By: Jarett Leonard
Following its first victory of the calendar year, the Boston University women’s hockey team will look to cap off a season sweep of Merrimack with a trip to North Andover on Saturday night.
It was a night of milestones for the Terriers on their previous trip to Lawler Rink on Nov. 18, as junior Rebecca Leslie scored her first collegiate hat trick, junior Victoria Bach tallied her 100th career point and freshman Breanna Scarpaci notched her first career goal in BU’s 7-3 victory.
The next day, the Terriers edged the Warriors, 2-0, at Agganis Arena with a power play goal from graduate student Mary Parker and a game-sealing empty netter from sophomore Sammy Davis.
BU’s weekend sweep of Merrimack earlier in the year jump-started a six game winning streak, its longest of the year, but the team has captured just two wins since. A heroic performance from senior Natalie Flynn earned the Terriers a 6-5, overtime victory over then second-ranked Minnesota on December 10. After a five game winless stretch, a 5-2 defeat of Providence on Sunday got BU back on track.
Leslie and sophomore Anna Streifel, who scored her first career goal, gave the Terriers an early 2-0 advantage less than a minute apart in that contest, and the first of two goals from senior Nina Rodgers was the eventual game winner. Freshman Abby Cook added an empty-netter to secure the victory, which was backstopped by a 24-save performance from senior Victoria Hanson.
For Leslie, an assist on Streifel’s goal marked her 100th career point in her return from an injury that forced her to miss five games. Bach’s six points in the weekend series with Providence vaulted her into a tie for the Hockey East lead in scoring with Northeastern’s Denisa Krizova. Senior Maddie Elia has also been sidelined for the past five games due to injury.
Merrimack has struggled since the start of December, as the Warriors are just 2-7-1 since stringing together consecutive wins for the only time this season on Nov. 26 and 29. Three out of Merrimack’s last four games have been losses to #6 Boston College, with a 2-2 draw with #8 Quinnipiac in between.
Sophomore Paige Voight leads the Warriors with 13 goals and 20 points while freshman Mikyla Grant-Mentis has contributed a team-high 15 assists.
Freshman Lea-Kristine Demers and sophomore Samantha Ridgewell have split time in net and accumulated similar numbers through 28 games. Demers is 5-11-1 with a 3.07 goals against average and .903 save percentage in 17 starts while Ridgewell has played in 12 games and recorded a 3.34 goals against and .904 save percentage. Ridgewell started the meeting at Merrimack and made 43 saves but allowed six goals while Demers made 39 saves and gave up only one goal the following day.
Saturday’s matchup will be an important conference game as both teams are jockeying for position in the Hockey East standings. BU has clinched a spot in the conference tournament and is currently one point clear of fourth-place University of New Hampshire for home-ice advantage in the first round. Merrimack, on the other hand, has collected just eight points in Hockey East play but only trails the University of Maine by a point for the last playoff spot with a two-game set against the Black Bears looming next weekend.