Boston University women’s hockey kicked off the Hockey East quarterfinals Friday night against the University of New Hampshire.
A pair of goals from forwards sophomore forward Nara Elia and freshman Mackenna Parker led BU (21-7-8, 15-6-6 Hockey East) to a 5-1 triumph over UNH (13-16-6, 10-14-13 Hockey East). The Terriers put on another dominant performance Saturday afternoon, grabbing a 3-1 win to take the series and advance to the tournament semifinals.
“It was a pretty strong effort,” BU head coach Brian Durocher said. “ …We were in pretty good shape.”
Despite a 2-1 loss to Providence College (23-10-2, 16-9-2 Hockey East) last Saturday, BU still had the advantage of playing the quarterfinal series at home. BU is 11-2 all-time at Walter Brown Arena in Hockey East quarterfinal play.
UNH, on the other hand, came into the series cold — since Feb. 3, they had an 0-3-2 record. Friday night added a fourth loss to that, total and Saturday night brought it down to five.
BU wasted no time with UNH right as the puck dropped on Friday. They launched four shots — two of them being on goal — before finally striking the back of the Wildcat net.
Sophomore forward Nara Elia snagged a pass from junior forward Deziray De Sousa, and softly hit the puck toward Wildcat netminder Kyra Smith. The slowly-hit puck snuck past Smith, and the lamp was lit for BU, putting them up 1-0.
The Terriers would then hop onto a power-play, which would start out with UNH winning the faceoff and Elia retrieving the puck soon after.
After opening the scoring book with a goal earlier in the first period, the the Saskatchewanian would get her second less than four minutes later. These two goals brought the Terriers into the locker room with a 2-0 lead, something Durocher said he believed would be a good omen prior to the game.
“We’ve talked about all year closing out a period, closing out a game, it wasn’t one of our strengths last year,” Durocher said. “I thought [before the game] if we go to the locker room 2-0, we’d be in pretty good shape.”
BU were really shooting their shots in the first period, outshooting UNH 11-3 on goal and 15-8 in overall shots. UNH would eventually start asserting themselves in the second period, outshooting BU 16-12 on goal.
This assertion would not result in any Wildcat goals, but rather, a Terrier goal.
Right as the announcer at Walter Brown Arena gave a one-minute notice, freshman forward Mackenna Parker gave the Terriers a 3-0 cushion, with helpers coming from redshirt junior forward Sammy Davis and sophomore linemate Jesse Compher.
Despite the Terriers only getting this one goal in the latter half of the middle stanza, there were still plenty of opportunities for them to do more damage. Five minutes into the second, Compher broke away with the puck and skated toward the UNH goal for a 1-on-1 with Smith. The goaltender won that battle, but it could have made things worse for UNH.
New Hampshire needed to get three goals back without giving up any goals within 20 minutes to get back into this game. It was certainly possible, as the University of Maine did it to BU last year in the quarterfinals.
The Terriers would not let UNH get too close to pulling off a comeback. After the four minute mark, freshman forward Courtney Correia would get in the scoring books for the Terriers and give BU a 4-0 lead. Assists came from junior tri-captain forward Natasza Tarnowski and freshman forward Kaleigh Donnelly.
Exactly 30 seconds after that goal, the Wildcats would respond and get on the board for the first time Friday night. Wildcat forward Devan Taylor got the best of junior goaltender Corinne Schroeder, and the score would be 4-1, still in favor of BU.
Eight minutes into the final stanza, Parker would pick up her second goal of the night and increase the BU lead to four.
Besides that one goal, the Wildcats could not get anything else going and only had six other attempts on goal in the third.
The game would end with a score of 5-1, and BU grabbed a 1-0 lead in this best-of-3 series.
Game two of the series kicked off at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The first period opened with a similar pattern to Friday’s first period — BU was putting on the pressure against the UNH net.
That pressure eventually led to an opening goal for BU five minutes into the first. Junior defender Abby Cook attempted a shot from the blue line in UNH territory, and Davis received the missed shot and got it into the net.
The Terriers were not done in this period. Wildcat forward Meghara McManus got a checking penalty 9:22 into the first, putting BU on the power play.
One minute and four seconds later, BU would take advantage of the extra skater and get a goal. Compher passed the puck to De Sousa, who lightly snuck it past Smith.
The Terriers would maintain this 2-0 edge up to the end of the first period.
The middle stanza did not see scoring from either side, but there were plenty of opportunities to score from BU. They were granted three power plays, two of which overlapped to give the Terriers 49 seconds of a five versus three. The Wildcats managed to kill off these 49 seconds, as well as every other time they were at a disadvantage.
The final stanza saw gritty play from both teams. There were five power-play penalties in the third, three for BU and two for UNH.
Just over two minutes into the third, senior defender Reagan Rust had a tripping penalty that left her banged-up in the penalty box. BU would successfully kill off the resulting power play.
With about 14 minutes remaining in regulation, Davis extended the BU lead to 3-0. Not soon after, BU would go on the power play again, but it would be UNH who scored. McManus would break away and get the shorthanded goal against Schroeder, bringing UNH within two.
The continuation of physical play gave UNH two power-play opportunities, all of which were killed off by BU. The game would end with BU winning the Hockey East quarterfinals 2-0.
The Terriers will face off against the No. 2 seeded Boston College in the tournament semifinals in Providence, Rhode Island next Saturday.
BC (25-10-1, 19-7-1 Hockey East) is also coming off a 2-0 quarterfinals victory. The Eagles knocked seventh-seeded University of Connecticut (14-18-4, 9-14-4 Hockey East) out of the tournament at the Conte Forum Saturday afternoon.
Durocher said back in November that he considered BC to be the best team in Hockey East. That respect will remain as the Terriers prepare to face the Eagles, he said.
“My message to our team is [that] we know how good they are,” Durocher said. “Let’s not make them better by being uptight or not doing things that have gotten us here.”