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With win at Harvard, 15th-ranked Northeastern advances to historic Women’s Beanpot final at TD Garden

The Huskies won, 1-0, on a Taze Thompson goal backed by Gwyneth Philips’ fifth shutout of the season.

Two Northeastern hockey players hug each other on an ice rink after winning the Women's Beanpot Semifinal at Harvard.
01/16/24 – Boston, MA – Northeastern women’s hockey takes on Harvard in the semifinals of the Beanpot tournament at Harvard Stadium on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

On a night of domination not quite reflected by the scoreboard, defending champion Northeastern upended host Harvard 1-0 in a semifinal of the 45th Women’s Beanpot semifinal Tuesday night. 

The 15th-ranked Huskies (14-9-1) advance to a historic final next Tuesday at TD Garden, where the women’s title game will make its debut. There they’ll meet Boston University (9-10-3), which edged past Boston College 1-0 in a shootout after its semifinal ended in a 3-3 tie.

The Huskies controlled the play but were frustrated by the 39 saves of junior Harvard goalie Alex Pellicci.

Taze Thompson, a Harvard transfer who returned to torment her former school, provided the Huskies with the opening-period goal that turned out to be all they would need on their way to a featured place in Boston’s NHL arena.

Gwyneth Philips, the reigning national goaltender of the year and Bertagna Award winner as the Beanpot’s top goalie last year, protected the Huskies’ precarious lead with her fifth shutout of the season on nine saves, with Harvard attempting just one shot in the closing period.

The Huskies, who have overcome a difficult season start to go 6-1-1 since Thanksgiving, have much to play for. Not only are they seeking to add to their record 18 Women’s Beanpot titles, but they’ll also be aiming to keep the door open for another Northeastern sweep after both the women and men won their respective Beanpots last year.

Multiple Northeastern hockey players cheer after winning at the Women's Beanpot Semifinal.
Northeastern celebrates its goal against Harvard in the semifinals of the Women’s Beanpot. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

“We’re super excited to be advancing to the first-ever championship game at the Garden,” Northeastern coach Dave Flint said. “We’ve grown in a lot of areas, not only with individual players and their games, but as a team.

“We’re still trying to find some consistency in our play. But I feel it’s way better than it was in the beginning of the year.”

A first-period power play provided all the scoring they would need.

That Northeastern power play was sandwiched between two such opportunities for the Crimson. The hosts managed only three shots in their four minutes against the nation’s second-rated penalty killing unit; whereas the Huskies exploited their opportunity thanks to an emerging star with much experience at Harvard’s Bright-Landry Hockey Center.

Thompson, who had made the ECAC All-Rookie team for Harvard before transferring to Northeastern in 2022, deflected a shot by Tory Mariano in the 12th minute to give the Huskies the opening goal that made all the difference. Thompson, a  junior, ranks second among the Huskies with nine goals. 

The Huskies had multiple chances though they couldn’t finish. But then they knew they’d be counting on their defense this year.

“We would have liked to score a few more goals but we ran into a very good goalie tonight,” Flint said. “I said it a few times: ‘Let’s not start pressing, just keep doing what we’re doing, we’re getting good opportunities.’ When you start pressing then it doesn’t go well for you.

“To hold them to nine shots — one in the final period — and just lock things down, especially in such a tight game, is a credit to the team and how they’re playing.”

The Huskies have defeated BU three times this season by a combined 8-2, but Northeastern team captain Megan Carter insisted that no advantage exists with the Beanpot at stake.

“The mentality is just that records don’t matter,” said Carter, recently returned from an injury. “We may have beat them three times but it really doesn’t matter when we play next week because everyone is going to bring their ‘A’ game and we could see a totally different hockey team in terms of the compete level. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Flint noted that the Huskies were lucky to win their most recent victory over BU, a 2-1 overtime victory on Dec. 1.  

The Huskies will return home to Matthews Arena on Friday vs. New Hampshire before moving onto TD Garden next week.