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.”

Women’s Hockey Stymies UConn

By Christian Skroce

BOSTON — The Northeastern women’s hockey team is making shutouts a trend, and we’re all for it. The Huskies’ momentum continued after last weekend’s combined 9–0 shutout of Boston College as the team pulled off a convincing 4–0 win over Hockey East rival UConn.

After an uneventful first five minutes, talented freshman Kate Holmes got the scoring going for Northeastern, putting away her fourth goal on the year off an excellent feed from Miceala Sindoris.

Sophomore forward Chloe Aurard extended the Northeastern lead just two minutes later with her 13th goal on the year. After a fantastic individual effort to skate past three UConn defenders, Aurard blasted a shot into the back of the net from the slot.

The first-period scoring spree continued when defender Megan Carter sent a rocket from the blue-line past UConn goalie Morgan Fisher to give NU a comfortable 3–0 lead.

The pace of play slowed in the second period and the score remained 3–0. Fisher exited the game early in the period with a head injury after a collision with Aurard.

The third period saw Northeastern increase their lead with a power play goal by sophomore Alina Mueller six minutes in. The play was started by defender Skylar Fontaine, who skated coast to coast to set up Mueller in front of the UConn goal. Despite a great initial save by the UConn goalie, Mueller coolly lifted the puck over the netminder’s outstretched leg.

It was a surprise hero in goal for Northeastern, as freshman netminder Gwyneth Philips recorded her third shutout in as many career starts. Philips stopped all 22 UConn shots, including forward Natalie Snodgrass’s breakaway shot in the second period. Coach Dave Flint praised Philips after the game, noting her poise and consistent ability to be ready off the bench.

The move to start Philips over junior goalie Aerin Frankel gave Frankel some rest after her performances against Boston College last weekend. The penalty kill also came up huge for Northeastern Friday night; they stopped all four UConn power plays, including a five-on-three late in the final period.

This is the third straight shutout for Northeastern, which boasts a 13–0 combined score during that stretch. The win gives the team 30 points in Hockey East, pushes them to 18–3–1 (15–2–0 HEA), and extends their commanding first-place lead. The sky is the limit for this team and they will look to continue their winning ways tomorrow afternoon as they travel Storrs, Connecticut for another matchup with the UConn Huskies.

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.