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Live updates: Northeastern loses 1-0 to UConn in OT of Hockey East women’s championship

Second-seeded Northeastern lost to top-seeded Connecticut despite 51 saves by star goaltender Gwyneth Philips.

The Northeastern Huskies are reaching for a seventh straight Hockey East title and NCAA tournament bid. Photo by Jim Pierce for Northeastern University

STORRS, Connecticut — The second-seeded Northeastern Huskies (25-11-3) came close to fulfilling a magical season. But those dreams ended prematurely Saturday with an exhausting 1-0 loss in overtime to top-seeded Connecticut (25-7-5) in the Hockey East women’s championship.

The defeat ends Northeastern’s record of six Hockey East titles in a row.

Northeastern lost despite a heroic 51 saves by star goaltender Gwyneth Philips.

In the third period Northeastern was able to survive the equivalent of a seven-minute power play — including two minutes of five-on-three — thanks largely to Philips. After being outshot 15-8 in that period (and 38-27 overall) the visiting Huskies were grateful for a full intermission that enabled them to regather for the 20-minute overtime session.

It ended abruptly with just 35 seconds remaining in the first overtime session when UConn dug out the puck behind Philips’ goal out to Ainsley Svetek. Her shot was deflected by Megan Woodworth as the Toscano Family Ice Forum erupted in roars.

Philips skated alone from her net and fell to her knees, exhausted and emotional after doing so much to keep the Huskies’ dream alive. Soon her teammates had skated around her, consoling each other at the end of a remarkable and inspiring season.

Jules Constantinople and Peyton Anderson were voted to the all-tournament team.

Scoreless Hockey East championship goes into OT after extraordinary seven-minute penalty kill by Northeastern

A hard-fought Hockey East women’s championship game was scoreless at the end of regulation and headed into a 20-minute “sudden victory” overtime. That in itself was a victory of sorts for Northeastern. 

The third period was 90 seconds old when Northeastern suffered a sequence of misfortune. The Huskies found themselves at a five-on-three disadvantage after Tory Mariano (cross-checking) and Kristina Allard (tripping) were called for dual penalties.

The Huskies, who have the nation’s third-ranked penalty killing unit, had survived all but seven seconds of that power play when more disaster struck. A flurry in front of Northeastern’s goal resulted in a five-minute major for contact to the head and a 10-minute game misconduct penalty were assessed to team captain Megan Carter, resulting in ejection for the best defender in Hockey East — and leaving the Huskies to deal with a five-on-four disadvantage for almost five minutes.

It resulted in a virtuoso seven-minute stretch for Northeastern’s Gwyneth Philips, who showed why she is the reigning national goaltender of the year while holding UConn scoreless.

She saved point-blank shots to her right and left. Slap shots were knocked away. At one point she reached back to grab the crossbar for balance; later she fell across the legs of teammate Jules Constantinople while making another save.

When the exhausting seven-minute power play was done, the game was still scoreless with a full 11 minutes still to play.

Northeastern stayed on the defensive end for most of that remaining time, happy to have forced overtime after its extraordinary defensive effort.

It’s 0-0 going into the final period

UConn came out of the first intermission hot, firing the first five shots of the period. But the momentum changed in the seventh minute with a cross-checking penalty that provided Northeastern with the game’s first power play.

A point blank shot by Peyton Anderson was saved by UConn goalie Tia Chan.

That was the only penalty in what has been a clean, fast game entering the final period.

Gwyneth Philips (23 saves thus far) has been sensational for Northeastern. The reigning national goaltender of the year has stopped an array of challenges in what has been a hard fought, wide open championship final.

A scoreless opening period in Hockey East women’s final

The first period ended with no goals — but plenty of action.

In the final minutes UConn had two chances just outside the Northeastern crease. One was fended off over the top by Northeastern goalie Gwyneth Philips, the other was shot wide.

In the final two minutes, a steal by Megan Carter at UConn’s blue line led to threatening shots for Skylar Irving and Peyton Anderson. 

Overall it was a fast-paced opening period in both directions, with each team creating multiple scoring opportunities.

Both teams fired 10 shots on goal, including two each from Anderson, Katy Knoll and Ella Blackmore.

The championship final gets underway

The two schools were meeting as distant relatives in a way. In addition to both teams sharing the nickname Huskies, both athletic departments have an association with Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun, who famously led Northeastern and UConn to great success. Indeed, Jim Calhoun Way serves the Toscano Family Ice Forum, where a large crowd was assembled for the title game.

Leading the Huskies was fifth-year goalie Gwyneth Philips, who came in with a 1.19 goals against average and a .953 save percentage, earning her a spot among the three finalists to defend the national Goalie of the Year award that she earned one year ago.

The Huskies wore their familiar red uniforms as the puck dropped for the championship game.

Northeastern vs. UConn in Hockey East women’s championship

The Northeastern Huskies have returned to the Hockey East women’s championship game for an eighth straight season. 

At noon Saturday, second-seeded Northeastern (25-10-3) will visit top-seeded host Connecticut (23-7-5) — with an NCAA tournament bid going to the winner.

Northeastern Global News is providing live updates and analysis before, during and after the game, which will be televised by ESPNU.

The Huskies, who are ranked 12th nationally, are seeking an unprecedented seventh straight Hockey East title.

As familiar as they are with this opportunity, few envisioned the Huskies returning to prominence this season when their prolific scoring line of Alina Mueller, Chloé Aurard and Maureen Murphy moved on to the new Professional Women’s Hockey League. That trio had combined for 669 career points to help drive Northeastern to the NCAA Frozen Four for the past three years. 

But coach Dave Flint believed his team could develop a new style.

“I knew we had the talent,” Flint said after Northeastern beat third-seeded New Hampshire 4-1 in a Hockey East semifinal Wednesday at Matthews Arena. “But I knew we were going to have to win games differently than we used to. With our fifth-year players and the experience they have, I was confident we could maybe get back to the championship.”

The Huskies rebuilt on the fly around fifth-year student Gwyneth Philips, who is in contention to defend her national goaltender of the year award, and graduate student Megan Carter, the team captain who was recently named the best defender in Hockey East. Lily Yovetich and other key defenders have helped Northeastern maintain the nation’s fifth-best scoring defense (allowing 1.29 goals per game) and third-best penalty killing unit.

At the other end, the Huskies have relied on a variety of scorers led by Skylar Irving (22 assists and 35 points), Peyton Anderson (15 goals and 28 points) and Katy Knoll (17 assists and 28 points). Their production helped Northeastern recover from a frustrating 8-8 start.

The renewed Huskies have gone 17-2-3 since Thanksgiving. Can they keep the hot streak going Saturday at 10th-ranked UConn?