After storming through the Hockey East Tournament last year and capturing the championship, Northeastern might’ve been due for some regression this season. The Huskies lost their top two scorers to graduation, who combined for more than 23% of the team’s total points.
Instead, they’ve vaulted to the top-three in the national rankings and remained there for most of this season. That’s partly credited to breakout campaigns from defenders like Brooke Hobson and Skylar Fontaine, and excellent performances in net from goaltender Aerin Frankel. But the Huskies’ offense hasn’t missed a beat, either, aided largely by the play of two standout rookies, and the impact of their leading returning scorer, senior Kasidy Anderson.
The trio of Anderson and newcomers Alina Müller and Chloé Aurard has combined to create one of the most dangerous lines in college hockey this season. And while the production from Müller and Aurard has been critical to replacing what Northeastern lost during the offseason, Anderson’s rise as a dominant primary scorer can’t be understated, either.
“I think at the end of last year, with the amount of players that we lost, we were looking to her to be a leader this year offensively for us and she stepped into that role well,” Northeastern head coach Dave Flint said of Anderson. “Even last year, she had a big role for us. This year it’s been even bigger.”
On paper, it may have looked like a daunting task for Northeastern to replace two 30-point scorers in McKenna Brand and Denisa Křížová this season, and somehow improve on a 19-17-3 record in the process. But Anderson and her teammates didn’t find their situation any more overwhelming than anyone else’s around the country.
“Every team has to make changes,” she said. “Every team’s going to lose players that are key to their success the previous season and so I think it’s just the teams that can adapt better and fill in those places.”
Northeastern has done more than just that. Last season, Brand and Křížová were the only two Huskies to rank in the top 15 in the conference in points per game. This year, the Huskies have three players in the top 10: Müller, who ranks second; Aurard, who ranks ninth; and Anderson, who ranks 10th.
Playing on Müller’s wing, with Aurard on the other side, Anderson packs plenty of punch on a line that’s already oozing with speed and skill. Listed at 5’10”, she is the quintessential power forward with a big shot to match.
“Strength and speed, I think, are key components to me, too,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of times where I try to make a move and Coach Flint reminds me, ‘You’re a power forward, just turn up the speed and lower your shoulder and go right around them.’ I don’t have to try and go through them.”
Their line is driving the best offense in Hockey East and the fifth-best in the country, with 3.55 goals per game.
“I think what I enjoy the most is how easy they make the game for me,” Anderson said about playing with her linemates. “Getting later in the season, we obviously know each other’s habits and we know what our skillsets are and how we complement each other. Alina and Chloé both bring a good amount of speed, and Alina’s a really powerful skater. I bring the size and the strength to that line so they know when I have the puck I’m mostly likely going to shoot it, and they know when they have the puck they’ll see me in front of the net.”
And while the two rookies bring an energy to the game that Anderson says is contagious, her experience and guidance is a welcome influence, too.
“She’s really helped them adapt to the college game quickly and instantly made them feel part of the team,” Flint said. “That’s a big thing for freshmen, if they can step in and feel comfortable, especially in a bigger role as Chloé and Alina have been put into. I think Kasidy makes them comfortable in that role and definitely gives them a lot of confidence.”
Anderson is a native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and has an extensive athletic background. Along with ice hockey, she played lacrosse in high school and was an accomplished field hockey player as well. She plans to join Northeastern’s field hockey team next season after her eligibility for ice hockey wraps up.
The Huskies have been a competitive team throughout her career, but in the past year they’ve evolved from a fourth seed in Hockey East that won the tournament as an underdog into a national contender with championship expectations. As an alternate captain, Anderson has helped foster a sense of togetherness for the team this year, which is what’s helped the Huskies progress.
“I think it started my freshman year, having Kendall Coyne here to show what it takes to be a top team and how to lead a team and what unity does for a team,” she said. “I think that was a big goal for the captains and the seniors this year, to make our team one unit.”
That’s helping the Huskies in one aspect of their play that’s been most impressive: an exceptional ability to turn the tide and get back into games. Northeastern is seemingly never out of it, and the team has shown that on multiple occasions this year against top competition. Trailing 2-0 against Clarkson, for instance, the Huskies scored three goals in 35 seconds to completely turn the game around and take a 3-2 lead, eventually earning a 3-3 tie. Against Vermont three weeks ago, Northeastern got a tying goal late in the third to erase a 1-0 deficit and won in overtime. Even in a 7-5 loss against Boston College, the Huskies mounted a serious comeback attempt, pulling within one goal twice in the third period after falling down by three goals in the second.
“I think there’s a natural feeling that goes through all of us in games,” Anderson said. “It’s easier for teams to get down and get against each other and all that, but I think as a team we never question ourselves and question the outcome of the game. We truly believe that we’re the better team and we know what we have to do to beat the other team, and it’s just a matter of doing it.”
And instead of getting frustrated when they find themselves trailing, the Huskies turn their focus to what they’re doing well, and what they need to do to get the job done.
“I think when we sit down in the locker room and we’re reflecting on the period that we just played or the shift that we just had, we really, truly believe what we say; ‘Let’s do it for each other, let’s go out there, we have this,'” Anderson said. “It’s not that we’re playing bad, and it’s not that we’re not doing certain things. It’s usually that the puck’s not falling for us and it’s not going in the net, but we’re getting opportunities. I think we take those as a positive instead of a negative, and we see that we’re getting opportunities and the easy change is just putting the puck away and burying it and scoring those goals.”