Seeking vengeance for its 4-1 loss at the hands of No. 9/10 Northeastern University in the Beanpot semifinal, the No. 4 Boston University women’s hockey team won its second consecutive Hockey East title with a 5-2 victory over the Huskies in the Hockey East Tournament championship game Sunday afternoon at Kennedy Rink in Hyannis.
The title clincher came despite a surprising statistic: the Terriers (26-5-3, 18-2-1 Hockey East) were outshot 79-52 in the last two rounds of the tournament.
In the semifinal against Providence College, the Friars (15-16-5, 8-10-3 Hockey East) almost doubled BU’s shot attempts, putting 42 on goal to BU’s 24. Not only did the Terriers come away with the win, but they shutout Providence 4-0.
In the final bout with the Huskies (23-11-2, 13-7-1 Hockey East), Northeastern sent 37 shots to the net, while the Terriers put up 28 of their own. Once again, the Terriers pulled out a victory despite the shot deficit.
The difference maker for BU came down to one player — junior goaltender Kerrin Sperry.
“Obviously [Kerrin Sperry] stepped forward at an important time,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “There were parts of the year where she was playing fine, but maybe just a little bit conservative.
“This weekend when there were screenings or there were shots she wasn’t quite seeing, she probably got hit by a few more because she was up near the top of her crease and she was really taking away angles, taking away space and giving herself a chance.”
The Terriers got off to a quick start in the championship game, with senior forward Isabel Menard standing alone in front of the net and putting a puck past goaltender Chloe Desjardins 4:06 into the opening frame. BU played with the lead for the remainder of the game.
About eight minutes later, freshman forward Sarah Lefort gave the Terriers some breathing room. She took the puck down the ice in a 2-on-1 odd-man rush and shot a wrister into the upper right-hand corner of the twine, scoring an unassisted goal to give her team a 2-0 lead.
With the Huskies maintaining consistent offensive pressure, the second goal was crucial. The teams went to the locker rooms with the Huskies in the lead in shots, 13-8.
“Big players make big plays,” Durocher said. “We played a heck of a good period … We had a lot of penalties to kill off, and that helps [Northeastern] sort of in total shots on goal. I didn’t think it was as dangerous as … if you look at it on paper.”
But the tables were turned in the second period. It was the Terriers who had the edge in shots, 13-11, in the middle frame, but the Huskies who got on the board.
At the 2:22 mark of the period, forward Kendall Coyne was the beneficiary of the first goal Sperry allowed in over five periods of play. Coyne’s goal cut Northeastern’s deficit in half, bringing it within one with plenty of time remaining in regulation.
Coyne continued her impressive play, registering eight shots on goal in the second period alone, but Sperry had an answer for the rest of them.
It was a tight, low-scoring affair as the teams headed into the third period with BU in the lead 2-1, but the game opened up in the final frame.
At the 2:37 mark of the period, redshirt senior Jenelle Kohanchuk scored her first of two pivotal goals for the Terriers. Junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin made a pass across the crease to Kohanchuk, who took a one-time snap shot that beat Desjardins to give BU its second multi-goal lead of the game. The score stood as the game winner.
When forward Kelly Wallace brought Northeastern back within a goal more than halfway through the final frame, seemingly giving the Huskies all the momentum, Kohanchuk struck again. Her goal — a one-timer off a feed from Lefort — put BU in the lead 4-2 with fewer than eight minutes remaining in the game.
“When [the Huskies] come to life with a second goal … [Kohanchuk] answered with a beautiful [goal],” Durocher said. “And that was pretty close to the nail-breaker right there.”
BU extended its third two-goal lead of the game, as Tutino scored a power-play goal with 4:58 remaining.
The conference championship is BU’s third in its past four seasons. Durocher commended the players on their perseverance.
“I’m obviously very, very excited for the ladies that got the job done, and they’re the ones that deserve all the accolades,” Durocher said. “I can’t be prouder of the kids than I am, because they had to fight through some adversity and got it done.
“No matter what happens in the NCAA tournament — and we want to win it — but we’ve got something tangible to really look back on and be proud of. You can be here a lot of years in a row and never win this thing because it is a battle.”
The Terriers will host Clarkson University at Walter Brown Arena Saturday at 3 p.m. as the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA tournament, the national office announced Sunday night.