By: Dave Souza
BU vs. Northeastern
While the Boston University Men’s Ice Hockey team has won a record 30 Beanpots, the Women’s team has seen their search come up empty since their inception in 2005. While there have been many close ones in the past decade, like in 2007, 2008, and 2012, the Terriers have had to watch as Northeastern and Harvard have skated away with the title a combined 30 times.
This year the Terriers are as hopeful as ever with the tournament being played in their home of Walter Brown Arena. While BU may not be the favorite to take home the crown – that distinction belongs to undefeated Boston College – they still have a chance to parlay an excited home crowd into some energy and momentum. They will have to be able to feed off of the energy of the Terrier faithful if they hope to upend the fifth-ranked Northeastern Huskies.
Last time these two teams skated at Matthews Arena, Northeastern drubbed the Terriers by a score of 7-1. Jordan Juron registered the only goal in the crushing loss while Victoria Hanson was lifted in favor of Erin O’Neil in the third period.
Since that point BU has struggled to stay within the top 15 of the national rankings while the Huskies have slowly climbed their way to national relevance on the back of Olympian Kendall Coyne.
Coyne is far and away the best player for the Huskies as she leads the team, and the country, with an unfathomable 64 points, 28 more than BU’s leading scorer, Rebecca Leslie. Coyne’s 36 goals also are best in the nation, four in front of last year’s Patty Kazmaier winner, Alex Carpenter.
Goaltender Brittany Bugalski will once again be in net for the Huskies. The freshman from Boynton Beach, Florida has appeared in 20 of NU’s 28 games this season and posts a 1.74 goals-against average and a .928 in those contests.
The only Achilles Heel for the black and red might be there blowout victory over BU earlier this season. The issue with beating a team big early in the year is that without seeing them until the final stretch of the regular season, you fail to see how your opponent grows and changes.
The Terriers are a much different team than they were on that October afternoon on Huntington Avenue. With Victoria Bach finding her place on the first line and junior Maddie Elia reuniting with her line mates from 2015, this BU offense is far more lethal than it was almost four months ago, as exemplified by their two close, 4-3 loses to the top ranked Eagles.
If Northeastern plans on having another easy romp of the Terriers on their way to the Beanpot final, the upstart scarlet and white could play spoiler to an overly confident Huskies’ squad.
Prediction: The Terriers exorcise the demon and get some well-earned payback on their way to the Beanpot final.
BC vs. Harvard
In the early game, the Harvard Crimson will do battle with an undefeated BC squad that has been rolling through the regular season.
The Eagles enter the contest at 19-0-0 and are in the top five in almost every offensive category in the country. Led by the likes of Carpenter and her 61 points, this team can score and can do so in bunches. However, the North Reading native is not the only one with the prowess to lead the Eagles.
In BC’s 4-3 win over the Terriers at Walter Brown Arena in January, senior forward Haley Skarupa netted all four markers for the Eagles in a showing of the teams offensive versatility.
Defensively the Eagles are just as good, coming in at third best in the country. Anchoring their blue liners are senior Lexi Bender and sophomore Megan Keller. Bender is a solid stay at home defender who does a good job of setting up rebounds for her forwards with her 82 shots, the most of any defender. Keller is more offensive in her style of play, which has allowed her to rack up 31 points on the season.
In net, Katie Burt once again has been stellar this season, as she boasts the second best save percentage in the country, .950, and the third best save percentage, 1.08.
However, Burt and the rest of the Eagles have historically not shown up for big games in crucial parts of the season. Last year BC went 34-3-2 and dominated the regular season. Their three losses all came in high pressure, high stakes contests: the Beanpot final, the Hockey East Championship, and the Frozen Four. If they are to get the proverbial monkey off their back, they will have to win the big game.
For the Crimson, they will mainly rely on their net minder to weather the barrage that is the BC offense.
Emerance Maschmeyer has been a staple between the pipes for Harvard since her arrival on campus in the fall of 2012. Since then she has molded a career GAA of 1.57 and a SV% of .943, and backstopped her team to the 2015 National Championship Game against Minnesota. Maschmeyer has a history of besting Boston College in important games as she held them under three goals twice in the Beanpot final and the Frozen Four semi-final.
Miye D’Oench will drive the offense for Harvard as they look to upend BC for the third straight contest between the two perennial northeastern powers.
Prediction: BC finally gets revenge over Harvard and sets up another Battle of Comm Ave in the Beanpot final.