By James Duffy, deputy sports editor
Just like Spinal Tap’s amps, the Northeastern University (NU) women’s ice hockey team’s winning streak goes to 11.
The University of Connecticut (UConn) was the latest challenge to the Huskies’ success over the weekend, but like so many teams before it, UConn couldn’t contain the explosive NU offense.
The defense drove the scoring, as blueliners combined for four goals and 10 assists over the weekend.
The games showed a striking parallel to last weekend’s series against the University of Maine.
The Huskies dominated UConn in the first half of the series, cruising to an easy 4-0 win on Friday, Jan. 22, before playing a tighter game that ended 7-3 after a third period explosion.
Head coach Dave Flint chalked up the inconsistency to focus.
“We scored early on Saturday and sat back,” he said. “The key for us is to stay focused from game to game.”
Freshman goalie Brittany Bugalski carried the team to the sweep and in the process retook the reigns for the starting job.
“She’s going to get the start on Friday against New Hampshire,” Flint said of the rookie tender. “After that, I’ll evaluate the situation again and see who’ll start the first game of the Beanpot.”
Bugalski turned aside all 15 shots she faced en route to her second collegiate shutout.
Even though Bugalski needed no help to notch the win, the Husky offense lit the lamp four times on the night.
Sophomore forward Paige Savage opened up scoring just 49 seconds into the game by picking up a rebound in the slot and depositing the loose change.
Later in the first, sophomore forward Shelby Herrington did her best Savage impression, collecting a loose puck and rifling it into the back of the net for a goal of her own.
From that point on, NU cruised to a dominant win.
UConn wouldn’t take the sweep without a fight, however, and pushed back hard the next afternoon on home ice.
Early in the first, NU got on the board when senior forward Kendall Coyne tallied her 35th goal of the season, the most in the nation.
UConn struck back soon after and ended the first period clinging to a 3-2 lead.
Junior goalie Sarah Foss – NU’s starter for the game – was pulled in favor of Bugalski after letting up three goals on just seven shots.
From that point on, Bugalski and the defense were lights out.
UConn managed only five shots on net in the final two periods, all of which were stopped by Bugalski.
NU managed to get five shots in the net in the last 40 minutes.
Sophomore defenseman Lauren Kelly had a career day, finding twine twice for her first ever multi-goal game.
Senior blueliner Jordan Krause tacked on a goal of her own, and Coyne added an empty netter with nine seconds left for good measure.
In standard Husky fashion, the team took a game that was close through two periods and ended it in a 7-3 blowout.
Flint had high praise for his defenders, who were a force in all three zones.
“Defense will win you championships,” he said, citing an old adage.
Moving forward, the schedule gets much stiffer for the Huskies. The team will host New Hampshire on Friday, Jan. 29 before kicking off the Beanpot against Boston University on Tuesday, Feb. 2.
“This is crunch time,” Flint said, looking forward. “These are the games we need to win.”
Photo courtesy of Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.