BOSTON — The game was the first NCAA tournament game hosted by the Boston University women’s hockey team in their six-year history. A win would take them to their first appearance in the Frozen Four. They faced a familiar foe; last season, the Mercyhurst Lakers were the ones who knocked them out of the NCAA quarterfinal.
Not this year.
The Boston University Terriers will go on to face the Cornell Big Red in the Frozen Four of the NCAA Women’s Hockey Tournament after defeating the Mercyhurst College Lakers, 4-2, at Walter Brown Arena in Boston, Mass. on Saturday in front of a crown of 718.
“It’s so nice; last year, no one thought we had a chance and they didn’t think we had a chance this year. It feels so nice,” said sophomore forward Jill Cardella.
Cardella scored the game-winning goal on a weak deflection off a shot by junior defenseman Tara Watchorn that went through the five-hole of Lakers junior goalie Hillary Pattenden at the 10:56 mark of the third period.
BU coach Brian Durocher said, “We had to fight and show a lot of character, I think, at the end after they tied it to come back and get a big goal by Jill Cardella.”
Despite the win by BU, the Lakers dominated the first and third periods.
The Lakers outshot the Terriers 6-0 in the first eight minutes of play, but were unable to capitalize on any of those shots as BU sophomore goaltender Kerrin Sperry stopped everything that came her way. The Lakers outshot the Terriers 15-4 in the period.
Junior forward Jenn Wakefield scored right in front of the net for the Terriers at 11:52 on only their second shot of the game.
Mercyhurst responded at the 16:08 mark with a goal by senior forward Meghan Agosta in front of the BU net. Jesse Scanzano and Samantha Watt latched on the assists.
The Terriers took control of the game in the second period. BU held Mercyhurst to five shots while tallying 14 of their own.
“I think they kept on taking it to us, but we held our own,” commented Agosta. “I think we played really well. I don’t think it was our best second period, but I think they didn’t open up the game. We were still in it, and we knew we were still in it.”
Freshman forward Marie-Philip Poulin, an Olympic gold medalist for Team Canada, took a shot from the right circle that went right over Lakers goalie Hillary Pattendento take the lead at 8:16.
“I talked a lot about us trying to go north; it seemed a lot of times when we were breaking out and the winger would get the puck, there would be somebody five feet out behind them and all they had to do was start going north,” said Durocher of the transition between the first and second periods.
“We’d chip it back to our defense, we’d get it in the neutral zone instead of going forward with it, we’d regroup it back with our [defense] and all of a sudden we’re playing a little bit back in their hands. To me, that means we were giving them too much credit. They’re a fantastic hockey team, but we have a lot of talent on this team. We played a little tentative.”
Mercyhurst got their first chance on the power play at 8:02 in the third when BU’s alternate captain Catherine Ward was sent to the sin bin for bodychecking. Mercyhurst capitalized on the opportunity and tie the game with a sniper from Agosta at the point.
The Terriers quickly responded with the goal by Cadella.
Despite a few good attempts in the last two minutes of regulation, Sperry and the Terriers were able to avoid a comeback by the Lakers, who pulled their goalie at the with a little over a minute left.
“I think we knew that we’re a good team and that’s just the way it ended,” said Agosta.
“To make sure I don’t screw it up,” was what Wakefield said was on her mind as she went in to score an empty-netter with 19:48 to lock in the Frozen Four trip for the Terriers. “It was my job to get it out and I was lucky enough to do that and I wanted wrap it up, I guess.”
Wakefield played in the Frozen Four at New Hampshire before transferring to BU.
“I was pretty nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect. Now, being there, hopefully I can not just lead as an example on the ice, maybe I won’t have as many nerves as I did my first go around. I know we have a great group of girls in the locker room and we’re ready for our next step.”