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.

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 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 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.