By Torrance Latham
BU News Service
Is there a more exciting way to start the season?
The No. 8 Boston University women’s hockey team kicked off its season in exhilarating fashion after senior forward Rebecca Russo’s goal with 0.3 seconds propelled the Terriers to a 2-1 victory over the UConn Huskies Friday night at Walter Brown Arena.
The evening began with Terriers head coach Brian Durocher and BU (1-0) raising banners in recognition of its 2015 Hockey East championship and their ensuing NCAA Tournament appearance. It was the sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance for the Terriers, who have won five Hockey East tournaments during that period.
The celebration wouldn’t stop there. In a tightly contested battle, it looked like BU and UConn (0-1) were headed to an extra period to decide their rare league opening matchup.
Winners of its last four openers, BU began the season for the first time ever against a Hockey East adversary. It would take every second, literally, to determine the outcome of this one. In an odd sequence of events, sophomore Victoria Bach, 2015 Hockey East Freshmen of the Year, entered the Huskie zone, then fellow forward Rebecca Leslie took a shot that was saved by UConn goaltender Elaine Chuli (46 saves), before Russo received an opportunistic bounce that nailed UConn’s hopes of ending their whopping 17 game losing streak to BU.
“What we tried to do best this game was use our speed to our advantage, get pucks to the net, and it would go in one of those times. And gratefully it did, so we were really happy with that,” said Russo.
BU remained aggressive throughout the night, tallying 110 total shot attempts to a mere 35 for the Huskies.
Highly-touted freshmen Sammy Davis ignited the final period rally with her first collegiate goal, at the 8:35 mark, tying the game at one apiece. Assisted by senior Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga, Davis sprinted to left circle and let off a shot that got past Chuli. Davis credited the team’s rigorous preparation before the game, to the on-ice success.
“I think that if we didn’t have such an intense practice, I wouldn’t have been able to adjust as well. But the girls pushed me,” said Davis.
UConn drew first blood with 11:35 left in the second period when Brittany Berisoff nailed a shot that just missed the grasp of BU’s junior goalkeeper Victoria Hanson (20 saves).
After losing Olympic Gold Medalist Marie-Philip Poulin to graduation in the spring, the Terriers look to establish a new identity this season. It’s safe to say that BU passed their first test for the fall semester.
“Hopefully it can snowball from here. We did it in the 3rd (period) and we’re a well-conditioned team. If it happens another time or two then it’ll really get in their heads. A good team needs that stuff to happen for them,” said Durocher.
The Terriers will shift focus to their first road matchup of the season when they face-off against Maine at 1 p.m. on Sunday.