The Boston University women’s hockey team (7-15-1, 6-12-1 Hockey East) took on the No. 13 Providence College Friars (17-8-2, 12-6-2) for the last time this regular season in a Tuesday night match. After grabbing an early lead, the Terriers gave up two unanswered goals and took the game to overtime and eventually a shootout where they came out on top for a final score of 3-2.
“I like the fact that they were sharing the puck and moving the puck,” Head Coach Brian Durocher said of his team after the game. “It was a game where the kids compete, the goaltenders are there and again, have the two goals early [was a] big, big plus.”
After losing the opening faceoff, it seemed like the Terriers were going to fall subject to old habits. The first minute of the period saw a dominant Friar group that held the Terriers in the defensive zone for 90+ seconds as the Terriers scrambled to clear. Blind drops and careless passes saw BU struggle to make an offensive play, but once they got their footing, something that had been missing seemed to click.
Junior forward Madison Cardaci made a quick poke up the ice as she hopped onto the BU bench making way for sophomore Christina Vote to carry the puck onside. A tap from the blue line made its way to extra defender Julia Shaunessy, who was able to break in front of two Friars for a slick wrist shot from between the circles to lift her group up by one early.
Injured in mid-November during the Terriers’ sweep of the University of Connecticut, Shaunessy missed five games and only returned on Jan. 6 for Frozen Fenway. Her tally in the opening frame was her first since a third-period goal against Boston College at the end of October.
50 seconds after the Shaunessy goal, the Terriers took a penalty for having too many skaters on the ice, but with just three seconds remaining in the penalty kill, Providence captain Caroline Peterson took two minutes of her own for slashing.
With an extra attacker on the ice, the Terriers had the room to double their lead. 33 seconds into the power play, senior blueliner Nadia Mattivi’s give-and-go exchange with Vote left senior Julia Nearis open with a wide net from the top of the right circle. Vote dished the puck cross-ice for Nearis to launch home for the Terriers’ second of the night.
Prior to tonight’s two goals, the Terriers had scored twice in the last seven periods; getting off to a good start with complete offensive production was critical for BU.
“As we went on we got a little more confidence,” Lacey Martin said post-game. “We just wanted to get a couple of pucks on net and get some o-zone time and control the puck a little more… I think it worked to our favor.”
After the opening frame, the Terriers seemed to struggle with their discipline and both sides played chippy hockey with punches coming after the whistle. A holding call on Mattivi coupled with Jesse DeVito’s cross-checking penalty gave the Friars 1:27 of five-on-three time.
As the Mattivi penalty expired, the Friars were able to use their established momentum to cut BU’s lead in half on the remaining five-on-four. A collision between Shaunessy and junior Catherine Foulem saw a pass from graduate forward Sara Hjalmarsson back to Peterson and over Brändli’s left shoulder.
While Providence dominated offensive zone time during the middle period, the Terriers showed that they could keep up with an impressive Hockey East competitor. Applied pressure from the BU offense and plenty of blocks from the blue line showed bright spots for a Terrier squad who struggled to see something go right for them in recent weeks.
“It’s one thing to play tough, it’s another thing if you’re taking not-good penalties,” Durocher said in regard to his team’s level of compete. “They’re fighting and they’re scrapping, and that’s all we can ask for.”
Netminder Andrea Brändli played a key role in keeping her group in the game, especially over the course of the Terriers’ six penalty minutes in the second. A shot from Providence graduate defender Ida Press from the circle was almost a sure-goal if not for Brändli keeping the Terriers with a one-goal cushion at the end of 40 minutes.
“I think I’m pretty good at scanning the ice and seeing where players will go,” Brändli said post-game. “I knew how to defend a pushover, and once you decide to push you’ve just got to go all in and that’s what I did.”
The Terriers started the closing period short-handed from Vote’s avoidable interference call from the end of the second. After a successful kill, the Terriers managed to hold on as Providence increased the pressure for the remainder of the game. Even when playing five-on-five the Terriers looked like they were on the penalty kill. But for once, their defensive unit clicked and kept the Friars from tying the game until the last eight minutes of play.
With 8:07 remaining in the third, Shaunessy took a penalty of her own for body checking. The call, while fair, seemed to come after plenty of penalties were left uncalled for both teams. A power-play shot from junior defenseman Brooke Becker got lost in traffic at Brändli’s crease. Peterson was there yet again to pick up the puck and tap it past the goal line, five-hole, to even the score at two apiece.
60 minutes wouldn’t be enough, and while the game would go down officially as a tie, five minutes of overtime ensued. Both teams had solid chances, but Brändli and PC’s Sandra Abstreiter protected their nets for the extra time.
After five, the score remained locked at zero and the Terriers were sent into their first best-of-three shootout of the year. Peterson skated first for the Friars while sophomore Kylie Roberts took the ice for the Terriers, but neither skater could convert. Hjalmarsson got stumped by Brändli as well before Nearis went five-hole to take the lead.
Following the Nearis tally, freshman Reichen Kirchmair got the same goal through Brändli for a tie. Freshman Sydney Healey lost the puck while skating to the crease and junior Lindsay Bochna shot the puck wide before Lacey Martin sealed the deal for her group.
Showing patience with the puck, Martin held on for an extra second from between the circles and sent the puck flying into the net for the Terriers first win in 2023 and a final shootout score of 2-1.
“She’s a tall goalie so shooting low on her was probably a better situation,” Martin said. “When we do it in practice I kind of have fun with it, but that [shot] would be the go-to.”
The Terriers will next head on the road for back-to-back games up north. Friday they’ll face the University of Maine Black Bears in Orono at 4:00pm before traveling to New Hampshire to take on the Wildcats in Durham at 2:00pm. Be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and @boston.hockey.blog on Instagram for continued coverage throughout the season.