HYANNIS — With fewer than 10 seconds left in the Hockey East Tournament championship, the No. 9 Boston University women’s hockey team peppered Providence College netminder Genevieve Lacasse with pucks. The Terriers, who were desperately looking to tie up the game, had been down 1-0 since halfway through the first period.
After pulling sophomore goaltender Kerrin Sperry in lieu of an extra skater, BU coach Brian Durocher stood on the bench and watched as his team managed to do what had seemed impossible for the first 59 minutes of play – get a shot past Lacasse.
“I’m hoping for one of those small miracles that somehow after those 59 and a half minutes you find a way to get a puck past [Lacasse],” Durocher said of his thought process during the last 10 seconds of regulation. “You’re really thinking she’s going to be our Tournament MVP, and we couldn’t score against her. That was pretty much the song of the weekend.
“But lo and behold, one gets tipped in and we go to overtime, and it’s just awful nice and awful rewarding for us, and definitely frustrating for Providence, who played great.”
After coming back in the waning seconds of the third period to tie it, the third-seeded Terriers (23-13-1, 14-7-0 Hockey East) went on to win the title and an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, thanks to a goal 2:15 into double overtime to beat fourth-seeded Providence (16-17-4, 11-8-2 Hockey East).
“You like to grab that title and put that banner up in the building,” Durocher said. “And we’ve had the good fortune in doing that.”
For most of the contest it looked as though Providence would come out on top, as the Friars scored early and Lacasse continued her dominance between the pipes.
About halfway through the first frame, freshman defenseman Shannon Stoneburgh turned the puck over to Friar senior Laura Veharanta. Veharanta proceeded to wrist a shot from the right circle and over Sperry’s shoulder.
Lacasse continuously put aside BU shots throughout the three frames, saving a total of 31 shots before the final seconds of regulation. Lacasse was on the verge of earning her third straight shutout and her fourth shutout in the past five games.
Senior captain Jenn Wakefield, however, did not give Lacasse the opportunity, as Wakefield put five shots on goal in the third period, the last of which squeaked by to tie the game.
Sophomore forward Marie-Philip Poulin sent the puck toward sophomore defenseman Kaleigh Fratkin, who fed the puck back to Poulin. Poulin then took a shot that Wakefield redirected into the back of the net with 7.3 seconds left in the third period.
The Terriers gathered their momentum from the final few seconds of the third period and brought it into the first overtime, as BU continued to onslaught Lacasse with shots. BU put up 15 shots in the first 20-minute overtime, while the Friars had nine.
After heading to the locker room for the fourth time in the game, the Terriers came out on the ice with as much energy as they had shown throughout the rest of the contest.
Early in the second overtime, the Friars rang a shot off the cross bar, but seconds later, Wakefield and Poulin connected again to give BU the win.
The puck bounced off of Poulin’s stick toward Wakefield, who was situated about five feet from the goal. Wakefield scooped up the puck from two Providence defenders and turned around, slipping it past Lacasse for the game-winner.
“Sometimes the hockey gods have a way of having pucks barely tipped, just barely blocked, just barely bounced in a little funny, just off a chest or a back or a stick and leaving you little bit empty,” Durocher said. “We were that close to having that terribly empty feeling of not only not getting the tangible result in the championship, but we’d probably be packing our bags away right now.”
Wakefield, who scored both of BU’s goals in the game, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. She also scored a hat trick in the quarterfinals and had a point in the semifinal game against Boston College on Saturday.
“It’s pretty well documented in the record books,” Durocher said of Wakefield. “She gives our team a presence that not everybody has.”
With the win, BU moves on to the NCAA Regional game next weekend. The Terriers, who are tabbed as the sixth seed, will take on third seed Cornell University on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Ithaca, N.Y.
BU struggled against Cornell in November when the Big Red took a pair of games from the Terriers, outscoring them 10-2 in the two games.
“They’re a team we’ve already seen play that’s very talented – somebody who’s already beaten us twice this year,” Durocher said. “So we’re going to have to go up there and play one of those grade ‘A’ games, be very focused offensively, be sharp with our opportunities offensively and again, maybe get a little bit of luck.”