October 17, 2011

Women's Journal: Pickett, NU fast out of the gate

by Mike Zhe

Northeastern forward Casey Pickett celebrates a goal. (photo: Jim Pierce)

Northeastern coach Dave Flint said on the eve of the season that he felt that his team was the most talented one he’d had in four years as coach.

Four games in, Casey Pickett and her teammates have done nothing to counter that optimism.

Pickett’s pumped in five goals in Northeastern’s first four games, all wins. Only six other players in Division 1 have scored more goals than games played.

She tallied twice in a 2-1 win over Union Friday, and chipped in an assist as the Huskies downed Quinnipiac, 3-1, a day later to improve to 4-0-0. They’re ranked No. 8 in the latest USCHO poll that was released on Monday.

“I think this being my fourth year, we probably have the most talented team, at least on paper,” said Flint, “and we had an exciting finish last year making it to the Hockey East championship game. We’re looking to build off that.”

Of course, talent, in both Boston and Hockey East, is a relative term.

While this Northeastern team, with lots of experience up front and on defense, and an All-Star goalie in Florence Schelling, may be more talented than past editions, it’s too early to crown them queens of a city that includes No. 4 Boston University, No. 5 Boston College and Harvard.

“It’s amazing how competitive our league is,” said Flint. “You look at last year – it came right down to that last weekend – anybody could’ve beaten anybody; Maine was beating the top two teams in the league to get into the playoffs, and I think Vermont had tied BU twice.

“It’s great when you play in a league where anybody can beat anybody on any given night.”

The Huskies don’t face any of the so-called heavyweights until they play a home-and-home series with BC in mid-November. While beating Syracuse, Colgate, Union and Quinnipiac won’t drop too many jaws, the early returns are positive ones.

A nine-player freshman class, led by U.S. national team player Kendall Coyne, has made immediate contributions. Coyne, a forward, is tied with Pickett, a junior tri-captain, for the team scoring lead with 2-4-6 totals.

Game of the Week

BU at Clarkson, Friday

The fourth-ranked Terriers make a trip to the North Country this weekend to take on improved Clarkson and St. Lawrence teams.

Clarkson, which finished sixth in ECAC Hockey last season, is off to a 3-1-2 start that includes a 3-0 blanking of Providence. The Saints, who finished seventh, are 2-0-1. Both teams hovered around .500, both in the league and overall, a year ago.

Around New England

BU freshman forward Kayla Tutino had a hat trick as the Terriers (4-1) beat Union in non-conference play Saturday, 6-2. … Junior defenseman Blake Bolden and sophomore forward Taylor Wasylk each tallied a goal and two assists to help BC take a 5-0 victory over New Hampshire on Saturday at Conte Forum. Corinne Boyle stopped 41 of 42 shots she faced on the weekend, which included a 1-1 tie at UNH Friday, and is now 2-1-1 on the season. … UNH forward Kristine Horn extended her goal-scoring streak to five straight games on Friday. BC freshman Alex Carpenter (Reading, Mass.) has scored goals in three straight games. … Kelly Babstock scored her second goal of the year for Quinnipiac in its 3-1 loss to Northeastern. The Bobcats return to action at BC on Friday. … Yale drops the puck on its season when it hosts Niagara (Friday) and Northeastern (Saturday) this weekend. Brown entertains Sacred Heart in its first game Saturday. Harvard and Dartmouth each take on McGill in exhibition games.

Mike Zhe can be reached at mzhe@hockeyjournal.com.