Belfast Telegraph

Friendship Series proves a hit as women's college stars light up Belfast

By Adam McKendry

On the replay, it looked like the perfect goal.

Taking the puck into the left circle, Northeastern Huskies winger Kasidy Anderson faked the shot to take Clarkson defender Josiane Pozzebon out of position and then beat netminder Kassidy Sauve five-hole.

It was the crucial third goal in the Huskies' 3-1 win over their opponents on Sunday and settled a tense battle that, up until the third period, could have swung either way.

Except faking the shot wasn't quite how it really panned out.

"That was a whiff!" Anderson, a senior, laughs about the 'faked' shot afterwards. "We'll say it was on purpose though!"

Not that you think she'll mind. With three goals across the weekend's doubleheader with the Golden Knights and a win and a tie to take back to the States, Anderson was on fire for the Huskies.

Indeed, Northeastern's top line as a whole were firing pretty nicely, the trio of Anderson, Alina Mueller and Chloe Aurard looking cool and composed on the ice across the two games.

It was they that spearheaded a comeback in the opening tie of the two-game set at the SSE Arena, which finished in a 3-3 draw after overtime, and it was Anderson (2) and Mueller who scored all three goals on Sunday.

"Having such a great team behind you makes it easier to play well, and my line-mates make it so simple to play hockey," says 21-year-old Anderson.

"I personally like the bigger ice and I think as a team we suit the bigger ice because we can use our speed against other teams, we can execute things against other teams and be calm with the puck."

All in all it makes for a very successful trip away for the #3 Huskies, who head home history-makers as one of the first two women's college sides to play outside of North America and three points better off in the standings too.

While the now annual Friendship Four has become a roaring success for college hockey, there were always going to be nerves over the first year of the Friendship Series, but it has certainly proved a massive hit after the weekend.

With the games free for fans and hosted ahead of the Belfast Giants' doubleheader with the Sheffield Steelers, the fans came out in their droves to watch, with thousands in attendance on both days.

Off the ice it was an experience too, the girls taking in the sights and culture of Northern Ireland, visiting places such as the north coast, the Titanic Museum and the Peace Wall in Belfast.

"The experience here and the bonding has been unbelievable and we couldn't have asked for a better trip," summed up Anderson.

"Right now we don't realise how much of an impact we have on all these people who have come out to support us, but we're really thankful and grateful for them.

"We're just playing a sport we love, so to be able to inspire people is amazing and an awesome feeling."

It was a sentiment echoed by Anderson's head coach, Dave Flint, who admitted that getting the victory in Sunday's decider would make the long trip back to the States a lot easier to make.

"Coming away with the win makes the trip a whole lot sweeter!" laughed the Northeastern head coach.

"I thought the trip as a whole was amazing, the people of Belfast have been so welcoming and so kind, and all the different things we got to explore.

"The crowd was amazing, back home we don't get crowds like that - we get 400 if we're lucky - so to get the chance to play in front of that many people in this arena is an incredible experience."

Clarkson too can return with their heads held high after the part they played in the two games, with winger Loren Gabel one of the stand-out performers of the weekend.

The Golden Knights, defending back-to-back NCAA champions, were well in Sunday's game too and it could have easily swung their way perhaps had Elizabeth Giguere scored instead of hitting the post at the end of the first period.

"It's been a great experience for us and, although we didn't win, it was two great games of hockey for the fans," added Clarkson head coach Matt Desrosiers.

 

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