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Women’s hockey coach Dave Flint reflects on historic season

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Women’s hockey coach Dave Flint reflects on historic season

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By Caroline Ingram, news staff

The Northeastern women’s hockey team captured its first-ever Hockey East title a few weeks ago, beating the University of Connecticut 2-1.

It was the program’s fourth time in the championship game since the tournament was introduced in 2003. The title gave the Huskies a berth into the NCAA tournament for the second time in school history. But when NU faced off with Colgate University in the quarterfinal round, the team fell by a score of 3-1.

Following the team’s exit from the NCAA tournament, head coach Dave Flint reflected on this season, which he described as one of “many ups and downs.”

The season featured many notable moments: an upset over top-ranked University of Wisconsin, back-to-back shutouts in freshman goalie Aerin Frankel’s first two games, third-year goalie Brittany Bugalski passing the 2,000 career save mark and fourth-year forward Denisa Krizova moving into sixth place for the most points in program history.

The season’s peak moment, however, was defeating UConn to deliver NU its first league title.

The Huskies came out on top of Hockey East, finishing their season with a 19-17-3 record. / Photo by Brian Bae.

The championship run was a redemption tour of sorts for an NU team that faced heartbreak in the championship game last season, losing to Boston College in overtime.

“Last year, to be so close and to lose in overtime, was very tough for everyone,” Flint said. “That was definitely something that was on our mind entering into the tournament [this year]. It’s what we were looking at and working toward all season long. I’m glad we got a different outcome, and I guess the fourth time was the charm for us.”

The Huskies came close to facing off against the Eagles in the finals for the second year in a row, but Boston College couldn’t surpass UConn, losing 4-2 in the semifinals.

I think we would have loved to have gotten the chance to play BC in the final again this year after we took them all the way to overtime last season,” third-year forward Kasidy Anderson said. “Last year’s loss was definitely a huge motivator for us heading into this year’s tournament. I think winning the tournament has set a great foundation for us heading into next season.”

Flint said the graduating class had a great impact on younger team members and on the season’s outcome.

“Our senior class has been tremendous,” Flint said. “They bring so much leadership and guidance to the younger players,” Flint said. “This senior class in particular has all played a lot for four straight years. They came in as freshman and immediately took on big roles, so they have tons of experience and that was a huge benefit for us.”

The Huskies are graduating seven seniors: Lauren Kelley, Shelby Herrington, Christina Zalewski, Taytum Clairmont, Denisa Krizova, Ainsley MacMillan and McKenna Brand.

“McKenna [Brand] had a huge game in the championship,” Anderson said. “Denisa [Krizova] comes to play every game and really leads by example, Lauren [Kelley] never takes a day off, and it just goes right on down through the entire senior class being tremendous leaders on and off the ice.”

Flint also spoke highly of the younger players who stepped up into big roles this year, including first-year goalie Aerin Frankel.

“Our team plays totally different when they have confidence in their goalie, and we saw that going into the playoffs as Aerin Frankel was playing really well,” Flint said. “I think that gave the team a much-needed confidence boost heading into those tough playoff games.”

Looking ahead to next season, the team is confident they are in a prime position for success as they look to build off this season’s positive endnote.

“The ultimate goal is to make it past that first round of the NCAA tournament,” Flint said. “It will be tough to replace this year’s senior class, but we’ve got lots of young talent coming in so I am very excited to see what those players can do for us and to see what the future holds for us.”

In addition to staying in top shape in the offseason and building strong team chemistry in advance of the season kickoff, Anderson said the team is already focused on defending their league title next year and making a push further into the NCAA tournament.

“It was an amazing moment to get that first league title for our school, but we obviously wanted to extend our season further and make it to the Frozen Four,” Anderson said. “We’re still hungry to advance further into the NCAA tournament and that will be a major goal of ours to focus on in the offseason.”

The Huskies finished the year with a 19-17-3 record, capping off a back-and-forth season with strong play and a league title. In the end, although Flint said he wishes some games could have gone differently along the way, he considers the season a success.

“Anytime you win a championship, you know you did something right,” Flint said.

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Women’s hockey coach Dave Flint reflects on historic season