Mueller Named Player of the Year, Huskies Dominate WHEA Awards

By Matt Neiser

Surprise, surprise.

Well, not really.

In the midst of one of the greatest season in programs history, nine players on the No. 4 Northeastern women’s hockey team and head coach Dave Flint were honored with a slew of awards for the 2019–20 campaign, the conference announced this week.

Freshmen Megan Carter and Katy Knoll, sophomores Alina Mueller and Chloe Aurard, juniors Skylar Fontaine and Aerin Frankel, seniors Matti Hartman and Paige Capistran, and head coach Flint were all recipients of various conference awards, as voted on by the league’s 10 head coaches.

Headlining the honors were Mueller and Flint, who took home two of the most prestigious awards on Friday.

Mueller was unanimously selected the Cammi Granato Award winner as the Player of the Year in Hockey East. With 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in Hockey East play, Mueller led the conference in scoring by a wide margin; the next closest player (teammate Chloe Aurard) was 10 points behind. Mueller led the conference in both points and assists as well, in addition to her nine game-winning goals and three shorthanded goals. If ever there was a time for a unanimous selection, Mueller’s season fits the bill.

Mueller also earned a pair of statistical awards during her otherworldly regular season. The sophomore was named both the league’s Scoring Champion and the PNC Bank Three Stars Award winner.

After every Hockey East contest, the Three Stars of the game are announced. The Three Stars Award is given to the player that accumulates the most “points” based on these recognitions, with first being worth the most points and third the least. Mueller was named the first and second star four times apiece and the third star on a trio of occasions, earning her the overall award.

For the second year in a row, Flint was voted as the Coach of Year. Northeastern’s helmsman led the Huskies to a program-record 24 conference wins and their second consecutive regular season title. Flint’s never-too-high, never-too-low mentality has been a staple of his teams’ success over the years and helped the Huskies to new heights this year.

Mueller (unanimous), Aurard, Fontaine (unanimous), and Frankel were each named First-Team All-Stars and collectively comprised two-thirds of the team’s selections. 

Second only to her linemate Mueller, Aurard racked up 34 points on 15 goals and 19 assists in Hockey East play. Individually, her goal and assist tallies rank third and second in the conference. Aurard was the only player in Hockey East to record two hat tricks, and she matched Mueller’s three shorthanded goals. Talk about a lethal duo on that top line.

Fontaine, Northeastern’s star blueliner, led Hockey East defensemen in myriad categories, including goals (13), assists (21), points (34), rating (+42) and shots on goal (155). Fontaine was a vital contributor to Northeastern’s elite offense and defense, often her blinding speed and smooth stickhandling to initiate attacks and stymie opponents’. 

Fontaine was also honored with the Best Defenseman Award. She is the first Northeastern player to win the award since its inception ten years ago.

Stalwart as ever in net, Frankel compiled one of the best seasons in Hockey East history. Her .967 save percentage is the highest mark in conference history, while her .84 goals against average ranks third. Frankel also led the conference with nine shutouts, as well as wins and win percentage (.864) with a 19–3–0 record in Hockey East play. A top-10 Patty Kazmaier candidate, Frankel consistently gives the Huskies a chance to win every game. The junior netminder was also named Goaltender of the Year for the second straight season.

Carter and Knoll, the most prominent members of the Huskies’ standout freshman class, were both named to the Pro Ambitions All-Rookie Team. 

Carter was a pivotal part of the conference-best Northeastern defense, her size and physicality perfectly complementing Fontaine’s speed and shiftiness. The blueliner led Hockey East freshmen with 41 blocked shots in the regular season, while chipping in two goals and nine assists.

Knoll made an immediate offensive impact for the Huskies. The Amherst, New York native oscillated between the first and second forward lines for most of the season, earning two Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Month nods (November, December) and a WCHA National Rookie of the Month award as she led Northeastern freshmen in scoring with 10 goals and 16 assists (26 points). Those numbers were good for fourth, second, and third among Hockey East first-years.

Matti Hartman, the Huskies’ second-line center, was named the conference’s Best Defensive Forward. Hartman excelled on the forecheck, pinning opposing teams in their own zone and regaining possession for the Huskies by forcing turnovers. When opponents actually made it down to the Northeastern end, her excellent positioning clogged passing lanes and disrupted attacks. Hartman is the third Husky to earn the honor, joining alumnae Casey Pickett and Hayley Scamurra.

Paige Capistran is the first-ever Northeastern recipient of the Sportsmanship Award. Voted by her teammates as captain for the first time in her final campaign, Capistran has been a Husky mainstay over the past four years and always exemplified leadership qualities on and off the ice.

A quick anecdote about Capistran to cap things off, as it’s one of my favorite stories and really illustrates what she’s meant to the program. In the waning seconds of regulation in last year’s Hockey East Championship, all hell broke loose. A waved-off empty netter, a thrown notebook, and a late Boston College faceoff goal to force overtime left the Huskies reeling as they headed back to their locker room to regroup.

Was it captain Brittany Bugalski that settled things down and rallied the troops? One of the assistant captains, maybe? According to Kasidy Anderson, it was actually Capistran, who up to that point was known by the media as more of a quiet presence than an outspoken leader. Anderson recalled that Capistran reminded everyone to forget about the chaos that had just happened, even though it “sucked,” and focus on the task ahead. It would have been easy to blame officials or lament bad luck, but the now-captain displayed true sportsmanship, shrugging it all off and getting her team back on track as they went on to claim the trophy.

The Huskies will look to return to the championship again this weekend, starting with their semifinal matchup against Maine at 12 p.m. today. WRBB will provide written coverage of the game.

