By: Akshai Wadhwani February 16, 2018
BOSTON — The Beanpot is over, now it’s time to get back on track.
This upcoming weekend, the Boston University women’s ice hockey team will close out their regular season with a home-and-home series against Hockey East foe New Hampshire. The fixtures will take place in the wake of a crushing loss to Boston College in the women’s Beanpot championship game on Tuesday; the Eagles won, 4-3, late in overtime after the Terriers held the lead for most of the second and third periods.
Now, BU (11-5-6 overall, 6-11-5 Hockey East) will have to put the defeat behind them and prepare to go up against a considerably tough New Hampshire team. The two opponents have faced each other once before this season: a 2-2 tie in Durham. Since then, the Wildcats (14-11-7 overall, 9-8-5 Hockey East) have ascended to fourth place in the conference table.
UNH is coming off of five straight away games – including, most recently, a 2-1 win over BC last Friday. New Hampshire sits middle of the pack in most offensive and defensive statistics. They are outshooting opponents 1000-962 – but have been outscored 75-76, and average just over two goals and 31 shots per game.
One area where BU holds a notable advantage is in the power play; UNH has managed a dismal .168 conversion percentage, compared to the Terriers’ .223. However, the Wildcats are also holding opponents to a rate of .152 on the penalty kill.
Victoria Bach is fresh off of her 100th career goal in a scarlet and white jersey, which also saw her overtake Jenn Wakefield to become BU’s new record holder for most points in a season – now 59 and counting. Behind her on the points table sits Rebecca Leslie, the Terriers’ assists leader with 29 helpers on the year. Between them, the two have notched 107 points – more than half of their teammates combined.
Bringing up the best of the rest is freshman Jesse Compher, who has utilized energetic, aggressive and physical play from her role as second-line center on her way to eight goals and 15 assists. Defensemen Abby Cook and Abby Stanley have played quarterback, notching 37 helpers between them; meanwhile, their fellow defenders Reagan Rust and Breanna Scarpaci have acted as the Terriers’ resident brick walls, combining for 128 blocked shots.
BU holds a massive edge in the history between the two teams. As well as a 25-15-4 record in the all-time series, the Terriers are 16-1-1 in the last 18 match-ups and have won 14 of 22 tilts at Walter Brown Arena. They have not lost two straight to the Wildcats since 2008.
Final seeding in the Hockey East tournament remains up in the air for both squads. With a victory in both games, the Terriers would be assured a sixth-place finish; adversely, with a sweep themselves, UNH could potentially jump to second if other results go their way. The BU faithful might also see yet another edition of the BU-BC rivalry this season if the Terriers were to lose both fixtures; that outcome would award them the eighth seed and a return ticket to Conte Forum to face the Eagles, who have already clinched the top spot.
Sunday afternoon’s puck drop from Walter Brown will be preceded by a ceremony honoring BU’s graduating seniors; skaters Victoria Bach, Rebecca Leslie, Nina Rodgers, and Savannah Newton and goaltenders Erin O’Neil and Ashlyn Aiello will have their contributions to the team acknowledged. BU’s 11th annual Chili Fest will also take place, with fans given the freedom to enjoy four varieties of complimentary chili.
Opening face-off from Durham, N.H. will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, while Sunday’s clash in Boston will begin at 3 p.m.