The second game of the Friendship series was another high-tempo affair. Unlike the first game, it didn’t have the drama of two successive comebacks. Unlike the first game, it did produce a decisive result. Like the first game, it featured three different spellings of the name “Kassidy”. Read on for all your goalage!
NORTHEASTERN DISALLOWED GOAL: Clarkson 0 - Northeastern 0, 6:42, First period
Clarkson goalie Kassidy Sauvé does well to avert disaster 6:42 into the first period. The very dangerous Chloé Aurard tries to get the puck through a scrum to the also very dangerous Alina Mueller. However, it takes a dangerous turn off the skate of Cassidy Vinkle and is almost in the net before Sauvé is able to corral it. Since the far side of Sauvé’s glove is over the line, Northeastern starts celebrating just in case, but the goal is waved off promptly.
Northeastern probably thought they’d missed that chance, but literally zero seconds later...
NORTHEASTERN GOAL (Kasidy Anderson / Assist Alina Mueller): Clarkson 0 - Northeastern 1, 6:46, First period
Mueller wins the faceoff to Kasidy Anderson on her far wing. Anderson shows great lateral movement first to get the puck in the first place and second to get to the high slot, where she fires a shot past two Clarkson defenders and Sauvé. No doubt about that one. Curiously, two of the other three goals scored this game are also middle-distance shots from grabbing a loose puck.
CLARKSON GOAL (Loren Gabel / Assist Josiane Pozzebon): Clarkson 1 - Northeastern 1, 14:50, First period
Nine minutes later, Josiane Pozzebon springs the puck loose on the boards and Loren Gabel picks it up with speed. The primary Northeastern defender on her can’t decide whether to commit to covering the pass or the direct shot on goal, and when she drifts down into Northeastern goalie Aerin Frankel’s sightline, Gabel immediately takes her chance. As with Elizabeth Giguere’s goal yesterday, it may have slightly deflected off the defender, but there’s enough sauce on it to get it comfortably past Frankel.
The game then settled down to a high-intensity back and forth where both teams got roughly equal numbers of shots on net, and stayed tied until Northeastern made a decisive move coming up to halfway through the third period.
NORTHEASTERN GOAL (Alina Mueller / Assists Skylar Fontaine, Brooke Hobson): Clarkson 1 - Northeastern 2, 7:19, Third period
Another beautiful possession goal from Northeastern, reminiscent of their first goal yesterday. Mueller sends the puck to Brooke Hobson and on to Skylar Fontaine around the outside of a square, while she skates to the center of that square holding up her stick with a big sign off it saying “PASS PUCK HERE FOR SLAP SHOT”. Fontaine makes the pass and Mueller times the shot perfectly. There’s a bit of “Let’s all watch the puck carrier” going on from Clarkson here, but Northeastern do a great job of exploiting the opportunity when it comes.
NORTHEASTERN GOAL (Kasidy Anderson / Assist Chloe Aurard): Clarkson 1 - Northeastern 3, 15:53, Third period
And eight and a bit minutes later, it’s as good as over. Aurard frees the puck just inside the neutral zone. Anderson grabs it and accelerates. Clarkson’s defenders are showing greater awareness on this goal than on the previous one, but the defender who’s on Anderson has eyes only for her, so when Anderson fakes a pass to the completely unavailable Aurard that defender is tricked into slowing down for a fatal second and giving Anderson the chance to flick the puck past her.
That was basically it. Clarkson were trying to pull their goalie but managed to take a penalty with 1:22 to go; they were able to get Sauvé out of the net with 37 seconds left anyway, and had one last flutter around the Northeastern net in literally the last seconds of the game, but Northeastern looked solid throughout.
This win puts Northeastern in the driver’s seat for home ice in the NCAA tournament quarter finals. They’re solidly in third in the Pairwise Rankings which are used for seeding and tournament qualification, with a big gap between them and Ohio State in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) measure which has historically been a big determinant of the overall Pairwise position. They’re also a clear third in the KRACH ratings which provide a more scientific measure of a team’s standing. (A couple of cautionary notes: (a) the links in this paragraph are to the current ratings at the time you follow them, so they may change over time; (b) St. Anselm are in third in both rankings but that’s due to their strange isolated schedule; they won’t be in the tournament so any team below them can be shifted up one spot).
Northeastern’s remaining schedule isn’t easy. They have five games in total against Merrimack and Providence, who have both had elite goaltending this year. They have a Beanpot game against BU, who have two explosive players in Jesse Compher and Sammy Davis. And they have two games next weekend against BC, which looked like a big deal at the start of the season. Nevertheless, they’re in great shape to have home ice in the NCAA tournament for the first time in their history.
Clarkson, meanwhile, have an easy January but a tough February, including two surprisingly momentous games against Princeton three weeks apart and a game each against Cornell and Colgate in between. Realistically, Clarkson needs to win all those games and probably the ECAC championship to have home ice at this point. Losing more than half of those games could leave Clarkson out of home ice, and potentially even leave them needing to win the ECAC championship to have a chance of defending their national crown.
What about the Friendship Series itself? This year’s event was clearly a massive success. The crowds were down on Sunday from Saturday’s 2500-plus, but still significant, and the players were delighted with the experience. If the event does continue, future players who get to come to Northern Ireland will hopefully give stick taps in their heads to the Clarkson and Northeastern teams who pioneered it all.