By: Akshai Wadhwani February 22, 2018
BOSTON — With another regular season campaign in the books, it’s time for the Terriers to turn their attention to this year’s hardware.
On Friday, the Boston University women’s ice hockey team will travel to Orono for Game 1 of their best-of-three series with Maine in the first round of the Hockey East tournament. The scarlet and white grabbed a playoff spot off the back of a sixth-place finish in their conference table, securing the spot via two victories against New Hampshire last weekend.
The Terriers finished the regular season with an overall record of 13-15-6 and a WHEA record of 8-11-5. They outscored opponents 104-92 and outshot them 1080-1052, averaging 3.1 goals and 31.8 shots per game; those numbers, as well as others, helped them to the second-highest ranked offense in Hockey East. The Terriers also reached a major milestone in defensive improvements last Sunday when, in their second game against New Hampshire, they recorded their first shutout of the season, with a 2-0 result.
The upcoming slate with Maine will mark the first time in program history that BU will be on the road for the WHEA quarterfinals; they were previously the only team in the entire conference to have never played an away contest in the opening round. It will also be the first ever postseason meeting between the Terriers and the Black Bears.
Despite having a less than prolific regular season, BU still remains the historical juggernaut of the WHEA playoffs. The Terriers have five championships under their belts — including four in a row from 2012-2015 — and have won 22 of their 29 playoff games all-time. They have only ever lost two games at the quarterfinal stage, and have not failed to advance to the semifinals for more than a decade.
Maine (17-12-5 overall, 11-9-4 WHEA) concluded their regular season with consecutive losses to Boston College. The Black Bears swept BU for the first time ever back in early January, winning 4-1 and 3-2 at Walter Brown Arena. However, they have never won a playoff game over 11 trips to the Hockey East tournament. They also notched just one win in their last nine games of the season.
Tereza Vanišová leads the Black Bears in points, with 39 from 13 goals and 26 assists; she lit the lamp three times in Maine’s two wins over BU this season.
The visitors will have to conjure up some top-notch offensive plays to get past Black Bear goaltender Carly Jackson, who led the Hockey East this season with just a 1.88 goals-against average and maintains a .927 save percentage.
Terrier winger and co-captain Rebecca Leslie is one who will be undoubtedly looking forward to BU’s return to postseason hockey. The senior tops the playoff charts among active Hockey East skaters in goals (10), and is second in points (14). She is followed closely in the latter category by teammate Victoria Bach, who has recorded 13 points from nine assists and four goals. Nine other players on the Terriers’ current roster have listed points in the postseason — including Mary Grace Kelley, who listed a tally and a helper in BU’s 2016 quarterfinal series with Vermont.
Maine may have won both of this season’s contests between the two teams, but the Terriers will point to the fact that they were missing their entire first offensive line; Bach, Leslie and winger Nina Rodgers were all absent for the January series. Now back to full strength, the scarlet and white should be able to take advantage of a 26-11-2 all-time record versus the Black Bears; they have also won 12 of 18 contests at Alfond Arena.
Opening faceoff for all three games — Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) — will take place at 2 p.m.