With many fresh faces on the ice and some recognizable ones gone, the Boston University women’s hockey team played in an exhibition game this past Friday night, taking on Western University of Ontario. Despite the changes on the team, the reigning Hockey East champions came away with a 4-3 overtime win over Western.
“It was a good exercise for everybody to be involved,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “You get a little bit of a flavor and a little bit of a sense of what people can do at this level. It was a nice test. It was a crazy game physicality-wise and penalty-wise.”
The Terriers came right out of the gates and had a flurry of chances in the opening minutes of the contest. With the pressure mounting, Western took a high-sticking penalty at 4:21. Freshman forward Natalie Flynn was able to get off a shot on the power play, but goaltender Olivia Ross was able to make the save, one of her 42 on the night.
Despite the early chance, the Terriers took a penalty of their own during the power play when junior defender Shannon Stoneburgh body-checked a Mustang player.
After a flurry of penalties that both teams took in the ensuing minutes, BU went back on the attack. Sophomore forward Sarah Lefort nearly broke the scoreless tie with a forehand chance in front of the goal crease, but again, Ross was in position to make the stop.
With the chances piling up for the Terriers, they finally broke through on the scoreboard. Sophomore defender Alexis Woloschuk took a shot from the point which sophomore right wing Dakota Woodworth deflected in midair with her stick past Ross at 7:59.
Although BU controlled the puck in their offensive zone for most of the period, Western was able to knot up the score at17:59 in the first. Freshman Megan Taylor took a pass deep into the Terriers’ zone and wristed it by senior goalie Kerrin Sperry.
While the Terriers led in shots 18-6 after one, the game was tied heading to the first intermission.
In the second period both teams exchanged penalties and opportunities, but neither team could take advantage. On the first Terrier power-play opportunity, freshman forward Maddie Elia nearly broke the tie, but again, a strong Ross was able to corral the shot.
Despite three power play chances during the period and 11 total during the game, the Terriers could not find the back net once during the advantage.
“We had people all over the place on the power play,” Durocher said. “Nobody has really practiced it. We’ve had all of four days of practice. That’s not something you rush to do. We’re going to have to fight, scrap and get loose pucks on the power play.”
Midway through the second period, the Terriers made a goaltending switch, bringing in freshman Victoria Hanson in for Sperry. Shortly thereafter, with the minutes waning in the period, Stoneburgh took a five-minute major for hitting from behind. She was ejected for game misconduct, leaving the Terriers without one of their best defenders for the remainder of the game and putting increased pressure on Hanson for the next five minutes.
Despite being down a player running into the third period, the Terriers were able to kill off the penalty. Gaining momentum from the penalty kill, the Terriers then successfully took the lead. Elia took a pass from sophomore defenseman Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga and brought the puck into the high slot. Elia used a Western defender as a screen and wristed it by the glove of Ross to give the Terriers a 2-1 lead.
The Terriers looked to extend their lead with chances in the following minutes, but Ross stood on her head, ready for every shot.
At 15:27 the Mustangs were able to tie the score again on a breakaway goal from forward Stacey Scott, but just 29 seconds later, the Terriers would regain the lead. Senior forward Louise Warren was stopped on an initial shot attempt, but Ross left a rebound for Elia, who deposited the puck into the back of the net.
“It was awesome,” Elia said about her second goal of the game. “The team kept up their good work. It was really good.”
The Mustangs were able to tally a third goal at the 18:09 mark to tie the game as forward Brittany Clapham redirected the puck past Hanson’s glove side.
With the score tied at three after the final period of regulation, the game headed to overtime. Just 1:15 into overtime, the Terriers were able to score the game winner. Woodworth notched her second of the contest as she snatched up a rebound and put it past Ross’s glove for the goal.
Woodworth will likely see an increased role this season with the loss of key forwards Jenelle Kohanchuk and Isabel Menard, who graduated in May, and Marie-Philip Poulin, who will represent Team Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics. For Woodworth, her two goals were a good sign for the upcoming season.
“It feels great to start the year off like that,” Woodworth said. “It was a good start to the year. It’s great for momentum, carrying it into the next few weeks of practice and the regular season.”