By: Akshai Wadhwani March 5, 2018
With a 4-3 overtime loss to Maine in the Hockey East quarterfinals on Feb. 25, the Boston University women’s ice hockey team marked the conclusion to their 2017-18 season. This year’s campaign, admittedly, did not reach the pinnacles of past outings — there were no 29 wins or 140 goals, nor any silverware hoisted. However, the Terrier women still delivered another solid season packed with highly entertaining hockey.
BU ended the year with an overall record of 14-17-6, and finished sixth place in the Hockey East table with a conference mark of 8-11-5. The Terriers displayed equal strength in both home and away slates, coming in at 6-8-1 and 6-8-5, respectively. They won two of three neutral contests.
As a team, BU outscored their opponents 113-100 – the eighth-most goals scored in the NCAA – and squeezed ahead on total-shot count at 1152-1150. They averaged just over three goals and 31 shots per game, including the fifth-most power play goals in the nation (31) for the seventh-highest conversion percentage (.230); both were also second-place numbers in Hockey East.
Speaking of the power play, the Terriers also netted five shorthanded goals — the third-most in their division and sixth-most in the NCAA. Overall, the scarlet and white delivered yet another year of their trademark high-flying offense.
BU’s defense was much less prolific. The Terriers allowed a division-worst 100 goals, as well as the third-most goals per game (2.7) and second-most powe rplay goals (28), and waited until their last game of the regular season to post their first and only shutout — a 2-0 win over New Hampshire.
The scarlet and white back line still shone, however, in several areas. One of those areas was getting bodies in front of shots; the Terriers made 598 blocks on the season, an average of more than 16 per game. Another notably positive aspect of this year’s defense was a strong desire to improve. For example, after displaying one of the worst PK percentages in their division for most of the year, the BU blue line stormed back to kill 15 of 17 penalties in their final six games of the season.
The Terriers also left the shards of broken records scattered across their locker room. Senior Victoria Bach unpacked her sledgehammer, smashing four separate program milestones over the course of the season.
First, in mid-January, Bach overtook her former teammate Sarah Lefort to become the Terriers’ all-time leading goalscorer after finding net for the 93rd time as part of a hat trick against Northeastern; she finished the season with 104 career goals. Later in the month, she surpassed Lefort again — this time in career points, notching her 184th with a goal against Merrimack; she now has 192. And she was only halfway done.
As a result of the opening tally against Harvard in the Beanpot semifinals, Bach set BU’s new mark for most goals in a season with her 33rd of the year — one more than both Lefort and former Terrier Jenn Wakefield. One game later, in the Beanpot Championship against Boston College, the center scored one and assisted another for her 57th and 58th points of the year, good for a new program season milestone.
Bach wasn’t alone in her siege of BU’s record books. On Feb. 23, in Game one of the quarterfinal series against Maine, her co-captain and fellow senior Rebecca Leslie bested Marie-Philip Poulin with her 101st career assist, becoming the Terriers’ new all-time leader in that category. Leslie also fell just one helper short of matching her career-high 34 assists in a season — a benchmark second only to Poulin, who bagged 36 during the 2012-13 campaign.
The Terriers are certainly in for a bright future. BU’s squad for this year included five freshmen and seven sophomores, making up more than half the players on the roster. Those twelve underclassmen have already shown strong individual skillsets, as well as notable chemistry with each other — both assets which can only continue to grow in future seasons.
Freshman Jesse Compher and sophomore Abby Cook finished tied for third place on the team points table with 26 each, followed closely by sophomore Abby Stanley with 23. Cook was already a first-line defenseman this year alongside fellow sophomore Breanna Scarpaci, who led the Terriers with 84 blocks and listed a +11 plus-minus. With Bach graduating, Compher will likely become BU’s starting center.
Sophomore Natasza Tarnowski, had a breakout season with five goals and nine assists, doubling her points total from last year; freshman Naria Elia finished tied with her for 14 in that category, scoring eight goals and assisting six times on the season. Meanwhile, first-year goaltender Corinne Schroeder has cemented her place as the starter between the pipes.
After backing up senior Erin O’Neil in the early stages of the season, Schroeder made her first 60-minute appearance on October 22 in a 6-2 win against UConn. She went on to start in 25 games this season, posting a 12-9-4 record with a 2.51 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. All in all, BU’s younger batch have made important contributions to the team already, and have shown an impressive amount of talent and potential that has presumably left Head Coach Brian Durocher thrilled for upcoming seasons.
While there were no trophies to lift, several individual accolades came BU’s way over the course of the season. Victoria Bach scooped up three Hockey East Player of the Month awards, as well as an NCAA Player of the Month honor after she notched 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points in November. On March 1, Bach was also announced as a top-three finalist for the 2018 Patty Kazmaier Award, distributed to the top overall player in NCAA women’s hockey. Additionally, Schroeder and Compher were named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team in February. Leslie was also named to a Hockey East Second Team All-Star while Cook and Back were named Hockey East First Team All-Stars.
