueller added two assists to her first-period goal, marking her fourth-three point game through nine contests this season. The Winterthur, Switzerland native leads the team in points and assists at 19 and 14, respectively.

The shutout was Husky netminder Aerin Frankel’s third goose egg of the season, pumping her save percentage to a whopping .959 and dropping her goals against average to a measly 0.90. Frankel is putting together another stellar season for the Huskies, backstopping them to the 8–1–0 record they currently hold.

Photo by Sarah Olender

After Holy Cross snapped the Huskies’ 11-game unbeaten streak last season with a 5–3 victory (their only win of the year), this game probably meant a little extra to the home team. They showed no sign of weakness this time around, outshooting the Crusaders 55–16.

Northeastern’s next game is Friday against New Hampshire at Matthews Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 PM.

Women’s Hockey Opens Conference Play with 6–1 Romp over Maine

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Matt Neiser

The No. 3 Northeastern women’s hockey team opened Hockey East play on Friday night with a matchup against the Maine Black Bears in Orono, Maine. Continuing their impressive undefeated start to the 2019–20 campaign, the Huskies rolled over the Black Bears with a convincing 6–1 victory at Harold Alfond Sports Arena.

As has become customary this season, the Huskies (4–0–0, 1–0–0 HE) used a first-period flurry to claim an early advantage. Freshman Jess Schryver opened her collegiate account just over halfway through the period to give the Huskies a 1–0 lead, and senior Matti Hartman doubled that lead 13 seconds later. Sophomore Chloe Aurard made it three a couple minutes after that. This is the third time already this season that head coach Dave Flint’s squad has scored at least three goals in the first period. Not too shabby.

That dominance continued into the second period, when the game was well and truly put out of Maine’s reach. Sophomore Mia Brown, who scored a last-minute, game-winning goal against Syracuse the weekend before, forced a turnover in the Maine zone, got the puck back, and rifled it into the top-right corner of the net. 4–0 Northeastern.

Sophomore phenom Alina Mueller, already with two assists on the night, decided she might as well get in on the scoring with 8:05 left in the period. She chased Maine goaltender Loryn Porter from the game with a five-hole goal. 5–0 Northeastern.

Taking advantage of a power play partway through the final period, Mueller added her second goal of the night on a breakaway to conclude the Huskies’ scoring on the night. Maine got one back when Tereza Vanisova got behind the Northeastern defense and fooled goaltender Aerin Frankel with a slick deke, but it too little, too late for the Black Bears (2–2–1, 0–1–0 HE). The game ended at 6-1.

What more can you say about Mueller at this point? Through four games, the reigning Hockey East Player of the Week has netted three four-point games. Kendall Coyne, the only Northeastern player to win the Patty Kazmaier Award as the best player in women’s college hockey, had just eight points through four games the season she won the award. If she continues this elite level of play, Mueller — who was a top-10 candidate last year — will be in the conversation at season’s end.

Also impressing were Aurard, who tallied two assists and a goal, and senior captain Paige Capistran, who notched two assists of her own. Aurard now has seven points on three goals and four assists, second on the team behind Mueller in each category. 

Frankel was stellar in net once again, saving 24 of 25 shots. The Huskies’ chief netminder now has a staggering .944 save percentage on the season to go along with a 1.28 GAA.

Northeastern will make the trek back to Boston for Sunday’s home opener against New Hampshire (3–1–2, 2–0–1 HE). Two updated banners recognizing the team’s Hockey East regular season and playoff titles will be raised to the rafters. Puck drop is scheduled for 3 PM at Matthews Arena.