By: Dave Souza
For the past six seasons the Terriers (20-12-2) have found themselves in the run for a Hockey East Title, winning five with four of them coming consecutively, and have had the talent to play in the NCAA Tournament. This postseason, as the scarlet and white begin their quest for an astounding 6th consecutive conference title, they face a daunting battle that begins with the University of Vermont Catamounts (8-23-3).
Earlier this season the Terriers drew with UVM 3-3 in Burlington, VT before dispatching the Catamounts the next day by a score of 6-2. The advantage for BU will be the luxury of playing in front of their fans at Walter Brown Arena. The Terriers are 12-7-0 at home and have beaten the Catamounts at home in four consecutive contests.
Last year, BU began the defense of their Hockey East three-peat with a two game sweep of UVM before knocking off Northeastern and Boston College in Hyannis. In that series, the five-time champions outscored their opponents by a colossal 17-3 margin. This year, the Terriers hope to do the same coming off some of their best hockey that included a 3-2 upset win over 6th ranked Northeastern.
In contrast the Catamounts have fallen victim to sloppy play since their draw with BU. Since that day in mid-January, Jim Plummer’s squad has won just two games out of their last ten, with their only wins coming in a weekend sweep of the UNH Wildcats. While Dayna Colang has been impressive in her own right – the Fairbanks, Alaska senior leads the team in points with 26 (12g, 14a) – her teammates have not been supporting the senior on the score sheet.
A bright spot for this team however is their goaltender Madison Litchfield. In the 24 games she has played, Litchfield has amassed a 2.76 goals-against average to go along with her .900 save percentage. The Williston, VT native can be dangerous if she gets into a groove and oozes confidence, which BU learned the hard way when she made 32 saves, including a few game-savers in the waning minutes of the third, en route to a tie with the Terriers. If BU hopes to beat Litchfield, they will have to score throughout the game and disrupt her rhythm.
However, BU’s goaltending has yet to shy away from a challenge. While Erin O’Neil was victim of a few unlucky bounces at Matthews Arena, the sophomore has played well enough to put her team in a position to win since she started her run of eight consecutive starts stemming back to a 4-1 win over Providence on January 24. More recently, O’Neil turned in a 48 save game over the Huskies to cap off the regular season at home. While her goals-against average is slightly inflated at 3.02 due to a few large losses to NU, the Minnetonka, Minnesota native’s save percentage of .902 shows her true strength between the pipes.
Scoring-wise, BU will be led by a first line that has seen some late season resurgence. The entire trio registered a goal in the last home-and-home series with the Huskies while combining for 9 total points in the two games. The third line also came to play last weekend as Dakota Woodworth and Jordan Juron both tallied a goal and an assist in last Friday’s victory. The last time the third line had such a complete game was against the Catamounts in the Terriers’ mid-January victory.
While BU has its sights set on another title run, they know that they must first get through a plucky team in UVM. Like last year when the Catamounts surprised them in the regular season, the Terriers will need to dig deep and bear down if they are to advance to this year’s semifinals at Merrimack College.
Game 1 begins at 7 P.M. on Friday at Walter Brown while puck drop on Saturday, and Sunday if necessary, will be at 3 P.M. All three games can be heard on WTBU.