Women’s Hockey: Erin O’Neil Earns Second Career Shutout in Game 1 Victory

By: Max Wolpoff

The Boston University Terriers opened the defense of their Hockey East crown, held for four consecutive years, with a 3-0 victory over the Vermont Catamounts in Round One of the playoffs. BU can advance to the next round, held at Merrimack College, with a win tomorrow afternoon.

Early third period goals from Sammy Davis and Kayla Tutino put the game out of reach for the visitors. Rebecca Leslie, Rebecca Russo, Savannah Newton, Dakota Woodworth, Alexis Woloschuck, and Victoria Bach factored in on assists.

The Terriers lineup was shorthanded to start with Connor Galway sitting out due to a concussion. Fellow freshman Mary Grace Kelley slotted in for Galway in a pairing with Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga. She finished the game with two shots on goal, six attempts, and an even rating.

“I know she’s had some experience in high school [Dexter Southfield], but never played at this level on the back end”¬†assistant coach Allison Coomey said. “She looked like a veteran today; it was good to see.”

Junior goaltender Madison Litchfield started for UVM and stayed aggressive in net, coming as far out as the hash marks to contest shots from outside. Ribeirinha-Braga tipped home Rebecca Leslie’s back-door pass past the out-of-position Litchfield to start the scoring in the final minute of the first period.

“She’s a smaller goalie, so you have to move her” assistant coach Coomey said. Litchfield stands at 5’4″, the same height as or taller than seven Terriers. Coach Coomey mentioned smaller goalies need to be moved laterally to be beaten because they attack outside the crease more frequently.

The majority of chances at each goaltender came from beyond the faceoff circles, very low-percentage scoring areas. BU had more shots in front of Litchfield, comparatively, than UVM shot in front of Erin O’Neil.

“She was able to see a lot of shots” assistant coach Coomey said.

Both Davis and Tutino scored from their stomach’s on rebounds in front of the net on shots from defenders beyond the circles. Litchfield could not get in position fast enough to stop the second chance.

With a power play and under seven minutes remaining, Vermont head coach Jim Plumer opted to pull Litchfield for a better chance. The Terriers remained strong, only allowing two shots while a skater short. Litchfield subbed on during play in the last five seconds of the advantage, a rarity at any level of hockey.

BU sent three attempts at the empty net wide; Bach had the best chance on a breakaway, but Victoria Andreakos slashed the stick out of her hands in the neutral zone to prevent the shot. She went to the box for a penalty, and BU ran out the clock to take game one of this best-of-three series.

These teams will rematch in the afternoon at Walter Brown Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Author: Max Wolpoff

Journalism student at Boston University ('19), lifelong fan of the Washington Capitals. Current broadcaster for the Boston Blades of the CWHL. If you ever need him during the week, Max is probably studying for something.

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