The Northeastern Huskies rolled into Lake Erie as the top seed in the NCAA women’s hockey championship. Matched up against Robert Morris University in the first round, they showed everyone that their regular season record was no mirage, pumping the Colonials 5-1 to set the tone for the tourney.
Led by “The Double Deuce” Skylar Fontaine’s 3pts (2g1a) and backstopped by (all world goalie) Aerin Frankel’s 19 saves the Huskies put on a clinic this afternoon. In what has become their signature game, NU dominated zone time with their high cycle and showed off team speed through the neutral zone. With quick ups out of their own end, they generated offense in transition all game. Katie Cipra had the opening opportunity early in the first when she came out of the corner and walked 2 defenders but sophomore goalie Raygan Kirk denied the bid.
Kirk kept RMU in the game as it easily could have been over in the first period as NU outshot the Colonials 15-8 in the opening frame. The Huskies finally broke through with a shorthanded goal midway through the first period. Breaking into the RMU zone 3 on 1, Chloe Aurard (1g1a) finished off a sweet sauce pass 5-hole from Alina Mueller (1g-1a) to put the Huskies up early. NU dominated the rest of the play in the first, with zone time piling up in their favor. Proving that you should always play to the final whistle, Tessa Ward showed her speed with a late bid to end the first crashing the net with less than 10 seconds in the period.
Ward was back at the start of the 2nd when she just missed a one-timer from Pasta’s circle. She was a honey badger out there all afternoon and was making the type of plays that don’t show up on the score-sheet but impact the game nonetheless. The Huskies activated their D in the 2nd and the difference was noticeable. Fontaine flashed her speed through the neutral zone as Aurard sprung her with a perfect pass from their own end. Coming into the RMU zone, Fontaine boxed out the defender and went over blocker to put the Huskies up by a pair. Peyton Anderson just missed putting the game out of reach when she walked in on Kirk late in the 2nd but her shot kissed off the post and out. The Colonials got a late power play when Mueller was called for
being stronger on her skates and edges than the other player body-checking, and Emily Curlett cut the lead in half with a one timer from the left dot. Luckily for the Huskies, the Hockey Gods haven’t forsaken Lake Erie and they showed up for today’s hockey game. With 3.5 seconds left in the 2nd period, Mueller got one back. Fontaine with the shot from the left face-off circle and Aurard drove the net and got her stick on it to send if off Kirk’s left leg pad, where it dropped in the blue paint for Mueller to tuck 5-hole. As good as karma is, instant karma is even better.
Coming out for the 3rd, the game was over. The toughest goals to come back from are those late period scores and nothing is worse than just clawing back into a game to then give up a goal within a minute. The skating and passing for NU actually seemed to pick up in the 3rd as the Huskies smelled blood in the water (on the ice? either way, they were hunting the dub). Cipra made it 4-1 with a turnover caused by Anderson on the forecheck as the RMU defender coughed up the puck in the high slot. Cipra gathered the loose puck and dragged across from the right circle to go forehand/backhand/shelf. Fontaine finished up the scoring with a one-touch redirect from Katy Knoll over the blocker. That goal puts Fontaine 2 points away from being the highest scoring defender in NU women’s hockey history, nooooot a big deal. Also, Knoll was Bergeron-esque at the dot today winning 10 of 13 draws. I’m not sure, is that good?
Up next for the Huskies is the winner of Colgate/Minnesota Duluth, with the game to be played on Thur. Check out my interview with NU Associate Head Coach Nick Carpenito from earlier this week. Hopefully we’ll be able to talk again through the tourney. You can listen here: