Your Northeastern Huskies opened their 2022-23 campaign with a pair against the Long Island University Sharks at historic Matthews Arena this weekend. By Saturday night it was clear that NU hasn’t lost a step since graduating an absolute all-star class as they won both contests by an aggregate score of 13-2, (and it wasn’t as close as the score would make you think). This NU program boasts the best pound for pound entertainment for your hockey dollar here in the Hub of Hockey. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
In the Friday game, the Huskies dominated everything but the scoreboard and you can thank starting LIU goalie Tindra Holm for keeping it close. The Huskies outshot the Sharks 63-15 over 45mins and the only time the gameplay looked even close was when NU was on the PK. Yeah that’s right I said it. It would have been a closer game if the Huskies played with 4 skaters.
LIU went up midway through the 2nd period when Mikayla Lantto beat Gwyneth Phillips with a one-timer from the slot. Phillips was excellent in this one, with a 10-bell save late in the first as LIU broke in on a 4 on 2 and Phillips shut the door with a strong left to right move across the crease to deny at the right post. Smooth and fluid, and locked in on her angles; Phillips looked comfortable and confident between the pipes all weekend.
That was the last lead LIU would hold (for the weekend) as the Huskies tied it up 30 seconds later as Peyton Anderson got her first of the year on a nice feed from Abbey Marohn. Megan Carter dropped down the LW wall and took it behind the net before bumping the puck up to Marohn at the right point. Marohn broke out the spin-o-rama before dishing to Anderson at the top of the RW circle. Pucks on net and we got a tie game.
In the final stanza Jules Constantinople got her first career collegiate goal (and the game winner to boot) when she finished off a Maureen Murphy feed from the left point. Constantinople dragged the puck back as she walked the blue line and her wrister just trickled across the goal line. Always the ultimate teammate, Chloé Aurard fished out the puck to make sure the freshman D got the keepsake souvenir.
Later in the period Holly Abela got her first as a Husky as she finished off a perfect triangle by driving to the net and tucking in the cross-crease dish. Lily Brazis drove the slot before sliding the puck to Anderson ahead of her on the left. Anderson then came with a strong dish across the goalmouth and Abela jammed it home at the right post.
Some standouts for this humble blogger from the Friday game. Katy Knoll continued to play her brand of hockey; which consists of forcing her will on any opposing player. Is it too early to say that she’s the premier power forward in women’s Hockey East? Maybe, but I’m gonna say it anyways. Marohn picked up where she left off last year in the NCAA run and looks more confident with each shift. She dominated at the offensive blue line and was able to find shooting lanes all game. New additions Maude Poulin-Labelle and Taze Thompson both have fit in seamlessly. Personally I loved Thompson making a statement at the final horn with a green light hit behind the LIU net. “I’ll take the 2 minutes and you can keep the change ya filthy animal” Is what she (probably) said.
Some quick thoughts about this game before we get to the thumping that was Saturday’s matinee. The Huskies looked tentative to start the game and were almost “over-passing”, in their attempts to facilitate the puck on offense. As I mentioned earlier, NU had the edge in SOG and also dominated at the dot with a 30-12 edge, but they seemed almost hesitant in their approach for the first half of the game. Call it rust, call it everyone trying to find their spot, call it an adjustment to welcoming in a group of new players: it didn’t have the effortless flow that a game last year had. Was the burden of being the pre-season pick for Hockey East weighing on the team? Could being picked #3 in the NCAA preseason poll put too much pressure on the squad? A true test of a team is how they adjust and overcome adversity. Could this edition of the NU Huskies rebound and answer the bell?
Let me answer those questions for you in order: No, No and Yup. The Huskies came out on Saturday and put on a clinic on how to play team hockey. Up and down the roster, in all facets of the game, in every statistical category and in every definition: this was an absolute pumping of the LIU Sharks. Less than 18 hours after a “meh” victory (Don’t get me wrong a dub is a dub), the Huskies made a proclamation to all of women’s hockey that they might actually be a more complete team than they’ve been in the past.
Maude Poulin-Labelle got the party started this afternoon with her first as a Husky as her seeing-eye puck beat Tindra Holm from the left point. Taze Thompson also got her first point as a Husky with the apple on the play. Less than 3 minutes later Alina Müeller got her first of the year as Abbey Marohn went down the RW wall and found the captain alone at the right face-off circle. A quick drop knee one-timer over the glove and that’s the game-winner boys and girls. I mean kind of goes without saying that you don’t leave a 2-time Olympian alone in front, right?
