The tension that has been building for the past two years is about to peak.
On Thursday at 1 p.m. at Matthews Arena, the Huskies will be launching a playoff run that, if all their dreams come true, will culminate in a national championship.
The Northeastern women’s hockey team (28-4-2), ranked in the top four in the U.S. for most of the season, opens the Hockey East Tournament with a best-of-three quarterfinal round against Vermont (10-16-8).
The Huskies and Catamounts will meet again Friday at 7 p.m. If a tie-breaking third game is necessary, it will be played Saturday at 7 p.m. All of the games will be held at Matthews Arena.
The top-seeded Huskies, who wrapped up the Hockey East regular-season title weeks ago, will be heavily favored. The eighth-seeded Catamounts have lost all three games this season against Northeastern by a combined 18-4, including a 10-2 rout in Burlington, Vermont, in January. The Huskies hold a nine-game winning streak over Vermont, dating back to February 2018.
The winner will advance to the Hockey East semifinals and final March 7-8 at the neutral site of Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts.
“Our goals going into this year were the Beanpot championship, obviously,” said Northeastern coach Dave Flint, whose Huskies earned their first Beanpot since 2013. “Then the Hockey East regular season and tournament championships, and a trip to the Frozen Four.”
By fulfilling their goal of winning the Hockey East Tournament, the Huskies can position themselves for their ultimate objective. In the NCAA Tournament, the top four teams are rewarded with home games in the opening round. Currently, the Huskies are No. 4 in the PairWise rankings, which are designed to mimic the criteria of NCAA Tournament selections.
The Huskies are seeking their third straight Hockey East Tournament championship. But they’ll be hoping for better luck this time around. Last year, while contributing a goal to a 3-2 overtime win over Boston College in the Hockey East final, Northeastern star Alina Mueller suffered a broken hand that would sideline her from the NCAA Tournament. In the absence of their leading scorer, the Huskies lost in the opening round of the NCAAs to Cornell, 3-2 in overtime.
That NCAA loss has contributed to Northeastern’s stubbornness and drive to reach the Frozen Four of the NCAA Tournament, which will be held at Boston University’s Agganis Arena March 20-22. The Huskies have a chance to run the table without having to leave the Greater Boston area—ensuring that fans will be supporting them throughout their promising journey.