By James Garrison
The great outdoors welcomed the Boston University women’s hockey team (7-13-0, 6-10-0 Hockey East) Friday evening as they took the field against the Holy Cross Crusaders (3-18-1, 2-14-0 HE) at Fenway Park. The Crusaders got back in the win column for the first time since Oct. 8, defeating the Terriers 3-2 on the biggest stage of the regular season.
This weekend, Hockey East welcomed the return of Frozen Fenway with a doubleheader slate of women’s games on Friday, and the same for the men on Saturday. The return of the Winter Classic to Boston paved the way for many student athletes to have a career highlight at America’s most historic ballpark.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity, everybody that pitched in, really made it a special night for us,” senior forward Julia Nearis said post-game. “Even though [the weather] made it difficult, it was definitely cool to have it snow.”
Playing in the ladder match of the women’s doubleheader, the elements calmed down for the two sides who were able to play under much more temperate conditions.
Welcomed by the hallowed halls of Fenway Park, the Terriers had a noticeable jump early on.
Shortly before the Crusaders opened the scoring, junior forward Catherine Foulem was denied point blank by Holy Cross netminder Madison Beck. Despite the strong start, the Terriers found themselves chasing the score in the first period.
Crusaders defender Casey Borgiel’s point shot opened the scoring at 5:35 of the first period. Similar to many other contests this year, the Terriers appeared deflated after surrendering the opening tally.
“I think they were quick today, obviously kept us behind most all the game,” Head Coach Brian Durocher said post-game. “I give them a lot of credit for finding ways to score goals because you know, it wasn’t as fast a sheet or as perfect a sheet as you have indoors.”
Deflation turned into frustration when graduate defender Alex Allan took a five-minute major for boarding. Allan’s blatant offense ended her night early, and the Terriers faced a tall task ahead of them.
The Terriers managed to kill off the major penalty that spanned two periods yet struggled to establish a rhythm once the game returned to five-on-five.
After a quiet middle frame, the Terriers finally managed to get on the scoresheet. Freshman forward Sydney Healey drove wide to the net, and fellow freshman Clara Yuhn cleaned up the garbage in front.
Yuhn’s fourth of the year brought the contest back to even, but only for a moment. Darci Johal dazzled under the bright lights of Fenway. Johal cut around Brook Disher and wired home a wrister past Andrea Brändli to recapture the Crusaders’ lead exactly 90 seconds later.
Despite the three goals against, Brändli delivered a solid performance, stopping 29 of 32 shots faced in a losing effort.
The Terriers, aggressively searching for the equalizer late in the third, gave up one odd man rush too many. Millie Sirum sent in Alexia Moreau all alone, who made no mistake. Moreau went bar-down on Brändli and gave her squad a two-goal cushion.
“I just blanked out from this moment to when I got to the bench with all my teammates,” Moreau said. “It’s amazing. It’s just been unreal, honestly.”
Under the bright lights, the Terriers showed strong resolve, as Clare O’Leary’s first goal of the year brought BU back within one with just over a minute left to play. The Terriers were unable to complete the magical comeback though and would fall to the Crusaders 3-2.
“I think we started playing with more urgency towards the end because we were down,” Nearis said. “Today wasn’t the greatest outcome but we did have our chances. They did the best on capitalizing.”
On a night so seemingly special, with all the pageantry you would expect for a college hockey game at Fenway Park, the Terriers’ effort seemed all too familiar against a very beatable opponent. BU failed to generate a positive memory during a season wholly lacking in that department.
The beat goes on for the Terriers, still searching for an identity as the once young season has officially crossed over to the second half.
“We’ve got to start with the same anticipation [next week,] the same energy,” Nearis said. “Make the smart plays.”
BU will take on the Northeastern University Huskies on Sunday before a rematch with Holy Cross on Jan. 13. For continued coverage of BU hockey be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.