For five minutes in the third period, the University of Connecticut put pressure on the No. 4/5 Boston University women’s hockey team in a way the Huskies (3–29–3, 1–19–1 Hockey East) had yet to do during the rest of the contest.
According to BU coach Brian Durocher, the Terriers (24–5–3, 18–2–1 Hockey East) did not hold their composure, as they took penalties and struggled to get the puck out of their zone.
This five-minute frenzy ended, however, when senior forward Jenelle Kohanchuk scored her second goal of the game and gave the Terriers a 4–1 lead that UConn could not overcome.
“That was close to a nail in the coffin,” Durocher said. “That play was a big-time play. It demoralizes people, and it gave us a three-goal cushion at home. I was pretty certain we could carry that one from there.”
With that goal as the defining moment for BU, the No. 1 seed Terriers defeated the No. 8 seed Huskies by a score of 5–1 Saturday afternoon at Walter Brown Arena during the Hockey East quarterfinals.
Despite BU putting up 16 shots on goal to the Huskies’ two in the first period, neither team managed to leave the first frame with a goal. While UConn had very few opportunities, the Terriers found themselves stymied by the skill of UConn netminder Elaine Chuli.
Just over six minutes into the second period, however, the Terriers finally got a shot by Chuli, when junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored her 15th goal of the season and the 50th of her career. Poulin, who scored the goal after she picked up a pass from junior defenseman Shannon Doyle in front of the net, is the fastest player in the program’s history to get to the 50-goal mark. She reached the milestone in just 74 games with the Terriers.
Exactly one minute later, sophomore forward Kayla Tutino gave the Terriers a two-goal cushion with a tally of her own. UConn threatened the BU lead eight minutes later, however, when UConn freshman Margaret Zimmer notched her second goal of the season to cut BU’s lead in half.
With the Terriers leading 2–1, and UConn trying to push itself back into the contest, Kohanchuk notched her first tally of the game. The first-line forward flipped the puck over Chuli 5:39 into the third period to give the Terriers another two-goal advantage.
Even with that two-goal lead, however, Durocher said he could feel a lack of poise within his team.
“I felt like for about five minutes in the middle of the third, we were … I wouldn’t say panic was the word, but we didn’t hold our composure as well as we could have with a couple penalties,” Durocher said. “We had a chance to get it out of the zone, and we just didn’t. We had a chance to skate with it, and we shoveled it off to someone else.
“One goal [by UConn] would have put the pressure on us.”
Yet Kohanchuk’s goal changed that as the Winnipeg, Manitoba, native picked up her own rebound to give BU a 4–1 lead.
From there, the Huskies attempted to get back into the game by pulling their goaltender while they were on the power play with more than seven minutes left in the contest. UConn could not score against the BU defense, and after the Huskies’ power-play chance was over, and they still had their goal empty, redshirt sophomore defenseman Caroline Campbell scored an empty-net goal, her first goal of the season to account for BU’s final mark of the game.
Nonetheless, Kohanchuk’s strong game served as the launch point for a Terrier win that BU needed to make it onto the next step of the Hockey East Tournament — a rematch with Providence College, a team BU defeated in the championship game last year.
“Jenelle had a couple of really high-level individual plays,” Durocher said. “You want big-time players to play big in all games, and certainly in playoff games and real meaningful games. Jenelle did that today.”