A Valentine’s Day date with victory: Northeastern women’s hockey completes Beanpot sweep


Colette Pollauf

The Northeastern women’s hockey team gathers for a photo after winning its 18th Beanpot. The Huskies defeated Boston College 2-1 on Valentine’s Day to claim the title.

Amelia Ballingall, deputy sports editor

On Tuesday night, Northeastern (28-2-1, 22-2-1 HE) got the best Valentine it could’ve asked for — a Beanpot trophy. After easily defeating the Boston University Terriers (11-17-3, 9-13-3 HE) last week in the semifinal, the Huskies returned to Boston College’s Conte Forum to defeat the Eagles (18-31-1, 15-10-0 HE) 2-1 and claim victory over the tournament.

In typical fashion, the Huskies took a couple shifts to settle into their skates, but once they got going, there was no stopping the Husky force from ensuing.

At 7:56 into the game, Northeastern took to the five-on-four advantage when Eagles senior forward Hannah Bilka wrapped her stick around Northeastern captain and graduate student forward Alina Müller, bringing her down on the ice. 

Although BC came into the game with a .914 penalty kill percentage, the fourth best in the NCAA, Northeastern made quick work of the depleted lineup. The Huskies kept the pressure up throughout the player advantage, refusing to give the Eagles time to breathe or even switch lines. 

With 36 seconds left before the game returned to even strength, sophomore forward Skylar Irving circled the puck behind the net, passing it off to senior defenseman Megan Carter at the left faceoff dot. Before the Eagles could reset their formation, Carter took a one-touch shot. The puck deflected off the top of senior forward Mia Brown’s stick and into the narrow gap between the post and BC graduate student goaltender Abby Levy’s shoulder, putting the Huskies on the board. 

After returning to even-strength play, the Eagles turned on the offensive jets, balancing possession with the Huskies over the next stretch of play, but their momentum did not last long. Northeastern easily adapted to the uptick in pressure, notching 13 shots on goal to BC’s six over the course of the period, including four in a dominant final two minutes of the frame. 

As they came back to the ice, the Eagles were determined to knock down their opponent’s lead. Two minutes into the period, sophomore forward Abby Newhook got a good look at the net, but a split save by Philips closed BC’s window of opportunity. 

The Eagles did not take that lightly, increasing their aggression against the Huskies, and Bilka was sent to the box again, this time for slashing. 

With the Huskies already holding a power play goal on the night, Levy was ready to face all their tricks as Northeastern’s second player-advantage stint commenced. Between her nimble saves and a couple successful clears of the Eagles penalty kill unit, BC successfully drained the clock to put another body back on the ice. 

Despite the return to five-on-five, the two-minute advantage gave Northeastern the momentum  it needed to double its lead. Three minutes after the power play expired, the Huskies got their second goal of the night. 

In a series of events nearly identical to the Huskies’ earlier goal, freshman defenseman Jules Constantinople sniped a shot in through traffic, tipping the puck off the top of graduate student forward Maureen Murphy’s stick and into the back of the net.

“Our [defense] were doing a great job at getting pucks through all game,” Murphy said. “We talked a lot about getting two people in front, and Chloé did a great job tying up her defense] and it just was honestly a little lucky.”

Now a two-goal game, the Eagles felt the pressure to close the gap, something which was evident in their manner of play. BC became much more physical as the time ticked down, but Northeastern put up a strong front, meeting contact head-on while keeping its game clean; the Huskies didn’t take a penalty all night.

With 20 minutes left in regulation and the Beanpot on the line, both teams were all in, up and down the ice. While the Eagles took control of the game for the first time that night, outshooting the Huskies 12-7, Northeastern worked hard to clear every rebound opportunity from in front of the net and combat BC at the stick to repeatedly steal the puck away. 

“Our first line makes us go a lot of the time, but there’s a lot of other parts that we’re made up of that have contributed at different times to our success this year.” said head coach Dave Flint. “I always tell our players from day one if you want to be on the lineup, you better commit to the defensive end of the ice. All of our players do that and they do a really good job of it.” 

The referees took a lax approach to the final frame, allowing the tension between the two teams to play out on the ice. Both teams stole sticks from their opponents, slammed bodies into the boards and pushed players to the floor, but no penalty was called for the remainder of the game.

Their chance at a Beanpot trophy slipping away, the Eagles pulled Levy out of the net for the extra player. It was the first time BC had had a leg up all game. 

Senior goaltender Gwyneth Philips dives for the puck. Philips made 27 saves in Tuesday’s championship matchup. (Colette Pollauf)

A minute after it started, the six-on-five paid off. After winning a faceoff, the Eagles cycled the puck back to the blue line. Senior defenseman Alexie Guay fired a shot in deep, which bounced off Philips’s leg and flew free out front. Quick on the reflex, Bilka grabbed the puck and tucked it inside an open right post to tighten the score. 

With 94 seconds left in regulation and Levy still on the bench, the championship game was not over yet. But the Huskies tightened their defensive structure, preventing BC from getting a shot toward Philips for the rest of the match. 

When the buzzer sounded to indicate the end of the match, the Huskies erupted with joy, racing to the crease to rejoice together in celebration of their 18th Beanpot title, the most of any team involved in the tournament. 

“Last year in the semi[final], BC really gave us another hard game,” Murphy said. “So it was unfortunate that we were in the consolation but I think it gave us the motivation that we needed this year to be right back in the top.” 

Individual awards were distributed to the top goaltender of the tournament and Most Valuable Player, based on media votes. For leading her team to victory with 53 saves on 55 shots (earning a .964 save percentage), Philips was awarded the Bertagna award, and for her four-point performance — including the championship’s game-winning goal — Murphy was named MVP. 

After a disappointing third place finish in last year’s tournament, Tuesday’s performance rocketed the team to its 16th straight win and completed Northeastern’s sweep of both the men’s and women’s Beanpot tournaments. 

“[I’m] happy for all our players, but most importantly our seniors. It’s always nice to go out winning a Beanpot,” Flint said.

After claiming not just the two trophies, but all six awards of the area’s most beloved college hockey tournament, Northeastern has secured its position as top dog of Boston hockey, a huge boost of confidence as the 2022-23 season comes to a close.