By: Patrick Donnelly
BOSTON – Head coach Brian Durocher’s Terriers had an unbelievable campaign last season, highlighted by the program’s first Beanpot title in 38 years and first as a varsity program. Although, the ending was not what the group would have liked, a 5-1 trouncing at the hands of Boston College in the Hockey East Semifinals, there is plenty of reason to believe the Terriers will be able to match, if not best, last year’s run.
“[On building off last season] the build is to remember what we did last year and what type of team we were,” Durocher said. “I think if we continue to be a tough team, a team that plays hard in the so-called dirty areas of the ice, then we have a chance.”
A key part of the Terrier’s success last season was their underdog mentality, but coming into this season ranked seventh in the nation in the USCHO’s preseason poll–now ranked eighth in the nation–as well as second in Hockey East’s preseason coaches’ poll, Durocher knows the team cannot afford to rest on its laurels.
“If we think we’re good . . . if we’re looking at our press clippings, we may fall a bit short,” the longtime coach of the Terriers noted. “There aren’t a lot of excuses.”
The Terriers got huge contributions out of the freshmen and young players last season, and Durocher thinks those players’ ability to take that next step will be vital to the team’s chances this season.
“We’re going to need people to come back and play well like they did last year; we’re going to need some of the new kids to step up,” Durocher continued. “What I’m curious about with some of the forwards in particular is seeing who’s going to rise and add five goals or 10 points to their resume.”
“I think there are a whole bunch of people [freshmen or returning sophomores] who could fill that void and really help Jesse Compher and Sammy Davis, who carried the lion’s share of the offense [last year].”
Davis and Compher each had career seasons in 2018-19. Compher, who is entering her junior season, led Hockey East in points and finished third in the entire country with 61 points (17g, 44a) in 37 games. Selected as a second-team All-American, Compher was a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given to the best player in women’s Division I hockey. Following her other-worldly campaign, Compher was named to Team USA’s roster for the IIHF World Championship, where she recorded one assist in six games en route to winning a gold medal.
As for Davis, the red-shirt senior is entering her second season as one of three skaters wearing a ‘C’ on her sweater for the Terriers. With a dominant showing last season that saw the co-captain post 25 goals (the most in Hockey East) and 52 points (second in Hockey East), Davis was named a Hockey East Second Team All-Star. The Most Valuable Player at the 2019 Beanpot, she scored the historic game-winning goal in overtime against Harvard to clinch the tournament for BU.
“[On Davis and Compher] the first thing that comes to mind for me, while it might seem like offense to most people, they set the bar with toughness,” Durocher acknowledged. “Both of those kids play hockey like they were third or fourth-liners, yet they have first line talent; that doesn’t always happen.”
“I think that because of Sammy and Jesse’s DNA, an awful lot of people follow them. Our captain, Natasza Tarnowski, is right out of the exact same blueprint. When you look around the locker room or you look out on the ice and those kids are playing hard, you have to figure it’s going to motivate and send a message to other kids that this is how we have to play.”
Not to be forgotten was the impressive display of goaltending the Terriers got on a game-by-game basis last season as then-sophomore netminder Corinne Schroeder also had a career year. Schroeder’s .933 save percentage and 1.90 goals against average (GAA) smashed her totals from freshman year; to add to that, the junior recorded an impressive 18-7-7 record on the year.
“I think Corinne was the kid last year that I wanted to see if she could take the jump,” Durocher said. “[Her spike in save percentage] is a great indicator in my book that she took the jump we had hoped for.”
However, Kate Stuart, who is entering her sophomore season, was impressive in her own right, posting a 3-1-1 record in addition to a .943 save percentage and 1.73 GAA as a frosh. So, the coaching staff has to manage both goaltenders, who have shown they can both provide quality starts.
“One of my dilemmas this year is Kate Stuart . . . I think her teammates and her peers, Corinne and Nicole [McGuigan], recognize that she’s a good goalie and I mentioned to both of them that I’m, going to have to find a way to get her more ice-time,” Durocher admitted. “It will be a balancing act and only because she’s earned it. It’s a good problem for coaches and for teams to know that that they have two, if not three, good goaltenders.”
It’s no secret that the Terriers have high expectations of themselves each and every year, adding the chance to defend their Beanpot title on home ice in addition to BU hosting the Frozen Four only heightens the thirst for success.
“I think every year at BU is a win-now; there’s always high expectations and we’ve had a really nice run,” Durocher recalled. “To build on last year, to understand what it takes, and then to take the next step is really important.”
“One of the things our captains stress is that those eight or nine ties we had [last year], while they got us a point, we can’t be happy with those this year. We got to turn some of those into wins.”
In what is sure to be another tough year in Hockey East Durocher knows the team must do everything it can to stand apart from the field. While BC may have lost two of their best players, Daryl Watts and Caitrin Lonergan, the Eagles are still right there with the Terriers as they rank third in Hockey East and eighth in the nation. Meanwhile, Northeastern is still a powerhouse, checking in at first in Hockey East and third in the nation.
“I think there are those points that you can’t take for granted: playing hard, playing consistent, and playing as a team is important,” he said. “You know these teams feel good about themselves and they’re ready to go as well.”
Durocher and the Terriers kick off the season on Sunday, October 6th, as they will travel to Union for a 1:00 pm matinee matchup before returning for the home-opener at Walter Brown Arena against Merrimack on Friday, October 11th, at 7:00 pm.
Featured Image: Jesse Compher (7), MacKenna Parker (11), and more Terriers celebrate a power play goal. (Photo by Gabi Turi)