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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

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How Northeastern women’s hockey persevered through tumultuous season

Skylar+Irving+handles+the+puck+in+a+game+against+Merrimack+March+2.+Irving+led+the+team+in+points+this+season+with+35.+
Kayla Shiao
Skylar Irving handles the puck in a game against Merrimack March 2. Irving led the team in points this season with 35.

Regroup. Restructure. Rebuild. 

It felt like the end of an era when the trio of Alina Mueller, Chloé Aurard and Maureen Murphy exited the ice at the end of the 2022-23 season. People looked at the Huskies with uncertainty, wondering what would be next for the program after losing the top line in women’s college hockey. 

Northeastern came into the 2023-24 season ranked fifth in the country, picked to finish at the top of Hockey East, but scoring struggles plagued the team for months as it searched for its next high-production line. By the end of the season, Northeastern had slipped to No. 12 in the Pairwise rankings and fell short of a conference championship, breaking a six-year winning streak, but the Huskies still fought to the very end.

“A lot of people doubted us going in, even at Christmas break, even at Thanksgiving break,” said fifth-year forward Katy Knoll. “There [were] a lot of questions as to how we would finish the season and I think we did the best that we could and I think we changed a lot of people’s minds about us in the second half of the season.” 

Northeastern had a strong out-of-conference schedule, with four of its seven non-Hockey East matchups being against top-15 teams, and those games had mixed results. After splitting the season-opening series with No. 11 Penn State, the Huskies lost to No. 13 St. Cloud State in a shutout in the Ice Breaker Tournament, but redeemed themselves with a win over No. 14/13 Yale in January.

“We always look to try to play competitive teams,” said head coach Dave Flint. “We want to try to get those teams that are top-10 teams for out-of-conference to strengthen our schedule.”

Facing those difficult teams didn’t make Hockey East play any easier for the Huskies. Uncharacteristic shutout losses to Merrimack College and the College of the Holy Cross in October highlighted Northeastern’s scoring difficulties, as the Huskies dropped from last year’s 3.8 goals per game average to 2.4.

“We lost to a couple of teams that we normally wouldn’t, but that’s hockey and that just goes to show how competitive the conference was this year,” Knoll said. “Overall, that’s a good thing to see the conference becoming more of a threat and every team improving.” 

In the second half of the season, the Huskies settled into a rhythm, going 10-0-2 between Jan. 13 and Feb. 17. With a top line of graduate student Peyton Anderson, junior Skylar Irving and Knoll, Northeastern finally began producing. Irving took on a new role as playmaker with a team-leading 22 assists. A heavy shooter, Irving’s 163 on-goal attempts were a strong proponent of Northeastern’s late-season success, as Knoll and Anderson picked up her rebounds and Irving tallied 13 goals of her own. The top line was responsible for 41.5% of the team’s goals. 

Assistant captain Katy Knoll faces off against Vermont captain Natálie Mlýnková. Knoll was tied with Peyton Anderson for the second-most points on Northeastern’s team in the 2023-24 season with 28. (Katie Billman)

“Things were kind of up in the air and no one really knew what to do,” Philips said. “But as we kind of started going through, people started to step into bigger roles, different roles, and trust that someone was gonna kind of do what needed to be done, and I think just gaining confidence in each other helped.”

Despite finding momentum, Northeastern struggled against familiar foes like the University of Connecticut and the University of Vermont throughout the season. The rival Huskies, the No. 10 ranked team in the country and the eventual Hockey East champion, were a constant thorn in Northeastern’s side. In four games this season, Northeastern was only able to notch two goals against UConn and was never able to beat them, going 0-3-1 against the team, including an overtime loss in the conference tournament championship. 

Northeastern suffered a similar fate against Vermont. The team only faced the Catamounts in the last weekend of the regular season, collecting a loss and a tie that put a damper on the Huskies’ senior night.

The Vermont series also put an end to a 12-game non-losing streak Northeastern had begun in January after regaining captain and graduate student Megan Carter from a six-game injury.

