BOSTON — After a 43-day layoff, the Boston University women’s ice hockey team (2-2) returned to action at home against the University of Maine Black Bears (4-6), winning 1-0 thanks to a second period goal from senior co-captain Nara Elia.
It was a goaltender’s battle between two of the best in Hockey East. BU’s Corinne Schroeder saved all 20 shots she faced in the shutout victory, while Maine’s Loryn Porter faced 29 shots on goal, saving all but one. Junior forward Kaleigh Donnelly and freshman blue liner Andi Calderone notched assists on Elia’s goal.
Even with the extended time off, the Terriers came in short-handed with two top scorers — senior forward Jesse Compher and sophomore forward Julia Nearis — unavailable. With sophomore forward Haylee Blinkhorn and freshman defenseman Madison Cardaci also out of the lineup, the Terriers could only skate 11 forwards and six defensemen, including junior forward Emma Wuthrich coming back from offseason surgery.
“We wanted to be careful with them,” BU coach Brian Durocher said, “I think it was up to the kids to not get caught with long shifts, particularly when you’re buzzing in the offensive zone.”
Durocher stated the four players are out due to “medical protocols” following the recent COVID-19 stoppage, but did state Compher will be quickest to return, even going as far to say she possibly would have been in the lineup if it were a playoff situation.
“Give the kids a lot of credit. They managed it well, and you know my coaching staff, I think, did a good job with them,” Durocher said when discussing how the team dealt with all the absences.
Tonight marked the first meeting between these two sides since they met in last year’s Hockey East quarterfinals, where the Black Bears upset the Terriers with a 2-0 sweep in a best-of-three series. With BU eager to get back on the ice again, the Terriers dominated early offensive control, generating a 7-2 shots advantage through the first six minutes.
Maine was able to work up some chances in their offensive zone after BU opened with momentum, but Maine forward Liga Miljone was called for boarding with 8:40 left in the period, giving the Terriers the first power play of the game. The Black Bears’ league-best penalty kill did their job, surviving five Terrier shots on goal.
The Terriers spent the rest of the period generating pressure with several strong offensive possessions, as Maine had a hard time clearing the puck, but nothing came of it as the period ended scoreless.
The second period opened with two successive penalties on both sides leading to nearly two minutes of four-on-four play, in which the Terriers continued their dominant possession from the first period.
Shortly after the penalties expired, Elia was able to work her way to the doorstep, where she backhanded the puck through Porter’s five-hole to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead just 3:12 into the second period. It marked the BU co-captain’s first point of the season.
“I saw that there was an opening lane to the net, and I think we kinda had trouble getting the puck to the net, so that’s all I was trying to do, I guess, and luckily it went in,” Elia said.
Maine responded to the goal with urgency, but Schroeder was able to fend off the pressure to maintain the lead. The two sides continued to exchange scoring chances, until just under three minutes to go when Maine’s Miljone went down hard after a hit from BU forward Kristina Schuler, resulting in a tripping penalty against the Terriers. Miljone was helped off the ice after getting looked at by trainers.
The Black Bears moved the puck well, but ultimately didn’t have any threatening chances as the power play slipped by, but after 30 seconds the Terriers went back on the penalty kill as sophomore defenseman Grace Parker was called for interference. Maine would have entered the third period with 1:33 left in the power play, but Maine defenseman Kennedy Little committed a holding penalty with just nine seconds left in the period.
The third period began with four-on-four play, the Terriers still leading 1-0. Both penalties expired with no further damage just under two minutes into the period. Maine applied an aggressive forecheck once play returned to five-on-five, looking to swing the momentum back in their favor.
BU managed to fend off a handful of close chances, but Maine continued to dominate puck possession in the early stages of the third. The Terriers started to respond again, bringing defensemen into the rush to generate counter attacks, but Porter continued to keep pucks out.
The final minutes trickled down with BU continuing their possession dominance from earlier, but shortly after Maine pulled Porter to bring out the extra skater, BU’s Mackenna Parker was called for cross checking to give Maine a six-on-four advantage for the final 1:28 in regulation.
The Terrier penalty kill hunkered down and helped Schroeder secure the shutout, improving the team’s record to 2-2-0 on the season as Maine dipped down to 4-5-1.
“As always, Maine was super resilient the back part of the game, creating chances that forced Corinne [Schroeder] to not only make some big saves, but she had to handle the puck quite a bit late in the game, and I think that made life a little bit easier for our defense,” Durocher said.
The Terriers will attempt to get above .500 when the two sides meet again tomorrow in Walter Brown Arena at 3 pm.