BOSTON - Senior captain Louise Warren tallied two goals, including the game-winner with 14:52 remaining in regulation, to help the Boston University women's ice hockey team advance to the Hockey East semifinals with a 3-2 win over Providence on Saturday at Walter Brown Arena.
BU (22-12-1) will face third-seeded Northeastern next Saturday (March 8) at 4:30 p.m., in Hyannis, Mass. The first semifinal will feature top-seeded Boston College and No. 4 Vermont at 1:30 p.m., with the title game to take place the following day at 1:30 p.m. Providence finished its season with an 11-24-0 record.
Sophomore Sarah Lefort became the first player in the NCAA to score 30 goals this season with her second-period strike. She also assisted on Warren's game-winner. Senior Kaleigh Fratkin had two assists, with sophomore Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga and freshmen Maddie Elia and Samantha Sutherland also adding assists.
Senior goaltender Kerrin Sperry was spectacular once again for the Terriers. She stopped 37 of 39 shots and collected her seventh straight Hockey East tournament victory. Sperry was perfect in the final frame, holding the Friars scoreless with 13 saves.
After a scoreless first period in which Providence outshot BU, 16-2, the Friars took a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the second stanza. With two seconds remaining on a 5-on-3 penalty, Cassidy Carels found Beth Hanrahan alone at the top of the crease for an easy finish.
Warren responded at the 9:06 mark of the period to tie the game, 1-1. Fratkin took a shot from the right point that Sarah Bryant (19 saves) stopped. The rebound caromed to Sutherland, who pushed it to Warren amidst a sea of players. The senior captain knocked it home for her 25th goal of the year.
It took just 45 seconds for Lefort to give BU its first lead of the game. Ribeirinha-Braga passed the puck to Fratkin at the top of the zone, and the senior blue liner again fired a shot from the right point. This time, Lefort redirected it from the left circle past Bryant for her NCAA-best 30th goal of the season.
Lexi Romanchuk tied the game, 2-2, exactly four minutes later when her blast from the top of the zone got through traffic and past Sperry. The score remained that way until the 5:08 mark of the third period when BU converted on a power-play chance. Lefort skated into the right circle and fired a shot towards goal. Elia had two rebound chances stopped on the doorstep before Warren found space five-hole and finished for her 26th tally of the season.
The Friars pulled their goaltender with 1:17 remaining in regulation and had several chances to tie the game, but Sperry and the BU defense stood tall and survived several final-minute defensive-zone draws to secure the victory.
This was the third straight year that the Terriers ended the Friars' season. BU bested Providence in the 2012 Hockey East title game and again in last year's semifinal. It is the first time in the league's history that Providence did not reach the Hockey East semifinals.
BU is 2-1-0 this season against Northeastern, with both wins coming on the road. The Huskies earned a 4-2 win at Walter Brown Arena on Jan. 19 in the last meeting between the two teams.