ERIE, Pa. – The top-seeded Northeastern Huskies extended their unbeaten streak to 21 games with a 5-1 win over Robert Morris in the NCAA quarterfinal Monday afternoon. It’s the first time in program history that the Huskies have advanced to the Frozen Four.
“I thought we executed. We were pretty solid defensively. (This was) a huge win for Northeastern women’s hockey,” said coach Dave Flint.
The Huskies started off scoring in a very familiar way for them this year – a shorthanded goal. Alina Mueller and Chloe Aurard caught Robert Morris’ defenders too far into the zone and broke out in transition. It was the Huskies’ seventh shorthanded goal of the season and they have scored more goals a player down than they’ve allowed.
Robert Morris worked to keep the pace of the game under control and hem Northeastern in early. They were physical in the neutral zone and did a good job of interrupting the Huskies’ flow. Goalie Raygan Kirk made a career-high 41 saves for the Colonials.
“They were deceptively quick on pucks. They definitely made us work,” said Flint.
Senior defender Skylar Fontaine extended the Huskies’ lead midway through the second on a breakaway that she put top shelf to beat Robert Morris goalie Raygan Kirk and make it 2-0.
Mueller was called for checking late in the second period and this time RMU was able to capitalize on the extra attacker as Emily Curlett scored the program’s first-ever NCAA goal on a deflection that fell to her stick and she wristed past NU goalie Aerin Frankel to make it 2-1 with under a minute to play in the period.
Unfortunately for RMU, the backbreaker came 53 seconds later when Mueller crashed the net and put away the rebound from a shot by Fontaine with fewer than four seconds left on the clock to push the lead back up to two goals.
Mueller had been unhappy that she was called for the penalty that led to the Colonials’ goal, but Flint said he spoke with her about it on the bench before she went back on the ice.
“(I said) it’s done now. Forget about it. If you’re upset about it, go score a goal. And she did,” he said.
Kennedy Cipra made it a 4-1 game early in the second off a turnover along the boards in the Robert Morris defensive zone. RMU was already transitioning out and when she stole the puck, she was able to go in on Kirk all alone to extend the Huskies’ lead.
Syler Fontaine scored her second of the game in the final minutes of the third as she redirected and tipped in a pass from Katy Knoll to make it a 5-1 game.
Many of Northeastern’s opportunities came after RMU made an initial play on the puck. Robert Morris coach Paul Coloninto called them explosive and talked about how the team generates offense in a number of different ways. That anticipation of what comes next is part of what helped his team win, said Flint.
“When we play like that, we’re really good. When we’re hungry for pucks and we’re hunting pucks down and we’re aggressive around the net, we’re successful. When we start to go perimeter and we don’t want to get into the dirty areas, we’re very vanilla. That’s something that’s going to be very important moving forward,” he said.
The Huskies advance to the Frozen Four to play the winner of Monday evening’s quarterfinal between Colgate and Minnesota Duluth on Thursday.