By: Ty Oringer
BOSTON — After another successful season in 2016-2017, the Boston University women’s ice hockey team is on the prowl after falling to Northeastern in a heartbreaker in the 2016 Hockey East Semifinals.
Brian Durocher enters his 13th season as the head coach of the Terriers after a 19-12-6 record last year, and will look to continue his already impressive tenure as the person in charge. The team that lost cornerstones like Alexis Crossley, Maddie Elia, Natalie Flynn and goaltender Victoria Hanson will now look to the budding talent that the Terriers have assembled to get the job done.
While BU has struggled so far this season to an unlikely 0-3 record, Durocher and his staff are confident that the freshman and sophomores will play a pivotal role in the Terriers’ success.
“Kristina [Schuler], Nara [Elia] and Deziray [De Sousa] are really strong on their skates and solid hockey players. They seem to have the makings of a nice line,” Durocher said. “We’re going to to count on them.”
Another storyline is the returners playing in, as Durocher calls them, “accelerated roles”. Three games into the season, the Terriers have struggled to find their identity, but Durocher is confident that his team will find their way soon.
“Mary Grace Kelly is playing out of regular shift, as well as the freshman,” Durocher said. “Hats off [to the freshman] that their competing and playing pretty darn well, but you want to get over the hump.”
Goaltending is one of the biggest question marks for BU hockey for the 2017-2018 season. After a phenomenal performance from Victoria Hanson last year – one that earned her a Hockey Eat First All-Star selection – the Terriers will look to a new senior to vill the void Hanson leaves, Erin O’Neil. The five-foot-seven junior started eight games last season, going 4-3-1, including two wins against ranked opponents. O’Neil has been confident in the cage, and has a vote of confidence from her head coach.
“You’ve got to have goaltending, and so far we have had that from Erin O’Neil. She’s certainty hungry to have a top season,” Durocher said. “She’s got enough experience, she’s had enough playing time and I’m happy that she has come out of the gate well.”
Also expected to have a large role for BU are seniors Rebecca Leslie and Victoria Bach. Durocher described the forwards as “anchors” for the lines as the team takes on a new look. Leslie and Bach were given leadership roles, coming in the form of letters on their jerseys. Leslie will wear the “C” as the team’s captain while Bach will be one of a trio of assistant captains this season. Both Leslie and Bach will look to continue their impressive play stemming from last season. O’Neil and junior Sammy Davis will also wear the “A”.
While it will be no easy task, the Terriers have their eyes set on gold. Durocher, however, depending on the win column, will use it as an uncommon development year given his rousing success as head coach.
“There’s times where you have to reassess goals. Our goals are always to compete for National and Hockey East championships,” Durocher said. “If this is a year that somewhere in time all the wins aren’t coming forward like we’re use to, then we have to base it on intelligence and how hard people are working and just remain positive.”
“That’s still to be determined because its early in the year, but those are the things we’re going to focus on.”
After starting the season off 0-3, the Terriers will have this weekend off before traveling to Orono, Maine next Friday for a conference tilt with the Black Bears. After that, BU will look to continue getting back in the win column with contests every weekend through mid-December.