By: Jarett Leonard
Entering the weekend locked in a three-way tie for fourth place in Hockey East, the Boston University women’s hockey team captured four conference points in its sweep of the University of New Hampshire to jump into third place in the standings.
BU grabbed a 4-3 win in Durham on Friday night before a 5-2 victory the following afternoon at Walter Brown Arena. The top four teams in the conference earn home ice advantage in the first round of the tournament, and with just two games remaining, the Terriers now sit in third and are one point clear of Vermont and Providence.
On Friday, BU jumped out to an early advantage on freshman Abby Cook’s fourth goal of the season, a wrist shot from the right point that banked off the post and in.
UNH would answer in the middle of the first period, though, as junior Amy Schlagel beat Terrier senior net-minder Victoria Hanson from the slot. Junior Julia Fedeski unloaded a slap shot from the blue line that was blocked down before it reached the net, but junior Carlee Toews moved it over to Fedeski for the power play marker.
The Terriers would regain the lead late in the first, however, on an individual effort from junior Rebecca Leslie. She escaped pressure at the BU line then stick handled around Fedeski and ripped a shot past UNH goaltender Hilary Cashin.
But early in the second period, UNH scored two quick goals to steal the lead. Schlagel rushed down the left wing and fed sophomore Marie-Jo Pelletier in front for the tying power play tally just 54 seconds into the period, and under two minutes later, freshman Meghara McManus finished a two-on-one rush by herself to give the Wildcats their first lead of the contest at 3-2.
Again, though, the Terriers answered, and this time for good. Freshman Natasza Tarnowski dug the puck loose and floated an off-speed pitch past Cashin to make it 3-3 in the middle of the second. Later, senior Samantha Sutherland was the beneficiary of an Abby Cook drive that caromed off the end glass to the front of the net for what would be the game winning goal.
In the rematch, BU grabbed a quick lead once again when junior Victoria Bach one-upped her classmate Leslie from the day before as she rushed down the right wing, dodged a number of defenders and picked the short side corner on Cashin.
UNH responded late in the first when Toews slipped a pass across the slot to Schlagel on the left side, who beat Hanson with a wrist shot to tie the score.
But the Terriers came out firing again in the second period, as Leslie gave BU the lead and senior captain Alexis Crossley extended it with what would be the game winner. Junior Nina Rodgers handed the puck off to Leslie in the right corner, and she curled into the circle and fired it past Cashin for the go-ahead goal.
Later, senior Maddie Elia fed the puck up top to Leslie, who deflected it into Crossley’s range for a one-timer that missed a sea of bodies in front and found the back of the net. Pelletier got UNH within one late in the second period after Schlagel’s initial shot was stopped by Hanson but broke through and sat on the line for the easy tap in.
Then late in the third period, Bach sealed the win with yet another highlight reel goal, this time stick-handling around Pelletier and backhanding it past Cashin. Elia added some insurance with an empty netter for the 5-2 victory.
Hanson made 60 saves on the weekend while allowing 5 goals to backstop BU’s sweep. Four of those goals were on the power play, however, as the Terriers surrendered goals on four of UNH’s nine chances on the man advantage.
One weekend remains in the regular season, as BU will finish off its schedule with two home games, starting with Northeastern on Friday night and wrapping up with Maine on Sunday afternoon. Vermont will host Merrimack for two games and Providence has a challenging home-and-home series with Boston College this weekend, and while there are a number of scenarios that could play out, BU can clinch at least a top four seed with a three-point weekend.