A mere 20 seconds later Holly Abela got her first on the day as she went to the dirty area and got it done. Crashing the goal mouth is always a smart play and the Ontario native got right in there and delivered a greasy one. They don’t ask how, just how many.
Later in the period starting LIU Tindra Holm went down after a net mouth collision and was able to finish out the frame, but didn’t come out for the start of the second. Instead it was freshman goalie Annie Abramson manning the pipes with the Huskies still on the power play for 30 seconds. No warm-up, coming in to a game at Matthews with NU on the PP and down by 3: good luck. Chloé Aurard only needed 27 seconds to get her first of the season. After a great cycle high in the zone, Aurard rotated across to the LW circle and beat Abramson over the glove.
Oh you thought you were going to keep last year’s NCAA leading goal scorer off the sheet 2 games in a row? Nah fam. Maureen Murphy got hers roughly 2 minutes later from Aurard to put NU up by 5 with the game not even at the halfway mark yet. Aurard circled the zone almost exactly as her own PPG earlier in the period, but this time she dropped off to Murphy as she was coming out of the LW corner and Murphy went bar-in. As Coach Carpenito has told me many times “If you want to keep giving us power plays, we’ll keep taking them.”
Remember what I said about power plays? Well, that applies to penalty kills also. Müller and Aurard might be the NCAA version of Marchand and Bergeron. Müller got her 2nd of the afternoon when Aurard picked the puck clean in the neutral zone and broke in on the LIU net. Selling shot all the way on her backhand, she laid the puck across to Müller who went backhand forehand shelf to call Yahtzee. That score would hold until the 3rd as everyone caught their breath and updated their score sheets.
Katy Knoll opened the scoring in the 3rd when she converted a Skylar Irving feed for the touchdown. LIU tried to work the puck up the wall and Irving, who was a monster on the fore-check all afternoon, corralled the puck and found Knoll in the high slot. Using the defense as a screen, Knoll went 5-hole and people in the stands were asking the refs if the game was going to change to running time?
Lily Shannon (look out NCAA, she’s yet another freshman on this squad) got her first as a Husky as she stuffed home a Poulin-Labelle drive on her backhand. Poulin-Labelle took a shot from low on the RW circle, she probably didn’t have the angle, but what do they teach? Shoot far leg pad and it generates rebounds. Bingo-Bongo and it’s in the back of the net. Talk about a training video for smart shooting.
Abela made it 9 on her 2nd of the day when she broke in with Shannon and beat Abramson over the glove for her 3rd goal in the last 2 games. Great play by Shannon to not only bump the puck up to Abela but she drove the net hard and created the confusion for the goalie if Abela was going to shoot or pass. I don’t know if you can see it on the video, but Abela took a peek at Shannon right before shooting. Great hockey IQ all around on the play.
With The Doghouse chanting “we want 10” the Huskies kept their foot on the gas and obliged. I mean do you really think they weren’t going to try and get Müller her first career hatty? Aurard picked off an LIU defender (stop me if you’ve heard that before) and dropped behind the net to find Müller out front alone (again) where she shoveled one bar down to make it a perfect 10. Again, I guess leaving Müller alone in front is one way to game plan?
A net front scramble in the closing seconds let LIU tuck one past Alexa Matses (she came in for relief for Phillips with around 7 minutes left to play) as the only blemish for the matinee. Up next for the Huskies; they welcome in UConn next Friday.
Today’s game was significantly different than Friday night. The team seemed crisper and sharper. A total commitment to playing the entire game, I mean they were up by 6 heading into the 3rd and no one was playing “hero hockey”. Everyone kept their gaps tight and were committed defensively. The over-passing from the previous game was not present and they were hunting the puck all over the ice. Mia Brown and Tory Mariano were held off the score sheet but both had standout games. Skylar Irving was using her speed on the fore-check and was great on her defensive angles.
Look, we all know the goal for this team. From what I’ve seen this weekend, they have the depth, the scoring balance and the goaltending to make that run. I’d put their top 6 against anyone in the nation and their special teams are deadly. Stay tuned; I think it’s going to be a fun one. #HowlinHuskies Also keep an eye out for a special podcast where I interview Katy Knoll and Coach Carpenito
Speaking of fun ones: Check out the acting chops in this video. I mean, could Coach Carp get some Oscar buzz? Ok, more like a People’s Choice award.