Despite falling short in their last two matchups, the Boston University women’s hockey team (11-17-3, 9-13-3 Hockey East) was able to capitalize on their momentum against two tough conference opponents and carry their intense level of compete into a brutal environment: an empty Conte Forum for a Beanpot consolation game. The Terriers strung together an impressive and hard-fought win over the Harvard Crimson (7-17-3, 6-11-3 ECAC), scoring more goals tonight than they had combined goals since Jan. 27.
Given the intensity of last week’s matchups and the sheer number of saves usual starter Andrea Brändli had to make, head coach Brian Durocher opted to start sophomore Callie Shanahan in net. The Beanpot consolation was Shanahan’s first start since the Terriers faced Northeastern in early January, during which she was pulled after letting in two goals in the first period.
“It was great because Callie is a real good goaltender,” Durocher said after the win. “It’s nice to get her game like this because, you know, something can happen to get down the stretch and head toward the playoffs and it’s always good to have a couple people ready to go.”
On the other end of the ice, Harvard also chose to play their backup goalie, sophomore Daisy Boynton, as opposed to their regular starter Alex Pellicci. Clearly both coaching staffs wanted to make me and my women’s Beanpot preview look bad.
While the Terriers came out with a much better start than the Crimson, Harvard was able to get ahead first thanks to a goal from junior Shannon Hollands. A failed clearing attempt from BU led to a bad turnover in the defensive zone. Blueliner Mia Biotti kept the puck inside and made a no-look pass to connect with Hollands in the slot. The shot through traffic cruised over Shanahan’s shoulder and into the back of the net for the early lead.
Despite a slight momentum shift in favor of the Crimson, the Terriers continued to apply good pressure. In almost the exact same fashion as the opening goal, junior defender Tamara Giaquinto worked to keep the puck in for BU. Freshman Sydney Healey picked the rubber up against the wall and skated around two Harvard defensemen to give herself a clear shooting lane for the tying-goal.
Though the Terriers were able to knot the game at one, Harvard ended the period with two tallies on the score sheet. A late holding penalty on senior captain Nadia Mattivi gave Harvard the time and extra skater to capitalize. The power play only needed 25 seconds to score, as Kyra Willoughby’s shot was redirected and tipped ahead by Gabi Davidson Adams.
Back for the second period, the Terriers came out with an intensity they had been lacking for the first half of the season. Harvard upped their lead to two from Holland’s second goal of the night in what would become the start of a very back-and-forth period. 19 seconds after the goal, senior Julia Nearis buried Clare O’Leary’s shot on the rebound. Nearis, BU’s point leader, showed the Terriers grittiness and determination, netting her 30th goal in her 100th career game.
“Time flies when you’re having fun with your best friends,” Nearis said post-game. “I definitely don’t look too much at the points right now, but as long as we keep that number going up when we go into the postseason, that’s what our next mission is.”
62 seconds after the Nearis goal, Harvard increased their differential again on a two-on-one. Davidson Adams’ initial shot bounced off of Shanahan’s right pad and onto the stick of senior captain Anne Bloomer, who sent it home. The Crimson’s fourth goal would be their last though, as the Terriers’ depth shined and four skaters would tally five goals in the remaining 35 minutes.
“We can’t give anybody a card or a pat on the back and that all of a sudden equals confidence,” Durocher said of his team’s offensive depth tonight. “They have to go and score.”
Just over halfway through the game, freshman Brooke Disher scored her second Beanpot goal of the tournament to bring her group within one. Junior Catherine Foulem dished the puck through the neutral zone and over to the first year defender, who carried it on-side. A snipe from the circle on the rush gave BU their third of the night as the highly-touted recruit continues to make her mark.
“They’re no different than anybody else,” Durocher said of Disher and other freshman Clara Yuhn. “You want to make sure that you know, they have a chance to gain confidence and they’ve had a solid freshman year, but I think we’re keeping our attention on what’s going on right now.”
Harvard then took two penalties over the course of 4:30, giving BU two chances to even the scoring. Mattivi, maybe inspired by the previous goal from a defenseman, was able to work on the top power play unit alongside Nearis, Christina Vote, O’Leary, and Disher for her first goal since December 9. A slick tic-tac-toe play with Nearis tied the game at four-apiece with less than a minute in the second, swinging the pendulum and momentum in favor of the Terriers.
BU pushed for the remainder of the game and limited many of Harvard’s best efforts. Not only that, but the early jitters from Shanahan seemed to subside. The top line connected as assistant captain Madison Cardaci’s pass up-ice created a two-on-one for Catherine Foulem and Vote. The one Harvard defender was unable to break up the play, with two passes reaching completion as Vote pushed the puck (and herself) into the net, for BU’s first lead of the night.
Even with the insurance goal, BU kept their foot on the gas. Yuhn carried the puck into the zone and sent the puck soaring into Boynton’s net from almost below the circle on a wild individual effort. The goal from an impressive and tough angle, which you can find here, gave BU some more room to breathe at a 6-4 score. Yuhn has been one of the Terriers best all year and broke her four-game pointless-streak with her seventh goal of the season.
“For people to score now, it’s great because you’ve got one weekend and then do-or-die playoff games,” Durocher noted of his team’s sudden offensive awakening. “If more people have great headspace and feel good about the way they’re playing and have actually scored, it’s going to be a real positive.”
In the last three minutes Harvard pushed back by pulling their goalie, but as it often does, it just sank them further. An empty-netter from Vote concluded the win for BU in their best offensive game of the season.
“For now we want to do our best to send out the veterans of the team and, you know, put our best foot forward in the last few games of the year,” Durocher said to conclude the presser.
Seven goals and nine assists combined for 16 points from 12 different Terriers, including multi-point nights from Vote, Foulem, and Nearis. Something seems to be clicking over at Walter Brown as the Terriers head into the playoffs, and it’s really exciting to see the future and talent of this team. BU’s next game will take place at home with a celebration of the class of 2023 against Northeastern at 7:00PM. We’ll have full coverage all weekend on Twitter @BosHockeyBlog and Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog.
For now, let’s close out this whirlwind of a tournament.