One Step Closer

Your Northeastern Huskies welcomed in the Merrimack Warriors for a matinee tilt today at Historic Matthews Arena. This was the quarterfinal matchup that the Huskies wanted as Merrimack plays a let’s call it a dirty cheap “different” style of play than a lot of the other teams in Hockey East. It’s no wonder that the Huskies ran away with this one hanging 5 on the woefully outclassed Warriors. Believe me, it wasn’t as close as the 5-1 score makes it seem.

The early play favored NU dramatically as I don’t think MC crossed into the Huskies zone for the first 5 mins of game play. Friend of the podcast, Alina Müeller got the Huskies on the board with her first of the day coming with less than 3 minutes played. Maureen Murphy fed the puck ahead to Müeller on the RW and The Captain drove the net putting a shot off of MC goalie Emma Gorski’s pads but she followed up her shot and tucked in the rebound.

The Huskies onslaught continued as they got even more jump off of the early lead and had MC pinned in their own end for long stretches. With almost 8 mins played, Müeller did it again, but this time with a drop knee one-timer from the right post. Maude Poulin-Labelle smoked a feed across the goalmouth and Müeller deposited that puck in the back of the net. No chance for Gorski on this one and the Huskies were off and running.

The score held for the remainder of the period as MC couldn’t get anything going and when they did get the puck in the NU zone? Oh yeah, it’s the best goalie in the NCAA back there. Gwyneth Phillips was locked in for this one. She was out on top of the paint, calling out the changes and directing the defense; all in a day’s work for Phillips. Oh yeah, you can test that glove at your peril, cause that thing is filthy.

The teams were slightly more even in the middle frame due mostly to bad puck luck for the Huskies. First Captain Canada, Megan Carter absolutely dented the post behind Gorski, then Taze Thompson was robbed at the goal mouth (I can neither confirm nor deny a rumor that the MC goalie had her eyes closed on that one), and then the speedy Skylar Irving was juuuuuuust short of being able to catch up to a tumbling puck for a clean breakaway. I mean, that’s a 3 goal swing right there.

The biggest change in the 2nd period was the nonsense from the MC players. I mean when you’re down by 2 on the road in an elimination game vs. the top seed in your league, you’d think you’d dial down the BS and just play hard. But apparently that wasn’t the game plan coming from the MC brain trust. It’s a bold move to say “let’s put the top power play in the NCAA out there for long stretches as we’re trying to climb back into this game” – but that’s what they did. Late in the 2nd MC was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct when a player tried to push Phillips’ cage back through her head. It was so blatant that when Tory Mariano came over the top to defend her goalie the on-ice officials were like “yeah, she had that coming”. I mean that was a world class smackdown by Mariano. You could feel the slow simmer of this game coming to a boil as the period wound down.

With about 5 minutes played in the final frame, Chloé Aurard got her milestone cookie when she finished off a great feed from Müeller. After the puck was kept in the offensive zone by Jules Constantinople, Müeller ragged the puck up and down the RW while shaking 3 defenders as she drove the slot. While every defender sagged to Müeller, Aurard glided back and found a soft spot off the right post. Müeller laid the puck to Aurard and just like that, the Huskies have slipped the chain.

And that’s when the wheels fell off for MC. It became a conga line to the penalty box and that’s not counting the 7-10 infractions that should have been called. I mean that’s the MC playbook, get down by a few goals and start playing dirty. I mean look at this play from one of the MC defenders (who had 17 PIM today and was a -1, thanks for coming out), great coaching up there in Andover. Absolutely worthy of your 5 dub season. Well done.

As I’ve said before and I’ll say again, it’s a bold strategy to get chippy when you’re losing and the other team has a weapon of a power play. But hey, I’m just a blogger with a press pass (not a big deal – shoutout Delaney), what do I know. I’m sure the Merrimack coaching staff is top notch.

During the major power play, The Mayor of Kingston got her cookie as she took the drop from Müeller and broke down the RW. And when Irving breaks, she’s absolutely motoring. She let the puck go from almost the RW dot and beat Gorski clean over the glove and under the bar. Good for Skirv as she’s been just missing for a few weeks. It’s a good point in the season to get hot.

While still on the PP, Müeller got her 3rd of the day as she had a nice give and go with Katy Knoll coming down the LW. Knoll took the feed from Müeller and dog-walked her defender before dishing the backhand to Müeller in the slot. Did you think she was missing from there? Fill out your Patty Kaz ballots right now.

Merrimack got on the board late in the game (I’m glad the MC players that were sitting behind me in the stands were so excited to not get shutout. Try having loftier goals next time ladies), as the Huskies walked away with this one. Between the just misses and the disparity in SOG (56-15) this game could have been even more one-sided.

Some observations from around the rink

  • After some heated stickwork behind the play, Taze Thompson clearly had her fill as she showed she can give it as good as the next player. I see you Taze, well done. Thompson was also nails at the dot (again) winning 6 of 7 draws.
  • Lily Shannon was named to the Pro Ambitions All-Rookie Team and my wife (noted hockey mind) commented on how she’s seen improvement from Shannon from the beginning of the season until now. If she can see it Lily, then you’re doing unbelievable.
  • Mia Brown is a warrior. All game she was in the dirty areas, sticking her nose in and digging out the puck. What a great gritty game from the grad student.
  • Megan Carter was named the Army ROTC Defender of the Year (don’t tell them that she’s Canadian), as well as being named Hockey East Best Defender.
  • Abbey Marohn and Lily Shannon showed how you take the hit to make the play. Multiple times today they both ate body checks (no calls, shocker) to move the puck. Stick taps.
  • The Premier Power Forward in Women’s Hockey Today, Katy Knoll notched her 100th (and her 101st) career point today with 2 apples. Although I will say that all the talk after the game by The Daughter of Brownie was “Katy gave me knucks”. The Huskies love their fans.
  • Gwyneth Phillips was named Hockey East Goaltender of the Year. Ya think?
  • Chloé Aurard got her 200th career point with a 1g-2a-3pt day today. Not a bad afternoon.
  • Alina Müeller got the hatty (and the GWG) today to put her in a tie with Kendall Coyne Schofield for most points in NU history. And for the 3rd time in her career was named the Hockey East Scoring Champ. Is that good?
  • The Hockey East All Star teams were announced this week:
    • First team Hockey East All-Stars
      • Alina Müeller
      • Megan Carter
      • Gwyneth Phillips
    • Second team Hockey East All-Stars
      • Maureen Murphy
      • Chloé Aurard
    • Third team Hockey East All-Stars
      • Maude Poulin-Labelle
      • Abbey Marohn
      • Katy Knoll

Up next for the Huskies: they welcome in Boston College on Wednesday for the Hockey East Semifinals. I’ll be back in the press box with my guy Todd on my LW. #HowlinHuskies

Enjoy this hype video narrated by another friend of the podcast and former Husky Aerin Frankel. “We know what it’s like to have a target on our back. We know that you raise your game while we just play ours” Absolute goosebumps.

You can read more about Brownie down below of follow him on Twitter @Abrow28

Author: Brownie

A legacy that was born on the frozen rivers in Northern Saskatchewan then later forged on the ponds of New England. Playing with the heart of a warrior and the soul of a poet; always living by the credo handed down by generations of beer-league beauties that came before him. Skate Hard - Quick Changes - Win the Parking Lot.

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