Northeastern snatches fifth-straight Hockey East title


Kayla Shiao

Northeastern women’s ice hockey snatches their fifth-straight Hockey East title, the first time in program history.

Julia Yohe, news staff

Northeastern women’s ice hockey (30-4-2, 21-3-2 HE) secured the Hockey East championship title Saturday in a 3-1 battle against University of Connecticut (24-9-4, 16-7-4 HE), earning a spot in the NCAA national championship for the fifth-straight year.

NU and UConn have faced each other in the last three Hockey East championship tournaments, with NU coming out on top each time. As NU searched for a fifth consecutive title, UConn hoped for a first in program history.

The matchup was the teams’ fourth of the season. The first, Nov. 22, resulted in a 3-2 Northeastern victory. UConn fought back Feb. 18, tying the score 4-4 and forcing Northeastern to fight for its 2-0 shootout win. Feb. 19 saw Northeastern triumph once more — a 5-0 senior night blowout

Both teams began Saturday night’s game with frenzied, inconsistent offensive lines. Neither team maintained control of the puck for long, and despite Northeastern taking shot after shot, the team was  unable to sink the puck into the net, an issue the team does not typically encounter.

The scoreless deadlock finally broke in the last minute of the first period when Northeastern graduate student goaltender Aerin Frankel came out of the crease prematurely and failed to skate back in time to stop UConn graduate student forward Morgan Wabick’s unassisted goal — a rare mistake for Frankel.

The second period sent three Northeastern Huskies to the penalty box. Freshman defenseman Tory Mariano’s minor for boarding was soon followed by two interference penalties — one on graduate student defenseman Brooke Hobson, eight minutes into the period, and the other on senior forward Maureen Murphy, 17 minutes into the period.

As the end of the second period began to close in, anxiety rose in the Northeastern players. They began to make a push towards the goal, and senior forward Alina Mueller was the hero they needed. 

Mueller passed the puck to graduate student defenseman Skylar Fontaine, narrowly avoiding the UConn defensemen approaching her — sophomore defenseman Alex-Anne Boyer and junior defenseman Claire Peterson. Fontaine took a strong shot down the middle of the ice, which was blocked by UConn senior forward Danika Pasqua. Mueller, agile as usual, shoveled the puck into the left side of the net on the rebound with just 17 seconds left in the period. This tied the score at 1-1.

Mueller and Fontaine proved to be the dynamic duo of the game, earning a second Northeastern goal together just 22 seconds into the final period. After a powerful down-the-ice pass from Fontaine, Mueller pushed the puck up the left side of the ice, faked UConn’s defense out and drilled the puck through UConn freshman goaltender Megan Warrener’s legs. 

With three minutes left in play, Northeastern was determined to increase its lead. Mueller, after protecting the puck from a dense wave of UConn defense, sent a pass up the middle of the ice to a UConn-surrounded Murphy. Murphy got a shot off, but the puck was deflected by Warrener. The puck bounced between players near the net until senior forward Chloé Aurard found the opportunity to shove it under Warrener’s legs and into the net for Northeastern’s third and final goal of the night. 

Aurard’s goal secured Northeastern’s fifth-straight divisional title, a first in Hockey East history. 

Thanks to her second assist of the evening, Fontaine became Hockey East’s all-time tournament scoring leader. Throughout her five years on Northeastern’s team, she has earned 25 career Hockey East tournament points — 8 goals and 17 assists.

Frankel, Fontaine, Hobson, Murphy, and Mueller all earned spots on Hockey East’s all-tournament team. Mueller was also given the honor of tournament MVP.

Northeastern will now automatically advance to the NCAA tournament, which begins March 10. 

Last year, the Huskies fell in the finals to University of Wisconsin in a 1-2 overtime loss. They have yet to win an NCAA title. With the winningest class in program history about to graduate, the pressure to secure the title is on.