By: David Souza
BOSTON — On Saturday the Boston University Terriers will play host to the Eagles of Boston College in a rematch of the last two Hockey East Championships, renewing the historic Commonwealth Avenue rivalry.
BU (6-4-0) is coming off of two big wins over UNH and Yale. Beating the Wildcats 5-3 in a comeback victory and the Bulldogs in a 7-1 blowout, the Terriers are riding a huge wave of momentum into their matchup with their Green Line rivals.
The Eagles (10-0-0) are undefeated in their first ten games for the second straight year and return from a weekend series with the University of Connecticut where they swept the Huskies twice by two 4-0 scores.
Last season the Terriers fell to Boston College twice before managing a tie in their final regular season game. The Terriers then claimed a victory down in Hyannis, Massachusetts at the Hockey East Championship Game.
Since January 2014, the Terriers are 2-6-1 when playing the Eagles; however, both of those victories have come under the bright lights of Hyannis. In 2014 the Terriers upended the potent BC offense by feeding off of goaltender Kerrin Sperry, who made 40 saves in the 3-2 victory. A year later, Captain Marie Philip-Poulin led BU to their fourth straight Hockey East crown, defeating the Eagles 4-1.
This season, however, there is no Sperry and there is no Poulin. Even star forward Sarah Lefort will be out of the game as the senior is playing in Team Canada’s Four Nations Tournament in Sweden. Instead, the Terriers will be offensively driven by their second line of Maddie Elia, Rebecca Russo, and Rebecca Leslie. The trio has combined for 39 points and make up the top three BU scorers.
Victoria Bach and Sammy Davis have also been vital to the Terriers scoring front. Bach centers the first line and has ten points on the season while Davis has been moved up to the first as a fill-in for Lefort. The Tabor Academy product is currently tied for the team lead in goals, along with Elia, notching seven.
Erin O’Neil will once again get the start in net for Terriers after getting the nod in the past three games. Since coming in for fellow goaltender Victoria Hanson in the 3rd period against Northeastern, O’Neil has only allowed seven goals on 96 shots, equating to a .927 save percentage over the past ten periods.
On the year O’Neil boasts a 2.32 goals-against average and has made 164 saves on 177 shots. However, the stout Boston College offense has a history of besting O’Neil. In the one game she started against the Eagles, the sophomore was beaten four times on 34 shots en route to a 5-0 loss to then-top ranked BC.
This year, the Eagles will be led by an almost identical core to their 34-win season a year ago. Headlining the BC offense is Alex Carpenter. The 2014-15 Patty Kazmaier award recipient already has 23 points on the season (14g, 9a) and is closely tailed by Haley Skarupa with 19 (6g, 13a).
While the defense will definitely miss the likes of Emily Pfalzer, a Getzville, NY native, they will still be anchored by senior Lexi Bender and sophomore Megan Keller. Bender is a Shattuck St. Mary’s product who leads all BC defensemen in shots with 31 while Keller is tied for third on the team in points with 12 (5g, 7a).
Behind the shutdown Eagles defense stands Katie Burt, the 5’ 6” sophomore from Lynn, MA. In her freshman year, Burt posted a 1.11 goals against average and a .941 save percentage to go along with her Hockey East Goaltending award. The Buckingham Browne & Nichols alumnus already has four shutouts on the season.
If the Terriers hope to deal BC its first loss of the season they must find a way to both neutralize the Eagles’ top line as well as pierce the seemingly impervious wall that is Katie Burt. While the task does seem daunting, they have done it before.