No. 1 Northeastern skates into Hockey East semifinals with an 8-0 victory over No. 9 Merrimack


Kayla Shiao

The Huskies and the Warriors face off in the 2022 Hockey East quarterfinals.

Julia Yohe, news staff

On Feb. 26, Northeastern University’s women’s ice hockey team (28-4-2, 21-3-2 HE) overwhelmed Merrimack College (8-25-1, 6-20-1 HE) in a smashing Hockey East quarterfinals game. 

The Huskies have held the No. 1 spot in Hockey East since the beginning of 2022, ending the season with 96 goals scored against conference opponents. 

The victory welcomed senior forward Alina Mueller home from the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, her third Olympics with Team Switzerland. In just seven games, Mueller racked up four goals and six assists for Switzerland. 

Saturday’s game was the fourth matchup of the season for Northeastern and Merrimack. The teams played back-to-back games in a weekend series in early January, ending in 8-0 and 3-1 wins for NU. A month later, the Huskies took on the Warriors again and won 5-0. 

This time, the stakes were higher — the game would determine which team would advance to the Hockey East semifinals round. A Hockey East Championship win means a chance to compete for a national title in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, Northeastern won second place in the national tournament, falling to the University of Wisconsin 2-1 in overtime. While Northeastern was eyeing a fifth-straight Hockey East title, Merrimack, fresh off its first-ever playoff win, was determined to advance in the tournament. 

The Warriors, with their scattered offense and weak, inconsistent defense, started the game with their heads held high, ready to take on the Huskies once again. Their hope was admirable but naive.

Merrimack’s play was aggressive from the beginning. However, despite an initial faceoff win by the Warriors, Northeastern quickly gained control of the puck and flew down the ice towards Merrimack’s goal. Just 50 seconds in, graduate student defenseman Lauren MacInnis sent a puck gliding past the Warrior’s defense and toward Merrimack’s junior goaltender Emma Gorski. Senior forward Miceala Sindoris was in position to give the shot the boost it needed to land in the net, bringing the score to 1-0. 

Three minutes later, freshman forward Skylar Irving, after a cross-ice pass from Sindoris, raced up to the net and fired a shot that was deflected by Gorski. Sindoris used this time to skate forward and press Merrimack’s defense on the rebound. Her shot snuck past Gorski into the bottom left corner of the net.

The second goal left the Warriors frazzled but still persistent. The next ten minutes saw 13 shots by Northeastern, all of which were blocked by Merrimack’s defense.

NU’s third goal came 33 seconds into the Huskies’ first power play of the game. Merrimack graduate student forward Dominika Laskova received a penalty for hooking, giving the Huskies a one-skater advantage. With help from senior forward Maureen Murphy and Mueller, senior forward Chloé Aurard launched an unstoppable shot into the goal.

Northeastern had another strong start in the second period. Twenty-five seconds in, Murphy sent a puck flying past Gorski’s head, earning her first goal of the game.

Merrimack sophomore forward Ally Qualley’s body-checking penalty gave Northeastern its third power play of the game and another chance for Murphy to score. After a skirmish at the left side of the net, the right side was left completely undefended as the puck crossed over to a patiently-awaiting Murphy. A tiny tap of the puck sent it into the net, earning a fifth goal for Northeastern just 30 seconds from the end of the power play.

A second body-checking penalty set Merrimack on edge. With junior forward Madison Oelkers in the penalty box, the Warriors were suddenly fierce and defensive, clearing the zone several times and stopping all five NU shots. 

Northeastern’s final three goals of the game came in the last six minutes of play. Murphy scored her third goal of the game on a Husky power play, driving the puck into the net and bringing the score to 6-0. Murphy’s hat trick was her fourth of the season and the ninth in Hockey East playoff history. 

Just three minutes later, Northeastern senior forward Mia Brown scored the Huskies’ seventh goal. 

In the last three minutes of the game NU gained the advantage they needed for one final goal. With 14 seconds left in the power play, Northeastern graduate student forward Andrea Renner drilled a puck deep into Merrimack’s net. 

The game ended in another Northeastern win over Merrimack with a score of 8-0. For the Huskies, it was the perfect start to the 2022 Hockey East playoffs.

With only 18 shots on goal, Northeastern graduate student goaltender Aerin Frankel had an easy night in goal, resulting in her 11th shutout of the season, a career high and school record. That night, she became the sixth goaltender in NCAA history to reach 100 career wins. 

Murphy’s third goal was assisted by Mueller and Fontaine. With Mueller’s third assist of the game, she reached 119 career assists and broke the program record for career assists that has stood since 1989. 

Fontaine’s assist was her second of the game and 38th of the season. She was recently named Hockey East’s Best Defenseman for the third straight year. This season she broke three Hockey East career records with a stunning 35 goals, 82 assists and 117 points scored.

The Huskies faced off against the University of Maine March 2 in the Hockey East semifinals round. They won 3-1 and will now advance to the championship game.