By James Duffy, deputy sports editor
Three seniors laced up their skates for their last regular season game as Northeastern University (NU) Huskies last Saturday.
Forward Kendall Coyne and defensemen Jordan Krause and Tori Hickel were getting ready to take the ice at home for the last time.
Coyne, the captain, will graduate as the best player to grace Matthews Arena as a Husky after shattering almost every school record. Krause and Hickel both served as solid blueliners for NU in their careers, establishing a strong defense that has vaulted the team to success.
“They’ve all done so much for this program,” head coach Dave Flint said. “I don’t need to say what Kendall has done, Tori has been so versatile for us and Jordan has really stepped up and had a breakout season this year.”
After a tough loss on the road against Boston University (BU), the Huskies were back on home ice, determined to send their seniors out properly as the Terriers had last week.
At BU’s senior night on Friday, Feb. 19, the Huskies played a strong game but ended up falling just short of a win.
Erin O’Neill, the Terriers sophomore goalie, was solid in the contest, turning away 48 of the 50 shots that came at her. Despite an offensive barrage, the Huskies struggled to find twine.
Across the ice from O’Neill, freshman goalie Brittany Bugalski made 25 saves, but despite her best efforts, the Huskies fell 3-2.
The loss at Walter Brown Arena was the Huskies third straight defeat, marking their longest losing streak of the season.
Flint stayed calm despite his team’s skid but stressed the importance of senior day.
“I told them before the game that this was the most important one of the season,” Flint said. “We wanted to send [the seniors] out the right way.”
The Huskies were able to do just that, cruising to a 6-2 win on Saturday, propelled by three goals in the final period with a little help from O’Neill in the BU net.
The usually-steady Terriers goaltender ended up letting in two soft goals in the third, which spelled the demise of the team.
Pomp and circumstance highlighted what was an already-important game. Banners with the photos of the three seniors were strung across the balconies, and the trio was honored before puck drop.
“It really hit me when the Canadian anthem played,” Krause, a native of British Columbia, said. “It was really emotional.”
Coyne, who has rewritten the record books in her four seasons, had no plans to end her career as a Husky quietly. She netted a pair of goals and added an assist, giving her 135 goals and 240 points in her career, far and away the most in school history, shattering Hillary Witt’s records set in 2000. of 113 goals and 208 points.
After the win, the seniors celebrated with their team and families, receiving flowers and posing for pictures on the ice.
All three have different paths moving forward. Krause hopes to get into dental school and come out as a dentist in four years. Coyne will have the option of playing in the National Women’s Hockey League after being selected in the first round of last season’s draft by the Boston Pride. Hickel will take some time to assess her options going forward.
“It was really emotional,” Hickel said. “I don’t know if I’m going to be playing [hockey] after this, so that added to it.”
Hickel singled out the Beanpot as her favorite experience.
“Being part of the Beanpot is huge, and winning it my freshman year was an incredible experience,” she said.
Despite the strong victory, the Huskies know they still have work to do. This weekend kicks off the Hockey East playoffs, and NU will host Providence College in a best-of-three series. With a strong showing in their conference playoffs, the Huskies hope to secure a bid in the NCAA tournament.
Both Flint and Coyne said that the “sky is the limit” with this team as they look to get to the national tournament for the first time in school history.
“We can go as far as we believe we can go,” Coyne said.
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics.