Ice Hockey, Sports

Erin O’Neil, women’s hockey dominate Yale, earn third straight win

PHOTO BY FALON MORAN/DFP FILE PHOTO
Senior forward Rebecca Russo totaled five assists Tuesday vs. Yale, bringing her to 14 points on the season. PHOTO BY FALON MORAN/DFP FILE PHOTO

The Boston University women’s ice hockey team showed brute force Tuesday night, dominating Yale University in a 7-1 victory thanks to five unanswered goals between the second and third periods.

In the first stanza, things got off to a rough start for BU (6-4, 4-1 Hockey East), as the Bulldogs (1-3) started the offense in its zone, stuffing a puck past sophomore goaltender Erin O’Neil’s pads. The score, however, was ruled a no-goal due to a distinct kicking motion by the Yale forward.

The close call allowed for an immediate role reversal for the two teams, with the Terriers taking the offense into their own hands, helped by great goaltending from O’Neil.

Just over six minutes into the first period, O’Neil made an impressive save on Yale forward and Swiss National Teamer Phoebe Staenz, who couldn’t capitalize on a breakaway opportunity.

Toward the end of the first frame, the Terriers capitalized on junior defenseman Sarah Steele’s wrist shot from the hash marks, which cruised past Yale netminder Hanna Mandl.

Just a few minutes later, junior forward Maddie Elia put the Terriers up 2-0 after her shot from the lower side of the slot beat Mandl on the top right blocker side.

The second period featured more examples of stellar goaltending by O’Neil, who made a diving butterfly save early in the frame on not one, but two shots by Yale’s forwards. After two periods, the netminder had made a total of 20 saves on 21 shots.

“I’ve been seeing the puck well and our [defense] has been blocking a ton of shots out front of the net,” O’Neil said. “They’re letting me see the puck, so confidence is definitely really high in our locker room and just for me as well. Just coming into the rink and knowing that it’s my net right now has been huge.”

Yale capitalized just over halfway into the second period almost immediately after an expiring penalty on Elia, after senior Jamie Haddad’s shot from the hash marks. O’Neil wasn’t able to see the puck because of a scramble in front. BU would not sweat it, though, grabbing two of its own before the end of the frame.

Senior forward Jordan Juron successfully tipped the puck in from the right side of the net after junior forward Samantha Sutherland’s pass from the lower slot. Juron’s second goal of the season gave the Terriers a 3-1 lead with 22 minutes remaining in the contest.

A few minutes before the period ended, BU made the score 4-1 on a shorthanded goal from sophomore forward Rebecca Leslie. Leslie skated down the ice and shot the puck straight into the left top shelf from the side of the net.

In an attempt to switch things up in the final frame, Yale goaltender Rachelle Graham started in net for the Bulldogs, but it did little to stifle BU’s offense.

Early in the third period, two penalties by the Terriers caused the Bulldogs to have a 5-on-3 power play, but successful penalty killing and some key saves by O’Neil allowed BU to maintain its 4-1 lead.

The penalties expired and Elia found the back of the net twice before the end of the period. In the first play, the Lewiston, New York, native shot the puck towards the net from the side of the rink, but it hit the back of the Graham’s pad and bounced behind her straight in the net.

Leslie’s first goal of the night came soon after on a shot from the hash marks to make it 6-1, Terriers. Elia finalized her hat trick for the night on a similar play, solidifying the 7-1 BU win.

“It was awesome,” Elia said on collecting her first hat trick of the season. “Me and Rebecca [Leslie] and the other Rebecca [Russo] are playing really well together, so I’m thankful to be playing with them. They really set me up on all three of my goals.”

With just over five minutes left in the third period, sophomore goalie Ashlyn Aiello saw her first collegiate playing time and made four saves for the Terriers, finalizing their third consecutive win.

“I thought at the beginning we were a little sloppy at times,” said BU assistant coach Katie Lachapelle. “I thought we picked it up and for us to be able to put goals in like that going into the next weekend is awesome.”

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