By: Jacob Lintner
BOSTON – After securing their first win of the season last weekend, Boston University (1-1-2, 1-1-2 WHEA) returns to Walter Brown Arena for a two-game slate against the University of Connecticut (4-1, 2-1 WHEA) on Friday and No. 10 Maine (4-0, 0-0 WHEA) on Saturday.
The Terriers are in the middle of an 11-game streak against Hockey East opponents with this weekend featuring two high-stakes games. BU and UCONN are currently tied atop the conference standings, while Maine is the 10th ranked squad in the nation and figures to play deep into March.
UCONN made an unlikely run to the Hockey East championship last season, defeating No. 2 Providence and No. 3 Boston College in the WHEA playoffs before falling to Northeastern in the finals. The Huskies returned 15 players from last season, including top goal-scorers Natalie Snodgrass and Briana Colangelo and goalie Morgan Fisher. The Huskies have gotten off to a hot start, averaging 4.0 goals per game and coming off a 7-2 thumping of Holy Cross a week ago.
Head Coach Brian Durocher noted that BU will have to tighten up in their defensive end keep the high-flying Huskies in check.
“We’re just thinking too much out there,” Durocher said. “That’s the area where we’ve been caught the most: not quite picking people up, and they’re getting tips and getting deflections…We never really took two or three steps to defend somebody [in our first games].”
The Terriers are allowing the second most goals per game in the WHEA, but half of the goals scored against them have been in penalty kill situations. BU has a league-worst 62.5 percent success rate in penalty kills, and UCONN has scored the most goals (8) off power plays of any team in Hockey East.
Following Friday’s evening game with UCONN, BU will turn around quickly to face No. 10 Maine the next day at 3 p.m. The Black Bears have been dominant in the early season, outscoring their opponents 21-1 in four victories thus far.
Maine junior Tereza Vanišová leads Hockey East in goals scored (5) and is tied for the lead in total points (7), while freshman Līga Miljone has found the back of the net three times and leads all freshman with seven points of her own.
BU will try to match Maine’s offensive attack with skaters like redshirt junior and tri-captain Sammy Davis (3 goals, 1 assist) and sophomore Jesse Compher (2 goals, 3 assists) leading the way. Davis scored twice in the first period of the Terriers’ win last Saturday against New Hampshire with assists from Compher and freshman Courtney Correia on both goals.
The key for BU this weekend is going to lie in the power play. UCONN and Maine are two of the best teams in Hockey East at exploiting man advantage situations, while BU is among the worst at killing penalties. The Terriers also spend the third-most minutes in the penalty box per game of the 10 teams in Hockey East.
In the end, a lot of the pressure falls onto the goalie’s shoulders in power play scenarios. Sophomore goalie Corinne Schroeder has had a rough beginning of the season, allowing 3.16 goals per game and with a .900 save percentage. Those numbers don’t reflect Schroeder’s presence in the net, though, as BU’s defense began the season without the kind of aggressiveness that has become a calling card of Durocher’s tenure as the Terriers’ head coach.
The defense had a good showing last weekend against UNH.
“We really were pretty assertive in covering somebody, and that way it identifies who’s got to be picked up,” said Durocher. “This is three [games] in a row that we’ve done a nice job there.”
That starts with veteran leaders Connor Galway, Abby Cook and tri-captain Reagan Rust. If they can keep up that kind of defensive presence, BU will have a great shot in both matchups this weekend.