By: Max Wolpoff
BOSTON — With two goals in each period from five different skaters, the Boston University Terriers moved to 17-9-2 (14-4-2 Hockey East) by defeating the Merrimack College Warriors (4-23-1, 2-15-1 Hockey East) with a 6-2 final score from Walter Brown Arena.
Since becoming a Division I program in 2001, BU is 9-2-1 in fixtures prior to the Beanpot Tournament, including six straight after today’s win. Head coach Brian Durocher and his team are looking for the university’s first Women’s Beanpot title since 1981 in their 36th overall appearance.
Regarding Saturday’s contest, the Terriers needed to be careful about Merrimack. The Warriors did come into the game 2-10-1 in their last 13 games since losing two straight to BU, but the last three of those losses came against yet-to-be-defeated Boston College.
Junior Alexis Crossley began the afternoon scoring her fourth goal of the season 61 seconds into the contest on the first shot of the game. Sophomore goaltender Erin O’Neil saw limited action at her end all game due to a strong forecheck that pinned the Warriors deep near their crease. Samantha Ridgewell did enough to keep the Terrier attack at bay.
Then Merrimack struck back. A harmless dump-in attempt trickled under O’Neil’s glove and Annie Boeckers was there to tap in her first of the year, tying the game in the last two minutes of the first.
Senior captain Kayla Tutino made sure the Terriers went into intermission with the lead on the next shift. Linemates Victoria Bach and Sarah Lefort did well enough to keep the puck behind Ridgewell before centering it for their captain, but she whiffed on the initial shot. Lefort poked the puck back to her while Baye Flanagan, thinking it was on her stick, began the charge up ice. Tutino did not miss on her second chance.
“You notice that if only one line is sticking to the basics and sticking to the game plan and another one isn’t then it’s not gonna carry out towards having a good game” Tutino said. “Today was a good example of having playing good together.”
As if on repeat, an early goal from Crossley, this time through five players and then Ridgewell’s pads, began the second period.
“To be totally honest, I couldn’t even see the goalie” Crossley said. “I relied on my teammates to find a rebound, bang a puck in, or hope that it went in. It turned out alright.”
Freshman Sammy Davis continued her scoring resurgence with a one-time snap shot off the pass from Samantha Sutherland. For a while, it looked like everything cilcked into place for the Terriers. Then came the penalties.
Tonight may have been a below-average night with eight PIM — the team average rested at 8.85 per game coming into today– through the whole game, but Paige Sorensen cut Merrimack’s deficit to two on the team’s second power play chance. The Warriors got life in their offense courtesy of their time on the power play.
Lefort and Bach scored one after the other within 25 seconds of each other to chase starter Ridgewell in favor of redshirt-freshman Chaislyn Burgio. Lefort redirected Tutino’s point shot by Ridgewell from going glove side to the blocker side. Lefort then filled the helper role again springing Bach past the defense for her team-leading 17th of the season. Burgio stopped all seven shots she faced in relief.
As time wound down in the third period, coach Durocher opted to pull O’Neil in favor of fellow sophomore Ashlynn Aiello for the final 6:14 of the game. Aiello’s last appearance came November 3rd after BU piled seven goals on the Yale Bulldogs, making four saves in the final 5:22 of that contest. She made two more in this one to keep her 0.00 goals-against average and 1.000 save percentage intact.
“All three periods, I thought we did pretty well, we kind of kept the pedal down the whole game,” BU assistant coach Katie Lachapelle said.
Hardly anything is certain come Tuesday night at Walter Brown. BU last made it to the Finals in 2012; Harvard is a seven-time winner since all four Beanpot schools became D-I programs, including last year. Though BU lost 7-1 against the Huskies last October, the opening round game promises to be different.
“As a team, we’re just looking forward” Tutino said. “The mistakes we made in that game, we acknowledged them. We’re looking to move forward and not make those mistakes again.”