No. 3 women’s hockey cruises to second win of the season over the Maine Black Bears


Jordan Baron

The women captured their third win of the season over Maine this afternoon.

George Barker, news staff

In a normal year, by Jan. 3, the No. 3 Northeastern women’s hockey team has more than two wins, or at least more than three games played. But as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to necessitate game cancellations and postponements to protect players, coaches and the surrounding community, the Huskies came into their contest with just two games under their belt following three straight game postponements in the previous weeks. 

Any supposed rust didn’t matter Sunday evening though, as the Huskies claimed a 3-0 win over the Maine Black Bears at Matthews Arena, outshooting their opponent 47-16 and showing remarkable persistence to beat a hot goaltender in their first live game since Dec. 13.

“It’s nice to get a number in the games played column, to be honest with you,” said Northeastern associate head coach Nick Carpenito. Carpenito was filling in for head coach Dave Flint in the contest, who was absent from the game. “In most situations, you’re playing your third game at the end of September, so I think we knew that there was going to be some rust. That’s why we preached ‘just keep it simple, get pucks to the net, get pucks behind their [defense], use our strengths.’”

One of the Huskies’ strengths is their speed, with few skaters in all of college hockey bringing more board-to-board quickness than senior blueliner Skylar Fontaine, who buoyed the Huskies’ (2-1-0) effort Sunday. She scored the team’s first goal while showing off her skating ability and puck-sense on both sides of the ice, breaking up many high danger Maine (4-3-0) chances, supporting senior goaltender Aerin Frankel’s shutout effort with multiple strong plays to chase down Maine skaters bearing down and loose pucks on the Husky net. 

“I think her speed allows her to be more offensive than a lot of defensemen because she has the ability to get back. Our philosophy as a team isn’t to have three forwards and two defensemen, it’s to attack with five and defend with five,” Carpenito said, whose words rang true as each of the Husky defenders on the ice made an impact in the offensive zone during the contest. “If we have someone like Skylar, even [Brooke] Hobson, they do a great job getting up in the rush, but they also have the ability to get back and defend, which is why we give them the green light every time they have the opportunity to do it.”

Maine senior goalie Lauren Porter made the Huskies’ life particularly difficult, notching 42 saves in the contest, only being beat by a nearly perfect glove side top shelf laser from Fontaine as the defender teamed up with junior forward Alina Mueller to give her team an early lead. 

Both Fontaine and Mueller had a few other golden chances to score in the second and third period, while the Huskies forecheck gave multiple skaters a chance to shoot the puck. However, Porter forced the Huskies’ best shooters to stare at the ceiling for most of the contest, continuing a strong season which allowed her to carry a .945 save percentage into Sunday’s game. 

“Porter played unbelievable today… she’s just a big solid goalie, she takes up a lot of net and she moves pretty well for her size. For us, we wanted to create a lot of rebound opportunities by getting the puck to the net, but I thought she was doing a really good job controlling those rebounds,” Carpenito said. “She’s the type of goaltender that will steal a game and there were times toward the end I was like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s gonna be another one of these [games].’”

Porter was matched well by the Huskies’ own star netminder Frankel, who got a relatively comfortable shutout by her standards with 16 saves. As usual, she had a few highlights of her own, most notably a pair of breakaway saves at the end of the first period and the beginning of the second. 

The Huskies’ best play came in the latter two stanzas, with the Husky forwards forcing the puck in front after largely staying on the perimeter of the ice in the first. NU finally got an insurance goal and forced another Porter mistake just over six minutes into the final period, with sophomore center Katy Knoll and the Huskies senior captain Brooke Hobson teaming up for a gorgeous goal on an odd-man rush. The duo cut through the slot, allowing Knoll to lace a tricky backhand pass to the senior blueliner alongside her, who in turn ripped a snapshot into the lace of the net from just a few feet out. 

“All of our players realistically are still getting adjusted and knocking some rust off. We did great when we were keeping things simple, and I think the second half of that first period especially we started overcomplicating things quite a bit,” Carpenito said. “We just went back in the first intermission and we hit the reset button, reminded everybody of what we needed to do to be successful, and I thought they did a really good job executing those things.”

Barely a minute after Hobson’s marker, freshman winger Ani FitzGerald got on the board for her first collegiate goal. FitzGerald carried the puck with her forehand to the left side of the net and used every bit of her stick to raise the puck over Jackson’s glove to nail a third perfect from the Huskies, the only level of shot quality Porter would allow past her in the evening. 

With the win, the Huskies move to 2-1-0 on the young season while the Black Bears move to 4-3-0 giving the No. 7/9 Providence Friars and No. 8 a more comfortable grasp on the top two places in the Hockey East standings. The Huskies are scheduled to face Maine again tomorrow evening at 4 p.m., replacing a game that had been previously scheduled for Saturday evening.