By Mitch Fink
For the third time this season, the Boston University women’s hockey team learned that stopping Northeastern’s top line is no easy task — in fact, it’s probably closer to impossible.
The Huskies’ trio of Chloe Aurard, Maureen Murphy and Alina Müller put on a clinic at Walter Brown Arena Friday night, accounting for four of Northeastern’s tallies in its 5-1 thumping of BU.
The Terriers (11-17-3, 9-13-3 Hockey East) put up a solid effort on senior night against fifth-ranked Northeastern (29-2-1, 23-2-1 HE), but the stronger team prevailed.
“The game was unfortunately still a little bit dictated by that ‘super line,’” BU head coach Brian Durocher said postgame. “There were some good things to take out of the game. I still believe we have to be a little bit more thorough on D, but some of the credit has to go to how fast they can move the puck and collect pucks.”
It was the Terriers, though, who came out flying in the first period. BU stuck with the Huskies, and Clara Yuhn nearly gave the Terriers an advantage at 13:59 of the first period, but the puck rang off the inside of the post and deflected out.
A few minutes later, the Huskies capitalized on the power play to take a 1-0 lead after Alina Müller powered home a rebound.
Northeastern outshot BU, 12-4, in the period to go along with the one-goal lead, but BU hung with the Huskies for the full 20 minutes. All things considered, it was one of the Terriers’ stronger periods this year.
Müller potted her second of the evening to make it 2-0 Huskies five minutes into the second stanza. Murphy, who also assisted on the first Northeastern goal, cleverly slid the puck across the crease, leaving Müller with an easy tap-in.
Then, on her senior night, captain Nadia Mattivi delivered a spark and blasted a rocket past Northeastern goalie Gwyneth Phillips on the power play to cut the Huskies’ lead in half. Maybe the BU Band’s pregame performance of the Italian National Anthem — a nod to Mattivi’s Italian heritage — inspired her.
“I like the fact that it was a power play goal, not just for her but for the whole group,” Durocher said. “That is an area that I think we can get a goal or two, and maybe be a deciding factor as we head toward playoff time.”
But the momentum shift was quickly quelled by the Huskies after Katy Kroll set up Murphy with, once again, a wide open net.
Then, with two seconds to go in the period, Müller netted another for a hat trick after another pretty passing sequence left her with — you guessed it — an open net.
Northeastern continued to pour on the pressure in the final frame. With just 22 seconds to go, senior forward Kate Holmes added the exclamation point with a snipe past Brändli to cement the 5-1 win.
It would be difficult to blame Brändli on any of the Huskies’ goals. Northeastern’s passing in the offensive zone, especially in the second period, was too crisp and too coordinated to stop.
Northeastern outshot BU, 37-18, for the game, and finished with 10 — yes, you read that right — assists. The Huskies tallied the maximum number of assists possible for scoring five goals in a game. That’s just a testament to the team’s chemistry on the ice, which is noticeably stronger than the rest of BU’s Hockey East opponents.
The contest was the final regular season game at Walter Brown for Durocher, whose retirement was announced Wednesday.
BU will host either Merrimack College or Holy Cross in a Hockey East playoff play-in game, and thank goodness for that. Brian Durocher’s last game at Wally B deserves a better ending.
The Boston Hockey Blog will have full coverage of the playoff game so follow along on Instagram @boston.hockey.blog and Twitter @BOShockeyblog.