Northeastern’s most notable moment came in the crown jewel of the season, the Beanpot tournament, as Northeastern claimed the first-ever win at TD Garden. In a great forward stride for women’s hockey, the local competition finally moved to the location the men had been playing at for decades, and in front of more than 10,000 fans, Northeastern took down Boston University in overtime in the title game to claim the coveted trophy on Boston hockey’s biggest stage. Irving scored both of Northeastern’s goals in the 2-1 victory and was named tournament MVP. 

“The atmosphere is crazy and I felt like that was one of our better games all season, with just how we were playing, the energy on the bench,” Irving said. “Honestly, it was so fun just seeing all the fans, like the DogHouse. That was awesome for me, seeing their support and then we were able to win in overtime, that was even better.”

In the face of the offensive struggles, Northeastern’s defense stood sturdy throughout the season, averaging just 1.28 goals against per game, good for fourth in the country. 

The Northeastern women’s hockey team huddles on senior night. The Huskies skated to a 25-11-3 record on the season. (Katie Billman)

One defensive star was Jules Constantinople, who stepped up on the top pairing alongside junior Lily Yovetich in Carter’s absence. Constantinople scored her first goal this year, part of her 16-point contribution (4 goals, 12 assists), and tallied 62 blocks, second only to Carter. 

“We were using her a lot on the power play and she’s come up with some good power-play goals,” Flint said. “I think she just got stronger as the year went on because I think she was playing with more and more confidence.”

Carter still led the team with 72 blocks despite missing a month of play, and also acted as enforcer with 42 more penalty minutes than any other Husky. The captain also found offensive momentum to round out her game as the year wound down, with four goals in the last five games of the regular season. 

Behind the Huskies all season long, except for a two-game break after Beanpot, was the backbone of the team, fifth-year goalie Gwyneth Philips. Philips, who played more minutes than any other goalie in the NCAA, ended the season with the top save percentage in the country (.955), giving her a career .958 to break the national record. She also holds the second-lowest career goals against average in NCAA history with .96. The goalie was designated a top-10 Patty Kazmaier finalist and Goalie of the Year finalist, and was named to the Division 1 All-American First Team. 

“What she accomplished in a short period of time is amazing,” Flint said. “I don’t think I realized until like three weeks left in the season that she was in contention to break the record for career save percentage … she had big shoes to fill with Aerin Frankel graduation and she rose to the occasion and was amazing for the last two seasons.”

At the end of the season, Hockey East honored many Huskies for their accomplishments. Philips and Carter were named to the conference’s first team, Anderson and Constantinople to the second, Knoll and Irving to the third and forward Allie Lalonde to the all-rookie team.

The culmination of the season means the end of the collegiate careers of Philips, Knoll, Anderson, Carter and graduate student forward Peyton Cullaton.

These five-year members contributed to some of the highest points in program history, including multiple Beanpot wins and bids to the NCAA tournament, but in their absence, there’s plenty of young talent that’s already been stepping up. 

While the 2023-24 season was not the Huskies’ best year in recent memory, it showed perseverance and flexibility in the face of adversity, and Northeastern still found success in shining moments. 

“We did it this year without the last class and they can do it again without my class,” Philips said. “Every year is going to be a little bit different with different personnel but you just kind of have to find what’s going to work and just keep believing in each other and eventually you’ll get to where you need to be.”

About the Contributors
Amelia Ballingall, Sports Editor
Amelia Ballingall is a third-year speech language pathology and audiology major. She is sports editor for The News and previously served as deputy sports editor and deputy design editor. She is also vice president of membership development for Delta Phi Epsilon, the social media manager for Speech and Hearing Club and a Student Success Guide on campus. Amelia is looking forward to another great semester with The News!
Kayla Shiao, Design Editor
Kayla Shiao (she/her) is a first-year Doctor of Pharmacy student and Design Editor. Prior to becoming Design Editor, she worked for The News as a designer, copy editor, photographer and occasional writer. She is an avid sports photographer with a love for detail and page layout.
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