The Boston University women’s hockey team (8-15-2, 7-12-2 Hockey East) concluded their New England road trip with a game against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats (9-18-0, 7-13-0 HE) at the Whittemore center this afternoon where they won 3-1.
The Terriers took an extra point with them from their game at Alfond Arena against the Maine Black Bears, while the Wildcats put on a showcase against the No. 15 Boston College Eagles with a 5-3 victory featuring a hat trick from junior forward Brianna Brooks.
The Wildcats’ aggressive forecheck squandered BU’s chances of getting into the offensive zone, making it easy for the home team to get on the board first. UNH built momentum early and used their effective breakout to get ahead of both Julia Nearis and Clare O’Leary. Brooks’ initial shot bounced off of graduate goaltender Andrea Brändli and was picked up by sophomore forward Kira Juodikis for an easy lead three minutes into play.
Brändli, who seems to have secured the role as the primary starter, took the night off against Maine with sophomore Callie Shanahan claiming the crease. Earning her first start since Dec. 9, Shanahan made 27 saves including five minutes of overtime and some huge stops for the shootout win, but was back on the bench for the game with the Wildcats. Maybe consistency is better for Brändli, but UNH’s goal was just their second shot of the afternoon.
Four minutes after the goal, Freshman Maeve Kelly went to the box on a slashing call to give the Wildcats an early advantage. UNH holds onto the seventh best power play in the country with a 23% conversion rate, but the Terriers, who are ranked 37th in the country for their penalty kill, were able to hold off any Wildcat chances.
Minutes later though, the tide turned in favor of the Terriers when freshman Clara Yuhn drew a penalty from senior Tamara Thierus for checking along the boards with 4:04 to play. 26 seconds later, junior blueliner Kyla Bent joined Thierus on a cross-checking call, giving BU over 90 seconds of five-on-three to capitalize on, and capitalize they did.
1:46 into the five-on-three, freshman Brooke Disher was able to break through veteran netminder Nicky Harnett. Yuhn’s initial pass to a waiting Catherine Foulem at the top of the crease was intercepted, and through the chaos, Disher was able to lift the puck over a scrambling Harnett for the equalizer.
26 seconds after Disher tied the game at one, O’Leary gave BU the lead with another power-play goal. Senior captain Nadia Mattivi tried to break through two Wildcat defenders just past the blueline and lost the puck, only for O’Leary to scoop it up and get one past Harnett, five-hole.
Junior forward Madison Cardaci took an interference call late in the first and gave UNH the chance to start with an extra attacker, but BU’s PK remained perfect on the night with better defensive play. The Terriers seemed to find their stride through the second frame with majority of the possession –– despite matching penalties on UNH’s Chavonne Truter and BU’s Sydney Healey for roughing.
While BU has been struggling recently, it seems like the team is finally starting to get something going. Shooting the puck was an area Mattivi had mentioned prior to the start of the season and it seems like, even with the lead, the main part of the Terriers’ game that needed improvement against UNH.
While neither goal was a fluke, BU’s lead came as two shots of their total 11 through 40 minutes, and when compared to UNH’s 21, it really didn’t make sense for BU to walk away with a win (but thankfully, they did).
Throughout the third the Terriers held onto their lead playing one of, if not their most, cohesive defensive games of the season. Brändli held down the fort for her group, but for the first time, the other blueliners on her squad also stepped up to help her. Mattivi and Disher especially played complete games, poking the puck off Wildcat sticks and helping the Terriers clear the zone.
Even with an extra attacker, the Terriers were able to hold off the top power play team in Hockey East for their first regulation win since Nov. 19 against UConn. Brändli’s impressive performance and 30 saves kept her group with the lead, and Clara Yuhn sealed the deal with an empty netter for a final score of 3-1.
The Terriers will play another split weekend series against Merrimack and Vermont, with the Merrimack game slotted for 7:00pm Friday and the UVM match at 3:00pm Saturday. We’ll continue to have coverage throughout the week on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.