The Boston University women’s hockey team’s tilt against Yale University Saturday started with a look back at the past and ended with a promising outlook to the future, as sophomore forward Sarah Lefort and freshman forward Maddie Elia both found the back of the net in what resulted in a 2–1 victory for the Terriers in their home opener at Walter Brown Arena.
With the victory, the Terriers (3-1-1) improved to 5-3-1 in home openers during the program’s 9-year history.
“It was another nail-biter where a couple of times, maybe late in the first period and early to the middle of the second period, we had a chance to pull away,” Durocher said. “But we had kind of a funny last shift in the first and a penalty and then we had a couple of penalties in the second period that really halted any momentum we might have had. We had to grind it out in the third period, and thankfully, we found a way to get a goal.”
Before the game got underway, the Terriers held a pregame ceremony in which three banners, honoring the team’s Hockey East Championship, NCAA Tournament appearance and Frozen Four appearance last season, were raised to the rafters. Former Terrier players, including forwards Jill Cardella, Shannon Mahoney and Cristina Wiley, were on hand for the event.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Terriers outshoot the Bulldogs (0–2), 13–9, the Terriers finally got on the board 6:48 into the second. Lefort passed the puck up to freshman forward Samantha Sutherland at center ice, who then sent the puck over to Elia.
Elia burst into the Yale zone, firing a shot at Yale goalie Jaimie Leonoff. Leonoff made the stop, but Elia pounced on the rebound, putting it into the net for the first goal of her collegiate career.
“[Sutherland] was in the middle of the ice and she just tapped it to me,” Elia said. “The defenseman was moving back on the goalie, so I used her as a screen and I just got my own rebound.”
The Terriers were unable to build any momentum off of Elia’s goal, as the Bulldogs netted the equalizer less than six minutes later. Yale won a faceoff in the Terrier zone, allowing forward Paige Decker to fire a shot at the BU net. Senior goaltender Kerrin Sperry was there to make the save, but Yale freshman Stephanie Mock was in position to capitalize on the rebound, tying the game at 1–1.
The Bulldogs had many opportunities to try and get goal past Sperry in the second, as they had four power-play chances, including a 5–3 advantage with less than five minutes remaining in the second stanza, but the stout Terrier defense was able to kill off every penalty.
BU finally got its offensive rhythm going at the start of the third period. The Terriers outshot the Bulldogs, 8–2, over the first 10 minutes of the final frame. Despite their great start in the third, Durocher said his team did not make any major changes to their gameplan during the second intermission.
“We really didn’t make any adjustments,” Durocher said. “We made a slight adjustment to how we forecheck today compared to the first four games where I gave the kids a little more freedom to read and react.
“No adjustments made. It was just they got momentum, they got their legs and after killing another penalty, we had about three or four in a row there. That one to start the third, that kind of energized us and gave us a chance to get rolling and get us some offense.”
The Terriers finally went ahead 6:08 into the third, as Lefort cut off a blue-line pass from a Yale defenseman, creating a breakaway opportunity for the Ormstown, Quebec native.
Lefort finished off the play with a great backhand shot that snuck just under Leonoff’s pads, giving the Terriers a 2–1 lead. The goal ended up being the game winner, as Sperry stymied a Yale power-play opportunity with less than eight minutes remaining, recording seven saves during the two-minute man advantage. Sperry finished the game with 30 saves.
Yale pulled Leonoff with 16 seconds remaining in the game, but the Terriers were able to hold the puck along the boards, sealing the 2–1 win for BU.
After the game, Durocher acknowledged this is not the same team that averaged almost four goals a game last season, but stated that as long as the team continues to play solid defense, the wins will continue to come.
“We’re not going to be run-and-gun, five goals, six goals a game type of thing, and if we ever get to that point, it’s probably because we’re going to be playing good defense,” Durocher said. “You know, not taking chances, and I think tonight we did a much better job at that.”