The Northeastern Women’s hockey team hosted Hockey East rival Holy Cross this afternoon at historic Matthews Arena. The Huskies pulled out the victory 3-1 to up their Hockey East record to 4-2 and their overall record to 6-2.
The Huskies controlled play early in the contest and had a decided edge in zone time and shots on net, but the play was confined to the perimeter and Holy Cross was happy to leave them out there plugging away long distance. All world goalie Aerin Frankel backstopped the comeback victory for Northeastern and made some sparkling saves down the stretch. At the other end of the ice Jada Brenon was in net for the Crusaders and actually became the Holy Cross all time save leader during this afternoon’s match.
The Crusaders got on the board first when an uncharacteristic giveaway by Skylar Fontaine sent Millie Sirum in alone where she beat Frankel over the blocker. When I say this was a rare giveaway from Fontaine, I’m talking a leprechaun riding a unicorn having lunch with Bigfoot type rare. Even the computer was surprised and kept autocorrecting me when I tried to put Fontaine’s name in a sentence with the word “giveaway”.
Northeastern answered back at the beginning of the 2nd period when Maureen Murphy potted her 1st of the day on the power play. Maddie Mills dropped the puck to Fontaine at the RW half wall as they inverted and Fontaine took a half stride and found Murphy cross-ice at the left post. Murphy got the backdoor tap in and we’re all tied up, new game.
The Crusaders kept giving the Huskies the perimeter in the 2nd and were content to look for a counter punch. A few Holy Cross power plays in the middle period were thwarted by the NU killers, most notably Chloe Aurard who once again this afternoon did her best Patrice Bergeron impression. She was everywhere on the PK and the teams headed into the final period knotted at a goal apiece.
After a first period where she only faced 4 shots, Frankel arguably had her biggest save of the day when she came up huge at the 8:30 mark in the second. A Holy Cross player came down the slot alone and Frankel exploded off her line to smother the shot and rebound. The whole game could have changed on that play. If Holy Cross goes back up at that point who knows how it shakes out.
In the final frame of the afternoon, the Huskies once again struggled to get multiple looks on rushes and had too many individual attempts. A low key big play early on in the 3rd: when Holy Cross was pushing the pace; Murphy had a head down, legs pumping back check to deny a chance from the high slot on Frankel. A huge play that doesn’t show up on the score sheet but will definitely show up on the game film.
There was a marked change in the pace and urgency from the Huskies once the timer wound down to the 10 minute mark. You could sense that NU was going to dig a little deeper and get it done. Lauren MacInnis bombed a clapper from the blue line (gee, I wonder where she gets that from) and the rebound bounced around the goalmouth. Katy Knoll, who is no stranger to the dangerous areas of the ice, corralled the puck off her body to tuck it home for the GWG.
Once NU had the lead, Holy Cross amped up the physicality but to no avail. The Huskies were the clear dominant team this afternoon, and it was all over except for the clock. A pair of late matching penalties sent the teams to 4 on 4 play. Once the Crusaders pulled their goalie, it turned into a power play like advantage, but with an empty cage behind them. Murphy showed she has no regard for her body as she laid it on the line to block not one, but two shots on the ensuing “power play”. In a nod from The Hockey Gods that hard work always pays off, on the 2nd shot she blocked, Murphy was able to gather in the puck and nonchalantly flip it 170 feet into the open net for the icing on the cake and the clincher in today’s tilt. The goal was her team leading 7th of the year (Nooooooot a big deal).
Up next for the Huskies is a home and home next weekend with Hockey East and cross-town rival the Boston College Eagles. #HowlinHuskies