No. 4 women’s hockey stakes claim to first place in Hockey East with 6-0 win at Merrimack


Ethan Wayne

Northeastern women’s hockey shuts out Merrimack once more this weekend, placing them on the top of the league in Hockey East.

George Barker, news staff

One thing is certain, Northeastern’s No. 4 women’s hockey team has the Merrimack Warriors’ number, both this year and in years past. The Huskies came into this week’s home-and-home against Merrimack with a 12-1-2 record against them all time. Now, that record is 14-1-2 after the Huskies completed their second consecutive shutout against the Warriors to smoke them to the tune of 6-0.

“I actually thought we played better today than we did yesterday. I thought it was a clear cut, full 60 minutes. We were working hard the whole time, [and] were possessing the puck very well,” said associate head coach Nick Carpenito. “I thought the game got a little bit chippy, but we did a great job, keeping our heads and matching the intensity that Merrimack was bringing. Overall, really quality 60 minutes, I’m very proud of the team.”

The win allows NU (11-1-1, 11-1-1 HEA) to plant a flag at the top of Hockey East, where they will look to remain for the rest of the season. Regardless of whether or not Boston College (10-3-0, 10-3-0 HEA) wins their game against UConn (5-7-1, 5-7-1 HEA), the Huskies will be on top of the conference to end the weekend. 

The Huskies had a bit of penalty trouble today, forcing themselves to kill six minors, but thanks to a shorthanded goal from senior blueliner Skylar Fontaine, their kill unit wound up with a positive goal ratio on the day anyways. Fontaine was a thorn in Merrimack’s side throughout the game, finishing with two goals, an assist and 10 shots on net to power a +4 rating on the day. 

“She’s always got the ability to get up into the offense which is what we want out of her. As far as leadership goes, she’s a senior, she understands what it takes to be successful and I think that she’s a good model for our younger defenseman,” Carpenito said. “For them to be able to see what an elite player like Skylar can do on a regular basis, not just what she does in the games, but how she carries herself in practice, how she carries herself away from the rink, I think is great.”

Like yesterday’s contest, the Huskies victory was never in doubt this afternoon. Puck possession was in NU’s favor from the first faceoff, and while the shot total of 36-21 wasn’t that lopsided, the Huskies were just plain better than Merrimack. 

The Huskies have had a busy stretch over the past week, with five games in nine days. The stretch has helped them climb the standings after having so many contests postponed early on, but of course they needed to win during it to take advantage. They’ve done more than just win, however, notching four straight shutouts and accumulating an absurd 22-1 goal differential. 

The packed schedule also led to a few lineup moves by Carpenito, including the second start of the season for sophomore Gwyneth Philips. Philips was up to the task today, recording 21 saves and playing lights out to earn her fourth career shutout in seven career starts. 

“She was seeing pucks really well. I thought she actually made a couple big saves for us when Merrimack had a couple flurries on net,” Carpenito said. “She’s an outstanding goaltender, very athletic, and we’re very fortunate to have her on our team.”

Sophomore defender Gillian Foote and junior blueliner Brooke Tucker started on the third defensive pairing for NU today, swapping in for freshmen bluelinders Abbey Marohn and Lily Yovetich and playing in their third and first games of the season, respectively. Junior forward Sydney Herrington slotted in at the extra skater slot for her first ice time of the season.

“I’ve always said our depth is our strength, and even players that don’t regularly get in lineup… We’ve had a lot of games in a very short amount of time, [so] we saw this as an opportunity to give some players a little bit of experience that don’t typically get it,” Carpenito said. “I think they were hungry today, which was awesome. Players that don’t necessarily play a lot during the year, when they get the opportunity hopefully they’re going to take it, and I felt like all of our kids did today.”

The Huskies opened the scoring gates early again today, with Fontaine potting a short-handed tally just under five minutes into the game. Junior center Alina Mueller, the team leader in points, sent a pass out of traffic to Fontaine, who sat in wide open space at the right side faceoff circle. She took every inch of ice Merrimack gave her, and darted toward the net to rip an untouched shot past Merrimack sophomore goalie Emma Gorski for her fourth goal of the season. 

Junior winger Emma Jurusik was the next Husky to beat Gorski, which represented Jurusik’s first goal and first point as a Husky. Her linemate sophomore center Kate Holmes worked the puck along the blue line and laced a pass toward the goal line, allowing Jurusik to grab it and drift across the face of Gorski’s net and score one from just in front. 

“Jurusik is probably one of the best teammates that any of these players have ever had. She’s always positive. She always works really hard. We always try to find an opportunity for her to play and the team loves her, the coaching staff loves her,” Carpenito said. “So when someone like her gets an opportunity to play, and they’re able to get rewarded for how they’re doing out there, it’s really special.”

The Huskies notched another right-side faceoff goal as the first period waned. With just 52 seconds before the first intermission, junior forward Mia Brown received a pass from her linemate junior Micheala Sindoris. The two of them missed some time this season, but were without rust on this sequence, as Sindoris had to hold off Merrimack pressure to make the pass, and Brown quickly stopped and nuked the puck past Gorski for her first goal of the campaign. 

“[Brown has] had a little bit of a tough road this year, just as far as being in and out of the lineup. I was excited for her today because I think she’s finally starting to find her stride a little bit,” Carpenito said. “She scored from the near side soft area, which we call Mia’s office. She’s so deadly in that mid-range area. It’s a really good step in the right direction for her.”

Sophomore blueliner Megan Carter was next up for Northeastern, becoming the second NU defenseman to take advantage of a Merrimack breakdown that allowed her to receive the puck just above the faceoff circle and have empty ice between her and the net. Carter’s power play goal came midway through the second period and gave NU a 4-0 lead. Mueller and Brown earned assists on the play, giving them two points on the day each. 

The Huskies refused to let up in the third period, with Fontaine notching a four-on-four tally assisted by redshirt senior forward Maureen Murphy and sophomore center Katy Knoll eight minutes in. A few minutes later, senior winger Katie Cipra showed off her spectacular stickhandling and shot skills to grab an unassisted goal as she weaved through traffic from NU’s zone behind Merrimack’s net to wrap around Gorski’s cage and sent a bullet top-shelf for a 6-0 NU lead for her second highlight-reel goal of the year. The goal was Cipra’s second point of the afternoon. 

NU’s future schedule is yet to be determined, as Hockey East releases schedules weekly on Tuesday to adjust to varying COVID-related conditions. Regardless of what team gets lined up, Carpenito expects his team to be ready. 

“We’re probably not going to be playing Tuesday, but I mean, given this year, who knows, so we’ll be prepared to play. We’ll be ready if we do [have to play Tuesday], and if not, then it’ll be nice to get that little bit of a break,” he said.

Carpenito also was sure to mention AJ Quetta, a hockey player from nearby Bishop Feehan High School, who suffered a spinal cord injury Tuesday. The local hockey community has rallied around Quetta, and he was in NU’s thoughts this weekend. 

“I just want everybody to know that he’s in our thoughts and prayers, and we hope for a speedy recovery for him,” Carpenito said. “We’re behind him and his family 100%.”