Make that a three-peat.
The Northeastern Huskies secured their third consecutive Bertagna Trophy through their dog-devoured-dog victory over the University of Connecticut Huskies in a 9-1 rout at Hockey East finals at Merrimack College Sunday.
Dominating from start to finish, the fast-paced Northeastern attack pelted Connecticut with a seemingly endless clip of shots on goal, outshooting them 36-20.
The victory punches Northeastern’s ticket back to the NCAA Tournament, where the Huskies hope for a different outcome than last year’s shorthanded loss to Cornell in the first round. Seeded No. 3, the Huskies will host Princeton (26-6-1) in the first round Saturday at 1 p.m. in Matthews Arena.
Northeastern (32-4-2), the No. 4 ranked team nationally in the PairWise rankings, came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed. After dismantling Vermont in the quarterfinals and surviving Maine’s semifinal upset bid, Northeastern came into the finals as heavy favorites against their Husky cousins in Connecticut.
And on Sunday afternoon, Northeastern showed why they were the favorites.
With an aggressive attack to open the first stanza led by Alina Mueller, Northeastern’s star sophomore forward, the Huskies set the tone early with their first line, maintaining zone time and pressuring Connecticut’s senior goaltender Morgan Fisher. Northeastern took the lead with two goals from junior defender and First Team All Star Skylar Fontaine and freshman forward Jess Schryver.
Connecticut’s senior forward Catherine Crawley responded late into the first period with a chip shot from the left side, just outside the crease, closing the Northeastern deficit to just one. It would be the last goal Aerin Frankel, Northeastern’s stingy goaltender, would allow.
Two minutes later, Mueller, who was recently named Cammi Granato Hockey East Player of the Year, scored her 27th goal of the season with an assist from the second half of Northeastern’s dynamic duo, sophomore forward Chloé Aurard. The two have been scoring machines all season long, ranking first and second in points-per-game in the Hockey East, and are both in the top-11 in scoring across Division I women’s ice hockey.
With their efforts in the first line, Northeastern held a 3-1 lead at the end of the opening period.
“They were a buzzsaw,” head coach Dave Flint said after the game. “They were flying. We talk about utilizing our speed. When we force pucks, we’re not very effective, but when we get pucks behind other teams’ defense and use our speed, we’re tough to defend, and today, they were really good at it.”
Northeastern kept up the explosive offensive attack with a goal just 43 seconds into the second period from senior forward Matti Hartman, extending the lead 4-1.
If it had ended right there, it would have been a rout. But the onslaught had just begun. Schryver’s second goal, and scores by Aurard, Codie Cross, Katie Cipra, and Peyton Anderson added to the record-breaking tally before the buzzer sounded and the Northeastern skaters flung their helmets in the air in celebration.
Flint called it the most complete game Northeastern had played all year.
“From start to finish, it was a credit to the team: They played unbelievable and as fast as I’ve seen us play,” Flint says.
Mueller has been a force all season long for Northeastern—when she scores at least one goal, the Huskies are 23-0—and she is one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award, which is given to the best female ice hockey player of the year.
This latest showing is just another performance to add to her case. Mueller, who finished with a goal and three assists, was named the tournament’s most valuable player. She credited the connection she’s built with her teammates for her performance.
“Chloé is a great player and Jess works hard for us,” Mueller says. “We are on the ice a lot during the week and that’s why we practice to find each other, to build a bond. I usually know if she’s going to pass or shoot it, and I try to find them because they do the same for me.”