Despite facing a four-goal deficit early in the second period, the No. 4 Boston University women’s hockey team came back to defeat the University of Connecticut 7-5 at Walter Brown Arena on Senior Day Saturday afternoon.
Going into the game, the Terriers (23-5-3, 18-2-1 Hockey East) were on the verge of clinching the Hockey East regular season title. With Boston College’s 1-1 tie against the University of Vermont the same day, BU had a chance to capture the title with wins in its next two games.
“Right before the game, we all knew the score of the BC vs. Vermont game, which has opened the door for us to win the regular season,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “And that’s one of the goals you have.”
BU got off to a bad start against a Husky (3-27-3, 1-18-1 Hockey East) team that has struggled to win games all season. UConn opened the scoring just 3:05 into the game, as forward Rachel Farrel put one past senior goaltender Alissa Fromkin to get the Huskies on the board first.
The Terriers responded about 11 minutes later, when freshman forward Sarah Lefort and junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin assisted on redshirt senior Jenelle Kohanchuk’s game-tying goal. But then the floodgates opened.
UConn scored three goals in the final five minutes of the opening period. The first came from forward Michela Cava at the 15:14 mark of the frame. About three minutes later, the Huskies scored two goals in 16 seconds to take a commanding 4-1 lead. They went into the locker room 40 minutes away from pulling off the upset.
While backup goalie Fromkin started in honor of the Senior Day festivities, BU coach Brian Durocher pulled her from the game after her struggles in the opening period. She allowed four goals on just seven shots. Junior goaltender Kerrin Sperry played the remainder of the game.
“It’s frustrating for [Alissa] Fromkin, and it’s certainly disappointing for me, too,” Durocher said. “Sometimes the stars don’t line up, and all you can do is let them know how much you appreciate them and tell them there’s going to be those days … It’s a tough scenario, but she finished in style and class.”
But even Sperry got off to a poor start. Just 2:52 into the frame, forward Brittany Berisoff got a puck past the goalie to extend UConn’s lead to a seemingly insurmountable 5-1. Fortunately for the Terriers, the offense began to show its teeth in the face of the large deficit.
At the 3:23 mark of the second period, Farrel took a checking penalty to put BU on the power play. The Terriers’ top power-play line of Kohanchuk, Poulin and Lefort converted on the opportunity, as Lefort found twine and began BU’s unprecedented comeback.
About 10 minutes later, the Terriers put together a string of two goals in 38 seconds. The first came from Lefort. It was her second of the game and it brought her team to within two goals, 5-3, quickly changing the momentum of the contest.
“From a three-goal margin to a two-goal margin, we’ll take our chances here with a good crowd with the excitement of Senior Night,” Durocher said. “Low and behold, we got a whole bunch in the second period and became tied.”
BU’s line of senior forward Isabel Menard, sophomore forward Kayla Tutino and junior forward Louise Warren stepped up to complete the comeback. Shortly after the Husky lead was cut to two, Menard netted a puck to bring the surging Terrier offense just one goal away from turning a four-goal deficit into a tie game.
Just 12 seconds before the end of an already disastrous second period for UConn, BU struck again. Warren fed the puck to Menard, who set up junior defenseman Shannon Doyle for the equalizer. It was Doyle’s sixth goal of the season, which leads all BU defensemen. The period ended with the score tied up at five goals apiece, and all momentum swaying to the Terriers’ side of the ice.
BU carried its second-period success into the final frame. At the 4:43 mark of the period, Tutino put a puck past goaltender Elaine Chuli to put the Terriers ahead 6-5 and complete an incredible four-goal comeback.
Kohanchuk’s second goal of the game with about two minutes remaining in regulation time sealed BU’s come-from-behind 7-5 victory. Tutino’s goal early in the third stood as the game winner.
With a 4-2 victory over the Huskies in Storrs, Conn., the next day, the Terriers clinched the top seed in Hockey East.
“We had to finish the deal,” Durocher said. “Otherwise we’d have a less than joyful weekend.”