Women’s Hockey: 2016-17 Roster Questions

By: Max Wolpoff

BOSTON — For Boston University Women’s Ice Hockey, losing the likes of program-leading scorer Sarah Lefort and former captain Kayla Tutino is damaging. Add in Rebecca Russo’s departure, and there go the third, fourth, and fifth top scorers from the 2015-16 season. Many questions face Boston University’s new lineup. Here are a few.

QUESTION ONE: How do the Terriers replace their leading scorer in program history?

ANSWERS: Victoria Bach and Rebecca Leslie

One course is to pair the top-two scorers from last season on the same line. Over half of Leslie’s 15 goals featured primary assists from Russo. Bach paired well with just about everyone she centered, whether on even strength or the power play, where she scored four of her 22 goals. This duo was so good last year, they trained with the Canadaian National team.

On a Hockey East coach’s conference call, assistant coach Katie Lachapelle said the team will “look to them in big situations.”

TWO: What about depth scoring?

ANSWERS: Maddie Elia, Sammy Davis, Mary Parker, Alexis Crossley, Deziray De Sousa, Samantha Sutherland, Nataza Tarnowski, Nina Rodgers

Elia opened last season as the top-line center, but she flourished with Leslie and Russo on line two, ending the season with 15 goals and 14 assists, her first collegiate hat-trick (vs. Yale), and the Buffalo Beauts taking her in the NWHL Draft. Her strength lent well to physical play, but that also landed her in the penalty box more than any other Terrier (61 PIM).

Davis opened the season scoring in seven of the first nine games to earn the Hockey East Rookie of the Month for October. Then, her production dropped off, picking up on occasion — like her hat-trick against Vermont (Jan. 17). When Lefort left to join Canada for the Four Nations Cup, Davis joined the top line.

It is unclear how former Harvard Crimson Mary Parker will do with a new team after missing all but five games last season. A former ECAC Forward of the Year Finalist, Parker transferred to BU as a graduate student and will play out her final season of eligibility. She led the Crimson in scoring for her sophomore season. Lachapelle took note of her leadership and locker room presence, saying “the new kids can go to her for advice.”

Co-captaining with Natalie Flynn this season, Crossley proved herself worth the wait after sitting out junior year due to transfer regulations. It took her until November to score her first goal, but she went on to lead all BU defenders with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) and 70 shots. She spent considerable time on the Terrier special teams (scoring the shorthanded game-winner in the Hockey East Semifinals against Northeastern).

Sutherland and Rodgers are wild cards. Sutherland scored when called upon, getting six goals on 47 shots for a 5th-best shooting percentage of 12.8. Rodgers transferred to BU from the two-time defending National Champions, University of Minnesota. The Minnetonka native will reunite with Hopkins High teammate Erin O’Neil.

Finally, the first freshmen on this list, Deziray De Sousa and Nataza Tarnowski. De Sousa comes to Boston after leading Phillps Exeter in scoring with 30 points (23 goals, seven assists) in her senior season. Tarnowski led the Ottawa Senators with 51 points. Should either slot in an offensive role, expect a big impact.

THREE: Anyone to be on “goal watch” for?

ANSWERS: Sarah Steele, Mary Grace Kelley, Katie Shannahan, Abby Cook, Alexandra Calderone, Connor Galway, Savannah Newton, Anna Streifel, Breanna Scarpaci

If BU has eight defenders and can dress six/seven per game, who gets scratched? Both Calderone (14 points, Dawson College) and Cook (16 points, Pursuit of Excellence) led their team’s defenders in scoring. Connor Galway got back in the lineup after an injury kept her out of the quarterfinals.

Newton served well once she paired with Crossley in January. The Nova Scotians mainly manufactured assists from the blue line, but both could join the play if needed. If Durocher wants to break up this pair, more questions abound on who each will be paired with. Either way, Newton will need a new D-partner for her senior season next year and could now be the time to hold auditions for that spot?

Kelley scored half of her four points with a two goal performance in Game 3 against Vermont in the Quarterfinals. She displayed her versatility when she took over Galway’s spot as she was out. With eight defenders now, her extra role may not be required.

Steele only scored three goals, and that is where the Prince Edward Island native displayed flashy handles and fast hands. Will her scoring touch be required? Perhaps not. Would it send the crowd into a frenzy were it to happen? Absolutely.

A redshirt-sophomore, Streifel played in her first game at Providence (Jan. 24) toward the end of the season. The Bowie, Maryland native saw limited ice time in each of her stints on the team sheet.

Scarpaci is a traditional defender who comes from Shattuck St. Mary’s, a well-regarded hockey prep school that also trained co-captain Crossley. Shannahan is a top rated player out of Colorado, played both forward and defense with the Detroit Little Ceasers, and has played well against stiff competition.

Flynn, despite missing one game in her BU career, has never found offensive success. Though she will serve as co-captain with Crossley, her off-ice presence will be why she wears the “C.”

FOUR: Will there be a “number one” choice in net?

ANSWER: According to assistant coach Katie Lachapelle, “Down the line, they’ll make that decision for us.”

Looking at the numbers, O’Neil played 30 games and started 28 of them, including every game after the loss to Harvard in the Beanpot Consolation game. She had two shutouts (@ Providence, vs. Vermont), a .909 save percentage, 809 saves, a 2.91 goals against average, and 81 goals allowed.

Hanson played 12 games and started 11, never once starting in back-to-back games. She finished the year with a .888 SV%, 278 saves, a 3.20 GAA, and 35 goals allowed.

2014-15 was a different story. O’Neil came on to the scene as a freshman and stole the backup role from Mia Becker. She finished the year starting 14 of her 16 games played, a 2.69 GAA, and a .903 SV%. Hanson countered with a 2.25 GAA, and a .910 SV% in 23 starts.

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