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Frankel shuts out Vermont to send the Huskies to the Hockey East semifinals

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Frankel shuts out Vermont to send the Huskies to the Hockey East semifinals

Sophomore goalkeeper Aerin Frankel makes a save as Kasidy Anderson looks on in a prior game against Holy Cross. Frankel earned her sixth shutout of the season Saturday, while Anderson scored the only NU goal.

Sophomore goalkeeper Aerin Frankel makes a save as Kasidy Anderson looks on in a prior game against Holy Cross. Frankel earned her sixth shutout of the season Saturday, while Anderson scored the only NU goal.

Brian Bae

Sophomore goalkeeper Aerin Frankel makes a save as Kasidy Anderson looks on in a prior game against Holy Cross. Frankel earned her sixth shutout of the season Saturday, while Anderson scored the only NU goal.

Brian Bae

Brian Bae

Sophomore goalkeeper Aerin Frankel makes a save as Kasidy Anderson looks on in a prior game against Holy Cross. Frankel earned her sixth shutout of the season Saturday, while Anderson scored the only NU goal.

Mike Puzzanghera, sports editor

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Northeastern followed up their seven-goal outing Friday with a defensive battle Saturday, only needing one goal as Aerin Frankel shut out Vermont 1-0 to send Northeastern through to the next round of the Hockey East playoffs.

NU (25-5-5, 21-3-3 WHEA) took on Vermont (10-20-6, 8-15-4 WHEA) at Matthews Arena for the second game of their best-of-three playoffs series. After winning Friday’s game 7-2, the Huskies needed one more win to move on, while Vermont’s season would end with a loss.

The Huskies broke the opening deadlock at 10:12 with senior forward Kasidy Anderson scoring for her 100th career point. Playing for a minute and a half with an extra attacker during a delayed Vermont penalty, the Huskies took full advantage, with Anderson redirecting a shot from junior defender Codie Cross, flicking it past Vermont goaltender Blanka Skodova.

“I think it was a crucial time to score because obviously the penalty is still called even if we score with the man up,” Anderson said. “Codie had the one-timer last night, and so I saw the puck going to her and I knew I just had to get in front of the net and she was going to take a quick shot and just try to get my stick on it because we knew that there was one way to beat [Skodova].”

Northeastern’s defensive dominance in the first period shows most clearly in the shot margins: UVM only managed three shots on goal, all saved by Frankel, while NU had 11.

The second period was a different story. While neither team managed a goal, it was much more of a back-and-forth affair. The Huskies managed 17 shots compared to Vermont’s seven, but Vermont still threatened with the chances they had, with Frankel forced to make some important stops.

Skodova’s 27 saves at the end of two kept Vermont in the game. She denied every shot in the period, including huge chances from Cross, Skylar Fontaine and Micaela Sindoris. But perhaps the Huskies’ biggest chance came when a low cross from Alina Mueller just evaded the stick of Tori Sullivan with Skodova scrambling to get in position.

The third period was dominated by Vermont as they outshot Northeastern 12 to four. They continued to push forward with their season on the line. However, Northeastern dealt with the onslaught effectively.

“I think normally we just tell each other, ‘Just play it simple, make the simple play,” [head coach Dave] Flint tells the D to keep five in front of them and our forwards are always backchecking hard at those times when it’s crucial,” Frankel said. “So I think when the team can come together at the end of the game and play that way, we know we’re going to be successful.”

With less than a minute remaining, the Huskies got a fantastic defensive play from Mueller to seal the win. A shot from Vermont’s Eve-Audrey Picard was saved by Frankel, but the rebound fell invitingly in front of the goal line and looked as though it would slide across. Mueller swung in at the last second and cleared to give the Huskies the win.

“I thought it was going in… I knew Alina had blocked it out pretty well before it had gone in, but that was a big play, and obviously a game-changer,” Flint said.

Frankel’s shutout was her sixth of the year. She made 22 saves, including 12 in the final period when Vermont was pressuring.

“She’s been a rock for us all year,” Flint said. “She didn’t have a ton of saves, but she actually had to make some big-time saves in the third period when the game was on the line. She stepped up.”

The win marks coach Flint’s 200th in charge of Northeastern, becoming only the second coach in program history to reach the mark (Dan McLeod).

“Being a goalie and a goalie guy, I love the fact that we won it 1-0,” Flint said. “I’m obviously happy that I got 200 here at Northeastern, but it’s a testament to this team and how hard they’ve worked this year.”

The Huskies move to the next round with the win and will face the winner of the Providence-Merrimack series next weekend.

“This week in practice is going to be huge for us, obviously to work on special teams and just fine-tune the things we’ve been doing right, but I think we’re in a really good place right now, and I think if we can carry on the energy we had this weekend, I think we’ll be successful next weekend,” Frankel said.

The final two rounds of the tournament will be held at Providence’s Schneider Arena, and both the semifinals and the final are one-game sets.

“Next weekend is going to come down to details, obviously if its Providence it’s their home rink so they’re going to give us a tough game,” Anderson said. “I think the difference between Matthews and home ice and Providence’s rink is very significant.”

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