No. 4 women’s hockey’s shutout streak continues as they defeat Merrimack 5-0


Ethan Wayne

NU women’s hockey defeat Merrimack again 5-0 Friday afternoon.

George Barker, news staff

Another game, another dominant shutout win for Northeastern’s No. 4 women’s hockey team. This time, the Huskies knocked off the visiting Merrimack Warriors by a score of 5-0 on the back of a hat trick from redshirt senior Maureen Murphy and constant puck possession against a foe that looked considerably outmatched against NU’s speed. 

“I think one thing that teams are struggling against us with is the fact that we’re attacking with five players. So our [defensemen] don’t stay on the blue line all the time, our forwards are running net cycles… or attacking off the wall or attacking a high,” said associate head coach Nick Carpenito. “We’re just attacking from so many different points on the ice that sometimes it’s just tough for teams to pick up on, which is the point. That’s always been part of our philosophy, to attack with five players and to defend with five players… and it’s something we’ve been excelling at.”

The victory was NU’s sixth straight win and third straight shutout, as their dominance on the offensive end has made their job look easy defensively. They rarely had to face sustained pressure from Merrimack today (1-10-0, 1-10-0 HEA), outshooting them 43-16 and forcing the Warrior defense to sit back in their own zone to tighten the area around the net. 

“We have a potent offense, there’s no doubt about that. So, typically, when teams kind of sit back on you, their objective is to just keep you on the perimeter, and keep the shots outside,” Carpenito said. “It’s difficult for us for sure, but we still need to get pucks to the net, we still need to find those seams and slash through the slot area to see if we get sticks on pucks, or at least pick up rebounds. I thought we did a pretty good job with that today.”

With their victory, NU temporarily moves to the top of the Hockey East standings with 30 points. Boston College (10-3-0, 10-3-0 HEA) is nipping at their heels with 29 points and two games against UConn (5-7-1, 5-7-1 HEA) this weekend. Since both teams have a two game series this weekend, BC may be able to take back their lead if they can knock off UConn as many times as NU defeats the Warriors. For now though, the Huskies are number one. 

“We have a talented group of players, and I think that if we play to our potential, then it’s the place that we deserve to be. The key for us is maintaining what we’re doing. I mean, I still think we can play better than we have been, which is pretty scary,” Carpenito said. “The toughest part is staying up there, so we need to make sure that we’re bringing our best effort every game…  but I’m psyched for them.”

In just three games played for the Huskies (10-1-1, 10-1-1 HEA), Murphy has four goals and has added another scoring threat to what already was an absurdly talented first line. Her hat trick was the first by an NU player since Jan. 25, 2020, when junior forward Chloé Aurard notched three of NU’s 10 goals against UVM (5-1-0, 5-1-0 HEA) in a 10-2 victory last season

“I think there’s definitely some relief, like I haven’t played a game in over a year, and I’m put on the line with two unbelievable people and players,” said Murphy when asked about how she felt coming off a hat trick. “It’s a little nerve wracking, like ‘Oh, am I good enough to be out here?’ [Aurard and junior forward Alina Mueller] have been great. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Senior netminder Aerin Frankel earned herself another shutout this afternoon, bolstering her already ridiculous midseason resume with a 16-save blank sheet. Her goals allowed average is now 0.63, while her save percentage sits at .973. 257 shots have made it to Frankel’s net this year, and she’s stopped 250 of them. The all-nation netminder has earned a shutout in the majority of her starts this year, picking up six shutouts in 11 starts. 

NU opened the scoring midway through the first period, when sophomore center Kate Holmes carried the puck into the Merrimack zone and ripped a high shot from the left side faceoff circle. She came up dry on that one, but the Huskies maintained pressure and an imposing presence around the net. So, when a loose puck from a blocked shot by senior wing Katie Cipra made its way back to Holmes in nearly the same spot, she didn’t hesitate to shoot, cashing in her second goal of the season to earn the Huskies a 1-0 lead. 

Barely a minute later, Murphy doubled the Husky advantage, securing her second goal in three games in a Northeastern jersey. The Huskies’ incessant pressure on the Merrimack defense came most strongly with the fearsome five of Murphy, Mueller and Aurard with senior defenders Brooke Hobson and Skylar Fontaine on the ice, and Murphy’s slot shot allowed their work to pay dividends. Murphy accounted for five of NU’s 15 shots in the first period. 

“Everyone’s going to give their best game when we step on ice, but I think the biggest thing is that we cherish that,” Murphy said. “That’s awesome that they respect us so much, and we just have fun with it.”

Murphy picked up another goal 10 minutes into the second period, after winning a battle for the puck in the neutral zone with Merrimack freshman forward Katie Kaufman while NU was on their first penalty kill of the game. It took about a third of the ice for Murphy to get the puck, but it was worth the work as it gave her a one-on-zero chance to bear down on Merrimack sophomore goaltender Emma Gorski and secure her third goal of the season. 

“The biggest thing on the PK is just getting the puck out of the zone, so I honestly was just trying to do that, and I think I got a lucky bounce,” Murphy said. “I think just on the PK, never giving up is a big thing, so just trying to keep that mentality whether it’s in the D zone or neutral or offensive zone.”

The third piece of Murphy’s excellent night again came due to some dirty work to get to the front of the net, a common preaching point of Carpenito. Her linemate Aurard was able to grab a scuffed Fontaine shot on the right side of the net and center the puck to her a couple feet from the crease, and while Murphy didn’t put much velocity on the shot, Gorski had to scramble all across the crease in the preceding moments, giving Murphy the chance to grab the topper for her hat trick. 

“Alina and Chloé were like, ‘Just go to the net, anywhere you can be, we’ll just get you the puck,’” said Murphy, whose linemates were visibly ecstatic after the goal. After Murphy’s tally, Aurard was sure to give her linemate an enthusiastic jump hug. “I think that says a lot about them. On our power play, I’m usually a little bit higher but they were just like, ‘Keep going.’”

Sophomore center Katy Knoll continued to pile on for the Huskies two minutes after Murphy’s hat trick was complete, when she managed to steal the puck from Warrior junior blueliner Kiki Roust in Merrimack’s zone and cut to the slot, where she beat Gorski five-hole with a strong backhand shot. The unassisted goal gave Knoll five goals on the year.

The Huskies will look to pick up another victory over the Warriors tomorrow afternoon at Merrimack’s Lawler Arena, a rink NU will feel comfortable at after claiming the Hockey East Championship there last season and beating the Warriors in every matchup they’ve had at the North Andover rink.