By Gillian McMahon and Belle Fraser
The Boston University women’s hockey team (4-8-0, 3-7-0 Hockey East) headed to Burlington this weekend for an away-series against the University of Vermont Catamounts (8-5-1, 6-3-1 HE).
In Friday’s matinee matchup, the Catamounts hung on for a 2-1 victory over the Terriers despite a last chance effort to even the score.
Vermont brought the pressure right from puck drop, getting in the way of the Terrier rush throughout much of the first period.
The start to the game was an evenly fought defensive battle, though the Catamounts had more successful shots on goal. The Terriers’ first official shot on goal didn’t come until the 14- minute mark, a troubling sign for a team struggling to score.
The matchup was a true battle of terrific veteran goaltenders. On the BU side, it seems that graduate goaltender Andrea Brändli has finally earned the starting spot. She had 31 saves on 33 shots. For the Catamounts, junior netminder Jessie McPherson saved 16 of the 17 shots that came her way.
The Terrier defensive effort looks committed to playing in front of Brändli, sliding to block shots, giving up their bodies, and breaking up Catamount plays in the neutral zone.
The Terriers had a total of 30 penalty minutes on the afternoon compared to Vermont’s 12, which has been a major hurdle the team has faced all season long.
The first penalty kill was successful as they were able to clear the puck past center ice multiple times and not let Vermont set up following a tripping call on freshman forward Clara Yuhn. As time was expiring though, junior forward Catherine Foulem was called for a 10-minute misconduct penalty for flipping the puck back at the referee after a tripping penalty was called on senior forward Brooke Esroy.
These kinds of mistakes, especially plays like tripping and cross-checking, are both avoidable and very costly against experienced teams like Vermont who know how to capitalize on opportunities on the man-advantage.
Goaltending from Brändli kept the game even at 0-0 in the first period, stopping all 10 shots she faced.
At the start of the second period, the Terriers had four straight minutes on the power play but the overall execution was a little off. The Terriers started to get a couple of shots off from junior defenseman Julia Shaunessy, junior forward Lacey Martin, senior defensemen Nadia Mattivi, and junior defenseman Tamara Giaquinto who looked to make plays and set their teammates up for success.
The Catamounts opened the scoring on the power play after an Ersoy hooking penalty. Junior forward Natálie Mlynková found the back of the net, after weaving her way all alone in front of Brändli. The play was assisted by senior forward Lily Humphrey.
A minute later, the Terriers responded. Freshman forward Sydney Healy had a power play goal following a rebound right in front of the net. The play looked like it might have been a case of goaltender interference as Healy fell on McPherson, but the play was ruled a good goal.
Once again, in the third period, the opportunistic Catamounts took advantage of the Terriers’ mistakes. After a roughing call on Shaunessy, a second of chaos in the crease was all Mlynková needed for her second goal of the afternoon.
The Terriers had quite a few chances in the third to even things up, including a final minute of six-on-four action, but it was not enough to tie up the score as BU dropped their seventh game of the last eight competitions.
BU was back at it on Saturday for another 2:00pm puck drop at Gutterson Fieldhouse, winning their redemption game 4-3 in overtime with the help of Lacey Martin.
Sophomore goaltender Callie Shanahan was between the pipes for the first time since the Oct. 28 loss against Merrimack and garnered her first win of the season in her team’s gutty performance.
Once again, the Catamounts got on the board first, this time with a goal from graduate student forward Theresa Schafzahl. The shot came from the left faceoff dot and bounced through some bodies in front before hitting the back of the net at 8:28 for a 1-0 lead.
The scarlet and white didn’t let this deflate them though, as they capitalized on two power play opportunities to take the lead by the end of the opening frame. An interference penalty on freshman defenseman Krista Parkkonen led to senior forward Julia Nearis’ fifth goal and tenth point of the year from down-low at 16:28.
Seconds after returning to full-strength, the Catamounts were sent back to the sin-bin for a cross-checking call on freshman forward Lara Beecher. Martin –– who has been a consistent chance-creator for her group –– carried the puck up the ice from the defensive zone, and snapped one home with just over a minute remaining in the period.
BU was the most opportunistic with their special teams that we’ve seen in the 2022-2023 campaign, and were rewarded with the advantage heading into the second.
Graduate student defenseman Ellice Murphy found the equalizer for UVM on the man-advantage at 14:07. Knocking in the rebound of senior forward Lily Humphrey’s shot, Murphy made it 2-2, but the Terriers’ effort did not dwindle as the first 40 minutes wound down.
Humphrey got her own tally with just over five minutes left in regulation, giving her squad a 3-2 bonus. While this could’ve deflated the BU bench, they stuck to their game, were hard on pucks and leaned on their speed. Junior defenseman Madison Cardaci was dished a pass on the doorstep from Nearis at 15:25 and dumped it in to send the game to overtime.
The extra hockey was barely underway before Martin netted her second of the afternoon and secured the sudden-death victory for her team. Streaking down on the left side, Martin’s shot deflected off a Catamount in the crease and in.
The 4-3 victory showed a different level of resilience, energy and determination from BU. In previous games this year they seem to lose gas as the competition goes on, but today they covered all their bases and bought-in. This gutty performance is a huge confidence boost for the Terriers and will act as an example of how they should play in each series going forward.
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