The Wildcats won both of their games this weekend, led by sophomore goaltender Ava Boutilier, who stopped 50 of the 52 shots she faced this weekend. The Wildcats beat both UConn 2-0 on Friday and then Boston University on Saturday by a score of 4-2.
The first conference game of the season was Friday at UConn. The game got off to a slow start with only eight shots in the first period, with each team getting four a piece. The Wildcats got their first goal 16:38 into the second period. First-year forward Annie Berry picked up the puck after an attempted clear by UConn. She took the puck to the net and sent it over to junior forward Ellie Sasaki, who scored on her second attempt. It would hold up to be the game winner.
The ‘Cats would extend their lead at 15:40 into the third period with a powerplay goal from first-year forward Jada Christian, the first of her career. First-year defense woman Rae Breton passed the puck out of a battle on the boards to Christian who timed the shot and scored. UConn pulled their goalie for the extra attacker with two minutes left, but they were unable to break through, allowing Boutilier to pick up her second shutout of the season. She saved all 23 shots that came her way.
Saturday’s game was much more eventful as far as the scoresheet was concerned. BU got the scoring started off just six minutes into the game on the powerplay. UNH would answer later in the period with a nice goal from senior winger Meghara McManus. Senior captain and forward Carlee Turner went in hard on the forecheck to beat an icing call, and she slipped the puck from behind the net to the front for McManus who picked it up, waited for the goalie to drop to the ice and then slipped it right past the right pad to tie it up. Sophomore defense women Emily Rickwood was credited with the secondary assist on the goal. Although BU got the first goal, UNH drove the play for most of the first period. They registered 22 shots on goal in that period alone while BU only registered five.
Just under four minutes into the second period, Rickwood would give the Wildcats the lead with a goal of her own. Her pass attempt got blocked and came right back to her, so she took a shot and beat the goalie over the blocker side shoulder. It was her third of the season, tying for the team lead. The assists came from senior forward Abby Chapman and senior captain and defense woman Tori Howran.
Two and a half minutes later, the Wildcats would strike again to regain their two-goal lead. Lauren Martin skated into the zone with the puck and took a shot that bounced off the boards and then off the goalie’s skates and into the net. It would hold up as the game winner. It was an unusual goal, but they all count the same. First year forward Tamara Thierus and junior defense woman Julia Scammell were credited with the assists.
BU would creep their way back into the game with another goal from their top line after a big net front scramble with about four minutes left in the second. Not even a minute after BU had a golden opportunity to tie the game with a breakaway, but Boutilier stood tall with a huge breakaway save to preserve the lead.
The Wildcats would reclaim their two-goal lead just under seven minutes into the third while on the powerplay. Rickwood, who picked up her third point of the game, sent the puck deep into the zone and bounced it off Mcmanus. It bounced off her and to the side of the net, where Turner shot it off the goalie’s skates and into the net from a tough angle.
“When we put pucks on net good things happen, it worked out for us,” said McManus. She also thought the team looked great and that they “played solid defense from the goalie out and capitalized on our chances.” She also came up with a huge blocked shot off a blast from the point in the second period while on the penalty kill.
“I just wanted to get in the lane, I’d rather it hit me than the back of the net.” The Wildcats were credited with 14 blocked shots and Howran lead the team with four blocked shots all on the powerplay.
BU would pull their goalie for the extra attacker just before the Wildcats were called for a tripping penalty. It was a six on four, but BU blew it by taking a penalty for too many players on the ice with just 55 seconds left in the game. The clock wound down and the Wildcats claimed their second victory of the weekend, improving their conference record to 2-0. Boutilier made 27 saves and finished the weekend with a .961 save percentage.
UNH killed off eight of their nine penalties which included a minute of being down two players.
“We let up that first power play goal, but overall I thought our penalty kill was outstanding,” head coach Hillary Witt said after the game.
”I thought we played with a lot of grit,” coach Witt said after the game. “We got down 1-0 like it was no big deal and that’s the mindset you have to have, it’s a 60-minute game and I thought our leadership, our seniors did a phenomenal job today.” She cited the McManus goal as proof, as it was created off Turner’s hustle to beat the icing.
The Wildcats play their next game Friday, Oct. 18 at UVM and then they play again Sunday, Oct. 20 at Northeastern.