Ice Hockey, Sports

Erin O’Neil shines as No. 9 women’s hockey splits weekend set

PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DFP FILE PHOTO
Junior forward Samantha Sutherland got the scoring started for the Terriers on Saturday vs. Penn State. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/DFP FILE PHOTO

The No. 9 Boston University women’s ice hockey team had a whirlwind weekend against Pennsylvania State University, beginning with a 5-3 defeat at Walter Brown Arena on Friday night.

Friday’s contest was not what the Terriers (3-1-0, 2-0 Hockey East) would call a successful competition, at least according to the scoreboard.

The Nittany Lions (1-3-0) capitalized three times within the first eleven minutes of the first period.

Just 43 seconds into the first frame, Penn State forward Laura Bowman slid the puck across the offensive zone in front of the net on a 2-on-1 opportunity to senior Jill Holdcroft, who batted the puck into the net, beating junior goaltender Victoria Hanson on the right side.

Five minutes later, the Lions would strike again on a goal by third-liner Emily Laurenzi, who shot the puck into the net on a rebound chance after freshman Hannah England’s first attempt.

Halfway through the first period, defenseman Bella Sutton fired the puck from the top of the slot on a 5-on-3 power play, giving the Lions a 3-0 lead.

However, the Terriers would not let Penn State get away that easily in the first frame.

Senior forward Sarah Lefort would put BU on the scoreboard less than five minutes before the end of the first frame after a turnover in the neutral zone by the Lions.

“They came at us hard,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “They took advantage of some opportunities, and they completely changed the complexion of the game early in the game.”

The Terriers played a much better second period, as they outshot Penn State 14-7 by the end of the frame and cut the deficit to one on a strike from sophomore forward Victoria Bach.

In the third period, however, the Lions would crush any remaining hopes for the Terriers with two early goals.

Senior Hannah Hoenshell got the Lions their fourth goal of the night, this time on a one-timer after a pass from Laurenzi. Just 40 seconds later, forward Christi Vetter tallied one of her own by beating the BU defensemen for a clean shot in the upper left corner past Hanson.

Senior forward Rebecca Russo would give the Terriers one last goal before the end of the game.

“I really had a sense that we were ready to play and respect our opponents,” Durocher said. “I’m not sure we were 100 percent respecting our opponent. I’m pretty certain we had very little [competitiveness] in the first part of the game.”

A revived Terrier team took the ice Saturday, and rallied from behind to defeat Penn State, 3-1. Three unanswered goals granted BU its third win of the season.

Sophomore forward Rebecca Leslie earned the No. 1 star of the game for registering two assists, and scoring the game-winning goal. She has eight points on the season, leading the Terriers. Russo is close behind with three goals, three assists.

BU put up 37 shots Saturday, just four shy of their Friday night total. The Terriers outshot Penn State 11-9 in the first frame, but the second was the pivotal period of the match.

Just under eight minutes into the second stanza, junior Amy Petersen found her linemate Bowman, who sent a wrist shot past BU’s sophomore netminder Erin O’Neil.

Seconds after another Terrier power play passed, they barraged the Nittany Lions’ goaltender Hannah Ehresmann with shots. Junior forward Samantha Sutherland put BU on the board with assists from Leslie and senior defenseman Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga.

Just over a minute later, the Terriers struck again. Russo passed to Leslie from the attacking blue line. Leslie shot from just outside the crease and found net, giving her team a 2-1 advantage.

Freshman forward Sammy Davis scored her fourth goal of the season on a power play with under five minutes remaining in the contest. The Pembroke native now leads her team in goals.

Although the entire team played better overall as opposed to Friday’s game, Durocher said he believes the defense made the most improvement.

“I liked the defense because of their gap control,” he said. “Yesterday we were all over the place, nobody was keeping good gap. I think they probably showed the biggest improvement because they had a way of controlling the game. Our forwards, they just played a tighter, more organized game [compared to Friday’s game].”

O’Neil played her first complete game this season. She stopped 27 of the 28 shots she faced, and led BU to the 3-1 victory.

“She did a real good job,” Durocher said. “Erin is still trying to get comfortable out there and I want to make sure that she’s comfortable making saves but also on the little stuff that’s around the net, setting up pucks, getting out and handling it once in a while.”

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