When the Boston University women’s hockey team found itself on the negative side of a 5-on-3 situation in the late minutes of the second period, it did not falter.
The impressive penalty kill of the Terriers (3-1-1) preserved a 1–1 tie, allowing the team to go on to win by a score of 2–1 against Yale University at Walter Brown Arena on Saturday.
At the 15:43 mark of the second period, junior defenseman Shannon Stoneburgh was called for a body-checking penalty. Just five seconds later, senior defenseman Kaleigh Fratkin was sent to the box for crosschecking.
With arguably its two best defensive players off the ice, BU was faced with a tall order. The pressure fell on sophomore defenseman Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga, junior defenseman Caroline Campbell and senior goaltender Kerrin Sperry to prevent Yale (0–2) from scoring during its man advantage.
The Terrier defense and Sperry were hit with seven shots during the 5-on-3 span. Two were saved by Sperry, one went wide and the other four were blocked by the BU defense. Of those four blocked shots, Ribeirinha-Braga blocked two, including one with her left skate.
BU coach Brian Durocher said he was impressed by the stout defense in that situation and also grateful for what were perhaps a few less-than-perfect passes by the Bulldogs.
“That was a huge, huge part of the game for the kids to come out there and positionally play pretty well, [and] probably have Yale miss a pass or one or two plays that might have resulted in a goal,” Durocher said. “You’ve got to get a little bit of that puck luck, but we did a nice job getting some nice clears and a couple blocked shots.”
With 10 seconds left on the 5-on-3, Ribeirinha-Braga was crushed into the boards by freshman Phoebe Staenz, who was subsequently sent off the ice for checking.
Ten seconds later, the teams were at even strength, and five seconds after that, the tables were turned, and BU held a 5–4 man advantage.
“That was huge because that was a momentum changer,” Durocher said. “It could have been a goal, it could have been two goals for them, and instead, we got out of there still tied.”
BU found itself in crucial penalty kill situations several other times in the contest. Fratkin was called for crosschecking right after the Bulldogs scored to tie the game at the 12:31 mark of the second period, and Stoneburgh was sent to the box with 17 seconds left in the second period for tripping a Yale player.
Even though that penalty extended into the third period, the Terriers came out of the locker room with a stalwart attitude that allowed them to return to full strength with the scoreboard untouched.
Fratkin was later called for checking with 7:14 remaining in the game after BU had gone ahead 2-1. Nonetheless, the Terriers were able to prevent Yale from tying the game.
The Terriers have had success in the past in the penalty kill. Last season, BU was third in the Hockey East in penalty minutes (10.4 per game) but ranked second in the penalty kill, killing off penalties 85.6 percent of the time.
Before Saturday’s game, Durocher emphasized a need for the Terriers to give a more complete effort from start to finish. He said he was impressed by the effort the team gave against Yale, most evidenced in the staunch penalty kill.
“We were committed to just giving up the one goal,” Durocher said. “[Sperry] had to make a couple of really good saves, but I think we stayed, technically and structure-wise, in a much better mode most of the game today.”