By: Dave Souza
When BU played Merrimack College in the first meeting between the two Hockey East teams in women’s hockey history, Victoria Bach was still transitioning to her new role as the first line center. Now, she is the Terriers’ (16-9-2) leading goal scorer with 16.
In that game, Bach recorded a hat trick over the Warriors (4-22-1), the first of her illustrious college career. Though Merrimack has failed to win more than four games thus far, Bach and her teammates are not taking them easy.
“At any given day a team can come out and play its best, and we’ve already experienced that a few times this season. We need to treat Merrimack like any other team and bring our A game,” said the sophomore forward.
Indeed she is right, BU has appeared to have taken a few teams lightly throughout the year, specifically exemplified by their 4-4 and 3-3 ties with UConn and Vermont respectively. However, the Terriers have not lost at home since their early season matchup with Clarkson University, save for a pair of losses to the top seeded Eagles of Boston College.
If they plan on improving to 10-5 at home, the scarlet and white will have to be at their best. In order to do so, they’ll have to build off of the momentum they gained down in Providence. Goals by Bach, Rebecca Russo, Maddie Elia, and Mary Grace Kelley propelled the Terriers to a comeback win over the Friars.
The second line of Russo, Elia, and Rebecca Leslie has been vital to BU’s success this season, as they have registered the most points of any Terrier triad with 82. Scoring leader Rebecca Leslie has been a constant source of assists for the unit while Russo’s and Elia’s combined 23 goals have come at the right time for BU.
Merrimack has not had a terrific inaugural campaign thus far, but is a team that does come with a silver lining. There first year as a varsity program has come with its fair share of positives and is a promising preview of success to come, especially with important conference wins over UNH and Vermont as well as limiting top-ranked BC to just two goals earlier this month.
A big difference for the Warriors this time will be in between the pipes. Back in November, the Terriers faced both Kate Kowalchuk and Chaislyn Burgio as freshman Samantha Ridgewell was sidelined with an injury.
When asked about how her team prepares for facing a new goalie, Bach detailed what BU would have to do to beat Ridgewell. “We as a team need to make sure we get lots of shots, starting from the beginning of the game. We need to test her out, and drive the net.”
Despite her injury, Ridgewell has managed to keep her team in games by posting a 3.20 goals-against average – just .26 more than BU’s Erin O’Neil – to go with her .914 save percentage.
On the other side of the puck, Paige Voight will try to jumpstart the Warriors’ offense. The 5’ 7” freshman hails from St. Michael, Minnesota and was the only Merrimack player to register a goal in the teams’ first meeting on November 20.
A danger for the Terriers will be how they play against a lowly Merrimack squad with the all-important Beanpot lurking just around the corner. Being played on BU’s home turf at Walter Brown Arena, the Beanpot has eluded the Terriers’ grasp since their program began in 2005. With first ranked BC, sixth ranked Northeastern, and eleventh ranked Harvard waiting in the wings, the temptation is there for BU to let their minds wander to Tuesday.
“I think we just need to take each game day by day. Yes, we know we have a big game coming up [against Northeastern] but that shouldn’t be on our mind. We need to focus on Merrimack and after the game we can refresh and start to focus on Beanpot,” said Bach.
Puck drop is at 3 P.M at Walter Brown Arena.