Kendall Coyne tallied two goals, Casey Pickett had three assists, and Brittany Esposito netted in a third straight game as No. 7 Northeastern (14-4-1, 8-2-1 Hockey East) rolled over Clarkson, 5-2, today at Matthews Arena.
Four different Huskies found the net over a nine-minute stretch during the second period. Sophomore Claire Santostefano and junior Rachel Llanes had the other Husky goals, and freshman Chloe Desjardins - standing in for senior Florence Schelling, who is with the Swiss National Team - earned her second win in as many starts.
Chances were few and far between amidst the vacillating pace of the opening ten minutes, but Clarkson appeared to have gained an edge when freshman Lucie Povova went off for slashing at 9:22. Coyne, however, had other ideas: playing at the top of the Northeastern penalty kill, the freshman blocked a long-range effort from Clarkson's Taylor Gedig, and the puck ricocheted out towards center ice. From a standing start, Coyne beat Gedig to the puck and walked in alone on net, snapping one past Erica Horne's left pad to give Northeastern the early lead at 10:45.
Northeastern also registered another successful penalty kill for its effort; the Huskies' kill now ranks fifth in the nation at 89.3% (67/75). It was Clarkson's only power play of the game.
If the Huskies' slim 11-8 shots advantage entering the second period belied the control they had over the game's tempo, the second period certainly did them right. After freshman Chelsey Goldberg drew a bodychecking minor on Clarkson's Hailey Wood, Esposito doubled the Huskies' lead against the nation's number one penalty kill. Freshman Ann Doherty took control behind the Northeastern net and found Pickett, who chipped it along to Esposito streak through the neutral zone. Esposito deked to her backhand side past Jennifer Shields and rifled a backhand past Howe low and to her right. The goal is Esposito's third in three games and extended a four-game point streak for Northeastern's third leading scorer.
Five minutes later, an avalanche of goals would put the game out of sight for the Huskies. At 12:59 of the second period, graduate tri-captain Dani Rylan chipped the puck along the half-boards for Pickett, who gained space along the left wing and dribbled deep in on Howe's net. Rather than shooting for her 12th goal of the season, the junior tri-captain dished to Santostefano, who had an easy tap-in for her second goal of the year.
The rout was on less than two minutes when sophomore Maggie Brennolt found Llanes unmarked in the high slot, and the San Jose, Calif. native sent a wristed rocket past Howe and into the top left corner to make it 4-0. It is a two-game point streak for Llanes, who had been scoreless in six straight before assisting Povova's goal against Boston University on Dec. 7.
Clarkson finally pulled one back just 28 seconds later when Amanda Lucky and Jenna Baribeau combined to set up Carly Mercer, who ended Desjardins' shutout bid from point blank range.
Meanwhile, Llanes' goal had ushered in backup Clarkson goaltender Emily Horn, and though the Huskies registered only one shot on goal over the last 5:22 of the second period, Coyne made it count. Forty-one seconds after Mercer's goal, sophomore Maggie DiMasi knocked the puck out of NU's defensive zone where Pickett was waiting along the right side boards. Her cross-ice pass found Coyne perfectly in stride, and the Palos Heights, Ill. native cruised in unmolested and buried her second of the game, and 16th of the season to make it 5-1.
For Coyne, who also has 12 assists and 28 points, the goals only add to her lead in the Hockey East points standings. What is different, however, is the nature of her competition for the crown. Pickett, who notched her second three-assist game of the season, vaulting her into the outright team lead in helpers, has now passed Boston University's Jenn Wakefield to move into second place in points among Hockey East players with 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists). The Wilmington, Mass. native now has her second six-game point streak of the season. Llanes, Povova and Esposito are the other Huskies to have tallied three assists in a game this season.
The Golden Knights' elite penalty kill finally did stand up in the third period after Coyne drew two penalties to no avail. Coyne was tripped by Danielle Skirrow and Daniella Matteucci in the final frame's first ten minutes, but the Huskies could generate few full chances to lengthen the lead. The latter penalty, which sent Matteucci to the box at 7:25, negated Coyne's chances at a possible hat trick after some sharp combination play from DiMasi and junior Kelly Wallace had played her in on goal.
Clarkson managed a second consolation marker with just 1:36 to play. A scrum behind Desjardins' net sent the puck spiraling high into the air, and as it was about to land in the slot, Juana Baribeau whacked it out of the air past the freshman netminder to set the final score at 5-2. The play was reviewed for a possible high stick on Baribeau's volley, but the goal stood.
Desjardins made 22 saves on the afternoon and went largely untested outside of the two goals. She has appeared in two of the Huskies' 19 games this season; Schelling has started and finished the remaining 17.
Northeastern will be back at it tomorrow afternoon, taking on the St. Lawrence Saints in another 3 p.m. affair at Matthews Arena.