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women's college hockey notebook

Transfer students helped Northeastern women’s hockey right the ship quickly

Maureen Murphy leads Northeastern in scoring with a 12-12—24 line.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Northeastern women’s hockey is on a 15-game undefeated streak, but this season hasn’t gone as smoothly as that statistic would make it appear.

The Huskies (16-2-1) played much of the first month of the season without star center Alina Mueller, and dropped consecutive games in early October to Boston University and Providence. It was far different hockey than what last year’s national runner-up and defending four-time Hockey East champion was used to.

“Early on, we were very inconsistent,” said coach Dave Flint. “I think we’ve gotten a lot better with our consistency and I think we’ve gotten a lot better in our own end defensively.”

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Part of the improvement has been driven by two transfers, Maureen Murphy and Maddie Mills.

Murphy, a transfer from Providence in the 2020 offseason, was ineligible to play until more than halfway through last season. So far this season, she has 12 goals and 12 assists.

Mills came to Huntington Avenue this season after four years at Cornell, where she was one of the Big Red’s most prolific power-play scorers, and has 14 points this season.

Dave Flint and the Huskies have won 16 of 19 to start the season.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Murphy and Mills were teammates of Huskies superstar goaltender Aerin Frankel at the renowned Shattuck St. Mary’s hockey program.

“I knew [Mills] was a good player, but she’s really, really stepped up and scored big goals for us,” said Flint. “She’s just a really, really smart player. And Maureen Murphy has been playing really well. She’s our leading scorer right now. When Alina was out, she really stepped up and carried the load for us.”

In addition to the newcomers, key pieces from Northeastern’s 22-2-1 team last year continue to roll thanks to several exercising an extra year of eligibility. Reigning Patty Kazmaier Award winner Frankel continues to be one of the best goalies in women’s hockey, with five shutouts and a .962 save percentage. Skylar Fontaine continues to dish out assists, with 18, and is part of an improved defense that has allowed only eight goals in the last eight games. Despite missing games, seniors Mueller and Chloe Aurard have kept up their scoring pace from past years.

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Flint and his team were scheduled to be at the World University Games this month, but the event’s cancellation will keep Northeastern without a game until after the new year. The break will allow the Huskies to get healthier and prepare for a winter in which their eyes will be set on a Beanpot title, a fifth Hockey East title, and another national title run.

“Those are all things that are within our grasp, and we have the team to do it,” said Flint. “It’s not an easy task, but one that I feel confident that our group can achieve.”

Mass. talent

In New York’s Southern Tier, Division 3 Elmira (10-1) has solidified itself as one of the best teams in the country, with a lot of help from three Massachusetts standouts.

Two of the top scorers are North Attleborough’s Morgan Mordini and Abington’s Emma Crocker. They share the New England Hockey Conference scoring lead with 14 points. Mordini has been held off the scoresheet only four times this season. Crocker has seven goals, notching two goals and two assists this past weekend against Castleton and Plymouth State.

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In net, a freshman out of Hingham, Leonie-Louise Kuehberger, has been one of the league’s biggest surprises. Against then-top-ranked Plattsburgh State two weeks ago, she made 44 saves in a 4-3 victory. Kuehberger’s .959 save percentage leads the league.

Currently ranked third in the nation, Elmira has solidified itself as a D3 stalwart, capturing four straight United Collegiate Hockey Conference titles before leaving for the NEHC in the offseason.

With a perfect league record so far, Mordini and her teammates seek to keep that success going.

“Hockey-wise, we rely very crucially on our systems and always treat every opponent with respect, especially in our new league,” said Mordini. “Obviously, for any collegiate hockey athlete, your main goal is to win a national championship and taking pride in the steps leading up to that. For us, there is no game or practice that is any more or less important than the next.”