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Women’s Hockey Shines in Second Year

Terriers are 10-5-1 and winning on the road

Cara Hendry was named Hockey East Player of the Week on November 27. Photo by Rob Klein

When the BU women’s hockey team plays Brown on Tuesday, December 5, at Walter Brown Arena, coach Brian Durocher doesn’t intend to let the Terriers’ sophomore season 6-0 start go to their head.

But Durocher (CAS’79) is certainly pleased. After all, last spring BU finished sixth in Hockey East, with a 6-13-2 conference record. So back-to-back shutouts against Vermont on October 21 and 22 caused dropped jaws and the exchange of high-fives in Walter Brown Arena.

Still, the former BU hockey player can put the streak in perspective. “I was a goaltender, and I know that sometimes the puck can bounce in your favor,” Durocher says. “We’re fortunate. This is the kind of thing that can dictate the ebb and flow of a season. We didn’t play very well against RPI, for example, and we beat them twice.”

Captain Cara Hendry (CAS’07) agrees. “We were playing with a lot of confidence and getting the lucky bounces we needed,” she says. Then three losses in a row, against New Hampshire, Boston College, and UConn, brought the team back down to earth. However, three straight road victories — along with a 2-2 tie at first-place UConn in the second half of November — have emboldened the Terriers, whose goal has been winning games beyond the friendly confines of Walter Brown Arena. There may be no place like home, but good teams must win on foreign territory, and BU had a miserable 2-11-2 road record last year.

“Having more success on the road was definitely something we were focusing on going into the season,” says Hendry. “It was nice to get that monkey off our backs right away and start the year off with a couple of road wins. We go into every game with the same mindset, whether it’s at home or away, so it’s no secret how this was accomplished. It was hard work.”

Durocher says a more mature team — and outlook — has been a key factor in BU’s road success. “We’ve put a better team on the ice this year. We have experience — last year’s freshmen are a year older, and they’ve already been through it once,” he says. Adhering to a disciplined strength and conditioning program has also made the Terriers faster and more powerful, especially Erin Seman (SMG’09) and Amanda Shaw (SMG’09). “They are perfect examples,” Durocher says. “They’d get tired halfway through a shift last year, and now they’re as fit as they can be.”

He is also pleased with his team’s depth. On October 19, freshman goaltender Melissa Haber (CGS’08) made her collegiate debut against Vermont and recorded 23 saves — 17 of them in the third period — to shut out the Catamounts, 3-0, and earn Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors. Durocher and assistant coach Erika Silva, also a former goalie, thought Haber would be a good fit at BU when they scouted her in high school. “Her overall athleticism is a plus,” says Durocher. “She’s got good reach, and she’s very competitive.”

The team’s ability to make adjustments also impresses Durocher. In the Terriers’ 4-3 win over Quinnipiac on November 29, the Bobcats immediately stormed goaltender Allyse Wilcox (CGS’09), outshooting BU 7-1 in the opening minutes. “Quinnipiac is a good team, but they’re not three steps faster than us,” says Durocher. “They may be half a step faster, but if we’re technically in position, we can level the playing field, and that’s what we did.”

Now Durocher has his sights set on improving BU’s conference record. The team is an impressive 10-5-1 overall, but its 3-5-1 mark in Hockey East doesn’t sit too well. The Terriers were picked to finish third in a preseason coaches’ poll, but right now they’re in fifth place.

“Brown has good speed and great goaltending,” says Durocher. But, Hendry points out, the Terriers are playing well lately. “I think if we continue to play with the intensity we’ve been bringing, we should come away with a win,” she says.

Brian Fitzgerald can be reached at bfitzger@bu.edu.