Power play success key for Northeastern in preseason tilt

Power play success key for Northeastern in preseason tilt
Fourth-year forward Shelby Herrington brings the puck across the red line to set up the offense / Photo by Albert Tamura

By Caroline Ingram, news staff

Head coach Dave Flint and the Northeastern University (NU) women’s hockey team knew they were in for a test when the talented Concordia University visited Matthews Arena for a preseason match-up on Saturday. The match was heavily contested, ending in a 3-2 final score.

Playing a team from outside their league meant the Huskies did not have a full scouting report on the competition.

“Concordia was unable to pre-scout us, but same goes for us not being able to scout them,” Flint said.

Although they were not completely sure what they were up against, they were confident the Stingers would be a tough opponent.

The Huskies struck first with a goal from fourth-year forward Taytum Clairmont just over seven minutes into the first period. The goal was the first of three scored by the team — all coming on the power plays.

“It’s always a good sign when you generate power play goals,” Flint said.

The Huskies’ first power play unit notched two of the goals, with the other score coming from the second power play unit. At 7:37 of the opening frame, the Huskies struck with a rebound goal. The net front presence created by Taytum Clairmont, Shelby Harrington and Kassidy Anderson knocked the puck loose right in front of the goal. Clairmont was able to capitalize on the opportunity with the Concordia goalie outside of her crease.

It only took 21 seconds into the next power play for the Huskies to convert on the man advantage, as Codie Cross was able to maneuver through defenders and fire a low shot from the point.

The Huskies were able to finish the second period with the lead after Tori Sullivan struck through with 39 seconds left in the frame. Again with a man advantage, the Huskies kept

airtight control of the puck, passing it seemingly effortlessly around their umbrella formation power play. Sullivan bulleted a bar down shot which careened off the shoulder of the Concordia goalie as it found the back of the net.

Flint expressed how early in the year it is imperative to create chemistry within the power play units and on each line.

“As coaches we have to figure out what works and what doesn’t for each line,” Flint said. “At the end of the day it’s all about who plays well with who and balancing out the lines.”

The goaltending was split between third-year Brittany Bugalski, third-year Brianna Storms and first-year Aerin Frankel. Last season Bugalski was solid in net for the Huskies, notching 13 wins and a .920 save percentage.

“For the last two years Brittany has been our number one and she has earned that spot,” Flint said. “I’m confident that she is going to do a really good job for us again this year.”

Nonetheless, Flint admitted he would have no problem adjusting should certain things not be clicking for the team.

“I’m not opposed to switching players around and changing up line configurations,” Flint said. “In net, if Brittany is not playing well and one of the other two [Storms or Frankel] are, we will make adjustments.”

The team is evenly balanced this season with roughly the same number of upperclassmen and underclassmen, something Flint eyes as a huge benefit for the team, especially for the young players.

“We’ve had some great leadership from our older players,” Flint said. “They are taking the younger players under their wing and showing them the ropes. They have integrated the younger players into the team very quickly, and the freshmen are definitely benefiting from that already.”

Flint will be looking for big contributions coming from his top line featuring fourth-years Denisa Krizova, McKenna Brand and Tori Sullivan.

From Flint’s perspective, one of the major takeaways from the preseason game was the dominance of NU’s defense. The Huskies held Concordia to a mere 8 shots on goal through the first two periods.

“Our defensive core is as good as it’s been in a long time,” Flint said.

A preseason poll of Hockey East coaches published Tuesday predicts the Huskies will finish second in the league, according to Hockey East Online. Although Flint noted that it is always nice to be recognized, preseason polls don’t carry much weight in his book.

“It’s all about what the polls say in February and where we are in both the standings and in the poll of nationally ranked teams,” Flint said.

The eighth-ranked Huskies open the season at home on Friday night, facing a Clarkson team that opens up the season atop the national poll. It will surely be a test for the Huskies, but they are ready and eager to take on the challenge.

“In the past we’ve relied heavily on one or two lines, but we’ve got such a deep bench this year with three talented lines and a fourth line that can chip in here and there as well,” Flint said. “If that fourth line can be solid defensively that will be huge for us and we’ll be in great shape.”

Leave a Reply