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 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 Shuts out Boston College for Second Straight Game

By Matt Neiser

BOSTON — Boston College and Northeastern. Cross-town rivals. The top two teams in Women’s Hockey East. Any time these two squads face off, it’s must-watch action.

That said, there’s been a sizeable gap between the teams this season. Entering Sunday afternoon’s duel at Matthews Arena, the No. 3 Huskies had outscored the Eagles a combined 9–0 over two shutout wins on Boston College’s home turf. Northeastern already carried a five-point lead in the standings over BC — with two games in hand at that.

The Huskies’ dominance of the rivalry series continued into round three. The Eagles had no answer for the home team, falling 3–0 to Northeastern as the Huskies capped off a statement regular season sweep of Boston College.

“The goals didn’t come as easily as Friday,” head coach Dave Flint said. “It was a tough game. I like how we ground it out and battled for three periods.”

It took less than two minutes for Northeastern (17–3–1, 14–2–0 WHEA) to jump out in front. Matti Hartman took the puck into the slot on a counterattack and fired a wrister over the shoulder of Boston College (11–9–2, 10–7–1 WHEA) goaltender Kelly Pickreign for her fifth goal and 10th point of the season.

The Eagles had plenty of chances to respond in the first. The Huskies were called for three penalties, but stifled Boston College’s ensuing power plays. Shifting bodies in shooting lanes and constantly clearing pucks, they held the Eagles to three shots on net on those opportunities.

Northeastern killed off a fourth consecutive penalty halfway through the second frame before the whistles started blowing the other way. Boston College was called for four penalties over the final 11 minutes of the period, but Northeastern failed to convert. A defensive lapse even allowed the Eagles a clean shorthanded breakaway, but goaltender Aerin Frankel stonewalled Delaney Belinskas on the shot to bail out the Huskies.

The final penalty of the second period bled 17 seconds over to the third. Northeastern needed just 10 of those seconds to double their lead. Alina Mueller skated to the left side of the zone after winning the faceoff at center ice and received a pass from Skylar Fontaine. The Swiss sensation then did what she does best, threading the needle through three Boston College defensemen to find an open Katy Knoll on the weak side. The freshman tucked home her sixth goal of the season, extending the Huskies’ lead to 2–0.

After Boston College was called for yet another penalty three minutes later, Northeastern went on the power play again. Just like the one before it, this one ended with a puck in the back of the Eagles’ net. This time the culprit was Fontaine, who slotted home her ninth tally of the season off a feed from Chloe Aurard to put the game out of reach at 3–0. The Huskies held course the rest of the way, killing off one last penalty for good measure as time ran out.

The story of the game was the Northeastern penalty kill, which was a perfect five-for-five. The Huskies have allowed just five goals all season on the penalty kill in 64 opponent opportunities (7.8 percent).

Fontaine, a key part of the four-on-five, lit up when asked about the PK unit’s performance: “It makes us really proud. We put a lot of work in in practice for PKs, so it’s great to see it turn out on the ice.”

“Our PK forecheck is really good; they execute it to a tee every time,” said Flint. “We apply pressure when we need to apply pressure, and it’s tough for teams to get anything going against us. We’ve got kids out there willing to block shots, and your best penalty killer needs to be your goalie — and [Frankel’s] a pretty good penalty killer.”

Frankel added, “I can confidently say the entire year our penalty kill has been really strong, so that’s really nice to see and it’s helpful to our game.”

Frankel’s play against the Eagles this season has been historically dominant. No team has ever shut out BC three times in one season, and Frankel has blanked the Eagles more times this season than every other NCAA goalie in the last five years combined. She followed up her 26-save performance on Friday with 25 saves on Sunday, and recorded her sixth shutout of the season.

“I think it’s really big for the program in general,” Frankel said of the team’s dominance over BC. “Over the past decade it’s always been a really intense rivalry, but I think over the past couple years we’ve had the upper hand on them . . . I think it says a lot about how far this program’s come and I’m really proud of this team.”

Northeastern resumes play on Friday when Hockey East foe UConn visits Matthews Arena for a 6 PM matchup.