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Loss to Cornell ends best season for women’s hockey

Huskies come back in the 3rd but lose on breakaway goal

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Loss to Cornell ends best season for women’s hockey

Junior forward Matti Hartman tries to power her way around a Cornell defender in the offensive zone.

Junior forward Matti Hartman tries to power her way around a Cornell defender in the offensive zone.

Dylan Shen

Junior forward Matti Hartman tries to power her way around a Cornell defender in the offensive zone.

Dylan Shen

Dylan Shen

Junior forward Matti Hartman tries to power her way around a Cornell defender in the offensive zone.

Charlie Wolfson, editor-in-chief

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Northeastern’s best season in program history ended abruptly in the NCAA quarterfinal Saturday afternoon when Cornell came into Matthews Arena and pulled out a 3-2 win in overtime to advance to the semi-final. Cornell (24-5-6) stuffed Northeastern’s (27-6-5) offense at even strength for almost the entire game, but NU came up with a stunning comeback in the final 10 minutes of regulation to tie the game at two.

Cornell freshman forward Gillis Frechette ended the game on a breakaway in overtime.

“I thought we were a little timid,” NU coach Dave Flint said of his team’s poor offensive start. “We looked a little nervous … I think Cornell sensed that and took advantage.”

He said young players, which Northeastern’s roster is full of, sometimes don’t handle big stages perfectly. Playing without injured leading scorer Alina Mueller, the Huskies couldn’t get anything going in the first period whatsoever.

The game started out very poorly for the Huskies; they were outshot 11-5 in the first period and went into the first intermission down 2-0. They may have escaped that sluggish period down just 1-0, but a penalty by defender Skylar Fontaine with less than two minutes left proved costly. Cornell forward Grace Graham made a nice deflection in front of the net to give Cornell what turned out to be a crucial goal.

The second period was a marked improvement for the Huskies, but they couldn’t break through for a goal. They closed the shot disparity from 11-5 to 15-13 and didn’t give up too many high-danger chances in the second. Their best chances were on the power play, which took the ice three times in the frame. On each chance, they held the puck in the zone and created frantic chances around the goal, but Cornell defenders got their shin pads in the way of shots and goalie Marlene Boissonault fought off everything that found its way through to the crease.

“[The nervousness] went away after the first,” Flint said. “Midway through the second period a couple chances sparked us and we got going. We were good defensively in the second period, [Cornell] only had five shots.”

The Husky comeback effort suddenly began midway through the third when Veronika Pettey and Andrea Renner went in on a 2-on-1 from the blue line in. Renner ripped a shot off Boissonault and Pettey found the rebound to the right of the net and backhanded it in to make things close down the stretch.

Five minutes after Pettey scored, Fontaine completed the jarring comeback with a high wrist shot from the left circle. The complexion of the game changed seemingly in an instant.

“That’s been our M.O. all year,” Flint said. “We could have laid down after the first, but they kept going. That’s the way they’ve played all year.”

NU didn’t convert on a power play shortly after, and both teams missed on pretty good chances in the final minute of the third.

The first five minutes of overtime weren’t very eventful aside from a grade-A chance for Northeastern forward Tessa Ward, who shot the puck over the goal from fairly close range.

At 5:19, Frechette scored to end the game. Without the puck, she noticed an open lane through the neutral zone and started skating. Her teammate Diana Buckley got her the puck, she skated in alone on Frankel and put a nifty move on the goaltender to get an open net for her backhander.

“I looked up and saw me and the goalie,” Frechette said. “In pre-scout, coach said you’ve got to get the goalie moving … I remember blacking out. I remember telling myself ‘Do not miss this. You have an open net.’”

The loss ended the best season in Northeastern women’s hockey history, one in which they won a second consecutive Hockey East championship and made their third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. Flint said there’s a lot to look forward to for the younger players, and a lot to be proud of for departing seniors.

“I thanked the seniors. The leadership has been amazing this year, and the culture has been a big reason for our success this year,” Flint said. “The future is really bright for Northeastern women’s hockey.”

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