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 Clinches Second Straight Regular Season Championship

By Catherine Morrison

BOSTON — Every major women’s hockey poll places Boston University as the eighth-best team in the nation. Although those polls place Northeastern third, the Huskies would be forgiven for taking every last game to edge BU out for the Hockey East crown.

The Huskies didn’t need that many. They clinched on Friday. On the last day of January. With three weeks to go.

Friday afternoon’s bout against the UConn Huskies started in Northeastern’s usual style: a first-period goal. Chloe Aurard passed to Alina Mueller dead in front of the goal for an easy score, Northeastern 43rd opening-period goal this season.

Katy Knoll looked to add her own goal but was blocked by UConn forward Catherine Crawley. At the fifteen minute mark, Matti Hartman went into the penalty box for hooking, giving UConn a chance to even the score. But twenty five seconds later, a UConn tripping penalty evened the numbers. Neither team capitalized, and the four-on-four ended without incident.

Five minutes later, Northeastern’s Aerin Frankel made a great glove save, snatching Brianna Colangelo’s shot out of the air. Shortly after, Mueller would-be second goal clanged off the pipe. With two minutes left in the period, UConn’s Danielle Fox found some empty net and shot the puck in, tying the score. UConn nearly took the lead, but Frankel turned away Viki Harkness and Camryn Wong.

The second period began with a bang when, after just twenty-four seconds, Mueller snapped a shot off from the left circle for her second goal of the game and her eighteenth of the year.

Crawley looked to even the score but Frankel, determined not to cede the lead again, dove in front of the goal, practically belly flopping on the ice to block the shot.

After the early action, the second period became a fast-paced puck battle, with 21 combined shots on goal. Midway through, Northeastern’s Katie Cipra broke away and streaked towards the goal, but was blocked by UConn goalie Morgan Fisher. UConn got their own chance to score during a power play, but Colangelo’s shot deflected off the outstretched arm of Frankel and over the net.

Five minutes into the third period, Northeastern came at Fisher with a flurry of shots, first by Veronika Pettey, then by Knoll; both were dismissed. Lauren MacInnis then got control of the puck and tried for a goal but was wide. Katie Holmes put her foot in the ring, but was again blocked by Fisher. One minutes, five shots, nothing to show.

With seven minutes left in the game, Aurard tried from the left pipe, but Fisher snagged the puck in midair. Mueller tried for a hat trick with a missile from center ice but was stymied again by Fisher.

After a Megan Carter holding penalty, UConn pull Fisher to create a six-on-four. It looked like Frankel would handle it until Jessie Aney’s first collegiate goal tied the score. Northeastern tried to get back on top with shots by Matti Hartman, Mia Brown, and Holmes in the last seconds of the game, but the game went to overtime.

Both teams were desperate to end the game. Despite some great saves from Frankel, it appeared as though UConn would control the puck throughout the extra period.

But then the Huskies broke away. Codie Cross went for the game-winning goal, but was blocked by Wong. Aurard and Mueller tried, but were blocked by Fisher. It seemed like all hope was lost until Cross grabbed onto the puck and fired it in, sealing Northeastern’s eighth straight win. Mueller’s assist on the play marked her 100th collegiate point in just sixty games.

Northeastern (23–3–1, 20–2–0 HEAW) will take on No. 8 BU in the first round of the Beanpot on Tuesday. Dale Desantis, Alex Bensley, and Catherine Morrison will call that one, with coverage beginning at 4:45 PM EST.

Men’s Hockey Falls to UConn in OT

By Matt Cunha

BOSTON — Benjamin Freeman’s power-play rebound goal three minutes into overtime gave UConn (9–10–4, 6–7–2) a 3–2 win over Northeastern (13–7–2, 7–6–1 HEA) Saturday night at Matthews Arena. The outcome was a crucial one, coming amid a tight Hockey East playoff race in which the top seven teams — including Northeastern and UConn — are separated by just five points.

It was Northeastern’s second straight overtime loss. They will wait a few weeks for a chance to bounce back, with their next game coming January 31 at home against Providence. Christian Skroce and Matt Neiser will call that one, with coverage beginning at 6:45 PM EST.

Freeman’s goal came as a result of a Jeremie Bucheler holding penalty with 2:22 to go in OT. UConn’s Vladislav Firstov, who had already scored twice, broke in on net after a Ryan Shea turnover in the neutral zone. Bucheler attempted to halt a Firstov breakaway before being whistled for the penalty.

