MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Playing in the program's second national title game in the last three seasons, the No. 2 Boston University women's ice hockey team dropped a 6-3 decision to top-ranked Minnesota on Sunday afternoon at Ridder Arena.
BU (28-6-3) finished its eighth varsity season with a program-record 28 wins and its third Hockey East title in the last four seasons. Nine seniors will graduate as the first senior class to advance to the NCAA tournament in each of their four seasons. Minnesota completed a perfect season with its 41st win to claim the program's fifth national title.
Junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin potted a goal and added an assist while her linemates, freshman Sarah Lefort and senior Jenelle Kohanchuk, each had a goal of their own. Eight different Terriers recorded a point on the afternoon.
Junior goaltender Kerrin Sperry completed her record season with a 23-save effort on Sunday. She made several tremendous saves and won a program-record 24 games this season. Senior co-captain Jill Cardella and classmate Kathryn Miller never missed a game in their collegiate careers, playing in their 151st game in a BU uniform on Sunday.
Lefort had a golden opportunity to give BU a 1-0 lead 5:45 into the proceedings thanks to a great individual effort. She blocked a shot at the top of the BU zone and then raced in alone on Gopher goaltender Noora Raty, but her attempt was denied.
Not to be outdone, Sperry made three big saves against Amanda Kessel's line with about 11:30 to go in the first period, including one from point-blank range below the left circle. However, the Gophers eventually broke through at the 11:38 mark of the period when Mira Jalosuo scored from the left circle on a power play to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
The Gophers extended their lead to 2-0 with 1:28 left in the first frame. With BU on its first power play of the game, Hannah Brandt created a 2-on-1 chance only to have her initial attempt stopped by Sperry. The rebound went behind the net and Brandt banked the puck off of Sperry and into the back of the net.
Lefort tied the game just 16 seconds later with one second remaining on the power play. Poulin had the puck on the left half-wall and got it to sophomore Shannon Stoneburgh at the left point. Stoneburgh's shot was stopped by Raty, but Lefort pulled the rebound from Raty's pads and quickly backhanded the puck home for her 24th goal of the season.
Minnesota controlled the tempo for the early part of the second stanza, but BU held its own thanks to strong shot blocking and steady goaltending by Sperry. The Terriers enjoyed a couple good chances, including a 2-on-1 chance by Lefort and Kohanchuk, but Raty was equal to the task.
It became a 3-1 Gopher lead at the 16:02 mark of the second period when Kessel fired a one-timer past Sperry from the right circle. After the Gophers went to a power play, they scored with 11.8 seconds remaining in the frame to take a 4-1 lead into the third period.
With the Terriers on a power play early in the third period, Poulin cut the deficit to 4-2 just 1:48 into the period when her blast from the top of the zone got by Raty. It was Poulin's 19th goal of the season and 55th point of the campaign. Junior Shannon Doyle and Cardella each assisted on the goal.
Sperry robbed Kessel with 15:40 left in the third period with what was likely her best save of the afternoon. Kessel made a great move to get around a defender, but Sperry was in great position and turned aside Kessel's bid.
Poulin nearly cut the Gophers' lead to just a goal at 4-3 after she dangled through the defense, but her chance was turned aside by the blocker of Raty. On the ensuing rush down the other end of the ice, the Gophers made it a 5-2 game when Rachel Ramsey converted a tap-in the crease.
BU never gave up, however, and the Terriers made it a 5-3 game with an extra-attacker goal at the 17:08 mark of the period. Junior Kaleigh Fratkin's shot was blocked by a defender, but Kohanchuk quickly collected the puck and scored her team-leading 25th goal of the season. Kessel completed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 51 seconds remaining in regulation.
In just eight seasons as a varsity program, BU remains the only Hockey East school to advance to an NCAA title game. The Terriers have won four NCAA tournament games, including two at Walter Brown Arena.