Boston University women’s ice hockey finished their first weekend series of the season with a 3-4 loss against the University of New Hampshire.
The Terriers (1-1) won their last matchup against the Wildcats (1-4) on Friday night, but were unable to pull off two wins in a row.
Head coach Brian Durocher said there is bound to be some “rust” coming into these first few games after a nearly nine-month break between games, and the Terriers still need time to adjust to “getting into a groove.”
The Terriers and Wildcats remained scoreless late into the first period, with 21 total shots saved by the goaltenders.
The Terriers gained the lead with 1:25 left in the opening period with a rebound shot by freshman forward Clare O’Leary, recording her first collegiate goal.
Despite the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, which resulted in smaller group practices, freshmen players like O’Leary have seen early playing time while also managing nerves.
“They seem comfortable in practice,” Durocher said. “I think when you get into a game there’s going to be maybe a little bit of a nervous part of it.”
Just about 40 seconds after O’Leary’s goal, senior forward Jesse Compher gave the Terriers a 2-0 lead with another rebound shot. Compher factored into six game-winning goals during the 2019-20 season and scored the opening goal against the Wildcats in the Terriers’ season opener on Friday night, putting her at two scores for this year.
Early in the second period, the Wildcats found the back of the net with sophomore forward Tamara Thiérus’ first goal of the game, making it a one-goal contest.
BU junior goaltender Kate Stuart faced several challenges in the middle of the second period before junior defender Alex Allan was given a hooking penalty that resulted in a Wildcats power play.
Despite Stuart’s struggles during the second period, Durocher said Stuart put in hard work keeping the Wildcats from scoring during power plays.
“She’s had a great run for 14, 15 career games, and I was looking for nothing but the same,” Durocher said. “She’s trained extremely hard, practiced extremely hard and certainly was ready to go today.”
Seconds after the end of the power play caused by Allan, the Wildcats tied up the game with a shot to the top of the net by Thiérus.
The Terriers got their second opportunity for a power play near the end of the second period, coming from interference by the Wildcats. BU rattled off three shots during that power play, but could not get the puck past the UNH defense.
At the 2:50 mark in the second period, New Hampshire gained the lead with sophomore forward Jada Christian sliding the puck across the line for her second goal of the season.
Allan attempted to tie the game for the Terriers with a shot right before the second intermission, but it was saved by Wildcat junior goaltender Ava Boutilier.
Boutilier recorded an impressive 0.942 save percentage in 26 games for New Hampshire last season and put up 28 total saves on Saturday.
While the second period was dominated by the Wildcats, the start of the third period was a stalemate with no goals early on from either side.
The Terriers were given another power play in the third period that resulted in a goal from sophomore forward Julia Nearis, but the Wildcats quickly answered with a goal of their own by junior forward Lauren Martin to give UNH a 4-3 advantage.
Durocher acknowledged the success and difficulties BU was having during power plays with a new group of special teams players this season.
“I was really happy with the way they moved the puck around,” Durocher said. “The only thing I think we might have missed out on … was getting the third person to the net.”
As the third period carried on, the Terriers continued to push for a tying goal, but could not get past Boutilier, solidifying a narrow defeat.
BU is currently set to play again Jan. 1 when they face the Wildcats at Walter Brown Arena, followed by a game at New Hampshire the next day.