For two periods, the Boston University women’s hockey team hung right with the two-time defending national champion University of Minnesota. It was the exact situation that the team was in the weekend before against Boston College in the Hockey East Championship Game, as both times BU entered the third down by the same 2-1 margin.
But the No. 1 Gophers (37-1-1) quickly let the Terriers (24-13-1) know that they were not the Eagles (27-7-3). Just three minutes into the final period, Gopher forward Kelly Terry notched her second goal of the day on her way to a hat trick.
And just like that, the season was over for the Terriers with Minnesota claiming a 5-1 victory on home ice.
Even in the loss, BU coach Brian Durocher said he was happy with the way his team competed against the highly-touted Gophers.
“The kids were ready to go and they competed pretty hard,” Durocher said. “We had some of the necessary bounces you need during a game. After they scored, we answered with a big goal to make 1-1 and then we carried the game all the way to 2-1 going into the third period and we had ourselves in good position and obviously their wave of talent took over.
“I don’t think we played soft mentally or anything like that. In the end, it was probably more of their skill making that put the game away.”
Senior goalie Kerrin Sperry kept the game close through the first two frames, making a couple of spectacular saves along the way. In addition, the BU defense was able to clear a couple of loose pucks in the crease that had chances of going in. Through two periods, the Gophers outshot the Terriers 30-17.
“[Sperry] competed like crazy,” Durocher said. “I think the kids were helping her clearing loose pucks around the net, but in the end, [the Gophers] made two gorgeous shots to get the fourth and fifth goal and not many goalies are going to stop either one of those opportunities. So she distinguished herself today, as well as throughout her career, and made a tremendous mark on this program and certainly accomplished herself.”
One of the bright spots for the Terriers during the game was the play of sophomore forward Sarah Lefort. The forward notched her NCAA-best 32nd goal of the season in the first period just 21 seconds after Terry hit the twine 12:56 into the first period. Lefort took a slap shot from the left side that befuddled goaltender Amanda Leveille, who mishandled the high shot that ended up into the back of the net.
Defenseman Rachel Ramsey tallied a goal for the Gophers at the 8:01 mark to regain the lead for Minnesota and Terry then put the game away for the Gophers with two goals in third period after a few spectacular moves to avoid the BU defense.
“[Terry’s] an extremely fast skater and tonight she twice made big-time plays going wide,” Durocher said. “Big time players are on both sides, Sarah Lefort and Louise Warren on our side and her and many others on their side and she put on a great performance.”
The area where the Terriers struggled the most was taking penalties, which ultimately resulted in a 5-on-3 chance that led to the go-ahead goal. Senior defenseman Kaleigh Fratkin took three penalties just a period-and-a-half into the game, giving Minnesota ample opportunities. Durocher said aggressive defense rather than sloppy hockey led to Fratkin’s three penalties.
“[Fratkin’s] a real strong kid and a big part of our team,” Durocher said. “I think when she’s taking those penalties, that are one’s that she should be in control of, the stick up high or cross checks and screens, I might get down on her. But today, I don’t think the penalties were bad penalties. She was playing strong like she does and unfortunately [Minnesota] went down, but her stick was down, her positioning was good and the way the referees saw it, some of those could have gone the other way and not been called.”
While the loss was disappointing following last week’s upset victory in the Hockey East title game, Durocher said he was proud of his team’s accomplishments this season due to the amount of adversity the team faced throughout the year with the plethora of injuries, the absence of Marie-Philip Poulin and struggles at the start of 2014.
“Certainly after the game, the first thing you think about is the seniors who will put the uniform on for the last time, and we tried to reflect back briefly to all that they contributed to this program and what they’ve done,” Durocher said. “We’ve got to take the fact that we had a fantastic year…They answered the bell with the Hockey East Championship and 24 wins. If you’re going to go down, it’s probably not the worst thing in the world to lose to a team that has lost once in the last two years.”