By: Akshai Wadhwani December 2, 2017
BOSTON PROPER — Two goals conceded early in the third period felled the Boston University women’s ice hockey team on Saturday afternoon, as they dropped the second of two games to No. 2 Boston College at Walter Brown Arena by a score of 4-2.
A power-play strike by the Eagles’ Makenna Newkirk four and a half minutes into the frame, followed shortly thereafter by an insurance goal from Serena Sommerfield, secured a 4-2 win for the visitors. The result came after the two teams battled to a 2-2 tie in Chestnut Hill on Friday. The loss moves BU to 6-8-3 overall, with a 3-6-3 record in Hockey East. BC stays in top shape with a 13-1-3 overall record, and remains undefeated in Hockey East at 7-0-3.
The Eagles started the game very much on the front foot, remaining in control for the entire first period. The Terriers, however — despite having their goal peppered with 18 shots — were the ones who found net first, late in the stanza. Streaking down the right flank in a three-on-one, senior winger Rebecca Leslie launched a close-range shot over the outstretched glove of BC goaltender Katie Burt into the top left corner. BU thus took the lead, albeit against the run of play.
After spending the vast majority of the opening frame defending in their own half, the Terriers began pushing back on offense in the second period, and notched an even 4-4 shot count in the first five minutes. However, they saw a sharp setback to their efforts soon after, as BC’s Daryl Watts gathered the puck from Maegan Beres, before skating across the goal zone and firing the Eagles level with a left-handed shot into the top-right corner.
Although they continued to hold their own at both ends of the ice, BU was dealt an additional blow late in the second period. Watts was once more the goalscorer, this time getting the decisive touch in a mad scramble in front of the Terrier goal. The Eagle forward’s shot was deflected over BU netminder Erin O’Neil’s head and trickled across the line, awarding the visitors the lead with five minutes remaining the period.
Not to be put down, the Terriers responded two minutes later with an equalizer. Leslie grabbed herself a brace with a fantastic long-range shot, which lasered through numerous bodies before rippling the BC net.
Tensions rose between the two teams throughout the second period, with skirmishes occurring in the aftermath of numerous game stoppages. Boiling point was reached with 20 seconds remaining, as BU’s Savannah Newton and BC’s Watts engaged in a brief altercation after a trap save by Burt that resulted in both players being slapped with penalties. Luckily, that was as far out of hand as the game got; the scoreline heading into the second intermission remained 2-2.
Unfortunately, BU was unable to gain the upper hand in the final frame, with Newkirk and Sommerfield’s strikes giving the Eagles a permanent two-goal lead. The Terriers, despite throwing six skaters onto the ice on two different occasions, were stifled by a rigid BC defense; following the Eagles’ fourth goal, the hosts saw ten shots blocked and another ten saved by Burt. In the end, BU was held to a frustrating 4-2 defeat.
The Terriers’ O’Neil was tacked with one of the most undeserved losses of her career. The veteran goaltender totaled 35 saves — with 18 in the first period alone — and produced a number of incredible stops.
“She played fantastic. She made five, six, seven real grade-A stops — and at real important times in the game,” Head Coach Brian Durocher said. “She gave us a chance to win.”
Outshot 18-4 in the opening frame, the Terriers did manage to pull the final count to a less egregious margin of 39-26. However, they fell short in another area where Durocher mentioned he wanted to see improvement: penalties.
Terrier players served a total of 14 minutes in the sin bin off of seven penalties, allowing two power-play goals, in Saturday’s loss. Having asserted he would like to see his players spending less time in the penalty box after Friday’s game, Durocher appeared dissatisfied with Saturday’s infractions.
“I don’t think I’d give us a high grade,” Durocher said. “We have to keep our composure. There were a couple penalties there that we could have avoided taking, but we didn’t, and we paid for it.”
Of the game overall, Durocher commented on the high level of competitiveness between the two squads.
“There was great emotion, there was great intensity, there was great compete,” Durocher said. “But we didn’t quite close the deal here.”
Next Up: The Terriers will begin almost a month’s worth of road fixtures with a Thursday evening matchup against Yale. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. in Connecticut.