No. 4 women’s hockey defeats UConn 2-0 in Hockey East Championship rematch

George Barker, news staff

Almost a year after defeating the UConn Huskies 9-1 in the Hockey East Championship, the Northeastern No. 4 women’s hockey team picked up another husky-on-husky win, knocking off the visiting UConn Huskies by a score of 2-0. 

Northeastern (9-1-1, 9-1-1 HEA) carried their momentum from a series sweep against No. 7 Providence (9-4-1, 9-4-1 HEA) into this game in full swing, at one point leading UConn (5-7-1, 5-7-1 HEA) 22-4 in the shots on goal column midway through the second. The hometown Huskies dominated puck possession and pinned UConn in their own zone for the majority of the first two periods, leading to an 31-14 win in the shot category to go with their 2-0 victory. 

“I thought our first two periods were by far our best, which I am happy with because one of the challenges we gave to the team today was that we wanted them to come out to a quick start, which I thought we did,” said associate head coach Nick Carpenito.

Carpenito thought the team didn’t play with the same grit in the third period as they did early on, but by no means had a bad final 20 minutes.

“I thought we definitely had a couple opportunities to add a bit to our lead, but we didn’t capitalize… Overall, a really solid game all the way through,” he said.

The dominance was reminiscent of NU’s overtime win over Maine not too long ago, in which they faced a hot goaltender and were limited scoring wise despite their massive shot total. They faced UConn veteran netminder Samantha Carpentier-Yelle, whose three years of Hockey East experience has allowed her to see the NU Huskies a few times already while in a timeshare for UConn. Carpentier-Yelle finished the contest with 29 saves on 31 Northeastern shots. The difference for NU in this defensive bout was limiting their turnovers, which an evermounting amount of game film has allowed them to do.

“They’re aware of what will happen if we turn a puck over in a bad area, and I think in the beginning of the year, they saw what can be a result of that. We’ve obviously had the opportunity to do a lot more video of ourselves, and they see the difference between making good plays, getting pucks in deep if you have to and not,” Carpenito said. “We’re finally at a point where we can evaluate ourselves a little bit more.”

Senior netminder Aerin Frankel kept UConn off the board in the contest to earn her fifth shutout of the year. While Frankel only saw 14 shots, she staged a robbery on UConn sophomore winger Coryn Tormala as the second period wound down and stood tall in a third period where UConn managed to get on the attack. 

The goal scorers for NU were junior star center Alina Mueller and junior forward Michaela Sindoris, whose offense powered the Huskies to their fifth straight win. NU remains planted in third place due to multiple postponements this season, but still claim the best points percentage in their conference. 

NU’s first goal came from Mueller who entered the UConn zone outgunned five-to-one and sent a chip to herself off the left side boards. The all-nation talent then sent a pass through traffic to Aurard on the opposite post. Aurard took a shot, had it blocked and managed to grab the rebound. Instead of taking another shot, the French-born winger returned the puck to its sender, giving Mueller a fantastic backdoor chance to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead. The goal was Mueller’s sixth of the season, giving her sole possession of the NU team lead in goals.

“It’s one of the things I think we might have been lacking a little bit in the third, and that was just going to the net,” Carpenito said. “Alina did a great job going to that far post. We tell them, good things happen when you go to the net and especially when you’re playing with a talented player like Chloé.”

Alongside Mueller tonight, but not involved in the goal, was redshirt junior Maureen Murphy, who made her return to the lineup tonight after missing the weekend series against her former team, the Providence Friars. The addition of Murphy only booned the momentum that Mueller and Aurard already had coming into the game, and the line combined for 13 shots. 

“Anytime you can have someone of her caliber and in your lineup, that’s a great thing. I’m just excited that she has the opportunity to play, and I know it was a little bit of a tough road to get there for her,” Carpenito said. “I know for a fact that she is placing a ton of value in every minute that she can play, and you’re always going to root for a person like that, someone that just wants to be out there just the play because they love it.”

Mueller picked up an assist on the Huskies’ next goal just a few minutes into the second period for her setup pass to sophomore wing Peyton Anderson below the goal line. Anderson found Sindoris who beat Carpentier-Yelle backdoor again for her first goal of the 2020-21 campaign. The goal was Sindoris’ fourth of her career, as she has spent much of her college career thus far as a bottom-six forward for the Huskies, providing a tough presence on the wing for NU.

“The role of our third and fourth line is to play quality defense, so a lot of that’s going to come with blocking shots, sacrificing your body, getting in on the forecheck hard and creating turnovers,” Carpenito said. “I think that third and fourth line players anywhere, in any league, don’t get as much credit as they should, so when they have an opportunity to capitalize on a goal, it’s always going to make you feel good. It’s always going to give you confidence as a coach, and it’s always going to energize the bench.”

The third period was scoreless for both teams as NU’s offensive dominance wavered a bit, but their defensive prowess and the play of Frankel kept UConn off the board.

NU’s next games will come this weekend in a home-and-home against the Merrimack Warriors, whose 1-9-0 record plants them in last place in the conference.