It was an emotional afternoon at Walter Brown Arena as the Boston University women’s hockey team seniors were honored during pregame festivities before an uncharacteristic 5-1 loss against rival No. 5/6 Boston College.
The scene prior to the start of the game was a ceremonious one, as senior forwards Louise Warren, Taylor Holze and Meghan Riggs, along with defenseman Kaleigh Fratkin and goaltenders Kerrin Sperry and Braly Hiller walked out to center ice with their families and were presented with flower bouquets amid cheers from Terrier fans.
Unfortunately for the departing seniors, the contest was not representative of their BU careers.
“It’s always tough emotionally because you really do love the kids,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “You lose a piece of them on the ice when they depart, but unfortunately we couldn’t quite turn that emotion into a victory today. But they’ve had a heck of a run here for four years.”
Coming off a season-high 47 saves against BC (25-5-3, 18-2-1 Hockey East) Saturday afternoon, Sperry allowed five goals on 37 shots Sunday afternoon. It was certainly a below-average performance for the former Hockey East All-Rookie Team goaltender, who posted a career-best 1.60 goals-against average and .930 save percentage en route to a 20-3-3 record in the first season with BU.
Although she would never repeat those numbers, Sperry won 11 of her last 13 games in her sophomore year and carried that success into her record-setting junior season.
In 2012-13, Sperry set the Terrier (21-12-1, 14-7-0 Hockey East) record for wins in a season (24), career wins (64) and career shutouts (11). She was also awarded Hockey East Tournament MVP after allowing just three goals in three games, including a 42-save shutout in the semifinals against Providence College.
But despite her successful career, Sperry said her fondest memories will be of the time spent with her teammates between games.
“The thing I’m going to remember the most is the times out on the ice just with the girls practicing 1-on-1,” Sperry said. “Not even during structured practice, but just getting shots from the girls and getting to hang out and experience being on a team like this with such powerful and strong women [has] been amazing.”
Warren fared no better in the Senior Day contest, as she was unable to get on the stat sheet — an uncommon occurrence from a forward who has improved each season en route to becoming BU’s captain and one of the team’s top scorers.
The forward’s Terrier career got off to a slow start, as she posted 10 points in her freshman campaign and 18 as a sophomore.
But the Pembroke, Ontario native had a breakout junior year, putting up 15 goals and 19 assists, as well as winning the Friends of Hockey Unsung Hero Award.
Additionally, Warren had a fantastic performance in the Hockey East playoffs with two goals in the semifinal against Providence College. She impressed in the NCAA Tournament as well, as she scored a game-winning goal in the quarterfinals against Clarkson University and recorded the game-winning assist against Mercyhurst College to send BU to the National Championship Game.
Warren was named captain for the 2013-14 season, and she has not disappointed, scoring 24 goals and recording 19 assists, good for the second-most points on the team (43).
“Louise has continued to climb the ladder each year, from a real good freshman year, to an improved sophomore year and two pretty dynamic junior and senior years where the points added up,” Durocher said.
But the most emotional reaction of the afternoon came from Warren’s classmate and assistant captain in Fratkin.
With about a minute remaining in the first period and the Terriers down 1-0, forward Haley Skarupa wristed a puck past Sperry from in close to give BC a two-goal lead. Fratkin, who was defending on the play, laid face down on the rink after the goal was scored.
Durocher praised the leadership Fratkin and Warren have shown in their final season donning the scarlet and white.
“They’re doing a nice job,” Durocher said. “The team harmony is good here. Everybody’s involved with the team. They did everything they could to be leaders on and off the ice, and they’re following some very, very good captains here and they fit right in as wonderful leaders for our team.”
But one BU senior whose many obstacles are often overlooked is Holze.
“Taylor has had cards dealt to her that you don’t wish on anybody,” Durocher said. “With three knee surgeries, an ankle injury, she has persevered. She’s been there to compete all the time. She’s found a home here the last 10 games.”
The persistent forward, who struggled just to get on the ice throughout her run with BU, was unable to put up her 12th point of the season Sunday, which would have been the second-highest point total of her collegiate career.
Even in the loss, Sperry said the senior class will depart with pride in the success it was able to help BU achieve.
“Even more than individuals, our class is proud that we’ve been able to bring the program to two national championship games [and] two Hockey East championships,” Sperry said. “That’s been really something special.”