By: Jarett Leonard
Trailing by two goals deep into the second period of Saturday’s Hockey East quarterfinal game, it looked as though the Boston University women’s hockey team’s season was about to come to an abrupt end.
But junior Rebecca Leslie scored late in the second period of game two to spark a comeback win, and the following day, she netted the game-winning goal in the third period to send BU to the semifinals.
The win marked the 250th of BU coach Brian Durocher’s 12-year career, all of which he has spent behind the Terrier bench.
“From the kids who started when we began and probably surprised people winning as many games as we did the first year, to the great players that have come through the past 12 years,” Durocher credited for his success since BU became a varsity program. “There’s no better example than the fight and the compete that we had today.”
After UNH grabbed a 4-2 win in game one of the best of three series, the Wildcats jumped out to a 3-1 advantage in the second game before the Terriers got a fortunate bounce to go their way.
Leslie rushed down the middle and had her initial shot stopped by UNH sophomore goaltender Hilary Cashin, but she got to the rebound and flipped it out front where it deflected off the stick of sophomore Jenna Rheault and into her own net. The power play goal came with only 1:33 remaining in the second and got the Terriers within one.
Then in the third period, BU scored twice in a three-minute span to take the lead. Senior Alexis Crossley beat Cashin to the five hole from the high slot to even the score before classmate Samantha Sutherland picked a corner on a shorthanded rush for the eventual game winner by a 4-3 final.
In Sunday’s game three, sophomore Marie-Jo Pelletier gave UNH an early lead just 17 seconds into the game, but BU quickly reversed the deficit. Sutherland took a feed from junior Nina Rodgers and put shot up and over Cashin from a short angle for a power play goal that tied the score. Just thirty seconds after, Leslie put the puck toward the net from the right wing boards, where it was bobbled by Cashin and crossed the line to give BU the lead.
“You need a couple good bounces, a little bit of luck, and we got that,” Durocher said. “It’s more about the composure and not trying to do too much.”
UNH coach Hilary Witt decided then to pull Cashin in favor of sophomore Kyra Smith, and she kept the Terriers at bay for the remainder of the first and the entire second period while the Wildcats tied the score. Pelletier took a shot from the right point that slipped through Terrier senior Victoria Hanson and in.
“When they made it 2-2, I was thinking we would be able to get our offense going and rally,” Durocher said, “but with a little bit of self destruction in that second period, penalty after penalty and maybe not the best decisions, we just wasted 20 minutes and probably are lucky to get out of there 2-2.”
But BU did rally in the third when it went on the power play. Graduate student Mary Parker fed the puck in front, where senior Maddie Elia was jamming away. Eventually, it broke free for Leslie, who was positioned perfectly for what turned out to be the series-clinching goal.
“I think it was a long time coming,” Leslie said. “We worked really hard this series and it didn’t go our way the first game. I think we worked really hard in the second game and the third game and it was about time our power play was successful.”
BU was successful on three of its nine power plays throughout the series and killed off 13 of 15 penalties while adding a shorthanded goal. Hanson turned away 60 shots, including all 12 that she faced in the final period, and allowed nine goals over the three games.
Sutherland recorded a goal in all three games while Crossley and Elia, who now has a 10 game point streak, each grabbed a point in each game.
With the series win, BU advances to the Hockey East semifinal for the 10th consecutive season and will face Northeastern for the third straight year in a one-game round on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Walter Brown Arena. Boston College and Vermont will play in the first semifinal at 1:30 p.m. the same day, and the winners will meet in the championship game the following day at 1:30 p.m.