The Boston University women's hockey team used first-minute goals in each of the first two periods to help earn a berth in the NCAA championship game with a Frozen Four semifinal victory over Mercyhurst at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis Friday night. Jenelle Kohanchuk and Isabel Menard spotted the Terriers with a 2-0 lead and netminder Kerrin Sperry stopped 26 shots en route to a 4-1 victory.
BU will meet Frozen Four host and defending national champion Minnesota Sunday at 3 p.m. in the final. The WCHA champion Gophers will enter the contest with an unblemished 40-0-0 record, while Hockey East champion Boston University will come into the game with a 28-5-3 ledger.
The Terriers couldn't have asked for a better start Friday night, getting on the board 13 seconds into the game.
After quickly breaking into the Mercyhurst zone off the draw, Marie-Philip Poulin found Kohanchuk with a centering pass. The senior forward then unleashed a shot that found the rafters of the net after hitting Laker goaltender and Massachusetts native Stephanie Ciampa.
The goal tied the record for the fastest tally ever to begin a women's NCAA tournament game. Minnesota's Natalie Darwitz originally set the mark in 2005.
It looked as if BU had doubled its lead at the 6:03 mark when Kathryn Miller batted a puck in out of the air, but it was disallowed due to a high stick.
Mercyhurst, which was outshot 12-6 in the opening period, had its best opportunity with just under seven minutes left when Emily Janiga collected the puck at the edge of the crease, but Sperry sprawled across the blue paint to make the save.
Boston University carried a one-goal lead into the first intermission, but quickly added to it in the second stanza as Isabel Menard snapped a shot under the crossbar from the right faceoff dot to make it 2-0 at the one-minute mark.
Throughout the middle frame, BU had chances to add to its lead, but Ciampa stood tall between the pipes, keeping it a two-goal game after two.
In the third period, the Terriers didn't score in the first minute, but didn't wait much longer as Kohanchuk threw a backhand saucer pass to Kathryn Miller, who one-timed the 10th goal of her career inside the right post at 3:02.
Poulin added an insurance goal midway though the stanza by converting on a breakaway to make it 4-0 and the Lakers' Christie Cicero capped the scoring by jamming home her 14th goal of the year with 1:53 to play.
After being bounced from the tournament by Mercyhurst in the 2010, BU returned the favor eliminating the Lakers in 2011 before repeating the accomplishment Friday. Mercyhurst still holds a 4-3 edge in the all-time series, however.
The Lakers, winners of the College Hockey America championship, finished with a 29-7-1 record and fell to 0-5 all-time at Ridder Arena with the loss.
Gophers Win 7-3 over Bulldogs
Minnesota received three points from Milica McMillen on two goals and one assist in the win.
Gopher Women's Hockey Live vs. Minnesota Duluth
Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth face off at 7 p.m. Friday at AMSOIL Arena.
Frost, Piazza Preview Minnesota Duluth
Hear from head coach Brad Frost and sophomore Cara Piazza on this weekend's series at Minnesota Duluth.