Shortly afterward, the officials ruled that the puck flew into the Northeastern bench, giving UConn an attacking-zone face-off. UConn won it, then Freeman tallied the game-winner after Northeastern goalie Craig Pantano came up big on a Jake Flynn shot.

“They went on the power play and, to be frank with you, I thought Jeremie Bucheler did a great job defending their forward going to the net,” said head coach Jim Madigan. “That is how we teach it. He went to the box and they scored on the powerplay. We cleared the puck and the referee thought it went in our bench which never hit our bench. In-zone faceoff and they scored. We didn’t get the breaks.”

To start the game, it took UConn all of 89 seconds to get on the board after a Firstov breakaway split the NU defense. It worsened after a Jayden Struble penalty gave UConn a power play, which Northeastern killed off. Shortly after, Northeastern’s own penalty generated a flurry of chances that failed to get past UConn goalie Tomas Vomacka, who saved 35 shots on the evening. The first period ended with a 1–0 UConn lead.

At the end of the first period, five-minute major and 10-minute game misconduct penalties were assessed to Northeastern’s Riley Hughes (grasping the facemask) and UConn’s Jáchym Kondelík (boarding).

In the second period, Northeastern killed off a penalty before crawling back into the game. Grant Jozefek was hit hard around 5:30 into the period and stayed on the ice for a few seconds. A few minutes later, Aidan McDonough found Jozefek for a game-tying one-timer. Around seven minutes after that, Jozefek drove home a feed from Mike Kesselring for his sixth goal of the season and a 2–1 Northeastern lead.

UConn answered with just over three minutes left in the second period as Firstov, on a pass from Wyatt Newhouse, ripped his second of the night in front of Pantano with little NU defensive pressure.

In third period, both Pantano (41 saves) and Vomacka stood on their heads with plenty of chances both ways.

Early in overtime, the team went back and forth until Bucheler’s holding penalty.

“I feel bad for Jeremie Bucheler because he defended the play the right way and he got called for a penalty,” said Madigan. “We will have to re-group. We have two weeks off now to get ready for Providence and this is a tough loss, but we will re-group. This is a resilient group in there and we just keep battling and move forward.”

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.

Men’s Hockey Triumphs in Battle of the Huskies

By Sarah Olender

In a battle between Hockey East’s two Husky teams at the Hartford XL Center on Friday night, Northeastern’s early-game dominance on both sides of the puck carried them to a 5–2 victory over UConn.

Within the team’s first 30 seconds of play in 2020, Northeastern’s Matt Filipe fired a shot into the back of the net on an assist from Ryan Shea.

After Filipe’s goal, play swung back and forth until 10:40 into the period, when Zach Solow’s unassisted goal gave Northeastern a 2–0 lead. Minutes later, Tyler Madden scored another goal, assisted by Aidan McDonough and Grant Jozefek.

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Photos by Sarah Olender

UConn struggled through the entire first period and most of the second, turning over the puck frequently and giving Northeastern many scoring opportunities.

Nearly twelve minutes into the second period, Solow put in another goal, assisted by McDonough and Madden. Northeastern’s score streak continued minutes later, their fifth goal courtesy of freshman Matt DeMelis, who put home a rebound from teammate Neil Shea. 

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UConn finally got on the board with a minute left in the second period, when Vladislav Firstov put home a rebound. Firstov’s goal trimmed the Northeastern lead to 5–1 entering the third period.

Though the final period featured UConn’s second goal (by Jonny Evans seven minutes in), it also brought increased aggression. With just under five minutes to play, McDonough was called for goalie interference. Simultaneously, freshman defender Mike Kesselring was hit with a five-minute major penalty (and a ten-minute game misconduct) for a violent cross-check, putting Northeastern at a disadvantage for the remainder of the game. 

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With nearly three minutes to go in the game, UConn pulled goalie Tomas Vomacka, leaving Northeastern in a three-on-five situation. Once McDonough’s penalty was over, Northeastern defended the more manageable four-on-five penalty kill. 

“We didn’t play as cleanly as I would have liked in the third period,” Madigan said, though he remarked that the “PK did a great job all night long.”

Northeastern netminder Craig Pantano also played a solid game, making 24 saves for a .923 save percentage. 

Northeastern will take on Bentley this Monday in Matthews Arena. Christian Skroce and Dale Desantis will call the game for WRBB, with coverage beginning at 6:45.