By Michael Wax
Thanks to two power-play goals in 26 seconds, Boston University Women’s Ice Hockey (8-15-2, 7-12-2 HE) got their first win of 2023 by defeating the New Hampshire Wildcats (9-17-0, 7-12-0 HE) 3-1 on Saturday night.
Despite picking up two extra points this past week in shootouts, the Terriers came into today’s game with a five-game winless streak. The Terriers turned to graduate goaltender Andrea Brändli for her fifth start in the last six games, while UNH countered with senior goalie Nicky Harnett.
“You have to get goaltending, and we got that again tonight,” BU Head Coach Brian Durocher said. “Andrea played very well. In particular, probably the best was saved for last with that left toe save very, very late.”
UNH picked up the game-opening goal three and a half minutes into the game. Coming into the Terrier’s zone off the rush, junior forward Brianna Brooks attempted to make a move around the defense before ultimately putting a shot on net. With two Wildcats and three Terriers crashing the net for the rebound, the puck took several bounces before landing on the stick of UNH sophomore forward Kira Juodikis, who tapped the puck in.
BU tied the game and took the lead on the power play late in the first period. The Terriers were given a massive opportunity as senior forward Tamara Thierus was sent to the box for body-checking, and junior defender Kyla Bent was penalized for cross-checking just 26 seconds later. BU was left with 1:34 of 5-on-3 power play time.
On the power play, freshman defender Brooke Disher was denied at the side of the net on a beautiful glove save by Harnett. On the ensuing faceoff, freshman forward Clara Yuhn controlled the puck at the left faceoff dot before firing the puck on net. After an initial save from Harnett, and a subsequent save on Disher down low, Disher gathered the puck back higher in the slot and fired home the rebound for her third goal of the season.
BU would take the lead 26 seconds later, again on the power play. Captain Nadia Mattivi brought the puck into the offensive zone and chipped the puck in for junior forward Clare O’Leary. O’Leary quickly settled a bouncing puck and after being denied by Harnett, she fired home the rebound for her third of the season.
“Honestly, I saw the puck go through my legs and it was right in front of me, so I kind of just whacked at it,” O’Leary said. “I think she was still standing up. So I was just looking low on her and trying to go five hole.”.
Despite being outshot by UNH 11-8 in the opening period, BU came out of the first 20 with a 2-1 lead.
While the second period didn’t see any goals, the pace of play certainly stayed consistent compared to the goal-filled first period. UNH led in shots on goal 8-2 and increased their game lead to 19-10, but BU had several dangerous chances on net, including a wrap-around by graduate defender Alex Allan.
Even with UNH having a rowdy home crowd and bench, BU remained unfazed and focused on keeping themselves in front.
“Keeping our bench energy high definitely helps us a lot and I think that throughout the past three games, we’ve really done a good job of keeping that energy and intensity up.” O’Leary said. “We don’t really let the crowd impact us too much”.
The third period saw more of the same for the Terriers, blocking passing lanes and keeping things simple in front of Brändli.
“We were much more accountable and I think they were fighting like crazy,” Durocher said. “It added up to some more good stuff happening.”
Brändli only faced one shot in the final five minutes and responded with a 10-bell save with her left pad.
Yuhn sealed the game with an empty net goal, her fifth goal of the season.
The Terriers will head back to Walter Brown Arena next weekend with a matchup against Merrimack on Friday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.