Your Northeastern Huskies traveled to Storrs, CT to take on the (subpar) Huskies at the Toscano Family Ice Forum. Looks like a gleaming new barn, but someone better to teach the Zamboni driver what’s up; as the teams were skating in puddles out there. Don’t get that kind of nonsense at Historic Matthews Arena, but I digress. The (bad) Huskies haven’t beaten NU since 2018 and the Huskies came into this one looking to sweep the season series. It took some extra hockey but the Good Huskies won this one in OT by a 3-2 score. In a dog eat dog world, it’s best to be the Top Dogs.
The game started off with UConn pushing the pace as they carried play and outshot NU 5-1 in the opening 6 minutes. Not too worry though; I don’t know if you’ve heard, but that Husky goalie is pretty special. Gwyneth Phillips leads the nation in wins, GAA, shutouts and save percentage; no matter how you slice it that’s absolutely filthy. Phillips had to be sharp from the opening draw as UConn had the better looks and scoring chances to open the game.
The (lesser) Huskies got on the board first when Amy Landry redirected a slot drive from the left post past Phillips’ glove. Phillips was in position but when you have an uncontested stick at the top of the paint, that’s a tough one to hang on the netminder. The score held to the intermission as the (weaker) Huskies had to be thrilled with the way the first 20 went.
With the Huskies on the PK in the opening minutes, Chloé Aurard did her thing. Just as the commentators on the NESN+ feed were talking about how dangerous offensively the Huskies are on the PK, Aurard got her 17th of the year to tie it up. This was Aurard’s 4th shortie of the season which accounts for half of the teams short-handed tucks. Is that good? Aurard broke into the zone and went backhand-forehand to stash the puck under the glove. Hand up, I’ve always loved the players on the PK, they’ve always been the players I enjoy watching the most. Going back to Kenny Linesman, Dave Poulin and Gregory Campbell and in more recent times Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Aurard and Alina Müeller are right up there with those other players. It’s so much fun to watch them attack the puck and create together. I recently was able to interview Müeller and we talked about the NU penalty kill. If you haven’t listened, you can find the interview here. No confirmation if they were talking in French to each other before the puck drop on this PK.
The shorthanded cookie gave the Huskies some jump and they dictated play for the next half period. The (wannabe) Huskies battled back and the period ended up being fairly even with no sustained offensive zone time for either squad. Most play was kept to the perimeter and scoring chances were limited to a shot or two for each offensive possession. Another wrinkle later in the 2nd was the (worse) Huskies were starting to take, let’s say “liberties” with NU players, most notably a number of late swipes at Phillips.
Just past midway of the final frame, the (junior) Huskies got the lead again off of one of the wilder bounces I’ve seen in some time. Kate Thurman took a shot from the high slot and the puck was re-directed by a NU player out front and then skipped off Phillips blocker to go straight up and tumble over her into the net. Apparently the only way to get 2 on Phillips is by some sort of barnyard sacrifice during intermission. I mean that goal was nothing but voodoo.
The Huskies picked it up a notch as time was running down in the period. Activated defense and dogged pursuit of the puck over the entire playing surface started to pay off as the play was held to the (inferior) Husky end. With less than 4 minutes to play, Taze Thompson got her 2nd goal in as many games as she tucked in a rebound from Maude Poulin-Labelle’s point drive. Stick taps to Mia Brown for doing the dirty work and taking the abuse in setting a much needed net front screen.
That score held until the final horn and we have extra hockey. Before I go any further, can I just address the officiating for a moment? Late in the 3rd, Aurard was skated into by a (second-rate) Husky roughly 30ft from the puck and not allowed to pursue the play. No call. In OT, Megan Carter got bundled into the boards and then the (dreadful) Husky player held her down and stood over her. Later in OT, Müeller got cross-checked in the back and sent to the ice, no where near the puck. No call. I implore you Stripes, call the game and forget about the scoreboard. Maybe now that Charlie Baker is going to be president of the NCAA we’ll get more competency?
Anywho, in overtime Tory Mariano called game. With Aurard being a one-woman cycle all alone in the (icky) Husky zone, Mariano slid down the RW with her stick-blade open presenting a target for Aurard. The French sharpshooter (maybe? not sure if that’s a good one) put it right on Mariano’s blade and she re-directed it past the diving Tia Chan to send NU home with another W. For those keeping track, that’s the 15th straight dub for the Huskies.
Up next for the Huskies is the Beanpot final vs. BC Tue night at 730pm. #HowlinHuskies
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