Storms weathers Merrimack attack, earns first career win


Samantha Barry

Senior goalkeeper Brianna Storms looks on from the bench during a prior game against Boston University. The senior made 21 saves in her first career start Friday.

Mike Puzzanghera, sports editor

Making her first career start on senior day, senior goaltender Brianna Storms not only got her first career win, but her first career shutout as well, making 21 saves as the Huskies blanked Merrimack 3-0 Friday.

Northeastern (23-5-4, 21-3-2 WHEA) took on the Warriors (16-11-6 12-10-4 WHEA) at Matthews Arena for the second time this season. In the first meeting, the Huskies grabbed a 6-3 win on their home ice.

Prior to the game, the Huskies honored their five seniors in a ceremony: forwards Kasidy Anderson and Tori Sullivan, goalkeepers Brittany Bugalski and Storms and defender Maddie Hartman.

In addition, they brought out a special starting lineup — in their best efforts to get all five seniors out on the ice, the Huskies started Anderson, Sullivan, Alina Mueller, Hartman, Brooke Hobson, and Storms.

The first period was marked by a quartet of NU penalties, giving Merrimack plenty of power-play opportunities including almost two minutes in a 5-on-3. But the Huskies’ penalty kill held strong, as they arguably had the best chance during the 5-on-3 with Mueller being denied on the rush.

The Huskies created plenty of chances during the period despite the infractions: Sophomore defender Skylar Fontaine had a good shot from between the circles, junior forward Matti Hartman had a few chances, including one that she mis-hit from just in front of the net and Mueller had her aforementioned short-handed chance. Despite 14 shots, they failed to find an opening goal.

Storms stopped all 11 Merrimack shots in the period while Merrimack netminder Lea-Kristine Demers made 14 first-period saves.

The second period began with an early NU goal, with sophomore forward Veronika Pettey striking less than two minutes into the frame. Pettey and freshman forward Chloe Aurard broke through on a 2-on-1, with Aurard taking a shot that was saved by Demers. However, the rebound spilled out to Pettey and despite a deflection by a Merrimack defender, the puck managed to drop down into the back of the net.

Four minutes later the Huskies scored a second, with Mueller tapping home a beautiful passing play. After receiving the puck out on the right wing, junior forward Andrea Renner played a brilliant cross through the heart of the Merrimack defense, where Mueller was waiting to slip the puck past Demers.

Northeastern spent most of the period in the offensive zone, registering 14 shots on net and getting two goals. Fewer penalties allowed the Huskies to limit Merrimack’s chances, with Storms only being forced into six saves in the period compared to 11 in the first.

The Huskies would grab their third goal and put the game to bed at the start of the third, with Renner sniping her 10th of the season. Renner took a pass from junior Codie Cross and ripped her effort top-shelf, leaving Demers with no chance.

Northeastern was able to skate through the remainder of the third period without much to worry about — Merrimack only registered four shots on target during the frame, leaving Storms without too much to do.

“I had a lot of fun out there,” Storms said. “I can’t thank Brittany enough, because she’s also a senior, and gave up her half to let me finish it. It was super special, going out on that.”

Storms finished the game with 21 saves, earning the first win of her career in her first-ever start.

“I think the score speaks for itself — she did awesome,” head coach Dave Flint said. “It was a tough decision but it wasn’t. She’s given so much to this program and meant so much to this program, and I owed it to her to play her tonight.”

With two senior goalkeepers, Flint had a gameplan set up to give both playing time Friday. But sometimes, plans need to change.

“The plan was to split with her and Bugalski, and Brit came to me after the first period and said, ‘Listen, if we’re rolling and she’s doing well, leave her in,’” Flint said. “That’s the type of captain we have. So we left her in, and she kept going, and she got the shutout.”

Storms spent most of her career as the backup to Bugalski, and when Aerin Frankel came in Storms’ junior year, she was moved further down the pecking order. Her lone appearance as a Husky before Friday came in her freshman season, when she saved six of seven shots across 27 minutes against Boston College.

“People don’t realize that’s an important position, and I don’t think in my coaching career I’ve had a better one,” Flint said of his third-string keeper.

The program will lose all five seniors at the end of the season, a season which Flint is hoping to extend for as long as possible.

“They all make me smile on a daily basis,” Flint said. “They’re a funny group, and they keep things light in the locker room. But I think missing all their contributions on the ice. They’re all important pieces of our team. Losing the five of them after this year is going to be tough, and you can’t always replace certain players, and this is going to be a tough group to replace.”

Storms technically departs as the Huskies’ all-time leader in save percentage with .964, saving 27 of the 28 shots she faced in her career, placing her ahead of Florence Schelling’s mark of .940. She has also recorded a shutout in 100% of her starts.

“I’m going to miss the camaraderie that is involved with being a team, coming to the rink every day and seeing 25 smiling faces,” Storms said. “There’s going to be a lot that I miss, but I couldn’t have asked for a better four years here.”

The Huskies head to the road to face Merrimack for their final regular season game Saturday.