By Matt Noonan
BOSTON, MA – Sarah Lefort secured Boston University a spot in next weekend’s Frozen Four when she deposited her second strike of the afternoon into an open net during the third period as the Terriers defeated Clarkson University, 5-3 in the NCAA quarterfinals.
BU, which will appear in its second Frozen Four in program history, will face-off against Mercyhurst, who edged Cornell University earlier today by one tally.
“I thought it was a great hockey game with an unbelievable amount of intensity,” BU coach Brian Durocher said. “Clarkson’s a big-body team, they play a somewhat of a conservative style, but you wouldn’t have known it today with almost 40 shots on net.”
The Terriers led the Golden Knights by one entering the final stanza, but padded their lead with two goals in a span of 26 seconds. Lefort pushed the hosts ahead by two before Louise Warren extended the lead to three after she deposited a rebound chance by Isabel Menard.
Clarkson, though, didn’t fold, but responded with two tallies from Christine Lambert and Shannon MacAulay, which brought the Golden Knights within one with 4:40 remaining in regulation.
BU called a timeout, regrouped and watched Lefort force a turnover that led to the game-clinching strike, which sealed the Terriers third NCAA tournament victory.
“I think we all wanted to win,” said BU’s Marie-Philip Poulin, who finished the contest with one goal and one assist.
“We just wanted to go out there the first five minutes and put pressure on them and we got a couple of goals and they came back in the third, (we) got a bit nervous, but (we managed to get) the win and we’re happy with that.”
Poulin netted the game’s first goal late in the first before Clarkson answered early in the second with an Erin Ambrose strike. The Terriers responded with Jenelle Kohanchuck, who lit the lamp late in the middle frame to provide BU with the lead for good.
A Strong Defensive Performance: For the second week in a row, the Terriers defense managed to fend off their opponent’s power play.
Last weekend, they denied Northeastern University six chances with an extra skater during the Hockey East conference championship game, and today they prevented Clarkson from finding the back of the net five times.
“I think we were focusing on every little battle, trying to win the puck (and) trying to win it out of the corner,” said Lefort. “(We were) definitely picking up sticks on the (penalty kill), but just keeping some things simple and communicating with each other really helped us out today.”
“It’s the third game in a row where we’ve had to do a good job killing penalties and so far we have in those three games,” said Durocher. “It’s great to know that the kids could get the job done and it’s not just the five skaters or four skaters that are killing, but Kerrin Sperry, (who assisted) with one of the kills in the second period.”
Sperry was certainly a factor in the second period when she deflected multiple shots in the slot before the Terriers whipped the puck out of the zone.
BU’s power was a major factor in their conference’s tournament as they also denied 13 combined chances by Connecticut and Providence, too.
The Streak Continues: BU’s victory marked their ninth consecutive win since falling to Harvard University in the Boston Beanpot consolation game on Feb. 12, 2013. Since that loss, the Terriers have been on a roll, winning nine games, which includes three conference tournament victories and a first round match.
Will their streak continue next weekend? Who knows, but all Durocher hopes is that the momentum remains with the Red and White.
“It’s a real positive situation for us, but I like to think that anybody who gets to this point, whether they’re on a one-game streak or whatever it is, they’ve got momentum,” said the BU coach.
“I just think that next week it starts from scratch and the two games are going to be real good hockey games and whoever comes up on top is probably going to be somebody that plays well that day and maybe the hockey Gods are with them as well.”