Northeastern favored to repeat as Hockey East women’s champion – Boston Herald

Coming off a dramatic overtime win last March in the Hockey East women’s championship, Northeastern has been picked by league coaches to repeat this season.

The Huskies, who also made their third NCAA appearance in four years, opened the season last Friday with a 5-0 victory at Union. Sophomore superstar Alina Mueller had a goal and three assists, and junior Aerin Frankel notched her 10th career shutout. NU is deep and talented with the likes of junior defenseman Skylar Fontaine and forwards Matti Hartman (senior), Veronika Pettey (junior) and Chloe Aurard (sophomore).

Reigning Beanpot champion Boston University, which returns 17 skaters, came on strong in the second half of last season and coach Brian Durocher said his club played “tough hockey”. BU’s top duo is senior captain and ‘Pot MVP Sammy Davis (25-27-52) of Pembroke and junior Jesse Compher (17-44-61). BU gets solid defense from senior Abby Cook and redshirt senior Abbey Stanley. Junior goalie Corinne Schroeder posted a lofty .933 save percentage last season. Davis scored both goals and Schroeder made 22 saves in the season-opening 2-1 win at Union.

After falling to Northeastern in the Hockey East final, perennial contender Boston College was picked to finish third but lost a slew of Olympic veterans. Defensemen Megan Keller and Kali Flanagan of Burlington graduated, while top scorers Daryl Watts and Caitrin Lonergan of Roslindale transferred to Wisconsin and Clarkson, respectively. Despite those losses, BC might be more cohesive. Senior captain Lindsay Agnew set career highs in assists (11), goals (15) and points (26) last year, and is helped by senior captain Erin Connolly (40 career points, 10 game-winning goals) of South Boston. Sophomore Maddie McArthur was the HE Rookie of the Week after defeating Merrimack twice to begin the season. Redshirt senior Cayla Barnes spearheads the defense with senior Kate Annese of Needham. A pair of youngsters to watch are freshmen forwards Caroline DiFiore of Medfield, and sophomore Savannah Norcross of Lynn.

No. 4 pick Providence would love to make it back to this year’s to HE Championship weekend being hosted by Merrimack this season. Junior forward Maureen Murphy was terrific last season with 22 goals and 21 assists while playing all 37 games. A player to watch is sophomore defenseman Sara Hjalmarsson (11 goals, 12 assists) from Sweden

No. 5 New Hampshire and coach Hilary Witt welcomed back goalie Ava Boutilier after the sophomore missed all of last season with injury. Boutilier didn’t display any rust in her first game, stopping all 14 shots she faced in a win over Franklin Pierce. Look for Taylor Wenczkowski, who led the squad with 20 goals and 26 points last season, to provide the firepower. Senior Meghara McManus (12-8-20) of Milton adds support. Wenczkowski, McManus and senior Carlee Turner all had three points against the Ravens.

No. 6 Connecticut, which faced Division 1 newcomer Long Island University to open the season, has one of the league’s top offensive threats in junior Natalie Snodgrass. The Minnesotan led the Huskies for a second straight year last season with 15 goals and 29 points, including four multiple-goal efforts.

No. 7 Merrimack might be the most dangerous club come playoff time. Despite graduating standouts Katelyn Rae and goaltender Samantha Ridgewell, coach Erin Hamlen has built a solid group. Senior forward Mikyla Grant-Mentis (13-22-35) and junior Meghan Ferguson (10-11-21) can bury pucks while senior Lea-Kristine Demers posted a .920 save percentage in limited duty. During a two-game set with BC, Demers turned aside 59 of 63 shots. Look for sophomore defenseman Julia MacLean of Medfield to take a big step.

No. 8 Maine, which features players from six European countries plus Canada, will rely on the talents of senior Tereza Vanisova, a former HE co-Rookie of the Year who led the Black Bears with 17 goals. Sophomore Celine Tedenby (team-high 26 points) of Sweden and senior Vendula Pribylova of the Czech Republic, who had a five-point game against Sacred Heart last year, provide support.

No. 9 Vermont has the latest member of hockey’s Granato family ready to make a mark. Senior Allie Granato is the niece of Wisconsin men’s coach Tony Granato. Her aunt Cammi, a member of the U.S. Hockey and Providence College Hall of Fame(s), recently was named a pro scout for the new NHL entry in Seattle. Senior forward Ali O’Leary of Reading is a former Herald Dream Teamer and instills veteran leadership.

Longtime coach Peter Van Buskirk retired and hands the coaching reins of No. 10 Holy Cross to Katie LaChapelle, an ex-Providence star who previously worked for Durocher at BU. Senior Rachel Moore of Falmouth will lead the offense for the Crusaders while sophomore Emma Lange led the club with 69 blocked shots a year ago. Junior Julia Pelletier and sophomore Jada Brenon will share the goaltending.



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