The Wildcats played a weekend home and home series against the Boston University Terriers but were shutout in both games. On Friday the teams played in Durham and the Terriers won a close 1-0 game that came down to a goaltending battle. Saturday’s game was also claimed by the Terriers, this time by a score of 2-0.
Although the Wildcats struggled to score, they were still given a chance to win due to outstanding goaltending from sophomore goalie Ava Boutilier. She made 66 saves on the 68 shots she faced over the weekend for a .970 save percentage. It boosted her save percentage on the season to a .938 which is good for third in Hockey East. Her goals against average also dropped to a 1.85 – fourth best in Hockey East.
The first game was a goaltending duel between Boutilier and junior goalie Corinne Schroeder, who made 33 saves herself. The Wildcats played well but were unable to figure out how to get the puck past Schroeder.
“I thought it was a good hockey game,” said head coach Hillary Witt. “Credit to BU for the win and finding a way to get the one in. Clearly it was a battle with two really good goalies.”
The Wildcats were on a penalty kill eight minutes into the game, the puck took an unusual bounce off the back-end boards out to sophomore forward Kaleigh Donnelly. She took a shot but Boutilier was able to get her glove on the shot while still down from the original shot. The Wildcats killed off the rest of the penalty, but the Terriers were able to put on a lot of pressure for the remainder of the shift despite being unable to strike.
The Wildcats got their first good chance of the game 8:41 in. Junior forward Grace Middleton and senior forward Nicole Dunbar were in on a two-on-one rush. Middleton crossed a backdoor pass to Dunbar in a play very similar to one they scored on two weeks back, but this time they were stopped.
“I think we stuck to our game plan pretty well, it’s hard when you battle that hard and come out with no goals. That’s kind of where we’re struggling right now sadly,” said senior captain and forward Carlee Turner.
The Terriers responded to that with the only goal of the game on the power play. Donnelly scored by tucking her own rebound between the pads of Boutilier with senior forward Sammy Davis and junior forward Nara Elia assisting the goal.
The Middleton, Dunbar pair got another good look on net late in the period as Dunbar gave a backhanded feed from behind the net on one knee to Middleton who one timed the shot from the top of the crease, but Schroeder made the stop.
“She was a big goalie, had a good glove, so there’s going to be frustration, but we try to stay positive,” said Turner. “We try to keep each other up and keep going. Energy was good throughout the game.”
The Terriers had a very unusual scoring chance early in the second period while there was a delayed penalty against them. The Wildcats were passing the puck around in the zone when one was missed, and the puck went down the ice towards the open Wildcats net. The puck came close to the goal line but junior defensewoman Maddie Truax turned on the jets to collect the puck at the last moment.
Seven minutes into the second, Middleton and Dunbar came close to a goal yet again but were unable to finish. The Terriers had just finished off killing a penalty when Dunbar sprung Middleton on a breakaway, but her shot didn’t hit the net.
The Terriers started to take over in the third period, holding the Wildcats to just five shots in the period while putting 12 of their own all night. Boutilier stood tall in net stopping all 12 including one really timely glove save in the last few minutes of the game. Senior defensewoman Alexandra Calderone took a shot that was blocked by sophomore defensewoman Talli Warren, but the puck bounced right back to Calderone as she ripped the second shot on net, right into the glove of Boutilier.
The Wildcats tried to pull the goalie for the extra attacker in the final minute of the game for one last offensive push but were unable to put one in, as the Terriers held on to secure the win.
“I was proud of the way we kept battling and gave ourselves a chance to tie it up,” Witt said. “It was an overall pretty good team effort. I thought we played hard, I thought we played smart, we just have to bury some pucks.”
Round two ended with a similar result, but Boutilier was relied on far more to keep her team in the game. The Terriers scored two goals, the second one being an empty net goal. They outshot the Wildcats by a margin of 39-17.
The first period was fairly even in terms of shots at 8-7, the Terriers having a slight edge and one of those shots finding its way to the back of the net. The goal came 15:21 into the period right after a chance for the Wildcats was denied. The Terriers went the other way as junior forward Jesse Compher scored with assists coming from sophomore forward Courtney Correia and Elia.
After that goal the Terriers took control of the game outshooting the Wildcats 17-8 in the second period and 14-2 in the third period. Boutilier shut the door stopping the next 32 shots that came her way. She did get plenty of help from her team who blocked 21 shots, nine of which came in the final frame.
Eight different Wildcats blocked a shot with six of them having multiple blocked shots. Senior captain and defensewoman Tori Howran led the team with five blocks and sophomore defensewoman Emily Rickwood was right behind her with four blocks
The Wildcats once again pulled Boutilier to get an extra attacker to try and tie the game, but it ultimately backfired as Davis scored on the empty net from Elia and senior defensewoman Abbey Stanley.
After this weekend the Wildcats currently sit sixth in Hockey East with 25 points, just ahead of University of Maine Black Bears who have 24 points. They will finish either sixth or seventh in the division as the UConn Huskies and Providence Friars are tied for fourth with 28 points and are uncatchable, while the University of Vermont Catamounts sit in eighth with 19 points and are unable to catch the Wildcats.
The final game of the regular season will be Saturday February 22 at home against the Boston College Eagles at 2 p.m.