No. 2 women’s hockey grabs 3-1 win over UVM in one of their tightest games this season

The+Huskies+were+met+with+a+challenging+test+in+Friday+night%27s+game+against+University+of+Vermont.+

Sarah Olender

The Huskies were met with a challenging test in Friday night’s game against University of Vermont.

George Barker, news staff

With the playoffs looming, the No. 2 women’s hockey team traveled to the Gutterson Fieldhouse to face the University of Vermont Catamounts and got one of their most challenging tests of the season thus far. The Huskies came out on top in the end by a score of 3-1, moving their win streak to 12 games thanks to one of senior netminder Aerin Frankel’s most impressive games of the year and two critical points from sophomore blueliner Megan Carter, who remains on a hot streak.

“It was a hard fought win … I just told the team, you found the way, you grinded it out against a pretty good hockey team and got the win,” said head coach Dave Flint. “I think it was definitely one of the tougher wins we’ve had in a while.”

Frankel finished with 21 saves on 22 shots, including seven saves in the final period. With NU (16-1-1, 16-1-1 HEA) protecting a one goal lead with five minutes to go, she was tested numerous times, and even after Carter scored an empty netter with barely over a minute to go, the Catamounts continued to prod her. Carter also earned a primary assist in the second period for a beautiful keep at the UVM (6-3-0, 6-3-0 HEA) blueline that senior winger Veronika Pettey was able to tip into the UVM cage, giving the defender eight points in NU’s last four games.

“[Frankel] was dialed in … She made some huge saves in the third period to keep it 2-1 until we got the empty-netter. That’s what we rely on with her, when we break down, we got her back there to pick things up,” Flint said. “She was definitely challenged more in this game than other games, which is good for her too. She needs to be challenged, and I think it was a real solid game for her.”

The first period was an entertaining, fast-moving 20 minutes of hockey with limited whistles. Both NU and UVM were able to move pretty swiftly through the neutral zone, giving each team a few chances to get sustained ice time. Frankel and her counterpart freshman goalie Jessie McPherson stood tall though, making highlight saves to keep the game frozen at 0-0 going into the first intermission.

Junior wing Chloé Aurard just missed a goal and her 100th point on NU’s first power play of the game with a shot that got over McPherson’s pad midway through the first period, but it was ruled a no-goal as McPherson was able to use her glove to deflect it out. Both Aurard and junior center Alina Mueller had near-misses ruled as no-goals after official reviews, and for the first time since Jan. 8, before redshirt junior Maureen Murphy’s insertion into the lineup, NU’s top line was held off the scoresheet.

“They had a couple of good looks in tight and then [there was] the no-goal from Alina that hit the post. There’s going to be games like that, and credit to [UVM]. They defended that line well,” Flint said. “They pack it in a little bit around their net, and they make it tough to get pucks through, and sometimes it’s like playing against six goalies. That’s why I told them you got to get inside there if you want to score, and I thought that line did a better job [during the] second and third period.”

NU was able to get on the board two minutes into the second period fresh off a penalty kill as freshman winger Molly Griffin and junior forward Tessa Ward worked a two-skater game through the neutral zone toward McPherson’s cage. Griffin was able to hit Ward with a pass just in time, giving McPherson no time to cut across the crease and stop Ward’s one-time shot. The goal was Ward’s fifth of the season.

Pettey got NU back on the board 10 minutes later but not before the Catamounts could pepper Frankel a bit more. In the period, UVM managed 10 shots on net to NU’s 12, a rare Northeastern game where the shot total wasn’t lopsided in the Huskies’ favor. Pettey’s goal came from a great tip-in out front of McPherson’s net, as NU shot for sticks all night long. Carter made a beautiful play to get the puck to Pettey’s stick, managing to simultaneously stop a UVM clearing attempt and lace the puck toward Pettey in one motion. The goal was Pettey’s fourth of the season.

UVM stayed aggressive and brought the game to 2-1 just over four minutes into the final period. UVM sophomore forward Hailey Burns used her body to shield the puck from multiple defenders in NU’s zone and was able to squeeze a pass to junior forward Corinne McCool. The Massachusetts native then whipped around with urgency and sent a forehand-writer on net before Frankel could prepare for what had developed, earning herself her fourth goal of the season.

From then on, NU had their work cut out for them on the defensive end, as the Catamounts flung every ounce of effort they could at NU. It’s been rare to see NU have to play extended shifts in their own zone this season, but the Catamounts forced them to tonight, particularly during the final stretch of the third. Carter gave NU some breathing room and a secured win with an empty-net goal that she banked off the boards from the red line, but it was a third period the Catamounts could certainly be proud of.

“They really came at us in the third period there. I thought we were sloppy with the puck. I don’t think we were taking care of it, I don’t think we were managing the game very well,” Flint said. “They do attack with five, they play a lot like us … And they work and they work and they work, and if you don’t match their intensity, it’s a tough night. I don’t think we matched their intensity in the third period, and they made us struggle.”

Flint mentioned that it was good for the team to have to work so hard on defense with the playoffs coming, but before they can reap the rewards of that, they’ll have to face UVM one more time. NU’s regular season finale is scheduled for 3 p.m. today in the Gutterson Fieldhouse, providing spectators another preview of what could be one of this year’s best Hockey East playoff matchups.

“We need to be ready to match their intensity, because they’re going to come out flying at us tomorrow. They’re feeling pretty good even though they lost. I think they’re thinking, ‘Hey, we can play with these guys,’” Flint said. “They got the momentum right now, with that third period they just played, and they got nothing to lose here. They’re trying to get the best spot they can for the playoffs. It’s going to be another battle [today], and we need to be ready for it.”