By: Jarett Leonard
For the fourth consecutive season, the Boston University women’s hockey team will meet Northeastern in the Hockey East semifinal round, with the winner advancing to play either Boston College or Vermont in the title game on Sunday.
BU is eyeing its sixth conference championship while Northeastern is still looking for its first. The Terriers and Huskies have met in six postseason contests and BU is 5-1 overall, including wins in four consecutive seasons.
After Northeastern took both games of a two-game series in November, BU avoided a season sweep with a 7-2 victory two weeks ago. The Huskies jumped out to an early lead on a goal by senior Paige Savage, but the Terriers answered by scoring the next five goals. The win helped BU clinch home-ice advantage in the conference tournament.
The Terriers advanced to the semifinals after a series win over New Hampshire last weekend at Walter Brown Arena. BU fell in the first game 4-2 and trailed by two goals in the second contest before a comeback win to even the series. In the finale, junior Rebecca Leslie notched the series-clinching goal late in the third period to propel BU past UNH.
Northeastern swept Connecticut in the quarterfinal round with a 6-2 win in game one followed by a 3-2 triumph in overtime of game two. Junior Denisa Krizova scored 5:43 into the extra period to lift the Huskies to the semifinals.
BU is led by junior Victoria Bach, who tops Hockey East with 48 points on 22 goals and 26 assists. Graduate student Mary Parker leads the league with 24 goals and is tied for second in total scoring with Denisa Krizova at 44 points.
The goaltending matchup will likely feature BU senior Victoria Hanson and Northeastern sophomore Brittany Bugalski. Hanson has a 2.39 goals against average and .926 save percentage while Bugalski has a 2.02 goals against average, second in Hockey East, and a .926 save percentage.
In the other semifinal contest, Boston College will look to add to its regular season success over Vermont, as the Eagles took all three games from the Catamounts this year. BC grabbed 3-2 (OT) and 3-0 wins in a weekend series at Gutterson Field House in January and completed the season sweep with a 7-1 victory at Conte Forum in February.
The Eagles kept Merrimack off the board in their two-game sweep in the quarterfinal round. Junior goaltender Katie Burt recorded shutouts in both contests, making 20 saves in a 4-0 win in game win before a 28 save performance in BC’s 1-0 game two victory.
Vermont needed three games to eliminate Providence in the first round at Schneider Arena. The Catamounts fell 5-4 in the opening game but rebounded with 5-1 and 5-2 wins to move on.
Senior Andie Anastos leads BC with 37 points sophomore Makenna Newkirk (36) and junior Megan Keller are not far behind. Freshman Delaney Belinskas has a team-high 16 goals. Eve-Audrey Picard has 30 points on 16 goals and 14 assists for the Catamounts.
Burt leads the conference in goals against average at 1.59 and save percentage at .931. Vermont senior goaltender Madison Litchfield is third in the conference in both categories with a 2.03 goals against average and .928 save percentage.
Defending Hockey East champion BC will look for its third overall title this week while Vermont is in search of its first championship. BC and BU have met in three straight title games, and one of those two teams have won the tournament every year since 2009.
In the semifinal round, BC and Vermont will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and BU and Northeastern will follow at 4:30 p.m., both at Walter Brown Arena. The winners will advance to the championship on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.