By: David Souza
For the first time this season, and the last time this year, the Boston University Terriers will take on the Providence College Friars down in Rhode Island.
BU (12-7-1, 9-3-1 Hockey East) is coming off of a rather incomplete performance against the University of Connecticut this past weekend. In both contests the Terriers jumped out to quick leads before watching the Huskies claw back to tie the score twice. After witnessing a 3-0lead evaporate en route to a 4-4 tie the day before, the Terriers staved off another UConn rally on Sunday winning 4-3.
Additionally, BU has been in a bit of a funk as of late. After a tough overtime loss to Boston College in arguably their best game of the season, BU rattled off four straight wins with sweeps over conference foes Maine and Merrimack. However, their post-Thanksgiving trip to Vermont began their recent slide. After dropping a very winnable game to Cornell 4-2, the Terriers won a tight one with the mediocre Buckeyes of Ohio State before their home-and-home series with the Huskies this past weekend.
If they are to get out of their post Turkey Day slump, they must play a full 60 minutes. What has been BU’s Achilles’ heal these past few games is incomplete play. A drop off in play in the second period sunk their chances against Cornell while an inability to close out UConn undid all the good work they did in the opening periods of both games. They will have to work extra hard if they are to close out Providence who has scored more than half of their goals in the third period.
The encouraging thing for the scarlet and white though has been the reemergence of their first line. The top trio of Victoria Bach, Sarah Lefort, and Kayla Tutino has been on fire as of late, totaling a combined 20 points in their last five games. While Lefort has been the victim of untimely penalties the past few games, she has made up for it with her scoring. The senior assistant captain is coming off of a two-goal, four-point game against a Connecticut team that sports one of the league’s best goalies in Elaine Chuli.
Coach Durocher has once again opted for Erin O’Neil in net for BU for the fourth straight game. The sophomore has been the starting net minder since junior Victoria Hanson allowed four goals on 12 shots against Cornell on the November 28.
As for the Friars (5-10-0, 3-6-0 Hockey East), things have gotten better since their abysmal 0-7 start. After getting their first victory over the University of New Hampshire on November 7, PC has gone 4-3-0, with their only losses coming in two one-goal contests and a 9-1 thrashing by second ranked BC.
Freshman forward Christina Putigna leads PC in scoring with 16 points while sophomore Brooke Boquist’s nine goals are a team high. Boquist is a former Shattuck St. Mary’s product, meaning that the 5’4” forward will face off against two former teammates turned Terriers, Rebecca Russo and Alexis Crossley.
Colchester, Vermont’s own Madison Myers has gotten the bulk of the starts for Bob Deraney’s squad. The freshman boasts a 2.82 goals against average to go along with her .895 save percentage.
Where the Friars will pose a real problem for BU is in the home team’s style of play. Providence, under Myers, has always been a more physical team. Out of the nine total teams in Hockey East, the Friars have been penalized at the highest rate. Their 148 penalty minutes in just 15 games equates to just under ten minutes per game, almost half a period. Contrarily, BU has taken 181 penalty minutes in 20 games, good for a 9.1 average per game.
The Terriers tend to get into a bit of trouble when playing more physical squads. Against teams like Maine who use their size to bully BU’s smaller forwards like Bach and Rebecca Leslie, the Terriers had a hard time getting their offense going. When they played a squad like UConn who uses their physical play to slam the door defensively, BU had trouble getting high quality shots on net.
More importantly though, physical teams have a tendency to get under the Terriers skin and draw penalties. These infractions have become a thorn in the side of the scarlet and white as their penalty kill will have to face off against Hockey East’s fourth best power play. The Friars convert at a rate of 20% and will look to add to that total against a heavily penalized BU team.
The black and white hold the series lead over BU with a 27-19-2 advantage, but are winless in their past six meetings. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at Providence’s Schneider Arena.