Despite a strong effort as the last few minutes ticked away Tuesday night at Walter Brown Arena, the Boston University women’s hockey team’s Beanpot Tournament aspirations fell just short.
The Terriers (17-10-2, 14-4-2 Hockey East) couldn’t stage a complete comeback effort against Northeastern University, falling 3-2 to their crosstown rivals.
“A great hockey game, I thought,” said BU head coach Brian Durocher. “A lot of talented players, competitive players and great hockey going all the way around.”
The Terriers got off to a quick start, setting the tone for a fast-paced first period. They had two power-play opportunities, failing to score on either, and also threw 13 shots on goaltender Brittany Bugalski by the end of the stanza. Northeastern (24-4-1, 18-2 Hockey East) answered the call — that is, until the 10:43 mark rolled around.
Finally, about halfway into the period, the Terriers would get onto the scoreboard first on a shot from the lower slot by senior forward Rebecca Russo. She received a pass across from sophomore forward Rebecca Leslie and wristed the puck past the Bugalski’s stick side, giving the Terriers the 1-0 lead.
The second frame was a much different atmosphere, with the Huskies not quite ready to back down. Senior Kendall Coyne tied the game just under three minutes into the frame with her 37th goal of the season, after a quick face-off win and shot from the left slot through the five hole of sophomore goaltender Erin O’Neil.
Almost 10 minutes later, Northeastern would take the 2-1 lead thanks to a goal from defenseman Lauren Kelly. Despite having a power play opportunity toward the end of the period, the Terriers would not be able to regain strong possession. The Huskies would double their shot count in the first five minutes of the second frame and nearly quadruple it by the end, leaving the Terriers in a tough spot.
“We lost a little bit of our poise,” Durocher said. “I never thought we were giving up grade-A chances or silly mistakes.”
BU would not let Northeastern off the hook so easily. Early in the frame, the Terriers’ first line had a couple of 2-on-1 opportunities, but both times were unable to follow through, with Bugalski making big saves. Over halfway into the period, however, it was Northeastern that would increase its lead to 3-1 after Coyne’s second goal of the night from the slot.
“I think the biggest strategy is when [Coyne] is on the ice, you have to know she’s there,” Durocher said. “You have to create layers, and we did a good job there, but she still found a way to get two goals and that’s a testament to her ability and talent, which are at the highest level.”
As the time slipped away, BU got a 5-on-3 power play opportunity after forward Shelby Harrington and forward Denisa Krizova were called for hooking and checking, respectively, one after another.
The Terriers pulled the goalie for the 6-on-3 advantage and narrowed the score by one goal thanks to a slap shot from junior defenseman Alexis Crossley, her sixth of the year. Despite having a power play still with just less than two minutes to go, the Terriers were unable to find the back of the net.
“I feel bad for our seniors, who gave it a great run and did their best to get to the championship game,” Durocher said. “I think they played smart, and I think they played hard.”
BU will go on to play in the consolation game Tuesday against Harvard University, as the latter lost against Boston College earlier in the evening.
“We have to figure out what team we’re going to be and where we’re going to be in the biggest games,” Durocher said. “The biggest thing I’m going to ask my team to do is, ‘Can we come back with the exact same intensity and same focus?’ So that against a real good team, you keep it to three goals.”