Women’s Hockey: Niagara spoils senior sendoff

Women’s Hockey: Niagara spoils senior sendoff

By TJ McKeown

On a day when six seniors were honored for their accomplishments over their tenure at Northeastern, the Huskies fell short to visiting Niagara, 5-2. A pregame ceremony paid respects to the commitment of forwards Jen Bergeron and Kathy Sands, defenders Crissy Sands, Jennifer Beaudoin and Lindsay Snider, and goalies Marisa Hourihan and Kate Augustyn. A banner for each senior, marked by signatures and words of admiration from teammates and coaches, was displayed from the balcony of Matthews Arena.

“For the most part, I’m definitely going to miss the team,” Hourihan said. “I’m very happy to be moving on into the real world but also very sad at the same time.”

Coach Laura Schuler had many positive remarks about the ability and character of her star goalie.

“Hourihan will be tough to replace,” Schuler said. “She has been our most consistent player. It will be tough to see her go. She is a great person and such a good goalie.”

Although invigorated, eager and emotional, the Huskies could not stop Niagara’s offensive onslaught and power play abilities.

NU (8-24-1) jumped out quick, dominating the first period of action and keeping the puck almost exclusively in the Niagara zone. Junior defender Marie Desrosiers capitalized on a 5-3 Husky advantage by netting her seventh goal of the season at 15:02. Junior forward Crystal Rochon and freshman defender Erin Reil picked up assists on the play. Niagara (8-20-1) struck back quickly, though, shortly after their second power play of the afternoon expired. Junior forward Meaghan Smith, assisted by senior forward Amy Jack and senior defender Erin Toth, buried the puck for her seventh goal of the year at 19:18.

The Purple Eagles put on a scoring clinic in the second period, netting a total of three goals, two from power plays. Niagara took the lead as junior forward Michelle Del Monte scored her first goal of the season off a redirect of junior forward Katie Gray’s shot at 6:36. The Eagles’ first power play conversion was at 11:01 on a rebound shot by sophomore Charde Hoyle-Levy. Junior defender Candice Boyles’ shot from center point at 17:55 converted a second Niagara power play and gave Boyles her third goal of the year. She also padded her stats with an assist on the Del Monte goal.

The Huskies never quit and started the third period determined and energized. Freshman forward Cassie Sperry netted her first collegiate goal at 7:11 on a two-on-one breakaway assisted by sophomore forward Nikki Petrich and forward defender Courtney O’Connor. Niagara added a fifth goal to the scoreboard on an empty netter by junior forward Chelsea Donovan.

Hourihan had 25 saves in her final performance. She finished her career second on the Huskies all-time saves list with an impressive career total of 2,388.

“It feels great that I can make all those saves, but it was hard to make those saves and to still end up losing by one or two goals throughout the season,” Hourihan said.

On the other side, Niagara goaltender Allison Rutledge also finished with 25 saves and her eighth win of the season.

NU had its chances with a total of nine power plays throughout the game. Niagara, undoubtedly, made the most of its opportunities outplaying the Huskies in two of the three periods and finishing with a 30-to-27 advantage in shots on goal.

Despite a disappointing record, the younger players have taken the season in stride while learning many vital lessons Schuler said. The team had seven freshmen on the roster this year, with six playing in over 30 games. Schuler is confident the wisdom of the older players has rubbed off on her younger players.

“They all put on the table a willingness to buy into the system and being the best they can be. All seniors exuberated that,” Schuler said. “The younger kids see the older ones believe in me and the system.”

Freshman defender Brenna Frost said she learned from her senior mentors including cohesiveness and a never-give-up mentality.

On the prospects of next year, returning players have a positive attitude toward a new recruiting class.

“We must teach the new players as much as [the seniors] taught us, and we will only be better if we follow what they taught us,” Frost said.

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