Your Northeastern Huskies took the ice tonight at historic Matthews Arena with their eyes on history. Standing in their way were the Huskies from UConn, who had their own plans regarding the Hockey East Championship. At the end of 60, NU did what was once thought impossible and what some have considered improbable. Your Huskies completed the Drive for Five and are Hockey East Champions once more.
I was on hand for this momentous occasion and had Mrs. Brownie and Child of Brownie in tow (not a big deal, but my daughter is undefeated in Championship games). I’m going to get into the game, but I first want to point out a feat that may never be duplicated. This year’s graduate students have gone undefeated in Hockey East playoffs for the last 5 years. Let me say that again for those in the back: The grad students on this team have not lost a Hockey East playoff game for the last 5 years. In no particular order, let’s give them some stick taps: Captain Brooke Hobson, Lauren MacInnis, Andrea “Hawkeye” Renner, Katie Cipra, Skylar Fontaine, Aerin Frankel, and Tessa “Little Wardo of Hate” Ward. These “Magnificent 7” have gone 5 seasons without losing a single game in Hockey East playoffs and have ended every season the same: with a championship. What a crew.
Now to the game. This was a tense affair as even though NU dominated play for the opening period, UConn ended the period up by a goal. A rare defensive zone turnover sent Morgan Wabick in alone on Aerin Frankel, and Wabick went forehand-backhand and just snuck the puck by the All-Galaxy Goalie. With less than a minute to play in the opening frame, the crowd on hand was stunned into temporary silence.
That score held through most of the middle frame until Alina Müller called game. With about 17 seconds left in the 2nd period Müller finished off a Skylar Fontaine feed and just like that everyone exhaled. NU had controlled this game for yet another period, but they just couldn’t seem to solve Megan Warrener in net for UConn. Until they could.
To open the 3rd, it was Müller time again. Müller broke in 1 on 4 and after dragging a UConn defender at the blue line; she drove the net splitting 2 other UConn defenders before trickling one 5-hole to give NU their first lead of the game. For those keeping score at home, Müller scored 2 in about 40 seconds of game play. I’m not sure, is that good?
Chloé Aurard had the dagger late in the period as Müller put one on net that Aurard punched home to secure the ‘ship. Watch Müller on this replay, she’s a one-woman cycle machine. She of course was awarded MVP of the tournament, a well-deserved honor for the Olympian.
The NU Huskies have cemented themselves as a bona fide dynasty and should be applauded from the players to the coaches to the support staff. Everyone bought in and everyone played a part. It was on display from the opening draw; team puck pursuit, great layers on defense and a swarming offensive presence. The NU Huskies dominated this game.
Up next for your Huskies is the NCAA selection and then the tourney awaits. Before we go, some other things to point out that I scribbled down during this one.
- Oh did NU dominate tonight? Let me put it in perspective for you – UConn didn’t set up in the NU zone until there were 8mins left in the opening period.
- The Honey Badger line was at it again tonight. Tessa Ward, Skylar Irving and Miceala Sindoris are collectively (and I mean this as a gigantic compliment) huge pain in the asses to play against. Relentless puck pursuit, dogged on the back check and they made UConn earn every inch of ice tonight. Irving absolutely flies; you can’t see how fast she is on TV. Sindoris always has her head up looking for the next play; it’s amazing how she maintains puck control. Ward is the engine that drives them: confrontational, in every puck battle and fights for every face-off. Man the opposing team must hate seeing this line come over the boards.
- Katy Knoll is sandpaper. Up and down the ice, battling in all 3 zones. What a beauty she is. I don’t know if there’s a NCAA Selke Award, but I nominate her.
- Aerin Frankel was dialed in all night and keeps her focus locked in no matter where the puck is. Directing traffic, moving the puck up to facilitate offensive zone pressure and knowing when to freeze it: she’s another coach on the ice. Oh yeah, she also shut the door tonight and made multiple 10-bell saves.
- Brooke Hobson not only has vision that is second to none, but her edge work and control with the puck is unbelievable. She also drew a big penalty late in the 2nd, what a leader.
- Megan Carter was all over the ice. Solid defensive play, stepping up in the right moments – just a great game all around. She laid out on the offensive blue line to tip a puck off a UConn player right before they were going to fly the zone. Huge play in a big moment.
- Skylar Fontaine has ice water in her veins. Calm and cool all night, the blueliner never hesitated to flash her speed and those silky mitts. I hope I don’t get her in trouble, but to see her on the Jumbotron with an ear-to-ear grin straight at the camera when NU was up by a goal certainly made me feel better about the outcome and it turned out she was right.
- Chloé Aurard has spoiled NU fans. Every single time there’s a PK (and there were a lot of them for NU that shouldn’t have been, but I digress), I think she’s going to score. Her game awareness and anticipation is tremendous.
- Maddie Mills only lets you touch her puck if she wants you to touch her puck. She’s another one like Hobson – a one-woman cycle machine.
- Maureen Murphy didn’t score tonight (I know shocker right?), but her imprint was on this game. Murphy finished the night with 2 apples and +3 and was the center of focus every time she came over the UConn blue line. She made plays that she needed to and was battling all 200ft.
All right, that’s it for me. Got to get my daughter to bed who keeps telling me that “the Huskies won and it’s a big deal”, you got that right kiddo. #HowlinHuskies