BOSTON — Northeastern University women’s hockey coach Dave Flint knows the Huskies have a bright red target on their back entering the 2022-23 campaign. After all, that’s what happens when a program wins five straight Hockey East titles and makes two consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division I Frozen Four.
Other coaches and players around the league know it, too. It’s why Boston University head coach Brian Durocher knew he wasn’t telling any trade secrets when referring to the Huskies as a “juggernaut.” It’s a talk Flint has had with his Northeastern group, making sure the Huskies understand they’re going to get every team’s best effort every time they step on the ice.
“I say to the team all the time: We have a target on our back. When a team beats us, it’s like they won a championship,” Flint said during Hockey East media day at TD Garden on Tuesday. “I think back to when I first started at Northeastern, we could sneak up on teams, surprise some teams. Now I think it’s kind of turned a little bit and sometimes teams sneak up on us, and it’s happened the last few years. That’s one thing we can’t let happen if we want to be our best.”
Northeastern was at its best last season. The Huskies (31-5-2 overall, 21-3-2 in conference) posted the program’s second-ever 30-win campaign before being eliminated in the NCAA Tournament semifinals.
Northeastern forward Alina Mueller, a two-time Hockey East scoring champion, is of the belief the group will be able to fend off opposing teams given not long ago the Huskies were those doing the hunting.
“I think the advantage is our class has been part of the transition to be the hunted team. When I came in, yeah, we weren’t where we’re at now,” Mueller, a graduate student and NCAA All-Tournament selection, said at media day. “So it’s always remembering where we came from and how much work you put it in to be where you’re at now. Just feel humbled and happy where we’re at now.”
Northeastern, to no surprise, ranks first in the Hockey East preseason women’s coaches’ poll. They sit atop a list including Vermont, Boston College, Providence and Boston University inside the top five. Flint, however, isn’t taking anything for granted given the continued development by others in the Hockey East and the fact the Huskies came up short in two straight trips to the NCAA semifinals.
“To be so close two years in a row and fall just short of that, it’s been really tough,” Flint said. “So every year is a new year, new players and new challenges. It’s never easy. So we always approach it, we don’t look at what we’ve accomplished in the past. Our approach has always been we take one game at a time, we focus on our league games and if we get to the NCAA Tournament then that’s a new season for us to try and build from there.”
Northeastern will open its season on Sept. 30 with two-game weekend series against LIU held at Matthews Arena.