The University of Maine women’s ice hockey team traveled down to Massachusetts for their Hockey East quarterfinal series against the Boston University Terriers, with the series being the best of three games.
The action started off on Friday, Feb. 28, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m. The Black Bears started fourth-year goaltender Carly Jackson in the net, while the Terriers rolled out third-year goaltender Corinne Schroeder to defend Boston’s net. Maine controlled the first period right from the first faceoff, as fourth-year forward Tereza Vanisova beat Terriers’ fourth-year forward Natasza Tarnowski to secure the puck for Maine. Vanisova and her line quickly moved into the Terriers’ zone, and after working the puck around the defense, third-year defender Taylor Leech cranked out a slapshot on Schroeder, but it was blocked by traffic in front of the net. First-year forward Ida Kuoppala collected the rebounded loose puck and fired once more on the net, with Schroeder making the glove save this time.
Maine won the ensuing faceoff, with second-year forward Ally Johnson feeding the puck back to fourth-year defender Ebba Strandberg who immediately fired on the Terrier net, which was blocked by Tarnowski. Boston finally drove the puck into Maine’s zone for their first offensive showing of the night, but Jackson made quick work of the Terriers’ lone shot, deflecting it out to her teammates for the quick turnaround.
With the Black Bears streaking down the ice, and several Terriers chasing from behind in Maine’s zone, Johnson fed the puck ahead to fourth-year forward Vendula Pribylova, who beat Schroeder one-on-one for the first score of the night.
Though the Terriers would begin to generate offensive pressure following the initial score, Jackson was a true stalwart in the goal, stopping all 14 shots fired her way in the first period.
With Jackson stopping everything on the backend, Maine’s offense needed to kick back into gear, but penalties and wide shots limited the Black Bears’ scoring options through the remainder of the period.
Kicking off the second period, the Terriers returned to full strength upon completion of a hooking penalty served by fourth-year forward Deziray De Sousa, but a Maine offensive push led by second-year forward Ali Beltz immediately overpowered the Terriers. Beltz displayed masterful hand-eye coordination in her tally, hitting a deflected slapshot from Leech back into the net behind Schroeder. Kuoppala picked up the other assist on the play, as the trio worked their way through the Terriers’ defense to easily put Maine up 2-0.
Second-year forward Ida Press found her way into the penalty box for interference just over four minutes into the second period, gifting the Terriers a much-needed opportunity to shorten the Black Bears’ lead. Jackson deflected a slew of shots taken by fourth-year defender Abby Cook, but the third rebound was collected down low by third-year forward Nara Elia, who promptly buried the puck by the post before Jackson could slide to defend. With the numbers on the ice leveled, both squads traded offensive series to no avail for the remainder of the period.
In the third period, Maine’s sticks began to heat up once more, firing volleys of shots at Schroeder in the opening minutes. With Jackson locking down the back end, the Black Bears confidently fired shot after shot into the Terriers’ zone, knowing well that they still had the advantage and needed to ice away any comeback opportunities. Boston flipped the switch with under five minutes left in the contest, with Elia once again sneaking the puck past Jackson. Fourth-year defender Abbey Stanley had taken a slapshot from the top of the zone that Vanisova had blocked, but Elia scooped up the deflected puck and fired a quick wrist shot from the slot to tie the game at 2-2.
The first overtime period was an even fight, with both teams having great scoring chances, but neither team was able to capitalize on their opportunities, coming away empty-handed though having taken 10 shots each.
The second and final overtime period was brought to a surprising end. With the Black Bears facing an onslaught of shots from the Terriers’ offense, Jackson continued to stop everything sent her way. A wide shot from Tarnowski gave the Black Bears enough breathing room to turn their attention toward Schroeder at the other end. An initial shot from Pribylova was deflected by Schroeder, with the deflected puck bouncing back up the ice to the awaiting stick of first-year forward Ida Kuoppala. Kuoppala buried an easy wrist shot, her 18th goal of the season, as Maine took the game 3-2 and a 1-0 series lead on Boston University. Jackson had a career night, making 57 saves on 59 shots for the Black Bears.
After defeating the Terriers in a lengthy game one, Maine took game two of the quarterfinals in just three periods, winning the best-of-three series over the No. 8 ranked Terriers.
After failing to capitalize on the numbers advantage the previous night, the Black Bears improved their penalty kill abilities on their first power play of the night in the first period. With third-year forward Jesse Compher sitting for a boarding penalty, Johnson took a faceoff against Tarnowski in the Terriers’ corner, which Johnson won and fed immediately out to Beltz. Beltz sent a pass over to Press, who turned and fed the puck to a wide-open Kuoppala. From there, Kuoppala sized up the one-timer and let it fly, putting Maine on the board with just four minutes left in the period.
Just as quickly as Maine had put themselves ahead, they found themselves defending their net with a disadvantage shortly thereafter. Vanisova was sent to the penalty box for checking less than 30 seconds following the initial goal. Maine managed to fend off the Terriers’ attack until they returned to full strength, and kept the Terriers off the board despite their 13 shots on goal.
In the second period, Maine’s entire defense showed up to block shots, with Beltz, Kuoppala, and Leech all being credited with blocked shots in a three-minute span. Several unsuccessful offensive series by both squads ate up precious minutes in the second until Maine gathered a blocked shot thanks to second-year forward Liga Miljone. Miljone blocked the shot near the top of the zone and fed the puck up to a streaking Press. Press and Vanisova held a two-on-one advantage on the fast break, with Press drawing the defender and giving Vanisova a clear shot against Schroeder. Vanisova gave Maine a 2-0 lead following her tally, and the Black Bears wouldn’t look back from there.
Though the Terriers made relentless efforts to score, Jackson stood tall in the goal with her defenders in front, collectively stopping 17 shots in 14 minutes. After a shot from Allan deflected wide, Stanley collected the loose puck and fed it out to an open first-year forward Julia Nearis, who buried the puck with a strong wrist shot from the top of the zone, trimming the deficit to 2-1. Maine managed to hold onto their one-score lead for the remainder of the contest, finishing the weekend series and ending the Terriers’ playoff run.
Jackson made 27 saves on 28 shots in her excellent performance for the Black Bears. Maine’s next playoff series will be at Merrimack College for the conference semifinals match on Saturday, March 7.