By: David Souza
BOSTON — On Friday, the Boston University Terriers Women’s Hockey Team will play host to the University of Connecticut Huskies in their first game of the regular season.
BU is coming off of their fourth straight Hockey East title and their sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
As seen in their 3-0 victory over the University of Guelph on Saturday September 26, the Terriers still have plenty of offensive fire power despite losing Marie-Philip Poulin, the team’s leading scorer from last year. Poulin, a decorated two-time gold-medal-winning Olympian from Canada, led BU last year with 27 goals and 54 total points. She was also the team leader in plus/minus with +32, shots with 136, and was tied for the lead for assists with Sarah Lefort at 27.
This year’s Terrier squad returns Lefort, the senior forward from Ormstown, Quebec along with senior captain Kayla Tutino, and assistant captain Dakota Woodworth. Last season, Lefort and Tutino combined for 87 points on BU’s first line with Poulin. Junior center Maddie Elia (7g, 12a, 19pts.) looks poised to center the top line with both Lefort and Tutino on the wings.
BU also welcomes back sophomore phenoms Victoria Bach and Rebecca Leslie from stellar rookie seasons in 2014-2015. Bach, who led all rookies in the country last year with 20 goals, is the reigning Hockey East Rookie of the Year while Leslie was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team after finishing last season with 31 total points (14g, 17a).
The Terriers will also benefit from the return of a highly experienced and a highly skilled senior class that also features Rebecca Russo, Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga, and Jordan Juron as well as contributions from juniors Samantha Sutherland and Sarah Steele.
As to who will be playing in net for Boston University, head coach Brian Durocher will once again take his time to test out both junior Victoria Hanson and sophomore Erin O’Neil as the two net minders compete for the starting job once again.
After losing Kerrin Sperry to graduation in 2014, the starting goalie job was up for grabs last season. Durocher and company repeatedly switched off between Hanson and O’Neil until the very end of the season when the Terriers rode the hot-handed Hanson all the way to the NCAA quarterfinals.
Opposing the eighth-ranked Terriers stands the University of Connecticut. UConn went an underwhelming 11-18-8 last year and managed only five wins in Hockey East. However, the Huskies finished strong by beating the University of Maine in four consecutive games before falling to top-ranked Boston College in the Hockey East Semi-Finals.
The biggest scoring threats for UConn will be sophomore Theresa Knutson and junior Kelly Harris. Both forwards finished the 2014-2015 season with 14 points apiece and scored a combined 17 goals.
The University of Connecticut will also see senior goalie Elaine Chuli back between the pipes for her fourth year as the Huskies’ starter. Chuli posted a 2.92 goals-against average last season along with a .924 save percentage, numbers that are better than her career 3.15 GAA and .915 SV%.
The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. at Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena following a banner raising ceremony commemorating the Terriers’ 2015 Hockey East Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.