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 Sweeps Vermont, Advances to Hockey East Semifinal

By Matt Neiser

BOSTON — Fresh off a 5–1 win in game one, Northeastern looked to close out their Hockey East quarterfinal series against the Vermont Catamounts with a sweep on Friday at Matthews Arena. Early struggles plagued the Huskies once again, but a second-period goal from junior Skylar Fontaine gave them the spark they needed to finish the job as they pulled out a 3–1 victory.

“Usually a coach can go into a one–eight series and be like ‘ah, okay’, but I wasn’t at all confident that we were just gonna walk through this,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said. “Credit to Vermont, they made us work . . . neither game was easy.”

Much like the day before, the Catamounts came out of the gates with their signature forecheck and stymied the Huskies’ offense. Northeastern came close to escaping the first period unscathed, but a late mistake did them in. 

Fontaine was whistled for a tripping penalty with less than a minute to go in the period, sending the Huskies to the penalty kill for the first time on the night. Despite Northeastern boasting the third-best penalty kill in the nation (.924), a goal is bound to trickle in every now and again — especially against the third-best power play unit in Hockey East.

In this case, “now and again” meant “with 16 seconds left in the frame.” Senior co-captain Eve-Audrey Picard, desperate to extend her season and career, was in perfect position to tuck home a rebound after a saved shot from Ali O’Leary. 

Vermont built on that momentum in the second period, continuing to dictate the run of play. Both teams generated a couple of clean opportunities early in the frame, but none of them found paydirt. The period seemed destined to mirror Thursday’s second period, where the Catamounts dominated the Huskies and almost doubled their shot total.

Fontaine had other things in mind.

In signature fashion, the Northeastern blueliner picked up the puck behind her own net with one thing in mind: head 200 feet down the ice and make something happen. Accelerating out of the Husky zone, Fontaine left two Catamount skaters in her dust as she flew all the way to the opposing end line. Once there, she flung the puck out in front of the net and ricocheted it perfectly off of Vermont netminder Blanka Škodová to level the game at one goal apiece.

The goal wasn’t called at first, but Fontaine was adamant that the puck crossed the line. The officials proved her right when, after a lengthy review, they confirmed the goal. Because Fontaine’s coast-to-coast journey was initiated by an Aerin Frankel save, the Husky netminder notched her second career assist.

“My thought process, honestly, was just ‘get the puck to the net.’ We needed something to work out for us, and I saw an opening so I just threw it and it ended up going in,” Fontaine said with a laugh.

Just like the day before, a single goal jolted the Huskies back to their style of play. Their energy immediately picked up; they began swarming around the Catamount zone and seemed destined to score another goal soon.

Destiny became reality 59 seconds later, when freshman Peyton Anderson streaked into the slot and muscled home a rebound off a Fontaine shot from the right circle. The goal was Anderson’s second game-winner and seventh overall in her first collegiate campaign.

Firmly back in control, Northeastern wasn’t going to let the lead slip away. In the third period, they reminded everyone in attendance how dangerous they are when firing on all cylinders. They attacked relentlessly, racking up a whopping 19 shots on net. Vermont allows an average of 23 shots per game, and the Huskies nearly equaled that total in just 20 minutes.

One of those 19 shots found its way into the back of the net, courtesy of Alina Mueller. Following two quick Catamount penalties, Mueller and Co. found themselves on an extended five-on-three power play. Just before the first penalty expired, the Swiss sensation received a pass in the high slot and blasted a snipe into the top corner of Škodová’s net.

With the goal, Mueller crossed the 60-point mark (25 goals, 35 assists) on her standout sophomore season. She becomes just the third player in program history to reach that milestone, following Vicky Sunohara (78 in 1988–89) and Kendall Coyne (68 in 2012–13 and 84 in 15–16).

That’s vaunted company right there. Coyne is one of two Huskies to win the Patty Kazmaier Award as the best player in college hockey. Both Coyne and Sunohara have won Olympic gold medals for their respective countries (United States, Canada), including two for the latter. Mueller, a top-10 Patty Kazmaier finalist in both of her seasons at Northeastern, seems more than capable of filling their shoes.

The insurance goal gave Northeastern a little breathing room and let them really open up their attack. For the last five minutes or so of the game, the puck rarely left the Vermont zone as the Huskies pressed on. The only thing keeping the contest from becoming a blowout was Škodová, who stood on her head down the stretch to throw her team a lifeline. Despite giving up three tallies, the sophomore blew away her previous career-high in saves (34) with 41 stops on the night. The Catamounts needed that number to be at least 43 though, as they couldn’t claw their way back from the 3–1 deficit.

