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women’s hockey east semifinals

Northeastern women beat BC; BU blanks Providence

HYANNIS — Boston College knew where the danger was, and could do nothing to stop it.

Northeastern used the fast pace of its explosive offense to command a 4-1 victory, eliminating second-seeded Boston College from the Hockey East Championship in Saturday’s semifinals before 1,023 at the Hyannis Youth & Community Center. The third-seeded Huskies will play BU, a 4-0 winner over Providence, in the final Sunday at 1 p.m.

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Northeastern’s slippery offense got past BC in the Beanpot final Feb. 12 and the 10th-ranked Huskies did it again, using a shorthanded goal by Casey Pickett early in the second period to open a path. Pickett came out of the right corner of the NU zone, took a chip off the boards from Paige Savage, and escaped down the right wing, beating BC goalie Corinne Boyles with a backhand shot at 3:25. It was Pickett’s 21st goal of the season.

“I thought we came out with a lot of energy,’’ said NU coach Dave Flint whose team beat the second-ranked Eagles to the puck time and again.

The Huskies (23-10-2) didn’t score again until the third, when Kelly Wallace lifted in a rebound and Rachel Llanes slammed in a feed from Kendall Coyne to make it 3-0. Emily Field got one back for BC after Ashley Motherwell won a battle in the corner to get her the puck, before Coyne collected her 36th of the season into an empty net.

“I think that’s our 20th win when we’re leading after two periods,’’ said Flint. “The nice thing is they’ve learned how to finish out games.’’

BC (26-6-3) dragged through the first two periods.

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“I thought the other team showed up like they wanted to win a game and win a championship and I don’t think my team did,’’ said BC coach Katie King Crowley.

Northeastern needs to win on Sunday to ensure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“Obviously everybody has the same mentality — we want the win and we want the NCAA berth for the first time,’’ said Pickett. “We have an older team and we’ve just missed the cut for the last two or three years. We really want to finish on a high note.’’

In the first semifinal, top seed Boston University (25-5-3), ranked fourth in the nation, turned down No. 5 seed Providence (15-16-5) as Marie-Philip Poulin, a gold medalist with the Canadian Olympic team in 2010, made a couple of world-class moves to turn a scoreless game upside down. Poulin set up a power-play goal and then scored on a shorthanded solo effort. Louise Warren finished it off with a pair of goals as the Terriers reached their second straight conference final.

The Friars made Kerrin Sperry earn her shutout, taking 42 shots at the junior goalie, including 21 in the third, but Sperry stood tall.

“We took a couple of penalties and Providence had to kind of empty out the kitchen sink and really come after us and crash some D,’’ said BU coach Brian Durocher.

The game was scoreless in the first period when Molly Illikainen was sent off for tripping Poulin behind the Providence goal. The Terriers got the puck to Poulin at the top of the right circle and she fired into a thicket of skates and sticks in front of the Providence net. The puck caromed off Sarah Lefort, who tapped the rebound past goalie Nina Riley at 14:15.

BU began the second period shorthanded, and it took Poulin only 19 seconds to connect. She knocked down the puck at the left side of the Providence zone, banked the puck off the boards to get around a defender, then regained possession and skated in on Riley to dump a forehand into the net.

“We knew what they were doing, we knew what we had to do, and failure to execute, that’s the kiss of death when you can’t execute,’’ said Providence coach Bob Deraney. “I thought that was the turning point in the game.

“That’s what a world-class player can do for you, turn the game on a dime, and that’s what she did.’’

“It was real important,’’ said Durocher. “She’s somebody that obviously we count on; she’s a big-time player, and today she made that big-time play there.

“Great players play great in big games. Good for us.’’

Providence was on its heels for the rest of the second. Warren scored at 6:10 and again at 19:03.

“We got the third and fourth goals before they got grounded again,’’ Durocher said.

“I thought we had to keep it close in order to have a chance to win,’’ said Deraney, “and we just couldn’t do that.”

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