Women’s hockey: ranked No. 3, the Huskies are rolling


Photo courtesy Brian Bae, Red and Black

The Huskies travelled to Belfast, Northern Ireland to play Clarkson in Friendship Series, the first NCAA women’s hockey games abroad. Senior forward Kasidy Anderson, 37, celebrates after one of her two goals in Belfast against Clarkson University.

Mike Puzzanghera, sports editor

Led by a dynamic duo of freshmen and a rock-solid defense, the Northeastern women’s hockey team is firing on all cylinders as they pass the halfway point of the season.

A performance worthy of No. 3 in the nation

Head coach Dave Flint has brought an excellent team to Matthews Arena this year. Boasting a record of 15-3-3 as of this writing, the Huskies have been in the top five of the USCHO National Rankings since Nov. 12. They’ve lost just three games, and only two in the Hockey East, and hold strong wins over Clarkson, Colgate and Boston College twice, all teams that were ranked in the top ten at the time of the matchup.

They sit atop the Hockey East standings with 28 points on the season, six ahead of second-place Boston College. The Huskies have also played one fewer game than BC in conference.

A pair of freshman forwards are leading the team’s charge: Alina Mueller and Chloe Aurard. The two newcomers have given the Huskies 31 and 24 points respectively.

Mueller is second on the team in goals and first in assists, with 13 and 16 respectively. Aurard has tallied 10 goals and 14 assists, with her assists total tying her for second on the team with sophomore defender Brooke Hobson.

In fact, it’s the Huskies’ offense that is driving them to so many wins. They’ve outscored their opponents 75 to 40 so far, while also outshooting the opposition 707 to 574.

The first line of Mueller, Aurard and senior forward Kasidy Anderson has combined for 77 points, including 37 of the Huskies’ 75 goals on the season. Anderson leads the team with 14 goals.

But that’s not to say that their defensive work has not also been contributing. The Huskies’ two goalkeepers, sophomore Aerin Frankel and senior Brittany Bugalski, have combined to concede an average of only 1.66 goals per game and to post a .937 save percentage.

Their top-pairing defenders are sophomore Skylar Fontaine and Hobson. The two are first and second in blocks on the team, Fontaine with 31 and Hobson with 29. Both of these defenders have excellent plus/minus marks, with Fontaine boasting plus-20, which ties her for the team lead with Mueller. Hobson has a mark of plus-14, which is good for fifth overall.

On the attack, these two defenders have also been nothing short of fantastic. Hobson has 14 assists to go with four goals, including a game-winner against Maine on Oct. 19. Fontaine has nine assists and three goals and struck a game-winner against New Hampshire on Oct. 21.

Four Huskies sit in the Hockey East top ten in points in conference play. Mueller is second with 26, only two behind the leader. Aurard has 23, which is good for fourth. Sophomore forward Veronika Pettey is eighth with 18, and Anderson is one behind her in ninth, with 17 points.

Part of the team’s success is also that they put in a solid effort every night. For a team that, on most weekends, has to play on back-to-back days, they never look like they are having an off night.

“I think that we have a lot of depth, and every team that we play, we don’t overlook,” said junior forward Andrea Renner. “We respect them so much. Just from the goal line out, we always have a consistent effort.”

Friendship Series

The Huskies became one of the first two NCAA Division-I women’s hockey teams to play outside of the United States on Jan. 5, competing in the inaugural Friendship Series.

The series, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, featured two games. No. 3 Northeastern and No. 5 Clarkson faced each other twice over the span of two days.

Photo courtesy Brian Bae, Red and Black
Blue liner Skylar Fontaine, 22, forward Alina Mueller, 12, and goalie Aerin Frankel, 33, defend their 3-1 lead in the second game v.s. Clarkson University.

The first game of the series finished in a 3-3 draw. The Huskies managed to put in three goals in a 35-second span at the end of the second period to erase a 2-0 deficit, but Clarkson found a leveler early in the third.

As the second period wound down, it looked as though the Huskies would be heading into the third period down two goals. But their goal surge began when Fontaine hit a one-time shot through a crowd and past Clarkson goalkeeper Kassidy Sauve off an assist from junior forward Maddi Hartman.

Just 17 seconds later, the Huskies evened the score as Alina Mueller intercepted a pass on the left wing and played Kasidy Anderson in on net. The forward made no mistake as she hit her shot low and past the goalie at the right pipe.

With under a minute to go, freshman forward Mia Brown completed the turnaround, latching onto a feed from redshirt senior forward Tori Sullivan. Brown fired her shot off the right pipe and in, giving the Huskies the 3-2 lead going into the third period.

The Huskies could not hold onto the lead, however, as Clarkson senior forward Kelly Mariani redirected a shot from junior defender Ella Shelton. Mariani’s shot from only a few feet out was enough to beat Frankel and give Clarkson the tie in game one.

Game two of the series started off much stronger for Northeastern. With less than seven minutes off the clock, Mueller’s faceoff win fell kindly for Anderson, who unloaded with a wrist shot that flew past the keeper and in at the left pipe.

Photo courtesy Brian Bae, Red and Black
Redshirt senior forward Tori Sullivan, 19, uses a puck to flatten the tape edges on her stick.

Clarkson evened things up later in the first, and it took the Huskies until 7:19 in the third period to break the deadlock. Fontaine fed a pass across the ice to Mueller, whose first-time shot was hit with enough power to fly past Sauve in net for Clarkson.

And it was series top scorer Anderson who put the game to bed with less than five minutes remaining, as she placed her shot in between the legs of Sauve. Anderson finished the series with three goals, one ahead of Gabel for the Golden Knights.

Remaining schedule

The Huskies will play in the 41st Women’s Beanpot tournament at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Hockey Center starting on Feb. 5. They will take on their local rival, the Boston University Terriers, in the first round at 5 p.m.. The second round will take place on Feb. 12, where the Huskies will take on either Boston College or Harvard in either the final or consolation game, depending on results from both first-round games.

Ten Hockey East games remain on schedule for the Huskies, the first of which is on Friday against the University of Connecticut. They face UConn three more times, as well as Vermont twice, Providence twice and Merrimack twice to close out the regular season. That final game against Merrimack will be played on the road on Feb. 23.