By Brian Foisy
Outside the Walter Brown locker room a stunned silence filled the air, what’s usually a somewhat active place, even after some losses, was reduced to a ghost town. Some seniors, after the final game of their collegiate careers, walked out of the locker room and received hugs and near condolences from the Boston University staff.
This was not the way they wanted this season to end.
The Boston University women’s hockey team (11-19-3, 9-15-3 Hockey East) lost 5-4 in a hard-fought battle to Merrimack College (8-24-2, 5-20-2 HE) in the first round of the Hockey East tournament.
“I’ll miss the place and everything about it,” head coach Brian Durocher said postgame.
This was Durocher’s final game as coach of the Terriers, having announced his retirement last Wednesday.
“There will certainly be some sad thoughts in my head, but the other part of the emotions were kind of based on this game, that I thought we didn’t quite get what we might’ve deserved,” Durocher said.
“I’m not worried about Brian Durocher, I’m worried about those people that I was wishing there was another game in their future.”
Merrimack opened the game up with a goofy goal credited to junior defenseman Natalie Nemes. After a scrum in the left corner of the ice, the Terriers came away with the puck, but quickly donated it back to Merrimack leading to Nemes scoring with a goal that initially bounced off the side of the net before eventually finding its way home.
The Terriers evened up the score after a goal by senior forward Julia Nearis off the assist from junior Clare O’Leary. O’Leary got the first look but her shot was a little wide, Nearis was able to collect the rebound before goalie Emma Gorski and floated it into the net to give BU their first of the contest.
In what became an action packed second period, the Terriers were the first to join the party with a goal coming from freshman defender Brooke Disher early in the frame.
Freshman forward Alex Ferguson was the party’s next arrival a fashionable 30 seconds later, evening the score at 2-2 for the Warriors.
A little more than a minute later, freshman forward Clara Yuhn gave the Terriers the lead once again. Yuhn’s first attempt bounced off the pads of Merrimack goalie Emma Gorski, but she was able to grab the rebound and net a pretty wrister.
The Warriors, continuing with this period’s philosophy of “don’t let the crowd” catch a breath, were able to get it even again with a breakaway Nemes goal.
The Terriers got on the power play near the end of the second after a hooking call went against the Warriors.
While senior defender Nadia Mattivi was able to get a shot off, the Warriors struck first on BU’s power play with senior forward Sam Lessick scoring a shorthanded goal to give Merrimack a 4-3 lead late in the second period.
But before the Wally B faithful could head off to the concession stand, Julia Shuanessy scored the period’s sixth and final goal firing a wrister past the stick side of Emma Gorski’s net.
Both teams followed up their goal avalanche in the second with a shutout in the third. The Terriers were the aggressor in the period, outshooting Merrimack 15-6 before heading to overtime.
The Terriers got a few good looks throughout the extra hockey, as Durocher detailed postgame.
“I had Madison Cardaci, I had Lacey Martin, I had Brooke Disher, and I had Cathrine Foulem with, I don’t know if they’re grade A’s but they were probably B-plus chances in that overtime,” Durocher said.
About halfway through overtime sophomore forward Alexa Pongo caught a group of BU defenders off guard, jumping to an idle puck and scoring the game winner for the Merrimack Warriors.
As the on-ice celebration began for the Warriors, Nearis skated around Walter Brown trying to take it all in in her last moments as a Terrier.
“I told her after the game. I had said to the assistants that we needed her to score today, and when she did, I thought that was a good omen for the team,” Durocher said.
When asked whether he’d have words of advice for next year’s returning players Durocher said, “in a very informal way, I might get a chance to talk about that with the kids that are returning.”
As he left the postgame presser to return to the locker room, Durocher was still himself even after a tough loss to close out his career. He thanked reporters for coming out and wished them luck.
While the pains from tonight’s loss will likely stick around for a while, there’s a lot of promise for this squad in the future. The Terriers have a lot of talent returning next season, and the Boston Hockey Blog will have continued coverage of the team throughout the offseason and into next year.