MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The No. 2 Boston University women's ice hockey team advanced to its second national title game in program history with a 4-1 victory over Mercyhurst on Friday night at Ridder Arena.
BU (28-5-3) won its program-record 28th game of the season and will face top-ranked and undefeated Minnesota (40-0-0) on Sunday afternoon (4 p.m. ET) for the national championship. The Golden Gophers defeated Boston College, 3-2, in overtime of the first semifinal.
Four different Terriers lit the lamp, including seniors Jenelle Kohanchuk, Isabel Menard and Kathryn Miller. Junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin added a goal as well and Kohanchuk also tallied an assist for a two-point evening. Junior goaltender Kerrin Sperry stopped 26 shots for her 24th win of the season and fourth NCAA tournament victory of her career.
This is the second time BU has bested Mercyhurst (29-7-1) in the NCAA tournament; the Terriers topped the Lakers, 4-2, in the 2011 NCAA quarterfinals en route to the program's first national championship game appearance.
It was a dream start for the Terriers thanks to Kohanchuk's goal just 13 seconds into the contest. After BU controlled the opening draw, Poulin sent a great pass to Kohanchuk, who carried the puck into the Mercyhurst zone and fired a shot from the left circle that took a deflection and fluttered over Laker goaltender Stephanie Ciampa's (29 saves) shoulder for Kohanchuk's 24th goal of the season.
The Terriers nearly had a 2-0 lead at the 6:03 mark of the first frame on their first power play opportunity of the game. Junior Kaleigh Fratkin's shot from the top of the zone caromed off the end board and onto freshman Sarah Lefort's stick in front of the net. Lefort's chance was stopped and senior Kathryn Miller knocked home the rebound, but the officials immediately waved off the goal and confirmed the call with video replay, as Miller played the puck with a high stick.
Sperry came up with a fantastic save as BU killed off its first penalty of the game. Emily Janiga appeared to have a sure goal right in front of the net, but Sperry extended her left leg to rob the Lakers' third-leading scorer and keep the Terriers ahead.
The second stanza began much like the first for BU, as Menard made it 2-0 just 1:00 into the proceedings. After a clear attempt from the BU zone bounced off a Laker at the Terriers' blue line, Warren collected the puck and passed it off the boards to Menard on the right wing. She and Warren created a 2-on-1 rush and Menard finished with her 16th strike of the season.
Once again Mercyhurst had a golden chance to get a goal but Sperry was equal to the task with about 12:30 to play in the second period. Christie Cicero had a backhand chance between the hash marks, but Sperry did well to get in position to make the save.
Miller made it a 3-0 game just 3:02 into the third period thanks to a nifty pass from Kohanchuk. She evaded a defender after entering the offensive end, and with her back to the net, she backhanded a pass over a defender's stick and onto the tape of Miller. The senior defenseman calmly finished the play for her second goal of the season.
Poulin extended the lead to 4-0 when she converted a breakaway chance thanks to a great move in close on Ciampa with 10:03 remaining in regulation. The Terriers continued to control the game from that point, despite a late Laker goal with just 1:53 to play.
Sperry's final great save of the night once again came off the stick of Janiga. She had the puck at the right edge of the crease, but Sperry reached over and gave Janiga nothing to shoot at for one of her nine third-period saves.