Your Northeastern Huskies traveled to the AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, MN for another trip to the NCAA Frozen Four. This time around the Huskies faced off against the #1 seed and defending national champions, the Ohio State Buckeyes. At the end of 60 the Huskies were on the short side of the score sheet being blanked by the Buckeyes for a 3-0 final score.
Ohio State was relentless from the opening draw, putting heavy pressure on the NU defenders and making the Huskies battle out of their own end for the first half of the opening period. Ohio State got on the board first when a high cycle in the NU zone led to a chance in the slot that Gwyneth Philips got her right pad on. Unfortunately, Sloane Matthews was there for the rebound put away to give Ohio State an early lead.
Ohio State employed a two-man forecheck and were relentless on loose pucks all 200ft of the sheet. It was a battle all game for the Huskies to find space and to get setup in the offensive zone. Ohio State was physical with Philips whenever they had the chance, something that was alluded to during the broadcast as part of the Buckeyes plan going in. Lily Yovetich set the standard for what was going to be tolerated as she sent Ohio State captain Emma Maltais for a tumble early in the first.
Late in the first Alina Müeller made a great defensive play when she bundled an Ohio State player in the Huskies end and sent Chloé Aurard away through the neutral zone. Maureen Murphy jumped into the play as the 2 grad students broke in together into the Ohio State zone. After a sick toe-drag around a Buckeye defender, Murphy laid the puck across to Aurard for the tap in and all was right with the world again. Until it wasn’t. Ohio State HC Nadine Muzerall called for a coach’s challenge on a hand pass??, and after a lengthy review the goal was disallowed. I know the rules, but c’mon man. Müeller didn’t alter the trajectory of the puck at all and even color analyst AJ Mleczko (who was great on the call per usual) called it “an attempted hand pass”. Regardless of AJ and I being in total agreement, it was wiped off the board and the teams retired for the first intermission with the Huskies trailing and being in the unfamiliar role of being outshot 18-4 for the opening frame.
The Buckeyes kept the pressure on to open the second, but the Huskies were up to the pace. It was as if the Huskies took the champ’s best punch to open up the game but were still hanging in the fight. A pair of Buckeyes to the penalty box gave some hope for NU as they had a 5 on 3 power play for over 1:30 with about 5 minutes played in the period. Unfortunately, when the Huskies could get shots through, Amanda Thiele was up to the task in the Buckeyes’ net. Ohio State was credited with 16 shot blocks on the day, but it felt as if they had 16 blocks on this penalty kill alone.
We’ve talked many times in this space about how killing off a penalty can swing momentum back the other way, and it seemed to for the Buckeyes as they scored again just past midway in the period. Makenna Webster caught hold of a bouncing puck in the high slot and sent a knucklepuck in on Philips that bounced up and over her blocker to put the Buckeyes up by a pair. Later in the period, with time running down, Hadley Hartmetz put a point shot over Philip’s glove through traffic. I doubt that Philips even saw this one based on the mass of humanity in front of her net. I’d like to speak to Philips’ performance in this one (and a little about her game vs. Yale last week). For those out there that don’t watch her play and think that she’s the benefit of a strong team defense – GTFOH. She is an all time, world class, brick wall of a netminder. Not only did she set a career high for saves vs. Yale, she then went out and set a new career high today with 50 saves in this game. Not a typo – 50 freakin’ saves! Talk about a money player? Her best performances have been in the biggest games for the Huskies this year.
In the third, the Huskies tried to open it up and climb back into this one, but Ohio State kept to their game plan and clogged the neutral zone while challenging the Huskies in every zone. As the final horn wound down, you had to give it to both teams for leaving it all out there and battling for the entire game.
I’m not ready to say goodbye to this Huskies squad just yet, so I think I’ll do an end of the season wrap up post sometime over the next few days. I said to Coach Carp earlier this week, that I (like most of you reading this I’m sure) was so emotionally invested in this team, and that they really are a special group that I didn’t want it to be over yet. Hopefully, as time moves on, they’ll all be able to look back and remember how special their time together has been.
So until that last post on the 2022-2023 Northeastern Huskies drops, here’s some sights and sounds of the last week or so. #HowlinHuskies
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