The No. 3 Boston University women’s hockey team fell to defeat No. 2 Cornell University Saturday night in the teams’ first rematch since Cornell defeated BU in a triple overtime heartbreaker in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
BU came up with a win against Cornell the next day, splitting the weekend series.
The games were the first two of the season for Cornell (1–1), a team that is coming off of a season that ended with a Frozen Four appearance.
Saturday night’s game, the annual women’s hockey game held at Agganis Arena, began with a scoreless first period in which both teams had their fair share of scoring chances. Sperry and Cornell junior goaltender Lauren Slebodnick made great saves, preventing either team from converting on its opportunities.
The second period was a much different story, as pucks found the net with regularity. BU (4–1) junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin began the scoring with 16:25 remaining in the period when she received a puck from senior forward Jill Cardella, spun around and slid the puck through Slebodnick’s legs to give BU a 1–0 lead.
Less than one minute later, Cornell tied the game as Sperry failed to get her glove on a puck in the crease and freshman forward Anna Zorn put it in the net.
When Cardella gave BU a 2–1 lead by putting a rebound in the net with 13:49 remaining in the period, the Terriers went on a power play two minutes later and the game took a turn for the worse for BU.
“We came out and we got some energy going by getting the 1–0 lead and we actually came back after they got a goal that I think was a little bit of bad luck for us,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “We get back to 2–1 and we look like we’re putting ourselves in pretty good shape and then all of a sudden two goals on one power play shorthanded really changed the entire complexion of the game.”
BU allowed two shorthanded goals on the two-minute power play and fell behind 3–2.
The third period went much like the first. Both teams got scoring chances, but neither could convert.
When the Terriers went on the power play down by one goal with 8:37 remaining in the game, they were unable to register a shot on goal despite being in the offensive zone for the entirety of the two minutes.
Less than two minutes after Cornell killed the penalty, sophomore forward Monica Leck sealed the game by deflecting a slap shot into the net to give the Big Red a 4–2 lead with only 4:48 remaining.
Cornell went on to win the game 5–2 after getting an empty net goal with 53 seconds remaining in the game.
Durocher said he saw a lot of room for improvement going into the next game.
“I think we can win battles and we can be a little more assertive with the puck,” Durocher said. “The bottom line is you got to be ready. They’re coming at us and we knew they were going to be coming at us.”
Sunday’s game, which was back at BU’s normal home at Walter Brown Arena, went much differently.
The teams went into the locker room after the first period scoreless.
The second period was off to a rough start for BU when the Big Red got a power play goal with 15:42 remaining in the period. Sophomore Jillian Saulnier and junior Brianne Jenner both took shots from in close that forced Sperry into a split to make the saves, but senior defenseman Laura Fortino put the rebound into the top left corner of the net.
The Terriers bounced back quickly with a game-tying goal off of a wrist shot from senior forward Isabel Menard less than two minutes after Cornell took the lead.
The game then slowed down as both defenses tightened up, but when Cornell went on the power play with five minutes remaining in the period, BU changed the momentum of the game.
BU proved that its special teams’ ineffectiveness from the night before was not going to continue into this game. While shorthanded, the Terriers controlled the puck in the offensive zone and took a shot on goal, easily killing the Big Red’s man advantage.
Durocher said his team’s pace helped them get more opportunities.
“We put a bit of an uncomfortable pace on Cornell here because even though we didn’t have that much to show for it in the second period, we doubled them and maybe even almost tripled them in shots in the period,” Durocher said.
With 20 seconds remaining in the period, Menard and Poulin broke out into a two-on-one rush. Menard carried the puck down the left side and passed it across the net to Poulin, who put it in to give BU a 2–1 lead. Neither player was done putting up points just yet.
The Terriers wasted no time in extending their lead in the third period. With 17:07 remaining, they went on the power play. Toward the end of the period, Menard sent a pass across the net to senior forward Jenelle Kohanchuk who put it in for a power play goal and a 3–1 BU lead.
Another goal by each Menard and Poulin carried the Terriers to a 5–1 victory against a team that BU may see later in the season in the NCAA tournament.
“Our kids are just happy to hold serve and come up with a win,” said Durocher. “[BU and Cornell] I think have one goal — get in the NCAA tournament on your body of work.”