Points & Goals Scored: Victoria Bach
Co-captain and first-line center Victoria Bach led the Terriers in both points and goalscoring this season. The senior tallied 39 goals and 28 assists for 67 total points — all career highs. This marks the second year that Bach has led the Terriers in goals, after she scored a team-best 22 goals as a sophomore in the 2015-16 season.
Assists: Rebecca Leslie
Another senior and co-captain led the Terriers in the last of the “big three” offensive statistics this season, as winger Rebecca Leslie grabbed the prize. Leslie recorded 33 assists on the year — one shy of her career high — and added 24 goals for 57 total points.
Plus-Minus: Victoria Bach
BU’s offensive superstar also led her team with a monstrous +31 plus-minus.
Blocks: Breanna Scarpaci
Sophomore Breanna Scarpaci continued her stalwart defensive play from last season with 84 blocks in 28 appearances — an average of 3 per game — and did so after missing the entire first month due to injury.
Saves: Corinne Schroeder
First-year goaltender Corinne Schroeder wasted no time kickstarting her collegiate career this season. The freshman started 25 games and listed a team-best 633 saves and a 2.51 goals-against average, as well as a .913 save percentage. Although she saw limited time in the Hockey East playoffs, with Durocher shifting preference back to veteran Erin O’Neil, Schroeder still had a breakout first season with the Terriers and will likely be the starter between the pipes next year.
Save Percentage: Erin O’Neil
Senior and co-captain Erin O’Neil may have largely lost her starting spot to Corinne Schroeder this season, but that didn’t stop her from leading the Terriers’ goaltenders with a .922 save percentage.
Terriers 6, UConn 2
After losing four straight games to start the season, BU bounced back with a 6-2 home victory over UConn on Oct. 22 to earn their first Hockey East win of the year. Rebecca Leslie bagged a hat trick, Victoria Bach and Nina Rodgers also lit the lamp, and Naria Elia scored her first career goal — and to put the icing on the cake, Corinne Schroeder tallied an assist.
Terriers 3, Boston College 4
The first meeting of the 2017-18 season between Eagle and Terrier yielded a seven-goal thriller at Walter Brown Arena. BC held 3-0 and 4-1 leads on separate occasions, but had them swiftly slashed by dogged Terrier comebacks. Ultimately, the Eagles were able to hold on despite two unanswered goals by BU in the third period.
Terriers 7, Vermont 1
On Nov. 17, BU upended Vermont, 7-1, for their largest win of the season. Victoria Bach scored a career-high four goals, while Abby Stanley netted her first ever as a Terrier. The scarlet and white posted a total of 20 points in the contest, a game high for the season.
Terriers 3, Boston College 4 / OT (Beanpot Championship)
In their first Beanpot finals appearance since 2012, BU produced an instant classic against the Eagles that unfortunately ended in heartbreak. After going two goals down early on, the Terriers mounted a magnificent second-period comeback off the back of Victoria Bach’s 100th career goal, a long-range shot from Reagan Rust that beat BC’s Katie Burt five-hole, and a tap-in from Rebecca Leslie. The 3-2 lead lasted until there were less than five minutes remaining in the closing frame — at which point Daryl Watts crushed Terrier hopes with the game-tying goal. The final nail in the coffin then fell to Hockey East Defensive Player of the Year Toni Ann Miano, whose overtime strike denied BU their first-ever Beanpot trophy.
Terriers 3, Maine 4 / OT
After forcing a Game 3 in their Hockey East playoff series against Maine, the Terriers were delivered a soul-crushing defeat that saw them miss out on the Hockey East semifinals for the first time in over a decade. The scarlet and white carried a 3-0 lead halfway through the third period. Then Brooke Stacey hit them. The Black Bear forward scored three goals in seven minutes to bring her team level; later, with 4:39 elapsed in overtime, she fed Tereza Vanisova for the sudden-death game-winner.
The center out of Milton, Ontario has put in a serious bid for one of BU’s greatest skaters of all time. As her career in a scarlet and white jersey comes to an end, Victoria Bach sits atop the Terrier leaderboards in career points (198), points in a season (67), career goals (104), and goals in a season (39); she also owns the third-most career assists (94), the second-most career power play goals (21), and the joint fifth-most assists in a season after finishing this year’s campaign with 28. She became just the second Terrier of all time to record 20+ goals in three straight seasons — and that was before her senior year.
As a freshman, Bach played in all 37 of BU’s games, leading NCAA freshmen with six power play goals and joint-leading with 20 overall markers. She also recorded 14 assists that season, as the Terriers went on to win the Hockey East championship. As a sophomore, Bach again appeared in every single game; she upped her totals from the previous year with a team-high 22 goals along with 26 assists.
Her junior year only got better, as she led the Hockey East with 49 points from 23 goals and a team-leading 26 assists; that same year, she led Team Canada at the 2017 Nations Cup with five points en route to the silver medal.
