By Mitch Fink
Madison Cardaci has made a career of driving hard to the net and generating scoring chances. On Friday night, the Boston University junior forward was rewarded with her first career hat-trick.
Cardaci’s offensive eruption paced the BU women’s hockey team (8-15-2, 7-12-2 Hockey East) in a 4-1 win over Merrimack College (7-20-1, 4-16-1 HE) Friday night at Walter Brown Arena.
“Fantastic job by Madi,” BU head coach Brian Durocher said postgame. “I commended both her linemates for making some nice passes…real good full line performance, and excited for them all.”
Cardaci scored her first after controlling a puck out of mid-air and slotting it past Merrimack freshman goaltender Calli Horgath at 5:50 of the first period.
“It was a good breakout by Alex [Allan] and then we got it deep and I was just yelling for [Catherine Foulem] to put it low on net,” Cardaci said. “I missed the first one because I didn’t want it to be a high stick, and then I just made second contact.”
The play went to review for a potential offsides call, but the goal was quickly confirmed.
BU drew a hooking call on Merrimack senior defenseman Teghan Inglis late in the frame, but the Terriers couldn’t find twine despite generating a few scoring opportunities on the man-advantage.
Cardaci’s tally was the only goal of the opening stanza, but scoring chances were relatively even between the two teams. In fact, the Warriors outshot the Terriers, 8-5, after 20 minutes.
After killing off a penalty a few minutes into the second period, Merrimack quickly drew a power play of its own. Just about 30 seconds into the man-advantage, Cardaci collided into BU junior forward Clare O’Leary, sending Merrimack senior forward Madison Oelkers in all alone on a breakaway. BU graduate student goaltender Andrea Brändli stood tall to save Oelkers’ wrister to keep the Warriors off the board.
The Warriors continued to outskate the Terriers throughout the second period, forcing BU to rely heavily on Brändli to make point-blank saves, like the breakaway stop on Oelkers. But, thanks to Brändli, the score held, 1-0, into the intermission.
“She’s had a super consistent year, and played well,” Durocher said of Brandli. “Her composure and poise, the way she controls pucks are things that continue to jump out at me.”
The action quickly picked up in the final stanza.
Just over a minute into the third period, Cardaci added a second tally from the slot on the power play. Then, three minutes later, she crashed the net and whacked home a rebound to secure the hat-trick.
Inglis got one back for the Warriors on the power play at 5:54 of the third period, but the Terriers stifled Merrimack’s late push to get back into the game. After the Warriors pulled their goalie with a minute to go, O’Leary tallied an empty-netter just before the buzzer to put the exclamation point on the win.
Cardaci’s linemates, sophomore Christina Vote and Foulem, a junior, each finished with two assists. Freshman defenseman Brooke Disher added a pair of helpers, too.
Merrimack came into the contest desperate for a positive result. The Warriors have struggled all season long, and entered Friday night on a six-game losing streak and an eight-game skid against Hockey East opponents.
BU, on the other hand, has now picked up at least a point in four consecutive games.
“Four games is a nice run,” Durocher said. “The confidence grows. Again, we’ve said it a number of times, ‘We can’t hand you a card that is automatic confidence. You have to earn it and the best way to earn it is to go get some things done.”
The Terriers will return to Walter Brown Arena to take on the University of Vermont tomorrow at 3:00pm. The Boston Hockey Blog will have continued full coverage of the team so be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.