ORONO, Me. — Besides making a run for at a conference title, Vanessa Vani may make a run for the conference’s most impressive rookie.
The freshman scored two goals and an assist en route to Maine’s 7-0 rout of Boston University Saturday at the Alfond Arena in Hockey East play. Because of a victory by Connecticut, the Black Bears are still two points out of the final playoff spot.
“We did the little things right, we pressured them and stuck to our game,” Vani said. “A lot of people underestimated us and we hope this is something we can just keep going.”
Maine (12-5-6, 4-5-4 HE) opened up the game with a goal just 27 seconds into the game. Freshman forward Patricia Gagnon took possession of the puck and beat BU goalie Allyse Wilcox for a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later the Terriers (10-12-4, 5-8-2 HE) saw the deficit increase as a goal by Kate Sunstrum increased the lead to 2-0. Vani earned the assist.
After the second goal, not only did the Terriers bring in Karilyn Pilch to replace Wilcox, but BU coach Brian Durocher was forced to call a time-out.
“Physically I think Maine is a heck of a hockey team but we just missed on some of our assignments,” Durocher said. “They played a great game and I have a lot of respect for them. They are a legitimate top team in this league and they are going to be heard from.”
A little more than four minutes later, the Black Bears added their third goal of the period after taking advantage of a Terrier defensive miscue. As the Terriers were looking to create on the power play, the BU defense misplayed the puck. Brigitte LaFlamme took advantage, blazed down the wing and beat Pilch for the 3-0 lead.
In the second period, LaFlamme picked up right where she left off with her second goal of the day. With Maine on the attack in the Terrier zone, Gagnon fed a pass to LaFlamme, who increased the lead to 4-0.
“We are just trying to apply all the systems we have learned and stick with them,” said LaFlamme, who leads the Black Bears in points. “We just have to work hard and hopefully we can continue to play like that against other teams.”
Six minutes later, the Maine offense struck again. Senior co-captain Cheryl White created a backhanded shot as she skated along the edge of the crease. Although her shot hit the post, it was recovered by Vani, who scored off the rebound.
Despite the offensive surge, it still did not stop both teams from being physical as they combined for 38 penalty minutes. More than a minute after the Vani goal, tempers flared from both sides, and there was pushing and shoving after the whistle. The scrum involved BU’s Laurel Koller and Sophie Thornton, along with Maine’s Amy Quirion and Danielle Tangredi.
Besides holding the advantage in goals, Maine also held a 25-16 advantage in shots which helped Rachel Gettings garner her second shutout on the season.
“I think the defense played great in front of me and they kept the shutout going, it was an all-around great effort from everyone,” Gettings said. “At the end of the first it was 3-0 and we knew they were going to come back strong, and whether you take ten shots or 30, you have to stay focused.”
The final frame saw Maine add two more goals. Maine’s first goal came when Sheri Wauters poked the puck past Pilch for a 6-0 lead. The second goal came when Vani scored on a 5-on-3 advantage.
Maine’s seven goal performance is the highest output for the program since joining Hockey East. As for the Terriers, it was the worst loss in their short varsity history. The Black Bears will see BU again when they travel to Boston for their last road trip of the regular season.
“I think we need to work on not letting our emotions get the best of us and not getting into the penalty box,” said BU captain Cara Hendry. “We have them again in a couple of weeks at home and depending on how we do against Northeastern; I think we are still in [the playoff hunt].”