It was a night better suited for huskies than cats of any kind.
But in a bucolic winter setting -- with equally idyllic outdoor-hockey conditions of 20 degrees and a steady light snow in Fenway Park, the site of the NHL Winter Classic a week before -- New Hampshire's Wildcats scored four times in the third period to beat Northeastern 5-3 Friday night at Fenway Park in the first half of the "Frozen Fenway" doubleheader.
It was the first women's college game ever played outdoors. Boston University beat Boston College 3-2 in the second game, played on the same rink that hosted the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins
and Philadelphia Flyers
a week earlier.
Micaela Long, native, scored the tying goal with 11:02 left in regulation, and Kristina Lavoie scored twice in the final 5:30 to win it for the Wildcats, who improved to 13-2-4 overall and 7-1-1-0 in Hockey East. Northeastern fell to 12-5-2 and 6-4-2-1 after losing to the Wildcats for the 26th consecutive time.
The Wildcats outshot Northeastern 14-5 in the third period, playing a much more aggressive game than in the first 40 minutes.
The Huskies grabbed command of the game early on, scoring twice in the first 3:41.
Brittany Esposito blasted a one-timer off a feed from Annie Hogan at 1:29 for the first goal scored in an outdoor women’s game. Less than a minute and a half later, Casey Pickett made it 2-0 by picking the pocket of a UNH defenseman and curling around to beat Lindsey Minton to the far side.
"We got out to a fast start," said Linda Lundrigan, interim co-coach with Lauren McAulliffe, while coach Dave Flint joins the U.S. National Team as assistant. "That definitely played to our advantage. I think we played a little afraid to lose when we started the [third] period."
The Wildcats got back in the game just 18 seconds later when Shannon Sisk put the visitors on Fenway’s old fashioned scoreboard. Sarah Cuthbert lost her stick, but used her skate to kick the puck out to the slot, where Sisk zipped it home.
Northeastern regained a two-goal lead 7:28 into the second period when Esposito scored her second of the game, again off a pass from Hogan. A few minutes earlier, goalie Florence Schelling made the saves of the game when Allen snuck out of the penalty box behind the defense and came in alone. Schelling stopped Allen’s first attempt with her leg, then blocked the second with her glove, and stopped a third try with a leg save.
"I thought we were a little tight," said Brian McCloskey, UNH coach since the program began eight years back, about the slow start. "The ice was bumpy and we were jumpy."
But the Wildcats took complete command in the third period. Allen fired home the rebound of Kristine Horn’s shot 90 seconds into the period. At 11:02, Long jumped on another rebound to tie the game at 3-3. Lavoie put the Wildcats ahead to stay at 14:30 by redirecting Long's shot/pass around the sprawling Schelling.
"I’m speechless," the freshman said about her niche in history -- scoring the game-winner in the first outdoors game. "Micaela was going around the net. I was going to the net hard, and luckily it went on my stick and just went in."
Lavoie hit the empty net for the final margin.
"We shortened the bench," McCloskey said of his third-period strategy. "I think we just did a better job of getting the puck in the zone. It was tough for both teams to get out [of their zone] because the ice was slow and it is tough to make clean passes."
"When we were down, 3-1," said Long, "we took a step back and were like, ‘OK, we’re at Fenway, but we still have to win these two points. We really have to come out and play in the third.’"
The loss left the Huskies disappointed and puzzled.
"I don't know what happened in the third," Esposito said of his team's third-period collapse. "We may have gotten a little ahead of ourselves. It was a tough game, they're a really good team. Next time around when we play them, I'm really excited to get out there and get them back for this."