Huskies’ luck runs out on St. Patrick’s Day


Lauren Salemo

Senior goaltender Gwyneth Philips protects the net. Philips tallied a career-high 50 saves in Friday’s Frozen Four semifinal against Ohio State University.

Amelia Ballingall, deputy sports editor

All good things must come to an end. And at Friday afternoon’s Frozen Four semifinal, the Northeastern women’s hockey team’s dreams of a national title were dashed and its season put to an end. The Huskies fought hard against the top-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes, but the defending champions were relentless through the 60 minutes of regulation and handed Northeastern their first loss since November — a 3-0 shutout. 

“Obviously we didn’t finish the season the way we wanted to, which is disappointing,” said Northeastern head coach Dave Flint. “I feel for our fifth years and our seniors that are moving on … today just wasn’t our day.”

The Buckeyes came out of the gates with their trademark pressure and it paid off almost immediately. 

At 1:16 into the game, a shot from senior forward Kenzie Hauswirth bounced off the pads of Northeastern senior goaltender Gwyneth Philips. Before the Huskies’ defense could clear, freshman forward Sloane Matthews chipped the puck past Philips to give Ohio an early lead. 

The Buckeyes held the offensive zone for the opening stretch, and Northeastern was unable to notch a shot for over nine minutes, until graduate student forward Maureen Murphy’s breakaway was cleanly deflected by junior netminder Amanda Thiele.

Murphy’s run into Ohio’s territory put some fuel into the Huskies, giving them some zone time, and it seemed to pay off just a few minutes later. 

With 5:39 left in the first period, graduate student forward Chloé Aurard picked up the puck at the back of the neutral zone and slipped it to Murphy. The pair raced toward the net, where Murphy whipped the puck across the crease for Aurard to pummel a one-timer into the back of the net.

The play quickly went under review and the referees determined that captain and graduate student forward Alina Müller tipped the puck to her linemates with her hand while down on the ice. Therefore, Northeastern’s goal was disallowed and Ohio held its lead as the final five minutes of the frame fizzled out.

When the two teams headed back onto the ice, the Buckeyes were still in control of the game, but the Huskies got a window when back-to-back penalties were called on Ohio five minutes into the period. 

Thirty seconds after Matthews was sent to the box for cross-checking, graduate student forward Paetyn Levis joined her on a tripping call.

Although the Huskies gained a lengthy two-man advantage, Ohio’s mid-ranked penalty kill held strong and only allowed Northeastern’s power play three shots.

“We needed a goal there,” Flint said. “That was a golden opportunity that we missed.” 

Rallying back from their multi-player deficit, the Buckeyes doubled their lead four minutes later.

Northeastern senior defenseman Megan Carter races the puck up the ice. Carter notched 55 blocks this season and was named to Hockey East’s First Team. (Lauren Salemo)

From the boards, senior forward Jennifer Gardiner centered the puck with junior forward Makenna Webster. With no hesitation, Webster sent a blistering shot over Philips’ shoulder to put Ohio up 2-0.

The two-goal deficit frustrated the Northeastern bench; the Huskies came into the matchup riding a 22-game win streak, and they were not about to give it up without a fight. 

“When you’re used to having an extra second to make a play and all of a sudden that window is gone, it’s hard,” Flint said. “We tried to make adjustments… it’s tough when you don’t have that time and space.”

With 6:24 left in the period, junior defenseman Lily Yovetich took a penalty for cross-checking, putting two of the best special teams in the country up against each other. 

Northeastern’s 91.6% penalty kill stood strong against Ohio’s 33.3% power play, and Philips continued to backstop her team with the same dazzling saves she’d been making all game long. 

“I always feel good about our special teams,” said associate head coach Nick Carpenito in an open practice Tuesday night. “We’ve got a good idea of what Ohio’s gonna throw at us on special teams, … so as long as we execute, I always feel really good about when we’re out there.”

Despite the Huskies’ hard work in their return to even strength, Ohio snuck in one last goal with just over a minute left in the middle frame.

Philips made an easy stick save, but the puck made its way back to the Buckeyes’ blue line, much to Northeastern’s dismay. Senior defenseman Hadley Hartmetz’s shot flew past a trio of attempted Husky blocks and a screened Philips was unable to intercept its path as it snuck into the top left corner of the net. 

Northeastern attempted to overturn the score on a goalie interference call, but was unsuccessful and Ohio’s two-goal lead stood.

With Ohio up 3-0 and 20 minutes still remaining, the Huskies had two challenges ahead — stopping the Buckeyes from getting another goal and notching one of their own. Although Northeastern was unable to get on the board, it was successful in its other test, and kept Ohio to just three goals. 

The Huskies ramped up their pressure in the third period, narrowing the shooting gap to eight against Ohio’s 15, and drew two more penalties on the Buckeyes. But even the five-on-four advantage was not enough to break past Ohio’s defense. 

While the scoreboard may not show it, Philips was a star between the pipes, tallying a career-high 50 saves against an absolutely relentless Buckeyes offense.

“I’ve always said she was good, but [her numbers] were out of this world,” said Northeastern head coach Dave Flint. “She showed tonight why she’s the best goaltender in the NCAA.”

With the semifinal victory, The Ohio State University headed to the Frozen Four championship Sunday to face off against the University of Wisconsin for the trophy, where they fell to the Badgers 1-0. 

Meanwhile, the Huskies will head back to Huntington Avenue after a tough conclusion to a dominant, record-breaking season. 

The loss to Ohio puts an end not just to Northeastern’s season, but the collegiate careers of arguably some of the most valuable players in Northeastern history, including the top line of Müller, Aurard and Murphy.

“There’s so much more that they’ve achieved in college, in their careers.” Flint said. “I think they might be the winningest group to ever leave Northeastern.”

While Husky hearts break for the graduates, the future still looks bright for Northeastern. Plenty of young talent revealed itself this season, and while the departing players are leaving behind an enormous legacy, it will surely be carried on when the Huskies step back on the ice in the fall.