In the program’s second consecutive trip to the Hockey East Tournament semifinals, the No. 10 Boston University women’s hockey team fell Saturday to crosstown rival No. 6 Boston College, 3-2, in Durham, N.H.
The Terriers, who entered the conference tournament as the No. 3 seed, outshot the second-seeded Eagles, 38-21 — including a 19-6 advantage in the first period — but weren’t able to put more than two pucks past BC goalie Molly Schaus. The junior netminder entered the contest ranked first in the nation in save percentage (.941) and first in Hockey East in goals-against average (1.59).
‘Most of the credit has to go to Molly for making the ultimate save,’ BU coach Brian Durocher said. ‘This is a game that is dominated by the goaltender. Good ones stop 90 percent of the shots, and she made life difficult for us. That’s why she’s an Olympic prospect and a real tough, tough kid.’
The Terriers got the action started early in the first period when a pregame line switch paid off. Before the game, Durocher inserted red-hot freshman forward Jenelle Kohanchuk, who ended the season on a seven-game point streak, onto the first line at the left wing position in place of senior forward Erin Seman, who moved to the third line. Only three minutes in, the change showed its first effect when Kohanchuk assisted on a goal scored by fellow first-liner Lauren Cherewyk on a rebound.
Those two, along with front-line junior center Melissa Anderson, kept the pressure on in the first period, firing shot after shot on net, including several on breakaways. However, Schaus was there to shut the door for the remainder of the period.
‘[The first line] played fantastic,’ Durocher said. ‘The switch put three really great players together and they dominated the game, although they didn’t get the four or five goals they deserved. That’s how good they played.’
BC tied it up halfway through the first when junior forward Allie Thunstrom fed classmate Kelli Stack, fresh off being named the 2008-09 Hockey East Player of the Year, for a goal from the right slot.
Thunstrom struck again in the second period to put the Eagles on top, 2-1. With 16 seconds left in the stanza, the junior fought through traffic in front of BU senior goalie Allyse Wilcox and placed the puck in the back of the net for the go-ahead goal.
After penalties dominated the rest of the middle session ‘- seven of the eight penalties between the teams came in the second frame ‘- with few results, BC was able to pull ahead by two at the halfway mark of the third period. Freshman forward Andrea Green redirected a Stack shot past Wilcox to make it 3-1.
The Terriers mustered a last-ditch effort 3:30 later. While Schaus and the rest of the BC defense was distracted by traffic on the side of the net, Anderson found Kohanchuk, who rippled the back of the net to pull the Terriers within one in the waning moments.
Trying to capitalize on his team’s newfound momentum, Durocher called a timeout with 1:40 left in regulation.
However, it was to no avail, as the Terriers never got the extra goal they so desired, despite a 56-second-long man advantage after pulling their goalie.
The loss signaled the end of the road for BU this season, as the No. 10 team in the nation will most likely not be selected for the upcoming eight-team NCAA Tournament. It was also the last game in scarlet and white for seniors Gina Kearns, Sarah Russell, Caroline Bourdeau, Kelley Karnan, Caitlin Reddy, Amanda Shaw, Nicki Wiart, Seman and Wilcox. Kearns finishes as the program’s all-time leader in points with 102, while Wilcox graduates as the program leader in GAA (2.32), save percentage (.916), wins (43) and shutouts (7).
The 2008-09 season saw BU’s first-ever national ranking (it reached as high as No. 4 in late November), its greatest upset (a 3-2 win over the then-No. 4 University of New Hampshire on Oct. 23) and highest regular-season finish in Hockey East (3rd).
‘All those accomplishments are a testament to the continued development of our program and the fantastic job we’ve received from our seniors this year and throughout their careers,’ Durocher said. ‘I told them that I’m as proud of them as I’ve been of anybody who has worn the scarlet and white jersey, and that includes the teams I’ve played on or coached. They did everything we could have asked of people coming into this program, and we salute them as they wind down their careers.’