The No. 6 Boston University women’s hockey team reached a plateau yesterday with the completion of a three-game season sweep of the No. 7 University of New Hampshire.
‘We just wanted to come out and beat them a third time,’ freshman forward Jenelle Kohanchuk said. ‘We just wanted to show that we can beat the good teams, that we are a good team, and it’s just not a fluke that we’re beating New Hampshire all the time.’
In previous years, the young BU program was barely competitive against perennial Hockey East titan UNH. With the Terriers’ unprecedented success against the Wildcats this year, a rivalry is being forged for the future.
‘I think the rivalry will stem from us being a fully supported team,’ BU coach Brian Durocher said. ‘We’ve built this thing over four years with implementing scholarships and adding quality players. We’ve got great kids who have gotten us started, been the foundation of this program.’
Sunday, the Wildcats looked across the ice to see a hungry Hockey East rival, a team that had beaten them twice this season and stood one position ahead of them in the national rankings. That team was about to justify that position with a third straight victory over UNH.
‘Now we think we’ve got a talent level that’s pretty close to New Hampshire,’ Durocher said. ‘We hope that our conditioning, but also our volume of players, might be able to give us an edge.’
The atmosphere in Walter Brown Arena yesterday had all the trappings of a marquee matchup. The roar of fans thundered on both sides of the ice. One UNH supporter whipped out a trumpet each time the Wildcats scored to blast a brassy rendition of Gary Glitter’s ‘Rock and Roll Part II.’
Both the Terriers and Wildcats hit the ice with energy and ferocity, fighting for every loose puck with a desperation characteristic of Walmart shoppers on Black Friday. This intensity made for rough, physical play from both ends. Players pushed, slashed, face-planted and went careening across the ice to gain an advantage. This zeal led to 16 total penalties and one violent scuffle after which six players were penalized for hitting after the whistle.’ ‘
The game was almost Shakespearian in its drama. The Terriers went up in the first period, but were beaten back down in the second after UNH scored twice to take a 2-1 lead. The outcome looked bleak for BU late in the third period, even after freshman Tara Watchorn’s goal brought her team within one.
But a spectacular plot twist came when junior Melissa Anderson netted a shot to tie the score and send the contest into overtime. The Terrier skaters flocked to Anderson on the ice, hugging one another in celebration of her goal.
The teams kept the suspense up with a scoreless overtime period, bringing on a shootout to determine the victor. The Terriers placed the fate of the game in the hands of two unlikely heroes. Durocher chose senior Laurel Koller to take one of BU’s shots, and she scored the only goal of the shootout.
Junior Melissa Haber, who gave BU a solid performance in net, rejected all three Wildcat shooters. The BU bench emptied as players mobbed Haber after her final save secured the win.
The picture-perfect ending was fit for the stage or screen, rather than the ice.
‘It definitely should be, and I think it is a rivalry,’ Durocher said.