The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

Women’s hockey is making history again, and the Huskies have the spotlight

Harriet Rovniak
Gwyneth Philips protects the net in the 2024 Women’s Beanpot championship. The Huskies beat BU 2-1 in overtime.

Northeastern won the 45th annual Women’s Beanpot championship Tuesday night, and this year’s victory was especially monumental. The Huskies became the first women’s hockey team to lift the Beanpot trophy in TD Garden.

TD Garden is the largest sports arena in New England and is home to the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics. 

The Women’s Beanpot tournament had never been held at the Garden prior, though the men’s teams have played there since the rink opened in 1995. 

Before the Garden opened, the men’s hockey teams played in the Boston Garden, while before this year, the women’s championship game rotated between the arenas of the four participating teams: Northeastern, Boston University, Harvard University, and Boston College. 

The Men’s Beanpot began in 1952, while the Women’s started in 1979. 

Women’s hockey received pushback when it first began, even at amateur levels — it was not supported by the population at large and faced significant criticism from the media, according to Women’s Hockey Life. During World War II, men’s games were broadcast on the radio to “boost morale,” but women’s games were never on the air or in newspapers.  

Despite the setbacks, women’s hockey has continued to persevere and flourish. 

Women’s sports have increased in popularity over this past decade, with the success of the United States women’s national soccer team, the triumphs of female gymnasts such as Simone Biles and the achievements of women’s tennis, with the women’s singles final of the US Open gaining 1 million more views than the men’s championship game. 

Now, women’s hockey is having its turn in the spotlight. 

Northeastern’s skaters celebrate after scoring a goal in the 2024 Women’s Beanpot semifinals. The semifinals were played at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Hockey Center, while the finals were played at TD Garden. (Harriet Rovniak)

The 2023 inaugural season of the Professional Women’s Hockey League, PWHL, debuted to record viewership numbers. New York’s win in the league’s first-ever game received over 2.9 million views, including 1.1 million tuning in about halfway through the second period, according to Female Athlete News, or FAN. At the Montreal versus Minnesota game at Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota, 13,316 fans watched in person. 

The PWHL debuted its first season in January after the first draft was held Sept. 18, 2023. The league consists of six teams across the United States and Canada, who play 24 games in a season. 

This league has propelled women’s hockey’s accessibility, allowing girls to see hockey as a sport they can also play

The ability to watch women’s hockey is also becoming easier and easier, especially with the partnerships PWHL has with New England Sports Network, or NESN, and the livestreams on YouTube. 

“PHWL league has a YouTube stream,” said Katy Knoll, a fifth-year forward on the Northeastern women’s hockey team. “Regardless of if they are on the major networks now … I could watch my friends on any of the six teams any night I want to.”

Statistically, the previous women’s hockey league, Premier Hockey Federation, or PHF, had substantially lower numbers than the PWHL is currently collecting. 

The PHF’s semifinals and finals averaged about 100,000 viewers on NBCSN, according to FAN. The first shutout in the league was in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,537.

The Women’s Beanpot’s relocation to TD Garden is another opportunity to bring more attention to the female empowerment side of the sport. Knoll and sophomore forward Mia Langlois, who grew up playing on boys hockey teams until eighth grade, emphasized the importance of the opportunity.

Northeastern fans pack the stands. The Huskies brought a cheering crowd out to Boston College’s Conte Forum for the 2023 Women’s Beanpot Final. (Colette Pollauf)

“I think it will kind of send a message to everyone, ‘Yeah we are just as good, just as valuable as the guys are,” Langlois said. 

“[Women’s hockey] has taken great strides and a lot more people are paying attention and appreciating the skill and pace of the women’s game,” Knoll said.

The Women’s Beanpot debut game at TD Garden also drew many alumni of Northeastern’s women’s hockey. 

Lindsay Berman, the Huskies’ assistant coach and a former player for Northeastern, emphasized the excitement among alumni players who never thought playing at the Garden was possible. They are the backbone that made this historic event possible, she said.

“It doesn’t happen without the 44 years with this tournament happening on these campuses, and the people who really pushed for this to happen,” Berman said of the move to TD Garden.

The Women’s Beanpot final in TD Garden is “unreal,” Knoll said. She also stated prior to the game that it would be an emotional match-up, regardless of score, but at the end of the day, it is still a game and they are still competing for the trophy. 

“It’s cool that this group of girls is here, and we are all making history together,” Langlois said. “Any team, any staff member, any coach of the four teams involved in this, we are all making history no matter who it is.”

About the Contributors
Harriet Rovniak, Photo Editor
Colette Pollauf, Deputy Photo Editor
Colette Pollauf, deputy photo editor of The News, is a second-year journalism major with minors in political science and photojournalism. She currently works as a staff writer and photographer for The Scope: Boston, and has worked for Woof Magazine in the past. She is excited for her second semester as deputy photo editor and third semester with The News as she begins her first co-op at Nicole Chan Photography in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @ColettePollauf for updates.
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