The UConn women’s hockey team has been resilient throughout their impressive regular season. Whether it is battling from behind and emerging victorious, or controlling the pace and flow of game from wire-to-wire, the Huskies have put the rest of the nation on notice, emerging as a legitimate threat to make a deep run in March, a month that the UConn fan-base looks forward to every year across all winter sports.
This resilience was put to the test early in the Hockey East Quarterfinals against Boston University on Saturday afternoon in Storrs. Less than a minute in, the Terriers grabbed the early advantage on the road, as Courtney Correia beat UConn goalkeeper Megan Warrener for her 14th goal of the season, putting the Huskies “behind the eight ball” from the start. Warrener was quick to shake off the slow start, saving the next four first period shots, including three in a row, to keep BU from building on their early lead further. The freshman turned away Madison Cardaci on back-to-back shots, and saved a Catherine Folulem shot to keep UConn within striking distance.
On the offensive end, the Huskies ramped up the pressure shortly after, forcing Terriers goalie Callie Shanahan to make saves of her own, leaving Natalie Snodgrass, Ava Rinker and Alex Anne-Boyer with chances to notch an opening period equalizer. The offensive attack from the Huskies shifted the momentum entirely, opening the door for Jada Habisch to even the score at one apiece, scoring her 12th goal of the season and cashing in on a feed from Viki Harkness to erase the early BU advantage. The Terriers had a power-play chance to end the period, created by an Amy Landry cross checking, but the UConn defense, led by Taylor Wabick, was dialed in. Wabick blocked two shots to send the game to the second period, still knotted at one.
The offensive pressure from the Huskies was tangible in the opening minutes of the second period, pressuring Shanahan to make saves on shots from Harkness, Boyer and Danika Pasqua. The quest to grab the lead was ignited by a BU body checking penalty, with Andi Calderon whistled for the call. This opened the door for Summer Rae-Dobson, who scored on the power play for her 13th goal of the year, assisted by sisters Taylor Wabick and Morgan Wabick. Despite scoring right away, BU struggled to find the equalizer of its own. This was due to a combination of elite goalkeeping by Warrener and several blocked shots on the power play from Pasqua and Taylor Wabick, helping neutralize the extra advantage spawned by a Habisch tripping call. Even though she gave up the go-ahead goal, Shanahan displayed strong play for the Terriers, saving seven shots in the period to keep the Huskies’ lead at one going into the final period of this quarterfinal.
Warrener was again put to the test in the third, saving shots from Calderone and Lacey Martin, and was helped by blocked shots from Coryn Tormala, Pasqua and Harkness to neutralize the BU attack. Chloe Gonsalves, Danielle Fox and Morgan Wabick had shots on-goal looking to extend the UConn lead. But the Terriers defense, anchored by Shanahan, remained locked in, to give BU a shot at extending the game further. With seven minutes left in regulation, a Morgan Wabick tripping penalty appeared to be the chance the Terriers were looking for, but BU could not muster much of an offensive attack in the winding minutes of the game. The Terriers pulled Shanahan for the extra attacker with just under two minutes to play in the game, but it was UConn that broke through. Morgan Wabick scored an empty net goal for her 11th of the season, an unassisted exclamation point for the Huskies on this extraordinary run as UConn emerged victorious, defeating BU 3-1 to advance to the Hockey East Semifinals.
Warrener saved every shot from the Correia goal onward, with 15 overall and seven in the final period, a stout performance from the freshman from Canada to keep the UConn momentum high going deeper into the postseason. After defeating BU in two of the three regular season games, the Huskies avenged a late shootout loss against the Terriers in a resilient performance that has carried them all season.
It is to be determined who and where UConn will play in the semifinals, depending on the outcomes of the rest of the weekend’s games.