Women’s Hockey: Elia Leads BU to Providence Sweep

By: Max Wolpoff

Junior Maddie Elia put her eleventh goal of the season on the board 33 seconds into the second period and senior Rebecca Russo followed suit four minutes later to tie the game. Freshman Mary Grace Kelley scored the game winner and sophomore Victoria Bach put her team-leading sixteenth goal on the board as Boston University overcame a two-goal deficit to defeat the Providence Friars, 4-2.

Providence (8-17-1) lost ground in hopes to jump out of the seventh spot in Hockey East, falling to a 4-11-1 (9 points) mark in conference play. BU (22-4-1, 13-4-2 Hockey East) secured four points through the weekend to put them in solid position at third place (28 points).

Blair Parent’s two goals in the first period put BU in an unfamiliar spot against Providence: trailing. For the first time in the season series, the Friars scored not only the first goal of the game, but two goals in total. The previous two games resulted in just one goal.

Sophomore goaltender Erin O’Neil made the start in the second game of the home-and-home set with the Friars. She stopped 27 shots in her last outing at Schneider Arena on the way to her first collegiate shutout before semester break.

Facing 12 shots in the opening frame, O’Neil made enough saves to keep the Terriers in the game. Her defense tightened the screws to allow five shots in the second while the offense put 13 of their own on Friars’ keeper Sarah Bryant, adding to their 16 shots from the first.

The opening two Terrier goals came once again from the most offensive trio in BU’s lineup. Russo chiped the puck behind the net for Rebecca Leslie, who in turn found Elia unprotected in front of Bryant to halve Providence’s lead. Freshman Connor Galway sprung the forwards on a 3-on-1 with her off-the-boards bank pass to Leslie. A quick passing sequence later found Russo for the tying mark.

Bach intercepted a clearing effort and tried to fling the puck back in for a line change past the halfway point of the second. Instead, the puck bounced off a defender’s skate straight to the waiting stick of the younger Kelley sibling. Her top-shelf strike gave the Terriers a lead they would not relinquish. Senior Sarah Lefort connected with a net-crashing Bach to seal the score line at 4-2.

O’Neil defended the net where every goal prior had been scored with 14 third period saves for a game total of 29. After the stellar play of junior Victoria Hanson the last few games, O’Neil’s bounce-back game complicates the goaltending situation as the Women approach the first round of Beanpot. The Terriers are searching for their first program Beanpot since 1981.

Before that, BU must finish off their season series with the Merrimack College Warriors. The Warriors right now sit at dead-last 9th place in Hockey East and are in danger of missing the Hockey East Playoffs, which will be played on their campus at Lalwer Rink. In their previous two matchups, BU outscored their intra-state rivals 9-3.

Puck drop on the series finale is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

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