ALLSTON, Mass. — This one was a stunner.
Facing a Harvard team that had yet to win a game this season, the Boston University women’s hockey team fell into an early hole and couldn’t dig out of it, losing, 3-1, to the Crimson at the Bright-Landry Hockey Center Tuesday night.
“Not the start we wanted, and that’s something we need to address as a group,” BU head coach Tara Watchorn said postgame. “That being said, a lot of good again. It was our game in the back half, and we saw what we’re capable of.”
The Crimson (1-8-1, 0-8-1 ECAC) had been held to one goal in each of their prior six games. But less than seven minutes in, Harvard held a 2-0 advantage over the shell-shocked Terriers (5-4-1, 4-3-0 Hockey East).
To start, freshman forward Zoe Boosamra carried the puck into the offensive zone with pace, slipping a pass to a trailing Kaley MacDonald. The freshman defenseman corralled the dish in the slot and ripped a wrister into the top-left corner of the net at 4:13 of the period to put the Crimson up, 1-0. BU netminder Mari Pietersen hardly had time to react.
Less than two minutes later, Harvard doubled the advantage. With the action tied up behind the net, junior forward Hannah Chorske flipped a pass toward the slot. Three BU skaters swiped at the puck, but Crimson junior forward Kayley Crawford ended up all alone on Pietersen on the edge of the left circle. Crawford made no mistake, potting Harvard’s second goal of the evening.
Watchorn yanked Pietersen after the first period, sending graduate goalie Alexa Matses between the pipes for the rest of the game.
“Just a momentum shift,” Watchorn said. “I think it’s nice when you get to come off the bench and not have to think about going to the net, just go in there and battle, and I had a gut feeling that she would give us a chance to win.”
But less than four minutes into the second period, the Crimson tacked on a third tally from a well-executed 2-on-1. After the puck squeaked through a crowd of BU sweaters in the neutral zone, junior forward Gabi Davidson Adams and sophomore forward Gwyn Lapp sprung an odd-man rush. After a nifty passing play froze Matses, Davidson Adams tapped the puck into a wide-open net to earn Harvard a 3-0 lead.
With just 16.6 seconds remaining in the stanza, the Terriers got one back. Senior forward Madison Cardaci paid off a grind-it-out shift with the tally, whacking the puck past Harvard junior goalie Alex Pellicci after a rebound squibbed out to the top of the crease. The goal was the captain’s first of the season. Cardaci’s line, which includes senior Lacey Martin and sophomore Clara Yuhn, has been stellar of late.
“They have great speed with the puck,” Watchorn said. “They’re able to wear teams down. I think Mads has been a fun connection to that line, and it was nice to see her get to put one away today.”
BU came out firing in the third, posting three shots on goal in the first three minutes of the frame. But the Terriers couldn’t break through, and the Crimson hunkered down defensively to maintain their two-goal advantage.
Watchorn pulled Matses with 4:15 left in regulation. BU put constant pressure around the net, but Pellicci stood tall. The netminder made several outstanding stops, including an impressive save after Luisa Welcke tried to stuff the puck home from the doorstep with 1:33 to go. Pellicci made 30 saves.
“They did a good job,” Watchorn said of the Harvard defense. “They really took away the middle of the ice and made it tough to create that quality scoring chance. Their goalie played well for sure, but I think that our shot selection can be even better and make their life more difficult.”
Freshman forward Alex Law was not in the lineup for the second consecutive game.
“She’s getting over an illness here, and we’ll wait to see her back hopefully soon,” Watchorn said.
As the Terriers turn their focus to another Beanpot rival — Boston College — Watchorn wants her team to focus on getting off to better starts and improving its defensive focus.
“Just to come out from the get go,” Watchorn said. “Let’s take the good with us. I really thought our changes tonight were the best they’ve been, changing with possession and setting the line up for success. If we bring that with a little more attention to detail on D, we’ll be in a good spot.”
The Terriers will play Boston College on Friday. Puck drop is slated for 11 a.m. at Conte Forum, and the Boston Hockey Blog will have full, on-the-ground coverage. Follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram @boston.hockey.blog.