By James Garrison
The Boston University Women’s Hockey Team (7-15-0, 6-12-0 HE) looked to rebound following disappointing losses at Fenway Park and Matthews Arena. The Scarlet and White took on the Holy Cross Crusaders (4-18-1, 3-14-0 HE) for the third time in four games, spanning over a month.
The two offensively challenged sides battled it out in a low scoring affair. The two sides exchanged power play tallies in the third period, forcing extra hockey in Worcester.
“I thought we played a pretty energized and reasonably quick two periods,” head coach Brian Durocher said following the loss. “I just don’t think we executed the passing and the catching of the puck and so.”
In a back-and-forth opening frame, the Terriers defended well in front of Andrea Brändli, who stopped 29 of 31 shots faced. Friday afternoon marked the third consecutive start for Brändli, indicating a potential shift in goaltending strategy for Durocher.
It was mostly a 50-50 split for Brändli and sophomore Callie Shanahan in the first semester. With just over a month remaining in the season and Hockey East points at a premium, it is likely to see much more of Brändli down the stretch.
“I don’t want to say [she will play more] this second, but she’s done her part to impress us and put herself in a position to be a number one goaltender,” Durocher said. “Let’s not forget Callie Shanahan’s been a real good goalie in her year and a half here at BU.”
Christina Vote wore the hard hat in the first period, taking two big hits along the boards. After avoiding an injury scare early in the opening frame, Vote returned to the ice later in the first, only to take yet another hit.
In a scoreless first period, the Terrier’s best chance came from the stick of freshman forward Clara Yuhn. Yuhn, with her fifth of the year staring her square in the face, missed the net on the near side of Crusader’s goaltender Madison Beck.
Brändli stoned Crusaders forward Darci Johal’s breakaway opportunity in the second period. Once again, Brändli’s stellar outing gave the Terriers a chance to win all the way to the final buzzer.
“She’s played fantastic for us all year,” Durocher said.
In a matchup where penalties were few and far between, the Crusaders required few man-advantages to gain a slim margin.
The ice was finally tilted after 51:09 of regulation play. Crusaders forward Mary Edmunds cashed in Maeve Kelly’s interference penalty. Edmunds put home the rebound to collect a power play tally for her sixth of the year
The resilient Terriers though, were not done, putting together some special teams magic of their own. Clare O’Leary, who began the short-lived Frozen Fenway comeback, found the equalizer with just 1:05 remaining in regulation.
“We pulled the goalie to give us a six on four and a real nice pass from Nadia Mattivi to Clare O’Leary to tie the game up,” Durocher said. “They were super excited, because I think they felt they had played a pretty good game but had nothing to show for it.”
Despite gaining some momentum after the equalizer, the Terriers limped to the end of regulation. They were unable to fight off a strong Crusaders response after O’Leary’s tying goal.
Not much changed after a few minutes of rest. The Terriers came out flat in overtime and Holy Cross jumped all over them. Edmunds scored her second of the game to beat BU in the opening seconds of overtime.
“Another slight disappointment was the last 95 seconds,” Durocher said. “Didn’t quite stay as composed or as poised and we gave them a number of opportunities. I’m guessing three or four minimum, maybe five. That is not how you want to follow up on a key tying goal. I guess you could say it carried over into OT.”
With seven losses in their last eight games (two of which came against Holy Cross) the Terriers have lost any amount of momentum they may have had after three consecutive wins against Vermont and UConn.
With just over a month remaining in the season, BU will look to salvage what they can in the final 11 before the Hockey East Tournament. The road ahead will only get tougher though, as five points were passed up against a beatable opponent in Holy Cross.