By: Marisa Ingemi
The Boston University Terriers headed into the break on the best note possible with an overtime victory over second-ranked Minnesota and two goals from co-captain Natalie Flynn. Splitting with Minnesota, the two-time defending national champions, is always a positive, but for this Terriers team it was once again flirting with being a top team themselves.
BU went on something of a run, winning six straight contests before suffering back to back losses to Connecticut and then Minnesota. This is the same team that had suffered a stretch of losing four of five games right before that run.
Now, BU is in the heart of its conference schedule with games against all eight other Hockey East opponents before the post-season play begins in March. Six of those games are at home, and five of them are on the road for an all around balanced schedule.
Despite the ups and downs, the Terriers find themselves in third place in the conference and just two points behind Northeastern for second place. Boston College has just two conference losses, a stark contrast from the six for BU; their only non-conference loss all season was Minnesota, so the Terriers will need to tighten up against Hockey East competition.
Mary Parker has been the offensive sparkplug the Terriers needed with the departures of Kayla Tutino, Rebecca Russo, and Sarah Lefort, as the grad student now has 26 points, which leads Hockey East. Tied with her is Victoria Bach, having a breakout season of her own.
One surprise has been the down year of Rebecca Leslie who has just 16 points, five of them goals, after leading the team with 49 points last season. She suffered injuries late in the first half of the season, but she hasn’t scored a goal, or tallied a single point, since the Princeton series in late November.
Samantha Sutherland also slowed down after her torrid start to the season scoring seven goals in three games. The senior found the scoreboard for a two-point day against Minnesota to get back on track heading into the extended break.
The real question mark for BU all season has been between the pipes, but after Erin O’Neil had a stellar 44 save performance against the defending champions, Terrier fans might be able to feel more secure about the goalie tandem. She went eight games without any action before playing outstanding against a loaded Gophers lineup, where just two of the goals she allowed were even strength.
The other half of that tandem, Victoria Hanson, has also stood tall as she anchored the team’s six-win run with a solid 2.16 goals against average. She has been able to shut teams down especially when BU establishes a lead. The Terriers post an 8-0-0 when leading after two periods, a testament to the way the team shuts down opponents late in games. They’re also 3-3 in one goal games, though all three of those losses have been in conference play.
The first game out of the break is Boston College, the runner ups in last year’s National Championship game, and another team the Terriers have both defeated and struggled against. It’s a good test out of the gate to see who this team really is. But whether or not the team will find its identity is up to the players’ performance on the ice in the second semester.