Terriers Return to the Ice
Women’s and men’s hockey home openers this weekend
Ten seconds. In the end, that’s all that kept the BU women’s hockey Terriers from going into an incredible fourth overtime in their NCAA quarterfinal game against Cornell last March. But with just seconds to go on the clock, Cornell scored to pull off an 8-7 win, knocking the Terriers out of the tournament and officially ending their season.
Despite that heartbreaking loss, the women’s hockey team has been the most successful varsity team at BU for the past three seasons. Not only did the Terriers win the Hockey East tournament twice, but they also made it to the NCAA tournament each year, even playing in the national championship game in 2011. Despite that past success, players say this season’s roster is the best they’ve ever had.
“I think this is the best team I’ve seen,” cocaptain Jill Cardella (COM’13) says. “I think this year we’ve really bonded as a team, and I think that’s the most important thing. Obviously we’ve had some great teams in the past; all my years we’ve had great accomplishments, but I’m really excited about this year and everyone seems to be pulling together well.”
Cardella, along with cocaptain Marie-Philip Poulin (SED’14), is leading this year’s team following the graduation of Jenn Wakefield (CAS’12). Both captains acknowledge that it won’t be easy to fill Wakefield’s shoes, given her impressive record of 111 points in just two years at BU. However, head coach Brian Durocher (SED’78) is confident about the duo’s ability to lead the squad.
“I think they’re very different types of captains,” Durocher says. “Jill is the straw that stirs the drink, so to speak—she’s the one that’s going to keep everyone in the team-first mentality. Marie-Philip is a little more lead-by-example, but whenever she says something, people listen. I think they’ll be a good pair and work well together.”
Among the many Terriers returning this season are Isabel Menard (CAS’13) and Kayla Tutino (CGS’13), who finished last season with 48 and 39 points, respectively. Although she played just 16 games because of an injury, Poulin registered 25 points (11 goals, 14 assists), and Cardella finished the year with 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists).
Another key player is Jenelle Kohanchuk (SAR’12), who was forced to sit out much of last season after a concussion.
“I think it’s going to be great for her,” says Durocher. “The timing works out awfully well for her. She’s right on the edge of the Canadian national team. If she has a real good year out here and impresses them, things could snowball in a really positive way.”
In net for the Terriers again this year is Kerrin Sperry (CAS’14). The Reading, Mass., native came into the season with a sparkling 40-18-4 record, and a goals against average of just over two.
As well as these experienced veterans, eight new players have joined the team, including Quebec native Sarah Lefort (CGS’14), who won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2012 IIHF World Women’s Hockey Under-18 Championship, and Shannon Doyle (CAS’14), who transferred this year from Colgate University. Doyle also won a gold medal at the Under-18 Championship, back in 2010.
While the team’s main goal is to return to the NCAA tournament this spring, players say that there are more immediate challenges.
“Obviously the ultimate goal is to win the national championship. Being there, you only want to get back; you can’t get enough of that stuff,” says Sperry. “But our first goal is to definitely be cohesive as a team. I think last year we were a little bit off at some points, so I think our that’s first goal.”
In spite of much-publicized problems off the ice last year, the Boston University men’s hockey team made the NCAA tournament for the first time in three seasons, only to be bounced 7-3 by the University of Minnesota in the first round.
The Terriers face numerous challenges as they kick off this season. First, they need to replace two of their top four leading scorers. Alex Chiasson (CAS’13) and Adam Clendening (MET’14) signed professional contracts in the off-season, as did Justin Courtnall (SHA’13), an assistant captain last season.
“Losing both Courtnall and Clendening was somewhat surprising, but it wasn’t unexpected,” says Jack Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97), who is marking his 40th anniversary as head coach. “We’re pretty confident we’ve got enough guys to make up for those losses and we probably have more skill this year than last year in a lot of ways.”
Stepping up for the Terriers is a roster of talented freshmen. Sam Kurker (SMG’16), Danny O’Regan (SMG’16) and Matt Grzelcyk (SMG’16) were each selected in last June’s NHL draft, with Charlestown native Grzelcyk going to the Boston Bruins in the third round.
Not only do the Terriers need to fill the gap left by the players lost to the pros, they must also replace two outstanding goaltenders, Kieran Millan (MET’12) and Grant Rollheiser (SHA’12), both of whom graduated in May. Sean Maguire (CGS’14) and Matt O’Connor (SMG’16) will compete for a starting spot, but Parker is unfazed by the challenge.
“I tell people, the last two times we won the national championship we did it with a freshman goaltender,” he says. “The last time we did it, in 2009, with two freshmen goaltenders. BC won it in 2008 with a freshman goaltender. It’s not unusual for a freshman goaltender to play very well.”
The team voted Wade Megan (MET’13), who led the Terriers last year with 20 goals, nearly double the total of his first two years, the sole captain of this year’s squad. Parker says he wasn’t surprised by the pick.
“First of all, it was almost unanimous, so everybody had the same idea. We think he’ll do a great job,” Parker says. “He’s a guy that’s always worked hard since he’s been here. He’s a real good example of putting your best foot forward and doing the right thing.”
The Terriers were chosen third in the Hockey East coaches’ poll at the beginning of the season, behind first-place Boston College and second-place UMass-Lowell.
The team’s focus this season is on playing hard and winning games.
“We want to be competitive every night, win all the battles, and be one of the toughest teams to play against,” says defenseman Sean Escobedo (SMG’13). “We really want to make sure we don’t leave anything behind and don’t take anything for granted.”
The BU women’s hockey team plays against the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers on Friday, October 12, at 7 p.m. at Walter Brown Arena, 285 Babcock St. Tickets are $6 for the general public, $4 for BU students, faculty, and staff, and free with a sports pass. The 2012 Hockey East Champsionship banner will be raised before the game.
The BU men’s hockey team takes on the Providence College Friars on Saturday, October 13, at 7 p.m. at Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave. Tickets start at $24 for the general public and are $16 for BU students, staff, and faculty.
Paul Ryan can be reached at email@example.com.+ Comments