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Black Bears back in action for Hockey East opener with Boston University

The Black Bears women’s hockey team (5-2, 1-0) was back in action for their Hockey East opener against Boston University (0-4, 0-4) for a Friday matinee matchup at Alfond Arena. The final horn blared with Maine as the victor, at 4-2.  

The Black Bears peppered the net early in the period, as the defense put a stranglehold on the Terriers. Once Boston started warming up to game action, they were in it, with first-year center Jesse Compher getting two shots off on the fast break. Fortunately for Maine, second-year goaltender Carly Jackson was more than up to the task of stopping both shots.

Black Bear third-year defender Alyson Matteau took control of a loose puck, weaving through a couple Terrier defenders before launching a one-timer past fourth-year goaltender Erin O’Neil to give the Black Bears the 1-0 lead with 6:11 to go in the first period. It was the first goal of the season for Matteau.

It would not take long for the Black Bears to strike again. With 5:22 to go in the period, and Maine fighting for possession in the Boston zone, second-year defender Brittany Kucera took a pass from first-year winger Daria Tereshkina and ripped one on goal. O’Neil made the save with only a tiny rebound, but Maine second-year center Vendula Pribylova was right there to put it away, notching her second goal of the year, giving the Black Bears a 2-0 lead with 5:22 left.

Maine kept their foot on the gas pedal in the second period, outshooting the Terriers 15-8 in the period. One managed to get through, as second-year winger Jessica Jacques took a pass from Matteau and ripped one over O’Neil’s shoulder for her first of the season, running the score to 3-0 with 12:25 to go.

Boston would not just pull out the dog tricks of rolling over and playing dead. Far from it. With 8:32 to go in the period, first-year winger Nara Elia took a pass from first-year center Kristina Schuler and poked one past Jackson to put the Terriers on the board, trailing 3-1.

Boston kept clawing their way back into the game. With 12:42 to go in the third, redshirt second-year Abbey Stanley missed wide. Fourth-year center Victoria Bach came around from behind the net to poke one past Jackson to cut into the deficit, the score running to 3-2.

“We were down a couple of goals early on the second period. Nara (Elia) scored that goal, and that sparked our momentum. We have to come out and play every game like that,” Bach said.

The Terriers got a gift right off the faceoff, as Maine second-year wing Tereza Vanisova got called for tripping. The Black Bears held strong, killing off Boston’s power play.

After a defensive back and forth for the next seven minutes of play, Boston pulled O’Neil for the extra attacker, as Matteau potted the empty netter from the Maine zone for the final goal of the game with 32 seconds left.

For Maine, it is easy to look ahead, knowing that a matchup with the No. 3 Boston College Eagles is on the horizon. However, you don’t get to 5-2 by doing that.

“We just have to keep playing our game, and not let the other team force us into playing theirs,” Matteau said.

Playing your game is one way to make sure to get off to the kind of start the Black Bears have. Another way to do that is to look at the game coming up and to not look past teams.

“UNH is our next challenge, especially with having to play on their ice, which is Olympic size. We have to clean up our passing game and our defense, and just keep doing what we are doing,” Maine Head Coach Richard Reichenbach said.

As for Boston, who finished the 2016-2017 season at 19-12-6, the key will be getting healthy.

“We have four kids who are out injured, and we have others playing a little banged up right now. We like to play more of a run and gun style, and you pay the price when you have a lack of depth,” Boston University Head Coach Brian Durocher said.

In the meantime, Maine heads to Durham, N.H. to take the University of New Hampshire Wildcats. Puck drop is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28. Boston will look to get in the win column with a matchup with the University of Connecticut. Puck drop is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon in Boston.

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