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Boston Blades 5, BU Terriers 3: Preseason exhibition a hit at Walter Brown

Harry How

Welcome to Boston Blades coverage at Cup of Chowder. Not every women's hockey game has the same gravitas as the Canada-USA gold medal game in Sochi this past winter--but a lot of the women who played in that game took the ice for an exhibition between the Boston University Terriers and Boston Blades Saturday afternoon at Walter Brown Arena, a nondescript building nestled in the back corner of BU's West Campus.

The small-but-growing community of professional women's hockey players means that this was one of the largest collections of Olympic hockey players (and medalists) under one roof that you're likely to find in mid-October.  The talent level on both rosters, Olympians aside, is extremely high.  It's a shame the Terriers and Blades won't be playing each other again at Walter Brown--this game was fun, the way only games at NCAA rinks can be, with lots of young fans and little pomp and circumstance, plus the collegiate band in the stands playing 80's hits.  It was "only an exhibition game", but the experience was more special than that.


While this was the Blades' first game together as a team this season, they found their legs early, keeping the Terriers in their own end for much of the first period. The teams traded power plays early on, with BU's Victoria Hanson in goal providing key saves. The Terriers started getting shots in the latter half, with a missed hipcheck by Tara Watchorn leading to a series of shots on net by BU, giving Genevieve LaCasse her first real test of the night.

In the final minute of the period, Alyssa Gagliardi snapped one past Hanson to give the Blades a 1-0 lead.

The second period was much busier than the first. It didn't take long for the Terriers to pull even--Samantha Sutherland ripped one past LaCasse. The Blades pulled ahead again shortly thereafter though, with newcomer Megan Myers taking a feed from Janine Weber to put it past Hanson. The Blades took four straight penalties in the second period, and spent much of it defending against BU's speedy forwards. Samantha Sutherland got her second of the game on a 5 on 3 power play, evening the score at 2-2. The Terriers had 18 shots in the second period alone.

The teams switched goaltenders at a stoppage close to halfway through the game. Erin O'Neil came in for Hanson, and Brittany Ott took LaCasse's place between the pipes.

The third period theater was not typical of an exhibition game between two teams who won't be playing each other again. Play had gotten progressively more chippy and heavy-hitting by the time Hilary Knight flipped one past O'Neil to make the score 3-2. (She returned to the bench after her goal to be rewarded with gummy worms by young fans, who had also been sharing them with LaCasse.) The Blades got a power play shortly thereafter when Sarah Steele interfered with Rachel Llanes, hitting her high as she barreled into the slot. The Blades had difficulty on the power play, however, and the best chance of the two minutes was a shorthanded rush by Marie-Philipe Poulin. A few minutes later, BU's 35th shot of the night from freshman Victoria Bach found the back of the net to tie the game at 3.

But the Blades took the lead back in the final minute, with only 46.9 to go, as Llanes surprised O'Neil with a quick shot off the rush.

BU pulled O'Neil, but Watchorn was able to chip the puck to Casey Pickett, who put it into the empty net to give the Blades a 5-3 lead and the win.

Tara Watchorn and Kaleigh Fratkin returned to play at Walter Brown for the first time since their graduations--Fratkin graduated BU in 2014, Watchorn in 2012. "It was cool to just hear the songs and the band players, all the stuff we used to do," said Watchorn. Fratkin added: "On the first shift we were kind of joking because we were partners [on defense] and I turned to look at the home bench and I wanted to go change on that side." Watchorn finished with an assist against her alma mater; Fratkin blocked three shots.

SUPPORT WOMEN'S HOCKEY! The Boston Blades will be playing (most of) their home games this season at the Clark Athletic Center at UMass Boston. Their full schedule is available here.