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 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 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 Thrashes Holy Cross

Photo by Sarah Olender

By Matt Neiser

Fresh off a two-game sweep of Boston University last weekend, the No. 4 Northeastern women’s hockey team took on the winless Holy Cross Crusaders at Matthews Arena on Friday afternoon. The Huskies dominated throughout the game, generating their highest goal differential of the season in a 6–0 win.

Sophomore star Alina Mueller got the party started for Northeastern (8–1–0, 5–1–0)  just under halfway through the first period, rifling a one-timer top shelf off of a perfect feed from Chloe Aurard behind the net. Four and a half minutes later, junior Skylar Fontaine doubled the Huskies’ lead on the power play with a ripper from the point. Holy Cross (0–9–3, 0–6–0) goaltender Jada Brenon was screened on the play by her own teammate, never saw it coming, and let the puck fly right by into the net.

Photo by Sarah Olender

It was more of the same for the Huskies in the second period, as a Jess Schryver shot leaked by Brenon early in the period before Aurard tallied her team-leading sixth goal of the season late in the frame. Aurard’s initial attempt was saved, but the puck snuck through the legs of the goaltender and the sophomore tucked home the second effort.

After scoring her first goal of the season the game before against BU, junior Tessa Ward continued her success in front of net with a pair of third-period goals. The multi-goal game was the first of Ward’s career, earning her the first star of the game. Ward’s third-period pair capped off a successful game for the Huskies as they put six by the Crusaders in the shutout win.

Photo by Sarah Olender

Mueller added two assists to her first-period goal, marking her fourth-three point game through nine contests this season. The Winterthur, Switzerland native leads the team in points and assists at 19 and 14, respectively.

The shutout was Husky netminder Aerin Frankel’s third goose egg of the season, pumping her save percentage to a whopping .959 and dropping her goals against average to a measly 0.90. Frankel is putting together another stellar season for the Huskies, backstopping them to the 8–1–0 record they currently hold.

Photo by Sarah Olender

After Holy Cross snapped the Huskies’ 11-game unbeaten streak last season with a 5–3 victory (their only win of the year), this game probably meant a little extra to the home team. They showed no sign of weakness this time around, outshooting the Crusaders 55–16.

Northeastern’s next game is Friday against New Hampshire at Matthews Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 PM.

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.