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 Honors Seniors, Sets Records, Sweeps Merrimack

Story and Photos by Sarah Olender

BOSTON — Coming off of a 3–0 win against the Merrimack Warriors Friday night, the Northeastern Huskies were still feeding off of that energy. 

Northeastern’s three seniors were honored before their last regular-season home game. Codie Cross, from Alberta, Canada, Paige Capistran, from Manchester, New Hampshire, and Matti Hartman, from Etna, New Hampshire, were all recognized for their contributions to the program.

Cross played a shift in the first period, but an ongoing lower-body injury kept her from playing heavy minutes. Capistran and Hartman both played their hearts out, as did many other Huskies.

“They’re great leaders on and off the ice and really nice people, and I think they’ve done a lot for this program,” junior goaltender Aerin Frankel said. “Our culture has grown a lot, and it started with them as freshman learning from their seniors and they’ve done a really good job carrying that out to this team.”

Even though the Huskies’ position in Hockey East was determined more than three weeks ago, head coach Dave Flint still wanted to finish the year strong.

“I get more passionate, I think, on senior weekend,” he said. “Even though it was a long time ago for me, I remember what it was like . . . so I always want the seniors to go out on a winning note.”

The energy that Flint wanted was evident throughout the first period and most of the game. The Huskies started strong, maintaining possession for most of the period.

With nine minutes remaining, Northeastern center Tessa Ward received a penalty for cross-checking. While most teams might be nervous when down a player, the Huskies seem to gain confidence. Only eight percent of the team’s penalty kills have ended in goals, compared with the Huskies’ 15 percent success rate on the power play.

This penalty kill was no different. Alina Mueller fired a shot into the back of the net for her third shorthanded goal this season. 

The Huskies notched a second goal when Miceala Sindoris’ slick puck handling and blocked wrister led to a loose puck in the slot. Brooke Hobson was trailing the play and positioned herself perfectly to slap it home.

In the second period Merrimack increased their intensity and energy. They had many attempts on goal, but none passed through Frankel. The Husky goalie fired her team up near the end of the second period when she made an initial save, saw the puck was open and vulnerable behind her, dove backward to make a second save, and perfectly cleared the puck to Katy Knoll. Knoll found Tessa Ward, who carried the puck up the ice, wrapped around the net, and perfectly fed Mia Brown for the third and final goal of the game.

The third period was a slow and scoreless one for the Huskies. While they maintained possession for most of the period, they did not get as many shots on goal as they would have liked.

Near the end of the game, a Tessa Ward checking penalty and a Chloe Aurard slashing call brought the fierce penalty kill squad back out onto the ice. It was fitting that the successful penalty kills would seal an illustrious defensive record — when the clock showed zeros, Aerin Frankel had recorded her 10th shutout of the year, breaking Erika Silva’s 20-year-old school record. Frankel also equaled Chanda Gunn’s 19-year-old record of 23 wins.

“It’s a cool thing to know, but it’s not super important to me personally,” Frankel said. “It’s more important to me that we keep winning.”

The Huskies (28–4–2, 24–3–0 WHEA) kick off the Hockey East Tournament this week with a best-of-three quarterfinal series against the Vermont Catamounts. Tune in for WRBB’s coverage from Matthews Arena, with the first game starting at 1 PM EST on Thursday.

“We need to be focused, we need to be ready,” Flint said. “It’s playoffs, anything can happen.”

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 Raises Banners, Knocks Off New Hampshire

Image Credit: nuhuskies.com

By Catherine Morrison

BOSTON — Before the puck dropped at Matthews Arena on Sunday afternoon, Northeastern women’s hockey saw the fruits of last year’s labor raised to the rafters of the century-old building. Updated banners reflecting last season’s Hockey East regular season and playoff titles now hang above the ice.

Then this year’s team showed why they might be even better than last year’s, topping the New Hampshire Wildcats 4–1 in their home opener. The Huskies have won their first five games for the first time since 2000–01.

Northeastern spent more than five of the first 20 minutes on the power play. Despite some excellent passes and shots from sophomore forward Alina Mueller — one of which clanged off the pipe — the Huskies failed to convert. Nine first-period saves by Northeastern goalie Aerin Frankel — including five in the first five minutes — kept the game scoreless.

Northeastern defender Skylar Fontaine got aggressive in the second. After two blocked attempts and two misses, she broke the tie with seven minutes left in the period.

The Huskies meshed well throughout, particularly evidenced when a penalty against UNH gave the Huskies 73 second of extra attacker time. The Huskies held the puck throughout the penalty.

Frankel continued to amaze, even getting bonus help from her teammates. When Frankel lost her stick during a UNH power play, defender Mia Brown returned it to her just in time for Frankel to notch an incredible save. On another play, senior defender Codie Cross helped Frankel dismiss an airborne attempt.

In the waning seconds of the second period, the Huskies found themselves short-handed after defender Brooke Hobson was called for tripping. Undeterred, sophomore Chloe Aurard netted a nifty turnaround goal.

Aurard wasn’t done. Seven minutes later, she forced home her second goal of the afternoon and fifth on the year.

With three minutes left in the game, UNH pulled goalie Ava Boutilier in the hope of breaking the shutout. The gamble succeeded, as Nicole Dunbar netted the Wildcats’ first goal of the game. But less than two minutes later, Northeastern’s Veronika Petty negated it with an empty net goal to put the contest out of reach.

The Huskies will look to stay undefeated at Providence on Friday at 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.