This year, it did not take any miracles for the No. 4 Boston University women’s hockey team to beat Providence College in the Hockey East Tournament.
By shutting out Providence (15-16-5, 8-10-3 Hockey East) 4-0 in a semifinal matchup in Hyannis Saturday afternoon, the Terriers (25-5-3, 18-2-1 Hockey East) came one step closer to defending their Hockey East title.
In 2012, BU scratched out a double-overtime victory thanks to the stellar play of then-senior captain Jenn Wakefield. Her goals to tie the game with 7.3 seconds left in regulation and then to secure the win in the second overtime period led BU to its second Hockey East Championship.
But a year later, it was much easier for BU to overcome the Friars.
The first goal came while BU was on a power play after Providence’s Molly Illikainen was booked for tripping junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin. Junior defenseman Shannon Doyle sent a shot toward the net that was blocked by Providence goalie Nina Riley. Poulin picked up a rebound, however, which was tapped in by freshman forward Sarah Lefort at the 13:26 mark of the first period.
To begin the second period, BU was in the midst of killing off the remainder of a checking penalty by sophomore defenseman Shannon Stoneburgh with 1:30 remaining in the opening frame. Poulin picked up the puck in front of the BU bench, then brought it to the goal herself to send it in in for a shorthanded goal and BU’s second score of the game.
Junior forward Louise Warren quickly pushed the Terriers ahead 3-0 later in the second and added one more at the end of the period after sending in a rebound. Senior forward Isabel Menard secured assists on each of the goals.
“Louise had another one of those days which sometimes people take for granted,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “She’s a tremendously paced player, great forechecker, she loves to play on the outside, down on the walls and get pucks up the ice very quickly. Obviously she was rewarded today.”
The second period ended with BU leading the Friars by a score of 4-0, and the Terriers feeling confident.
“We felt well and we wanted to try to finish the period and finish the game in good order,” Durocher said.
Things became a bit sloppy for the Terriers, however, as BU was sent to the box four times in the third period. Providence earned 21 shots on goal in the frame, all of which were denied by savvy goaltending from junior Kerrin Sperry and a stifling BU defense.
“Unfortunately, we got a little undisciplined with some penalties that I’d like for us to avoid taking,” Durocher said. “But we did, and we’ve got to figure out how to kill them and thankfully we did. It was a good team effort, and some great goaltending, and we were able to end the game at 4-0.”
Durocher praised the combined effort from his defensemen.
“They kept it real simple and they were very steady,” Durocher said. “[Junior defenseman] Kaleigh Fratkin played very, very well. Maybe [redshirt sophomore defenseman] Caroline Campbell played the best game played here at BU.
“It goes all the way from top to bottom, they all played well. It’s nice when we can keep it simple and let our forwards finish, and we take care of the back end.”
However, Sperry’s goaltending was perhaps the key highlight of the day. She totaled 42 saves — a career high for a 60-minute game — including several spectacular stops in the waning minutes of the game to preserve the shutout.
“I know she spent some time and watched some film and talked to me this week about some of the things she saw,” Durocher said of Sperry. “One of them was to try to assert herself and not back in the net quite as quickly or as early as she has.
“Today, she did just that. She would take that quick half a step or full step forward, and always putting herself in a little better position — a little more aggressive position — and give herself a chance to make those first saves. She made them all today.”
With today’s victory, BU will face No. 9/10 Northeastern University — the team that upended the Terriers on Feb. 5 in the Beanpot semifinal matchup — in the Hockey East title game Sunday at 1 p.m.
“It obviously gives us a chance to play for a championship, and that’s what you hope for when the season starts,” Durocher said. “We’re happy that we’re there and happy to have a chance to make something happen. It’ll be exciting certainly for everybody in this program.”