This season, Bach finished with a whopping 39 goals and 28 assists for 67 points. She served as assistant captain for both the Terriers and Team Canada’s 2018 Nations Cup squad; additionally, she is currently among the top three finalists for this season’s Patty Kazmaier honors. Bach will leave BU with three NCAA Three Stars of the Week awards, four Hockey East Player of the Week, three Hockey East Player of the Month awards, Hockey East Rookie of the Week, Rookie of the Month and Rookie of the Year honors, a National Player of the Month award, apart of the Hockey East All-Rookie Team and All-Tournament Team, a Second Team All-Star, First Team All-Star, with All-Academic Team honors, a New England Division I All-Star award, and Hockey East Scoring Champion honors. She will also leave with a status nothing short of legendary.
While Bach may have been BU’s primary offensive outlet, she couldn’t have done all she did without her fellow senior and co-captain Rebecca Leslie there to feed her. In fact, neither could any of the Terriers’ most prolific scorers in the past four years. Leslie is the Terriers’ new all-time leader in assists with 102, thanks to a team-high 33 helpers this year alongside a career-high 24 goals. She is also second on the list for most assists in a season, having notched 34 back in her sophomore year.
As a freshman, Leslie played in 35 of the Terriers’ 37 games, notching 14 goals and 17 assists on her way to lifting the Hockey East trophy. In her sophomore season, she played in all 39 games and led the Terriers in points (49) and assists (34), as well as scoring 15 goals. She also led the nation that year in shorthanded points (8) and shorthanded goals (5).
Leslie’s junior year was slightly less prolific, as she dropped to 16 goals and 18 assists in 32 appearances; however, this season, she came roaring back to full-fledged brilliance. Aside from the excellent numbers, Leslie also proved herself to be an avid leader throughout her collegiate career, serving as BU’s captain as well as head honcho of Team Canada at the 2018 Nations Cup.
She will finish her Terrier career with Hockey East Rookie of the Week, Player of the Week and Rookie of the Month awards, Hockey East All-Academic Team, All-Rookie Team and Second Team All-Star honors, and a New England Division I All-Star award.
Minnesota native Nina Rodgers completed the first line offense alongside Bach and Leslie this season, proving to be an integral part of the trio’s success. Prior to arriving at BU, Rodgers spent her freshman and sophomore years at the University of Minnesota; there, she was part of a team that won two straight national titles. As a Golden Gopher, Rodgers recorded nine goals and six assists before having her breakout season with the Terriers as a junior. She played all 37 games in her first year in a scarlet and white jersey, scoring 11 and assisting 20 to exceed her points total from both her years with Minnesota combined. This season she saw less playing time and less productivity due to injury, making 28 appearances for six goals and four assists; however, she was still a strong presence both on the ice and on the bench. Rodgers will end her BU career with 17 goals and 24 assists, as well as a Hockey East Player of the Week award.
Defenseman Savannah Newton was immediately recognizable on the ice via her intense and highly entertaining physical play and notable vocal presence. In 33 games this season, Newton made 36 blocks and managed three points off her first career goal and two assists.
After making a small splash in her freshman year with ten appearances, Newton burst onto the scene as a sophomore as she played in 38 of the Terriers’ 39 games and finished with a +7 plus-minus and six assists. The next year, as a junior, Newton appeared in all 37 slates and notched a career-high 11 assists, including three in a 4-3 overtime win over Harvard.
This season, Newton played with robust, charismatic defensive performances. Scarlet and white hearts were stopped on Feb. 2 against Vermont, when Newton received a cross check that sent her crashing headfirst into the boards; however, the Nova Scotia native displayed toughness and was back on hand for BU’s quarterfinal series against Maine. Newton will leave BU with a goal and 19 assists to her name.
Not many goaltenders can say they competed on one of the top collegiate hockey teams in the nation. Ashlyn Aiello is one such exception. One of two BU net minders graduating this year, Aiello made a single appearance this season in the Terriers’ 6-1 trouncing of Merrimack on Jan. 27; she played just under shutout seven minutes, to the delight of both her teammates and the Terrier fans. The game was her first playing time in more than a year; prior to seeing no action as a junior, Aiello made two appearances in her sophomore season — and did not allow a goal. She will leave BU with multiple Hockey East All-Academic Team honors.
Despite seeing inconsistent playing time throughout her collegiate career, Erin O’Neil has nevertheless cemented herself as a top goaltender for the Terriers. As a freshman in the 2014-15 season, O’Neil made 14 starts in 16 appearances for a 9-4-1 record, 2.69 goals against average and .903 save percentage. As a sophomore, she started 28 of 30 games, posting an outstanding 17-8-2 record with a 2.91 goal- against average and .909 save percentage. That year, she also broke a Hockey East record — 183 stops in that season’s tournament — and made a career-high 809 saves, which remains BU’s fourth-most all time.
O’Neil’s junior year saw a sharp drop in action, as she made just eight appearances (all starts) for a 4-3-1 record. Despite being passed over for Corinne Schroeder for much of this season, she still recorded BU’s only shutout of the year — the last game of the regular season, a 2-0 victory over New Hampshire — and was handed the start in two of the Terriers’ quarterfinal contests. O’Neil also notched a career-high .922 save percentage and stopped 412 shots through 11 games. She will leave BU with three Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week awards, a Hockey East Rookie of the Week award, and Hockey East All-Academic All Team and All-Tournament Team honors.