HYANNIS — For Boston University, it was a good start and a better finish. The Terriers built a two-goal lead in the first period, then scored two goals in a 2-minute-26-second stretch of the third period to lock down the Hockey East championship with a 5-2 victory over Northeastern on Sunday before 1,067 at the Hyannis Youth & Community Center.
Senior Jenelle Kohanchuk collected a pair of goals in the third and Kerrin Sperry made 35 saves for the fourth-ranked and top-seeded Terriers (26-5-3), who became the first team to repeat as Hockey East champion since the University of New Hampshire (2006-09). The Terriers claimed their third title in four years, taking home the Bertagna Trophy, newly named for Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna. Sperry, a junior, totalled 77 saves in the tournament and earned MVP honors.
BU’s next stop is the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, the Terriers’ fourth consecutive bid. BU will host Clarkson March 15 or 16. Other quarterfinal pairings announced Sunday have top seed Minnesota hosting North Dakota, third-seeded Boston College hosting Harvard, and second seed Cornell hosting Mercyhurst.
Senior Isabel Menard scored BU’s first goal and assisted on its last to push her to the top of the all-time Hockey East tournament scoring list with 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists).
The 10th-ranked Huskies (23-11-2) looked nervous to start the game and Menard quickly took advantage. With the Terriers working the puck low in the right corner, the Northeastern defense didn’t notice Menard alone in front of the net. But her teammate Louise Warren did.
From the right circle, Warren pushed a pass ahead to the wide-open Menard, who cradled the puck on her stick for a heartbeat and lifted a shot over goalie Chloe Desjardins’s right shoulder at 4:06.
Sarah Lefort’s unassisted goal at 12:16 also landed in the top left corner and BU had taken charge.
“Everybody in this profession, or in any sport, likes to get out of the gate well and have some success in the first period,’’ said BU coach Brian Durocher. “And obviously, we got that two-nothing lead, which I think was a huge, huge part of the game.’’
Northeastern dramatically picked up its pace in the second period, and started forcing mistakes instead of making them. The Huskies closed the gap when Kendall Coyne scored her 37th goal of the season with a backhander at 2:22, and BU took a string of three penalties, opening possibilities.
“It was a time in the game when it could have changed in a significant way,’’ said Durocher.
Instead, BU killed off the penalties, then opened the third with the first of Kohanchuk’s goals. She slammed home a feed from Marie-Philip Poulin at 2:37 to make it 3-1.
NU inched within one again when Kelly Wallace scored at 11:20. Kohanchuk struck again 1:16 later, taking a feed from Lefort and ripping a shot past Desjardins into the top right corner. Kayla Tutino’s tip at 15:02 closed it down.
“I think we just ran out of gas in the third period,’’ said NU coach Dave Flint. “When we got to 3-2, we had a good chance, and then BU came back and answered right away.”