By: Dan Shulman
From the start of the game, it was clear that the Boston University Terriers Women’s Hockey team had some unfinished business. It took BU only four minutes to set the tone on Sunday, and the Terriers were able to finish off the Catamounts, winning by a final score of 6-1.
After the Vermont Catamounts defeated BU at Walter Brown Arena on Saturday for just the second time ever, the Terriers knew they needed to set the tone early on Sunday. Kayla Tutino did just that.
While on the power play, Sarah Lefort unleashed a shot that was saved by UVM goalie Madison Litchfield. The rebound was left laying lonely in the crease and Tutino popped it in to put BU on the board.
“We always feel as a team that when you have a good start, it keeps the positivity and the momentum going for us,” said Tutino. “Today we proved that we could come out strong and we played as a team, kept it simple, and it really works for us.”
The assist was Lefort’s 182nd point of her storied BU career, giving her the program record for points.
“It feels pretty great,” said Lefort. “Obviously, I wouldn’t be here without all my teammates who’ve helped me along the way the past for years. Just being up with those top names is an honor.”
There was no time for any big fanfare as the job was yet to be completed. Maddie Elia scored on a rebound attempt just 58 seconds later to double the advantage and force Vermont to call their timeout.
The Terriers continued to dominate, but Vermont would not go down easily. Erin O’Neil made a few big saves for the Terriers to keep the Catamounts off the board and the Terrier offense was sure to keep their opponents on the defensive.
It was clear after the 20 minutes the Terriers were looking strong, outshooting Vermont 20-5 and leading in shot attempts 36-11. Coach Brian Durocher was extremely happy with the way his team came out in the first period.
“We mixed it up just a little to kind of have a two-person forecheck,” said Durocher. “The kids obviously had the energy and you get rewarded with a couple quick goals.”
Lefort and the Terriers weren’t done after a period. In the second, BU came out flying, and once again, scored twice in the opening five minutes of a period.
Victoria Bach led a 2-on-1 break out and fed a pass to Lefort for an easy one-touch goal past the goaltender.
Then, it was Rebecca Leslie time. The sophomore scored exactly one minute after Lefort to put the Terriers up 4-0. Almost eight minutes later, it was Leslie again from the exact same spot on the ice.
Freshman Mary Grace Kelley, playing in her third straight game on defense, continued to have a solid series. She made excellent use of her stick in the defensive zone and made sharp passes and created scoring opportunities on offense.
Kelley had an assist on Leslie’s second goal and then got into the scoring act herself, unleashing a shot from the top of the faceoff circle that beat Litchfield. The freshman matched her scoring output for the season in the final ten minutes of the second period.
“[The transition to defense] has been a little tough,” said Kelley. “Having the support of my teammates and coaches is helping me at every game.”
The freshman was put on the top defensive pair with senior Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga, who has also helped make the transition to defense much easier for Kelley.
“She’s awesome to play with, she’s so helpful and tends to cover for me so it’s nice.”
The Terrier offense proved to be too much for Litchfield, who was pulled in favor of Molly Depew to start the third period. Almost immediately, BU was on the power play, but despite the merciless stream of shots from the Terriers, Depew stood strong, stopping every shot she faced.
The BU penalty kill saw the ice four times on the afternoon, killing off every one of Vermont’s power plays. The Terrier power play unit looked opportunistic and moved the puck around nicely. BU had five shots on the man-advantage Sunday, most of them quality chances.
“I didn’t think we were quite as organized or assertive on the penalty kill as I would’ve liked,” said Durocher. “Erin [O’Neil] made some good saves and we were bunching up around the net which helped.
“As far as the power play, the last couple we had in the third period we just put different groups out there. In a 6-0 game, you don’t want your big people scoring goals and running up the score so we had other people out there move the puck. They did a nice job and still got good chances.”
Vermont would finally get on the board as Mackenzie MacNeil showed a nice individual effort and sent a shot off Alexis Woloschuk and past O’Neil. That would be all the Catamounts would get as the Terriers took home a 6-1 victory to advance to the Hockey East Semifinals.
Goaltender Erin O’Neil made 32 saves in the winning effort, including eight on the penalty kill.
“I commend Vermont,” said Durocher. “They’re a well-coached team and have a lot of kids that compete very hard.”
The Terriers will take on Northeastern at J. Thom Lawler Arena in North Andover, Massachusetts next Saturday at 4:30 p.m.