Fontaine, one of Northeastern’s x-factors, had a hand in all three Husky goals, notching a goal and two assists.

“She brings so much to the table; offensively, defensively, [she] gives you that spark when you need it,” Flint said. “She’s the best defenseman in Hockey East and one of the best in the country, and she shows it every night.”

Frankel continued her stellar postseason play, making 25 saves as she improved her Hockey East playoff record to 10–0–0. While discussing other teams in playoff race, Flint remarked that a hot goalie is an essential part of a championship team.

“We’ve got one of the hottest goalies in the country right now, so that’s always reassuring going in. It can be scary for your opponents,” Flint said.

With the win, Northeastern advances to the semifinals of the Hockey East Championships next Saturday. With other series ongoing, their opponent has yet to be determined.

The victory is the Huskies’ 30th of the season, an impressive feat that no Northeastern team has reached before. They aren’t resting on their laurels, though; they’ve already got their eyes set on the next round.

“It’s very exciting. This week we’re gonna put in a lot of work to get to the weekend and hopefully do well,” said Fontaine.

Flint echoed that sentiment, emphasizing there’s still work to be done.

“I liked how we responded. Credit to the team, we’ve done that all year,” he said. “We get our backs against the wall, a little adversity, they crank it up.

“Moving forward, we can’t start slow the rest of the playoffs, because the teams are getting better, and we’re gonna be behind too much and it’s gonna be too late. So, hopefully they heard that message and next weekend we start a lot faster.”

Women’s Hockey Masters Merrimack

By Jack Sinclair

As the regular season winds down, Northeastern’s eyes are set on the playoffs. The Hockey East playoffs begin with a best-of-three at home against the Vermont Catamounts on Thursday. Before that, however, the team had one more job to do.

Merrimack and Northeastern sit at opposite ends of the Hockey East standings. The Huskies, with 44 points, tower above the rest, while the Warriors, with nine, are in the cellar. Northeastern looked to bounce back from a split home-and-home against Providence by sweeping Merrimack to close the regular season. Of additional note, Alina Mueller and Aerin Frankel saw a renewed spotlight, as both are top 10 finalists for women’s college hockey’s most prestigious honor — the Patty Kazmaier Award.

Tonight’s match began with engaging action, as both teams exchanged early scoring opportunities. Eventually, things settled down, and about halfway through the first period, Northeastern saw their first power play. The man advantage did not yield a goal, but it allowed Northeastern to firmly plant themselves in the offensive zone, and their lethal puck cycling began.

Minutes after going to full-strength, the Huskies caught the Warriors in a defensive change, and Alina Mueller found herself on a breakaway with only Merrimack netminder Léa-Kristine Demers between her and the goal. The nation’s fourth-leading scorer wasted no time, putting a move on Demers and netting her 22nd goal of the season.

The remainder of the period saw a few more Husky chances, but Demers held fast and kept the score at 1–0.

Second period action saw an energized Merrimack team establish themselves in the Northeastern zone, aided by an early Northeastern penalty. Northeastern killed off the penalty, but Merrimack put some pressure on Aerin Frankel between the pipes. Frankel was forced to make some impressive saves as Merrimack found themselves on a breakaway midway through the period. 

Both teams exchanged penalties, but an impressive effort from both netminders meant the second period would conclude with the same score as the first.

The third period saw a reenergized Northeastern team occupy the offensive zone. An early penalty against the Huskies was negated by another penalty from the man-up Warriors, resulting in a four-on-four that allowed the Huskies to maintain their momentum. Midway through the third the Huskies finally found their breakthrough. Peyton Anderson powered past several Merrimack players and promptly placed the puck off the post and past the Warriors’ pipe protector to put the Huskies ahead 2–0.

Whatever battle cries the Warriors used to rally themselves were silenced at this point, as the celebration of their seniors’ last home game took hold and their game lost some of its intensity. The Huskies, however, said “screw that” and continued to put pressure on the Warriors. With just under four minutes to go, sophomore forward Miceala Sindoris found herself one-on-one with Demers off of a great feed from linemate Tessa Ward. A simple snipe beat the blocker side of the goalie, and Sindoris’ second goal of the season iced the Huskies’ 3–0 victory. The clock wound down to zero, and Northeastern goalie Aerin Frankel had secured her ninth shutout of the season.

Northeastern (27–4–2, 23–3–0 WHEA) will conclude the home-and-home, and their season, on Saturday. Matt Neiser, Sarah Olender, and George Barker will be on the call, with coverage beginning at 1:45 PM EST. We’ll post the Listen Live link on our Twitter before game time.

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 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 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.