The Women’s Hockey Commissioners Association confirmed this week what Hockey East forwards have been saying all season: The conference’s goaltending is among the best in the nation.
Seven of the league’s goaltenders made the watch list for the 2023 national women’s goalie of the year, and for good reason. Statistically, six of the nation’s top 20 goaltenders come from Hockey East.
It’s not surprising that one of the favorites for the honor, which will be awarded during Frozen Four weekend in Duluth, Minn., in March, is Northeastern’s Gwyneth Philips. Ranked second in the nation in save percentage (.957) and goals against-average (.870), the senior has twice been named Hockey East goaltender of the month and was the Hockey Commissioners Association goaltender of the month for September and October. (A case could be made that Philips is tops in both statistics, as the lone goaltender above her, Quinnipiac’s Catie Boudiette, has played 479 minutes to Philips’s 1310.)
For those worried upon the graduation of former Northeastern goaltender Aerin Frankel, Philips has settled that concern. Huskies coach Dave Flint, a former goalie himself, boasted about Philips’s abilities for years and was surprised she stuck around Huntington Avenue.
“A lot of goalies might not have stayed,” Flint said. “She could have been a starter for most teams in the NCAA.”
Frankel won the HCA’s goalie of the year award the first two years of its existence, and Philips is in line to continue the Huskies’ hold on the honor.
Boston College’s Abigail Levy is also on the watch list, and her play has been a major part of the Eagles’ seven game win streak. The graduate student has a save percentage of .945, fourth in the country, and has made 35 or more saves six times. Levy is also one of the nation’s leaders in career wins with 48.
Andrea Brandli, a transfer from Ohio State end add, also made the watch list. Despite the Terriers’ recent struggles, she is in the top 25 in save percentage and goals-against average.
Harvard showing promise
It has been a tough season for defending ECAC Hockey regular-season champion Harvard. While a down year for the Crimson (4-10-3) is usually a good year for any other team, they have run into a deep ECAC Hockey lineup, with multiple teams nationally ranked and dynamic scorers dotting rosters on even the bottom teams.
Harvard is averaging 1.5 goals per game. Its play against Quinnipiac at Frozen Fenway had its bright spots, however, showing that an uptick in goals could be just around the corner. Senior Anne Bloomer has developed into a smart and quick two-way player, improving on her already impressive play last season. At times on Friday, she took matters into her own hands, chasing a Bobcats forward out of the Harvard zone, then forcing a turnover and setting up a shot opportunity.
Another highlight of late has been junior Shannon Hollands. The Ontario native has a goal and two assists in the last four games, after having just one assist in the previous six. Hollands’ breakaway goal in the 3-1 loss to Quinnipiac at Fenway Parkshowed her speed and physicality, and she hopes there are more tallies to come.
“We need to get some more goals in the second half of our season,” said Hollands. “I’m focusing on bringing more pucks to the net.”
US Under-18 local ties
The United States received a bye into Saturday’s semifinals at the U-18 Women’s World Championship after winning preliminary-round games against Sweden (6-3) and Finland (8-1) before losing to Canada, 3-1, on Wednesday. The team is led by Holy Cross coach Katie Lachapelle. Her assistants include North Reading’s Lindsay Berman, an assistant coach at Northeastern, and Dartmouth coach Liz Keady Norton, originally from Braintree.
Several US and Canadian players taking part in the tournament are slated to play their college hockey in the Boston area. Northeastern leads the way with three commits playing in the tournament, which is not surprising given its recent success. Canada’s Morgan Jackson and Team USA’s Allie Lalonde and Peyton Compton are committed to the Huskies. Boston College boasts two commits, including Tewksbury’s Samantha Taber (who MIAA hockey followers may remember), and Molly Jordan. Continuing the long line of Canadian talent to BU, Alex Law is slated to make her way to Commonwealth Avenue.
Lucia DiGirolamo, a Woburn native skating for Selects Academy in Rochester, N.Y., is also playing for Team USA. She committed to Princeton last summer.
Alternate jerseys on display
BU and BC debuted new alternate jerseys this past weekend.
The Terriers’ Frozen Fenway jersey marked the first time the program had an alternate jersey in its 18 seasons. The design is based on the jersey that coach Brian Durocher wore as a goaltender for BU’s men’s team from 1974-1978, with a vintage Terrier face on the front. However, some design concessions were made for the current day, with a BU representative saying the shoulders were based on how the NHL has done its throwbacks.
While hosting Maine for a weekend series, the Eagles showed off a gold jersey with “Eagles” in a vintage script across the front in the college’s trademark maroon. It did not mark a special occasion, but rather a design choice made by the team’s equipment manager.
Kat Cornetta can be reached at email@example.com.