Women’s Hockey: Vermont Tops Terriers, Ties Hockey East Series

Courtesy Vermont Sports Information

BOSTON, MA.Saana Valkama scored twice and Madison Litchfield made 38 saves as Vermont defeated Boston University 4-2 Saturday afternoon in game two of the Hockey East quarterfinals at Walter Brown Arena.

With the win, the Catamounts force a game three in the best-of-three series on Sunday (Feb. 28) at 3 p.m. Fans can watch a live stream ($) of game three at HockeyEastOnline.TV.

The Catamounts opened the scoring in the first period on their first power play opportunity of the afternoon. After winning an offensive zone faceoff Alyssa Gorecki passed back to Daria O’Neill at the point. O’Neill passed along the blue line to Taylor Willard and Willard skated into the middle of the ice before firing a wrist shot past the Terriers’ Erin O’Neil for her 10th goal of the season 12 minutes into the opening frame.

Vermont pushed its lead to two 3:07 into the second period on Rachael Ade‘s third goal of the season. Victoria Andreakos retrieved a puck behind the BU net and backhanded a centering feed into the slot. Ade cut into the slot, gathered the puck and fired a wrist shot past O’Neil to give UVM the two-goal cushion.

Five minutes later Valkama scored her sixth goal of the season as Vermont became the first team in Hockey East tournament history to score more than two goals in a playoff game against the Terriers. Dayna Colang hit Gorecki with an outlet pass and she skated into the Terriers zone before firing a one-handed backhand shot towards the net. O’Neil made an initial save but Valkama crashed the net and put it home with 11:53 left in the second period.

The Terriers cut into the Vermont lead with a shorthanded tally 11:03 into the final frame. Rebecca Leslie forced a turnover in the Vermont zone and used a toe drag move to beat a defender before firing a wrist shot past Litchfield. Leslie’s 12th goal of the season was also her fifth shorthanded tally of the year, extending her own program record.

62 seconds later on the same power play the Terriers scored another shorthanded goal to cut the Vermont lead to one. BU caught a Vermont defender pinching and Victoria Bach and Leslie entered the Vermont zone one a two-on-one. Leslie found Bach with a cross-crease pass and she tapped home her 21st goal of the season with 7:55 left in regulation.

In the final minutes of the third period the Terriers pressed Vermont looking for the equalizer. In the final 3:30 Litchfield made six saves to preserve the Catamounts’ advantage. With 21 seconds left in Valkama scored her seventh goal of the season into the empty net to cement the Catamounts second postseason win in program history. Bridget Baker and Andreakos assisted on Valkama’s second goal of the afternoon.

“Our team picked a great weekend to play our best hockey of the year,” said head coach Jim Plumer. “Today was the culmination of all the parts of our game coming together; timely scoring, great defense and maybe most importantly mental strength. I’m really proud of this group and excited for tomorrow’s game.”

NOTES: Today’s win was the Catamounts second in program history on the road at Boston University … Four of Vermont’s six wins against BU have come under Coach Plumer … Taylor Willard and Saana Valkama became the ninth and 10th Catamounts to score a goal in postseason play … Rachael Ade, Saana Valkama, and Amanda Pelkey (2011-15) are the only skaters in Vermont history to score more than one postseason goal.