By: Max Wolpoff
BOSTON — Pessimists saw Yale celebrate a goal only 40 seconds in and believed the game was over. Optimists waited until the referees reversed the call after further review determined a distinct kicking motion. The call deflated the Bulldogs, and saw the Terriers win the dog fight, winning in commanding fashion, 7-1.
At 13:44 of the first, Sarah Steele skated down the right side and fired the puck at the goal. It hit the post and bounced in to give the Terriers a lead they would not relinquish, improving to 6-4-0 (4-1-0 Hockey East) and dropping Yale to 1-3-0 (1-1-0 ECAC).
“We were shooting it over the net probably a little too much the last couple games” assistant coach Katie Lachapelle said. But when Erin O’Neil, in her words, has “been seeing the puck well, our D have been blocking a ton of shots out in front of the net,” all the offense has to do is produce. Tonight, they did.
Maddie Elia got her first of three when Rebecca Russo sent a pass toward Rebecca Leslie, but her stick was tied up by two Yale defenders. That left Elia wide open to slap the puck top-shelf for a two goal lead.
Halfway through the second period, Jamie Haddad got the lone tally for Yale after the Terriers killed their thrid penalty in as many tries. O’Neil wasn’t able to see this one as Yale’s power play put two attackers at the top of the crease to clean up any rebound chances. Haddad buried her chance to halve BU’s lead.
Late in the period, Dakota Woodworth won an offensive zone draw. Yale controlled it, but could not clear. After a few blocked shots, Jordan Juron got the pass from Samantha Sutherland and roofed her shot to restore the two goal lead.
55 seconds later, on the penalty kill again, Russo stepped up in the play to take away a pass. That created a two-on-one rush the other way with Leslie. Russo saucered it over the defender’s outstretched stick, and Leslie went top-shelf for the short-handed tally.
After the second period, Hanna Mandl was yanked by Yale head coach Joakim Flygh. She allowed four goals on 20 shots. Backup goaltender Rachelle Graham, however, did not fare any better, allowing three goals on 12 shots in the third period.
Five minutes into the third, the second line was pressuring again. Elia skated about 15 feet away from the net and shot it from just above the goal line at Graham’s skate. The puck bounced in and Elia had her second of the night. Just over two minutes later, she connected with Leslie in the zone, who stick handled around two Yale defenders before backhanding in her second of night and fourth on the season.
Less than a minute later, Elia gathered the rebound from Russo’s shot, skated back to the slot untouched, and shot a no-doubter into the back of the net for the hat trick.
“Me and Rebecca and other Rebecca are playing really well together. I’m thankful to be playing with them; they really set me up on all three of my goals” Elia said. The second line combined for 14 of BU’s 20 points with four assists for Russo, Elia’s hat trick, and Leslie’s two goals and three assists.
Toward the end of the game, head coach Brian Durocher opted to pull O’Neil and put in Ashlyn Aiello, the sophomore from Belmont, MA who played all of last season with the club team, leading them to the championship. She stopped all four shots she faced in her first varsity appearance. “She always works really hard in practice so it’s great to reward that” O’Neil said.
With this win, BU moves on to play #2 Boston College on Saturday at home and next Tuesday on the road.
“That’s always been a game that’s been off in the future and it’s very, very exciting that it’s now. BC’s a very, very good hockey team but I think that we’re ready for it” O’Neil said.