The eighth-ranked Boston University women’s hockey team (18-6-3, 13-6-3 HEAW) will take on the Boston College Eagles (14-10-3, 13-8-2 HEAW) in another edition of the storied Battle of Comm. Ave on Tuesday night at Walter Brown Arena in the semifinals of the 42nd Women’s Beanpot. This year, the Terriers will try to prove they are the best in the City of Boston once again, but this time as hosts and defending champions.
“Having it on home ice, I think it’s so exciting,” redshirt senior captain Sammy Davis said. “It’s so special for us, having it here. It’s also special for the younger girls to experience it here. I grew up in Boston so it’s a showdown.”
The Terriers come into this contest fresh off a 4-2 victory over Vermont at home on Friday night that saw four different goal-scorers. Meanwhile, the Eagles are coming in on the heels of a dominant 8-3 performance to take down Holy Cross.
BU and BC both hold the 12th-most goals per game in the nation, with three. Defensively, the Terriers allow the fifth-fewest goals-against per game in Division I with 1.67. Comparatively, the Eagles allow 2.74 goals per game, the 20th-fewest in the nation.
In goal, junior Corinne Schroeder has been a force for the Terriers, boasting a 12-5-2 record to go along with a 1.58 goals-against average (sixth in the nation) and a .939 save percentage, fifth-highest in Division I. During last year’s Beanpot finals, Schroeder showed that she can rise to the moment when called upon, making 30 saves in the win.
Offensively, the Terriers have been paced by Davis, who missed her entire junior season with injury before coming back and earning a ‘C’ on her sweater last year. The Pembroke, Mass., native has 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points on the year. Last year, Davis scored the overtime winner in the Beanpot finals against Harvard to lift BU to their first Beanpot since 1981, and first as a varsity program.
“[Scoring the Beanpot-winning goal] was a blur,” Davis recalled. “I think afterwards, everything kind of came full circle. Taking a year off was tough and you really grow to appreciate the game a lot more.
“It was just a special moment for me, and it was the culmination of working hard and all the effort I put in. It was really exciting for everyone.”
Senior captain Natasza Tarnowski also tallied a goal and an assist in last year’s finals victory. Known for her determination and hard work, Tarnowski has noticed an extra buzz around the locker room.
“We’re definitely excited for Tuesday,” the center said. “I’m definitely fired up. I think all of us seniors are fired up. It’ll be nice for the freshmen to experience it.
“We definitely want to bring it home again. It’s going to be awesome.”
BU head coach Brian Durocher is confident his players who found a way to shine in the tournament’s biggest moments last season will be able to do so again this season.
“[Tarnowski], [Davis], [Schroeder], and you take someone like Jesse [Compher] or Abby Cook, those people have been through the wars,” the BU bench boss said. “Now they finally got a Beanpot, so there’s a little less stress going into this game.”
Among Terriers who need no added motivation to get up for the Battle of Comm. Ave is freshman Julia Nearis.
“The Battle of Comm. Ave – that’s what you live for, right?” Nearis answered earlier this season when asked what she was most excited for during her freshman campaign.
A native of Beverly, Mass., Nearis has had the Beanpot in the back of her mind for a long time.
“When I first committed, my first thought was the Beanpot and the NCAA’s.”
For BC, freshman phenom Hannah Bilka has been dominant for the Eagles this season as she is tied for the team lead in points with 12-20-32 totals through 25 games after missing two due to injury. Her center on the top line, Kelly Browne also has 32 points on the year (11g, 21a).
In the crease, Maddie MacArthur is experiencing a little bit of a sophomore slump. With a record of 10-8-3, MacArthur’s GAA (2.53) and save percentage (.909) have seen a slight dip compared to last season’s totals – a 2.00 GAA and .912 save percentage.
“[BC’s] goaltender is a quality goaltender, but maybe she hasn’t had her best run – that can change on any given night,” Durocher said. “Whatever has caused her headache [this season] can change very quickly.”
BU took the regular season series with BC, going 2-1-0 in the three games. The two wins came in a series sweep before the semester break, which made it three-straight losses for the Eagles, at the time, eventually turning into a six-game slide. Since returning from the break, BC has gone 3-4-1 – three of the losses capped the back half of the losing streak.
Durocher knows that his team is going to have to be sharp come puck-drop, as the Terriers cannot expect BC’s funk to continue.
“The first thing that comes to mind is health. They got really banged up [at the end of the semester],” Durocher noted. “We all have depth, we all have quality players up and down the lineup, but when you take top kids out, you can deal with it to some extent.
“I think [the injuries were] overbearing on [that sweep], so I’ve sort of tossed [those two games] out, saying ‘look we’re playing a different team come Tuesday.’”
Puck-drop for the primetime matchup is slated for 8:00 pm at Wally B tomorrow night; however, if the 5:00 pm game between No. 3 Northeastern and No. 10 Harvard runs long, the later semifinal could be subject to delay.
Be sure to keep up with all of WTBU’S live coverage of the 42nd Women’s Beanpot, with in-game updates on Twitter for all four matchups, and Jacob Lintner and Akshai Wadhwani’s call of BU’s game tomorrow.