By: Max Wolpoff
With family and friends watching, with supporters hoping, and with the seniors leaving, the Boston University Terriers finished their home schedule with a 3-2 victory over cross-town rival Northeastern.
BU improves to 20-11-2 with a 17-4-2 mark in Hockey East while dropping the Huskies to 25-7-1 and 19-4-0 in the conference. With the win, the Terriers control their own destiny in tomorrow’s rematch. Should the Terriers beat Northeastern at Matthews Arena, they will leapfrog the Huskies for Second in the Hockey East Playoffs.
The script looked familiar, but the actors reversed roles. Instead of Northeastern taking away time and space from BU as they looked to get something started on offense, BU made life difficult for the Huskies. For stretches of play, no Husky could enter the zone or fire a threatening shot toward Erin O’Neil.
“This one ends in my book. We can take a little positive momentum that we beat them now, but we’re still gonna have to bring the energy, the smarts, and the conviction tomorrow” head coach Brian Durocher said. “Or else the momentum goes out the window fast.”
Coach Durocher put out an all-senior starting lineup with Dakota Woodworth centering Sarah Lefort and Kayla Tutino as Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga and Alexis Woloschuck stood on defense. Rebecca Russo and Jordan Juron waited their turn on the bench; fellow senior Diana Bennet was a healthy scratch.
The first and second periods featured four minor penalties each. On the first BU trip to the kill, Northeastern fired six shots toward O’Neil. As for the four-skater unit, after winning a faceoff late in the power play, Woodworth fielded Juron’s pass and slid the puck underneath Brittany Bugalski’s pads. The goal was BU’s eighth shorthanded goal of the year and the first one allowed by Northeastern all season. Ribeirinha-Braga also got an assist for springing Juron out of the zone.
In the middle frame, the Huskies would strike back to tie the game. As Kendall Coyne, a leading consideration for the Patty Kazmier Award as the best Women’s college hockey player, moved out from behind O’Neil’s net, she released a quick shot on the net instead of passing. The puck slipped between O’Neil and the post for Coyne’s 42nd goal this season.
Coyne led the Huskies with 18 of the team’s 50 total shots on goal. Denisa Krizova and Hayley Scamurra were the next closest at six.
After the rush initially stalled in the later stages of the frame, Woloschuck poked the puck free in a board battle for Victoria Bach. Bach made it across the ice to draw Bugalski out of position as she committed to defending her shot. Bugalski did not see Juron crashing through the slot, but Bach found her for the easy tap-in goal to regain the lead into the intermission.
“She got robbed in the last game and today she caught a couple beautiful one-timers” Durocher said. He went on to praise Juron for taking advantage of having a regular shift on the third line and the power play, occupying the space of the injured Samatha Sutherland.
Out for the final frame of regulation, Boston University continued to apply pressure on every Husky who possessed the puck trying to generate turnovers.
Early on in the frame, Bach and Tutino worked in concert to move the puck out of the zone after an O’Neil save. Tutino got bumped off the puck in the offensive zone, but Bach collected the loose puck and swooped past two defenders before deposting her 20th of the season past Bugalski. It is the second year in a row that Bach has reached the 20-goal plateau. O’Neil’s save got her credited with an assist.
Over a minute with the goalie pulled only provided one goal for the visitors and it came with eight seconds left. Halle Silva’s shot got deflected up into the air and, with O’Neil out challenging her shot, Krizova snuck in behind the defense to bat the puck in out of mid-air.
Erin O’Neil played maybe the game of the season. She turned aside 48 shots on goal while also getting on the scoresheet with an assist on the game winning goal by Bach.
“I think tonight was a night where Erin got in a groove tracking pucks, catching them, and not having rebounds” Durocher said. He was reluctant to say that she will be the starter going forward, but at the same time acknowledged that “we have to let somebody be the person.”
Of the seven seniors in the lineup, only Lefort and Russo ended the game without a point. “They wanted to go out in a grand way; to have the stars line up and have them get points, it’s great for all” Durocher said.”
These teams will play once again tomorrow afternoon from Matthews Arena, where the Huskies will honor their three seniors in the final regualr season home game. Puck drop is set for 2:00 p.m.