By: David Souza
BOSTON — It is not often that a team faces a must-win scenario just eight games into their season, but the Boston University Women’s Hockey Team has exactly that on tap for Sunday afternoon against the University of Vermont.
The Terriers (3-4) are coming off of a 7-1 drubbing suffered at the hands of the Northeastern Huskies. Playing a team that they have handedly beat over the past few seasons, the Terriers were utterly overwhelmed as Kendall Coyne and the rest of Dave Flint’s squad opened up a 7-0 lead before Jordan Juron finally got BU on the board halfway through the third period.
Adversity is now draped over the Terriers like a heavy winter cloak, weighing them down as they attempt to swim the waters of the NCAA women’s hockey world. In order to shed this proverbial monkey on their backs, BU must have a short memory. They have to forget their current three-game losing streak that followed their promising 3-1 start. At an early crossroad in their season, the Terriers must chose if they will overcome the past week, which has been discouraging to say the least, or will they allow themselves to be dragged down to the bottom of the collegiate hockey barrel.
In order to return to the style of play that has won them four consecutive Hockey East titles, the Terriers first must find their offensive prowess. Lead last year by two-time Olympian Marie-Philip Poulin, BU rode an offensive onslaught to the 2015 conference title game where they beat the heavily favored Boston College Eagles handedly, 4-1.
Poulin has since graduated and it was thought that seniors Sarah Lefort and Rebecca Russo would muster most of the offensive workload with Captain Kayla Tutino; that has yet to come to fruition.
While Russo has produced six points, good for second on the team, including a buzzer-beating goal against the University of Connecticut, the trio has been appropriately pegged as underperforming.
Leading the hopeful offensive barrage has to be Lefort, the 5’7” Ormstown, Quebec native who led the nation in goals just two years ago. While Lefort has 151 career points, she has only mustered three so far this season. If the Terriers hope to fix their offensive woes that have handicapped them throughout the early part of this season, Lefort must be the one to carry the torch with the others following her lead.
Defensively, BU has actually been pretty consistent. After losing star defensemen Shannon Doyle to graduation, many in the women’s hockey community speculated that the Terrier defense might be a weak spot for the defending Hockey East champions.
However, it has been anything but that as redshirt-junior Alexis Crossley has effectively solidified herself as the team’s top blue liner. Joining Crossley has been a medley of the Terrier defense ranging from senior Diana Bennett to sophomore Savannah Newton.
Newton has been impressive in her own right thus far, specifically in the team’s most recent contest against the Huskies.
While the Terriers were victims of an offensive blitzkrieg by NU, Newton looked strong with her physical play against star winger Kendall Coyne. Coyne, a U.S Olympian with lightning-fast speed, was mostly matched up with Crossley and Lilly Braga; but, when she did find herself bearing down on the Halifax native, she was repeatedly bumped off the puck and thrown off her game by the 5’4” sophomore.
Junior Sarah Steele and freshman Connor Galway have also performed consistent, as they have been effective at shutting down opposing team’s offensive rushes along with Braga.
Issues for the Terriers have been in net as both Victoria Hanson and Erin O’Neil have been pulled on two separate occasions. O’Neil’s occurred in Orono, ME as the sophomore allowed two goals to the Black Bears on just six shots while Hanson’s came on Saturday after allowing six against the Huskies. Coach Brian Durocher and company will hope to see both net minders return to their pinnacle forms that helped backstop the Terriers to a championship last season.
While they have played in games that standout negatively this season, both Hanson and O’Neil have shown flashes of their prior brilliance including Hanson’s performance against UConn and O’Neil’s victory over Penn State.
Boston University will definitely have their hands full this Sunday as they play host to the University of Vermont (1-6). Headlining the UVM offense will be senior Dayna Colang. The Alaskan has 71 career points for the Catamounts and currently leads the team in goals with two. Colang, along with junior Bridget Baker, will hope to lead the charge for a Vermont team that has found scoring rather hard to come by this year.
Giving up 21 goals compared to their six, the Catamounts will look to their goaltending to stop the bleeding. While Jim Plumer has split time between sophomore Molly Depew and junior Madison Litchfield, it has been Litchfield that anchored the team last year. In 2014-2015, the Williston, VT native recorded 12 wins, including a shutout of the then 6th ranked Terriers. She currently boasts a 3.27 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage as compared to Depew’s numbers of 2.67 and .911 respectively.
Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. as the Terriers look to right the ship against a rather unimpressive, yet tough, Vermont squad.