February 6, 2014

Women's Journal: NU a win away from Beanpot three-peat

By Arielle Aronson

After endurign a 4-10-1 run, Brittany Esposito and the Huskies have rebounded strongly. (Photo: Northeastern Athletics)

In men’s hockey, Northeastern is not known for its Beanpot success, but in women’s hockey, Northeastern is the premier program in the Beanpot discussion. The Huskies have won 16 of the 34 women’s Beanpots, the most of any school, but it looked like this year might be an off year for them considering their 11-12-2 record at the end of January.

Northeastern has faced its share of adversity this year, as injuries and inconsistent efforts led to a 4-10-1 stretch from mid-October through mid-January. But Northeastern, now winners of six consecutive games and an above-.500 squad for the first time since October, are now playing their best hockey when they need it most.

Northeastern coach Dave Flint said his team’s turnaround dates back to a Jan. 11-12 home-and-home series against BC, as the Eagles was ranked No. 7 in the country at the time. The Huskies earned a tie in the first game and lost, 3-2, in the second game.

“We had 13 skaters and they really rallied around each other and really played hard,” Flint said. “The kids knew, ‘Hey, we can play with the best teams in the country. We just have to play together and give that effort.’”

Northeastern’s six-game win streak started the following weekend, and the Huskies have proven they can win any type of game since, as they bested Maine in an 8-2 blowout and pulled out a close win when they held off a late Harvard rally in a 4-3 Beanpot semifinal victory.

Senior forward Brittany Esposito, who missed the first 11 games of the season due to injury, has been key for the Huskies throughout the streak. She has 12 points (seven goals, five assists) through that span and registered at least one point in every game. Esposito also has two game-winning goals and an assist on another game-winner in the last six games.

But the Huskies’ success does not come down to the emergence of just one player. Rather, Flint said it is the hard-nosed team effort that has helped the team on this heater.

“We’re blue-collar, hard-working, I like to call it meat-and-potatoes,” Flint said. “We don’t have any bona fide superstars, but we do have a group of girls that go out and give their best effort for 60 minutes. We’re blocking shots, we’re making big plays and that’s what it’s about.”

The Huskies’ upcoming Beanpot championship game will call for that hard-worker effort. The Northeastern women, just like the men’s team, will face off against BC, a team that’s riding an 11-game undefeated streak and dismantled Boston University, 4-1, in the semifinal. 

Northeastern enters the game in search of its third consecutive Beanpot.

“The one thing I’ve really tried to do is educate our players that come in on the women’s Beanpot history and that Northeastern has won the most Beanpots, been the most successful and it’s our job to continue that. I think there’s a sense of pride there when the girl’s get ready for the Beanpot. They get pretty fired up because they want to continue that winning tradition.”

Player of the Week

Mary Parker, Harvard

The sophomore forward totaled five points in her last three games (four goals, one assist), and she was clutch in key situations for the Crimson. Parker registered the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win over Princeton, scored the game-tying goal in a 2-2 effort against Quinnipiac found the back of the net twice in Harvard’s 4-3 loss to Northeastern.

Game of the Week

Northeastern vs. Boston College, Beanpot Championship Game, Tuesday at 8 p.m.

In a match-up that mirrors the men’s Beanpot, the Northeastern women will try to win their third consecutive Beanpot championship when they take on BC at Conte Forum.

Power Rankings

  1. Boston College (Overall: 20-4-3, Hockey East: 14-1-1) – The Eagles are riding an 11-game unbeaten streak that dates back to Nov. 29. They need just two more league wins to clinch the Hockey East regular season crown.

  2. Harvard (Overall: 17-3-3, ECAC: 13-2-2) – The Crimson came from behind twice to earn a tie against Quinnipiac, but they could not finish off a comeback in their Beanpot semifinal loss to Northeastern. With Clarkson hot on their heels in the ECAC standings, Harvard will need a better week this week to remain in first place in the league.

  3. Quinnipiac (Overall: 17-4-7, ECAC: 8-3-5) – After a two-week break, the Bobcats returned to action with a win over Dartmouth and a tie against Harvard. Senior forward Kelli Babstock, who ranks sixth in the nation in scoring, snapped a four-game pointless streak with an assist in each game last week.

  4. Northeastern (Overall: 13-12-2, Hockey East: 8-6-2) – It seems no one can stop the Huskies right now, as they beat Vermont and Harvard last week to push their record over the .500 mark for the first time since October.

  5. Boston University (Overall: 18-9-1, Hockey East: 11-5-0) – The Terriers earned back-to-back wins for the first time since December break, but they fell flat in a Beanpot semifinal loss to BC. BU is clinging to second place in the league with only five Hockey East regular season games left on the schedule. 

Twitter: @aharonson28
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