By Jenna Ciccotelli, sports editor
After nearly a month off from competition, the Northeastern University (NU) women’s hockey team came back strong, beating the University of Connecticut (UConn) and breaking even with the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in the first week of 2017.
In their first game since a 3-2 loss against the University of Vermont on Dec. 4, NU headed to Connecticut on Jan. 2. Junior defenseman Ainsley MacMillan scored the first goal of the game 10 minutes in on an assist from fellow junior defenseman Lauren Kelly. Junior forward Denisa Krizova gave NU a two-goal advantage early in the second period, scoring on an attempted shot from sophomore defenseman Maddie Hartman.
UConn scored their first point on a power play shortly after and went on to tie the game just three minutes into the last period.
With two minutes remaining in the final period, NU’s junior forward McKenna Brand set up a shot for senior forward Paige Savage, who netted the game-winning goal for NU, her 100th career point. Savage is the 26th player in program history to accomplish such a feat.
Brand was in the right place at the right time once again as the game neared its final buzzer, passing to senior forward Hayley Scamurra, who shot into an empty net to give NU the 4-2 win.
Back at Matthews Arena on Friday, the Huskies fell to UNH in overtime, despite outshooting the Wildcats 30-18.
“I don’t think we’re playing with any sense of urgency,” head coach Dave Flint said to GoNU after the game. “We need to understand that [if] the puck goes in the net, the game is over.”
NU got on the board early as freshman forward Matti Hartman scored her fifth goal of the season three minutes into the game. UNH managed to tie the game before the end of the first period.
The Huskies were able to take the lead again on a power play at the 4:10 mark of the second period. MacMillian sent the puck to Kelly, whose shot was redirected into the goal by sophomore forward Kasidy Anderson. UNH was quick to respond, scoring just before the nine-minute mark to tie the game 2-2. A scoreless third period resulted in a short overtime, during which UNH sophomore forward Devan Taylor scored the winning goal for the Wildcats on a breakaway. This was the Huskies’ third overtime loss in four games.
On Saturday afternoon, NU headed north to seek revenge on UNH, which they accomplished with a 3-0 shutout. Inches of snow fell in Boston as the Huskies hit the road, causing the game to be delayed half an hour.
Sophomore goalkeeper Brittany Bugalski had 30 saves on the day, her career high in a shutout effort.
Flint was full of praise for his goalkeeper.
“She bounced back from yesterday and turned in a big performance early on,” he said.
After a scoreless first period, Brand notched the first two goals of the game in the second period with just three minutes in between. The latter goal was Brand’s 19th of the season, making her the national leader in goal scoring. Krizova scored the game-winner 15 minutes into the third period.
“She’s built some confidence,” Flint said of Brand. “She’s shooting the puck more, she’s going to the net. She’s doing little things right and being rewarded for it.”
Brand was later named the Warrior Co-Player of the Week in Hockey East, an honor shared with Boston College junior Kristyn Capizzano.
With the shutout in the books, the Huskies were able to keep their undefeated record on the road (8-0-1) and improve to 13-7-3 on the season. NU heads to the University of Maine this weekend for a pair of games against the Black Bears on Friday and Saturday.
“We’ve gotta go up there [to Maine], we’ve gotta compete, we’ve gotta battle,” Flint said. “We’re gonna need consistent effort and everybody going from the goal line out.”
Photo courtesy Jim Pierce, Northeastern Athletics