HYANNIS, Mass. - The Boston University women's ice hockey team will play for its third consecutive Hockey East title thanks to a 3-2 victory over Northeastern in the Hockey East semifinals on Saturday afternoon at the Hyannis Youth & Community Center.
BU will face fourth-ranked and top-seeded Boston College in the championship contest tomorrow (March 9) at 1:30 p.m. The game will be shown live on NESNplus and on tape delay at 8 p.m. on NESN.
Three different Terriers lit the lamp, including sophomore Sarah Lefort, who scored her NCAA-best 31st goal of the season. Sophomore Rebecca Russo and freshman Maddie Elia also found the back of the net as part of a three-goal second period.
Senior goaltender Kerrin Sperry made 42 saves to earn her eighth straight Hockey East tournament victory. It is the second straight semifinal contest in which she has stopped 42 shots and it is also her sixth consecutive 30-plus save performance. She helped BU improve to 23-12-1 on the season while Northeastern finished its 2013-14 campaign at 19-14-2. The Terriers have never lost in four Hockey East semifinal appearances.
Senior Kaleigh Fratkin recorded a pair of primary assists for her second consecutive two-helper game and third in her last five fixtures. Russo also added an assist for a two-point game while freshman Sarah Steele and sophomores Jordan Juron and Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga also had helpers.
After a scoreless first period in which BU outshot Northeastern, 14-10, Lefort got the Terriers on the board 5:57 into the second period with her fifth power-play goal of the season. Ribeirinha-Braga passed the puck across the top of the Husky zone to Fratkin, who fired a shot towards goal. Lefort was in perfect position for the redirection past NU netminder Chloe Desjardins.
Northeastern thought it had tied the game less than a minute later, but the puck was ruled to have hit the crossbar and remain out of the net. Video replay confirmed the call on the ice and the Terriers' lead remained intact.
The Terriers earned another power-play opportunity shortly after the review and once again converted to take a 2-0 lead at the 8:38 mark. Steele sent shot on net from the left point that Juron tipped towards Desjardins. The junior goaltender made the first save, but Russo emerged at the right post to bury the rebound for her 10th goal of the season.
Kelly Wallace knocked home a rebound to make it a 2-1 game, but Elia regained the Terriers' two-goal advantage with 1:06 to play in the second stanza. Russo recovered the puck in the right corner and got it up to Fratkin at the right point. Her low shot was perfectly placed and Elia deflected the puck into the right side of the net for her 12th tally of the season.
The Huskies cut the BU lead to 3-2 with 4:47 remaining in regulation thanks to a Colleen Murphy goal and had several chances to tie the game in the waning moments. Desjardins was pulled in favor of an extra attacker with 1:03 to play and another video review was needed to determine that NU had not found an equalizer with less than 30 seconds on the clock.
Following the review, Fratkin had two key blocks and Sperry made a fantastic save through traffic before Ribeirinha-Braga drew a tripping penalty with 12.6 seconds remaining to help seal the victory. Northeastern outshot the Terriers, 14-4, in the final frame.
This will be the first time that BU and BC will meet in the Hockey East title game. The two teams faced off in the 2012 semifinals with the Terriers coming away with a 5-2 victory. BU has never lost in a championship contest.