CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The Boston University women’s ice hockey team (6-4) played spoiler for the Boston College Eagles (13-4) on their Senior Day in Conte Forum, as the Terriers stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to win the latest installment of the Battle of Commonwealth Avenue 3-2.
Senior co-captain Jesse Compher tallied three points (2g, 1a) on the day, including the go-ahead game-winner with 40 seconds left in the contest. Junior forward Mackenna Parker scored the other goal for BU, while freshman forward Catherine Foulem added two assists. BC forward Sarah Norcross led the Eagles’ scoring with one goal and one assist.
In the crease, junior goaltender Kate Stuart made 27 saves on 29 shots faced, while BC’s Abigail Levy made 24 saves on 27 shots.
“I gotta tip the cap to our team today. I thought our defensemen grew up, the young kids in particular,” BU head coach Brian Durocher said, “Proud of the way the kids fought back, and I think learn some lessons today about what they can do, and you know, how to be resilient out there.”
The Eagles pressured Stuart and the Terrier defense early. BU had a hard time clearing the defensive zone, but BC didn’t create too many dangerous chances despite outshooting the Terriers 6-1 to open the game. The Terriers were able to counter occasionally, including a strong shot from sophomore defenseman Grace Parker that was gloved by Levy 7:33 into the game.
Besides the handful of Terrier chances, the Eagles did a good job poke checking in their own end, snuffing out Terrier possessions before they could even start.
With the score still locked at 0-0, Norcross broke ahead on a turnover, streaking past sophomore defenseman Nadia Mattivi, who had just hopped on for her shift. With no one else back for BU, Norcross attempted to finish the breakaway attempt, dragging the puck to her right to try and wrap it around a sprawling Stuart, but the BU netminder stretched her pad just enough to stonewall the attempt.
Even after the terrific save, BC was able to maintain offensive possession and cycled the puck for close to 30 seconds, tiring the Terriers out. BC forward Kelly Browne took the puck from the right, cycled into point position and beat Stuart on her glove side, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead with 7:13 left in the period.
The ensuing plays saw sloppy defense on BU’s part, able to get their sticks on BC pucks but not doing enough to derail the rush, leading to more BC chances.
Compher had a solid chance of tying the game with 48 seconds left, finding space down the left side of the offensive zone and firing high on Levy, who utilized a quick snap of the glove to maintain the lead.
On the other end, BC came rolling back, where forward Hannah Bilka’s open look challenged Stuart to a tough save. The puck rebounded right in front of the net, and with no Terriers getting their stick down to make the clearance, BC was able to swoop in as Stuart was scrambling to locate the puck. After Stuart withstood two BC chances on the doorstep, Norcross took a couple whacks amid the scrum to slide the puck into the net with just two seconds left in the period.
After 20 minutes, BC held a 2-0 lead with an 11-3 shots on goal advantage.
“The first period was not how we want the game to go against this team,” Durocher said, “We really just didn’t execute the catching, the passing and moving the feet when we had the puck, and it just snowballed.”
The second period opened with more of the same, with the BC attack knifing through the offensive zone to get pucks on net. A Cayla Barnes interference call just three minutes into the period gave the Terriers a chance to establish offensive momentum on the first power play attempt of the game for either team.
After winning the opening faceoff, the Terriers made strong passes in open lanes. 44 seconds into the penalty, Compher found open space on the right side, and unfurled a shot that slid between Levy’s glove arm and midsection to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 16:18 left in the second period.
“With her [Compher’s] linemates doing a good job and allowing Jesse to get to a lot of loose pucks or a little indirect passes, that’s when her skating, her puck skills, her puck retention take over, and all of a sudden, you know, she’s putting a hell of a lot of pressure on the other team’s D,” Durocher said.
BC responded with an aggressive forecheck, as junior defenseman Alex Allan was trapped behind the net by three Eagles, forcing the turnover to Bilka in front of net. To save the prime scoring chance, freshman defenseman Julia Shaunessy shoved Bilka, preventing a shot but also putting the Eagles on the power play with a body checking penalty.
The Terriers were able to kill off the penalty, and they were finding more success entering the offensive zone. Possession moved back and forth until a controversial body checking call on Allan put the Eagles back on the power play with 8:26 left in the period. After multiple close chances, the Terriers held on to kill their 24th consecutive penalty and keep the score 2-1.
BU got a second power play chance with 4:28 left in the period when BC defenseman Maddie Crowley-Cahill was assessed a cross checking penalty. The Eagles killed off the penalty, and the sides traded shots down the stretch as the score remained 2-1 entering the final frame.
The Terriers opened the third period with a strong forechecking game, flipping the game script on its head by harassing the Eagles in their own zone. Compher recovered a loose puck behind the Eagles net 2:59 into the period, feeding Parker closing in through center. Parker fired the puck on impact to beat Levy and tie the game 2-2.
“The biggest adjustment we made was making sure that we’re not playing sort of a 2-1-2 system where two people are bombing down on the forecheck when BC was getting control of the puck,” Durocher said, “In the third, we probably had the better advantages, controlled the puck more. We seemed to be quick.”
Both sides traded chances, and the Terriers nearly went ahead 3-2 with 13:23 remaining on a two-on-one breakaway headed by co-captain Nara Elia, who centered the puck to Shaunessy. The freshman beat Levy, but Barnes had trickled behind her netminder and stopped the puck right before it crossed the goal line. After a quick review, Barnes’ point blank clearance stood to keep the score tied 2-2.
As time slipped into the latter half of the third period, BU was exhibiting more energy than their Battle of Comm. Ave counterparts. With 7:09 left, Crowley-Cahill laid a rough hit on Parker that sent the BU forward into the boards to draw a roughing penalty.
Less than a minute later, Browne found the puck and pushed on a short-handed break, when Allan’s defensive swipe was called for hooking to end the power play and set up four-on-four play.
“Sometimes I think even officials will anticipate something happen,” Durocher said of the call, “I didn’t see their kid go down, didn’t really lose her balance, but you know, it’s a tough job, not signing up for it.” Durocher also praised the quality of Hockey East officials and said he’s happy they haven’t influenced the outcome to any game this year in his eyes.
Both penalties expired without any change in the score. Play ebbed back and forth in the final minutes, as BU established possession with less than 60 seconds left, and a Foulem shot thrown on net wasn’t secured by Levy. A scrum ensued at the BC goal around the loose puck, and Compher poked her stick on the puck to put BU on top 3-2 with just 40 seconds left.
A last gasp possession for the Eagles slipped away to seal the 3-2 comeback victory for the Terriers.
“I think they took a big step forward today, and now they’ve just gotta bounce back, bring it tomorrow and, you know, bring it into the playoffs,” Durocher said.
Tomorrow’s Senior Day puck drop against BC is at 4 pm in Walter Brown Arena. Make sure to follow our coverage.