Women’s Hockey Continues to Starve Opponents

By Jack Sinclair

The Soviet defense of Stalingrad was largely hailed as one of the greatest defenses in history. The valor demonstrated by the Soviet soldiers in the harshest of winters during their last-ditch effort to thwart the German surge became immortalized in history.

Speaking of steadfast defenses in frigid environments . . . the Northeastern women’s hockey team.

The Huskies began tonight’s contest against the Vermont Catamounts having played 240 consecutive minutes without allowing a goal. The efforts of Aerin Frankel and Gwyneth Phillips between the pipes led the Huskies to a 16–0 combined margin over a pair of home-and-homes against Boston College and UConn.

Friday night’s game would prove no different, as the Huskies sailed past the Catamounts 4–0 and extended the shutout streak to an even 300 minutes. Northeastern (20–3–1, 17–2–0 HEAW) now leads second-place BC by eight points while Vermont (9–11–6, 6–9–4 HEAW) is tied with Maine for seventh.

The Huskies dominated tonight’s match from start to finish. Skylar Fontaine opened the scoring early in the first period, netting her 11th goal of the season.

The remainder of the first period was marred by penalties for both sides, even seeing some four-on-four action. The Huskies held the puck on the offensive end of the ice for most of the period, spearheaded by a relentless forward check.

The second period started in a similar manner to the first, with the Huskies keeping the pressure and the puck on the Catamounts’ side of the neutral zone. Vermont goalie Natalie Ferenc held off several odd-man rushes from Northeastern’s top line of Jess Schryver, Alina Mueller, and Chloe Aurard that demonstrated the line’s ability to break out of the neutral zone and run a sequence. Four minutes into the second period, and Tessa Ward slipped one past Ferenc, giving the Huskies a two-goal lead.

The latter half of the period saw the Huskies’ third and fourth lines getting more time on the ice, resulting in some opportunities for the Catamounts. The stubborn defense led by Frankel, Fontaine, and Megan Carter held fast, preserving the Northeastern shutout.

The third period began with more four-on-four hockey, and upon resuming five-on-five play, Northeastern continued to dominate Vermont, keeping the puck in the offensive zone for minutes at a time. Just under five minutes into the period, Peyton Anderson surged from Northeastern’s blue line, carried the puck to the promised land, and put the Huskies up 3–0.

The middle portion of the third period saw the teams swap power plays, but neither side unleashed a threatening shot on goal. Eventually, the Huskies pressured the Catamounts with a few good looks on goal. With just under four minutes remaining, Katie Cipra took advantage of a rebounding puck and put the Huskies ahead by a comfortable four goals.

This game demonstrated Northeastern’s capability to play at their own pace, even when their opponent can’t match it. They never allowed Vermont to string together lengthy stints on their own end, and limited the Catamounts to only 16 shots for the entire game.

The Huskies continued their defensive dominance, notching their fifth consecutive shutout. That is to say, their fifth straight hour of goalless hockey. This run comes at a great time; the season is winding down, the Beanpot is approaching, and a third consecutive Hockey East championship banner seems closer than ever.

The Huskies will remain in Burlington for the second game with Vermont, which begins Saturday at 4 PM EST.

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 Sweeps BU

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Catherine Morrison

Coming off a 2–1 victory the night before, Northeastern’s women’s hockey looked to complete the sweep against rivals Boston University on Sunday afternoon. 

BU controlled the puck in the first period, with nine shots on goal to Northeastern’s four. But goalie Aerin Frankel saved all nine, including a particularly impressive block on a wrister from BU’s Courtney Correia. After Frankel’s save, freshman forward Katy Knoll, lying face-down on the ice, cleared the puck away from the goal.

With 4:36 left in the first, Husky forward Tessa Ward notched a deflection goal assisted by Megan Carter and Skylar Fontaine. The goal was Ward’s first of the season; the assist was Carter’s first collegiate point.

With just under four minutes left in the first period, Northeastern’s Brooke Hobson was whistled for interference when she knocked a BU player down. The Huskies handled the power play without a problem, and Frankel ended a shutout first period with the puck in her hand.

Northeastern came in hot in the second period. Five-and-a-half minutes in, after BU left her unattended in the slot, junior forward Veronika Pettey fielded a pass from Matti Hartman and punched home a one-timer for her third goal of the season.

Despite two second-period BU penalties (Emma Wuthrich’s roughing and Natasza Tarnowski’s high sticking), Northeastern couldn’t capitalize. The second period ended with a 9–6 Northeastern shot advantage and a 2–0 Northeastern lead.

The third period started with a power play in effect, but again, Northeastern couldn’t make anything happen against the shorthanded Terriers. With about eight minutes remaining, Knoll missed a shot, hit the ground, looked wobbly when she got up, and left her stick on the ice when she was subbed out.

A BU interference penalty handed the Huskies another power play, and again they couldn’t capitalize, taking just one shot. A Knoll attempt just after the end of the power play was redirected into the wall behind the net by BU goalie Corinne Schroeder. BU pulled Schroeder with two minutes to go but couldn’t sneak one by Frankel, who finished with twenty saves. 

Despite Northeastern shutting out BU, the game was a tight race for control of the puck. Northeastern had only 22 shots on goal, well below their average of 38. Mueller, recently named Hockey East Player of the Month, didn’t do much, registering only three shots.

The weekend sweep moved Northeastern to 7–1–0 (4–1–0 HEAW) and dropped BU to 5–2–1 (2–2–1 HEAW). The Huskies’ next game is against the winless Holy Cross crusaders on Friday at 1 PM at Matthews Arena.