After a 5-0 shutout Friday, the Northeastern women’s ice hockey team beat Merrimack College 4-1 Saturday afternoon, earning its third consecutive series sweep of the season.
Last year, the teams met four times, the Huskies the victors of each match despite the Warriors’ physicality. Northeastern has not lost to Merrimack since 2016. On Friday, the Huskies muzzled the Warriors, allowing only four shots on goal.
Saturday’s Huskies were uncharacteristically slow to the start, head coach Dave Flint noticed, with players often misjudging passes, colliding with Merrimack’s players and losing the puck in skirmishes along the boards.
“It was an ugly game,” Flint said. “We knew they were going to play hard and physical. I think they took us off our game a little bit.”
Two back-to-back penalties against Merrimack three and five minutes into regulation gave NU the chance to slow down and clean up its play.
Just seven seconds after the Huskies’ second power play ended, junior forward Molly Griffin grabbed the puck from a faceoff, flew down the boards, through Merrimack’s defense and up the ice towards Merrimack’s goal. Griffin lifted the puck above Warrior freshman goaltender Calli Hogarth’s head into the top shelf, earning her first goal of the season and giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
The second period was even more physical than the first, and whatever organization the Huskies found at the end of the first was lost at the beginning of the second frame. The puck flew loose, players slipped and fell, and despite keeping the puck in Merrimack’s defensive zone for the first few minutes of the period, the Huskies were unable to knock more than two shots in Hogarth’s direction.
But after two early Husky penalties — one against freshman defenseman Kristina Allard and one against senior forward Katy Knoll — Northeastern was fiery and ready to score. Sixteen seconds after Knoll was released from the penalty box, graduate student forward Chloe Aurard received the puck from graduate student forward Megan Carter. Quickly approached by Merrimack defense, Aurard dropped the puck back to junior defenseman Abbey Marohn near the left faceoff dot. Marohn took the puck up towards center ice and, from the blue line, shoveled the puck deep into Merrimack’s net, notching her first career goal.
After spending much of last season on the sidelines due to an injury, Marohn was excited to get back on the ice.
“[It feels] amazing,” Marohn said. “It’s been a couple years, obviously. I’ve been here and surrounded by a lot of players I look up to, and I’ve learned a lot. It’s good to have the work pay off.”
Flint said Marohn’s comeback has impressed him, noting her invaluable presence on the ice.
“She’s playing with a ton of confidence right now,” Flint said. “She played a lot her freshman year, didn’t play a lot last year, came back this year with a really good mindset and really worked hard. And it’s paying off, … she’s keeping it simple, and she’s got confidence.”
Marohn’s goal lit a fuse under the Huskies, who came into the third period with their familiar collaborative and calculated style. Four minutes into the third, captain and graduate student forward Alina Mueller grabbed the puck at center ice, drove it up the side and passed it to Aurard, whose shot was barred by Hogarth. Mueller then skated up to Hogarth, seized Aurard’s rebound, and pushed it beyond the crease.
Two minutes later, assistant captain and graduate student forward Maureen Murphy fed the puck towards the net, where Aurard picked it up and tipped it into the net, scoring Northeastern’s fourth and final goal of the game.
The third period was Northeastern’s best and grittiest of the game. After two periods of adapting to Merrimack’s aggression, the passes were cleaner, the plays were smarter and the players were more stable, Flint said.
“I said, ‘Listen: if you’re going to score goals today, you got to get in there, take the beating, and put some pucks in,’” Flint said. “I thought the third was better for that, and they got rewarded with a couple of goals.”
With just three minutes left in the match, Merrimack scored its only goal of the weekend. Freshman defenseman Sydney Lynch pushed the goal towards Northeastern’s net from the blue line. Northeastern senior netminder Gwenyth Phillips closed her pads together too late, the puck hitting the inside of her pads and sliding into the open net. With the last-minute goal, Merrimack broke a two-game scoreless streak.
Next weekend, the Huskies will take a road trip to Orono, Maine, for a two-game series against the University of Maine, where they will look to protect their six-game win streak. Northeastern was undefeated against the Bears last year and has been since 2019.