By: Jarett Leonard
With playoff seeding on the line, the Boston University women’s hockey team grabbed two convincing wins over Northeastern and Maine this weekend to earn the third seed in the conference tournament.
The Terriers trounced the Huskies 7-2 on Friday night before shutting down the Black Bears 5-0 on Sunday afternoon. Now, BU will host sixth-seeded New Hampshire in the first round of the Hockey East tournament next weekend at Walter Brown Arena.
On Friday, it was Northeastern who grabbed an early lead in the contest before BU ran away with the victory. Senior Paige Savage scored 4:15 into the game, but the next five goals went to the Terriers as juniors Nina Rodgers and Victoria Bach and seniors Maddie Elia, Mary Parker and Samantha Sutherland all found the back of the net to give BU a 5-1 lead after two periods.
Senior Heather Mottau kept Northeastern’s chances alive with a goal midway through the final frame, but Parker and classmate Natalie Flynn each scored again to seal the win.
By Saturday, BU had clinched a top four seed and home ice advantage in the first round of the tournament, but the third seed was still up for grabs on Sunday afternoon.
“It did have the feel of a playoff game,” BU coach Brian Durocher said. “It was senior day, there was a great crowd here. But we’re also trying to make sure that we’re stamping good performance after good performance. We’ve had the ability to play great for 10 minutes and then not play well for 10 minutes, and we’ve got to be consistent. I think we’re getting there right now, and now we’ve got to take it to the playoffs where you don’t have much room for error.”
Junior Rebecca Leslie opened the scoring when she found a loose puck in the crease halfway through the opening period, and she added to the lead just 25 seconds into the middle period on a one-timer from senior captain Alexis Crossley for a power play goal.
Later in the second, a rebound from a Leslie shot found the stick of Parker in front for an easy tap in, again on the man advantage, that gave BU a 3-0 after two periods.
The Terriers received another early goal in the third when junior Savannah Newton slipped a pass ahead to Bach, who streaked in down the slot and beat Maine freshman goaltender Carly Jackson with a wrist shot. Sutherland capped the scoring for BU after Rodgers drew two defenders and found the senior wide open in the left circle for a third power play goal of the game.
“It was a real good body of work on the power play to get three goals,” Durocher said. “It’s a talented group that I think sometimes tries to do something extra special when it’s ill advised. This weekend they kept it simple, they moved the puck around, they got the other team a little bit fatigued or out of place, and all of a sudden you get goals at the net.”
BU senior goaltender Victoria Hanson stopped 59 of the 61 shots that came her way over the weekend, including a 35 save blanking of Maine on Sunday. The shutout was the second of her career, the other coming earlier this season against Merrimack.
“Personally, it being senior day, it means a lot,” Hanson said. “This program gives so much to us and as seniors we really value this day when we are able to celebrate the program and what they’ve done for us. Putting a shutout on top of it means all the more to me and it felt really great.”
The Terriers are now unbeaten in their last five games, including four consecutive wins, and will hope to ride that momentum into their Hockey East quarterfinal series with New Hampshire next weekend.
“They’re playing well,” Durocher said. “They’re doing a lot of things right, from excellent goaltending to the special teams performing well to multiple people getting points and goals, and when that happens the confidence comes. They’re in a good frame of mind mentally going forward.”