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Women’s Ice Hockey Out to Regain Dominance

Terriers host number 8 ranked Northeastern tomorrow

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Holding a 1-0 lead over Northeastern with less than four minutes left in the 2017 Hockey East semifinals, last season’s BU women’s ice hockey team seemed bound for its third straight conference finals appearance. But the Terriers crumbled in the remaining minutes, allowing two quick goals, one in the final minute that practically guaranteed their 2-1 loss. It was a heartbreaking defeat for a team that had fallen from a conference championship in 2015 to a conference semifinals exit.

The Terriers will try to avenge that loss to Northeastern tomorrow night when they host the Huskies at Walter Brown Arena. But head coach Brian Durocher (SED’78) acknowledges that the team has its work cut out.

He cites the recent injuries sidelining two key players, assistant tri-captain Sammy Davis (CGS’16, Sargent’19) and Bree Scarpaci (Sargent’20). Davis is out for the season, but Scarpaci is expected to return in December.

The Terriers face other challenges as well. This season, they’ve welcomed eight newcomers, comprising more than a third of the roster. And the Hockey East conference is more menacing than ever, with two teams, Green Line rival Boston College (ranked number 2), and crosstown rival Northeastern (number 8), recognized among the nation’s top 10 across every major poll.

“There are a lot of new faces, there is a little less experience. There are a couple of injuries right now, so right there, it significantly changes the complexion of the team and creates new challenges,” says Durocher, marking his 13th season as head coach. But, he says, his players are determined not to back down from those challenges.

“We want to reestablish. We want to make sure we’re working hard and doing everything we can to keep the bar set high,” he says.

Brian Durocher (SED’78), begins his 13th season as head coach

Brian Durocher (SED’78), who begins his 13th season as women’s hockey head coach, was recently named one of the 100 most influential people in New England hockey by the New England Hockey Journal.

For Durocher, who has led the Terriers to five tournament titles—four consecutive wins from 2012 to 2015—the key this season lies in the team’s attention to detail, the nitty-gritty, and its commitment to hard work: what he calls the “compete.”

“The compete, to me, is cutting in front of the net with a puck instead of taking a wrist shot, then swinging behind and seeing if you scored a goal, stopping at the net when you don’t have the puck and looking for a rebound, and screening the goalie, taking the eyes away and maybe not being in the side of the net for a soft rebound,” Durocher says. “All those things are important, and it carries over to decisions you make.”

Players say they’ve taken that message to heart, says Savannah Newton (CAS’18, COM’18). “He believes in us and knows we can succeed as long as we’re putting our best foot forward every single day,” she says. “As long as we make the most of every day—working hard in the gym, working hard on the ice, off the ice, doing little things right—I think things will fall into place.”

Durocher says the eight newcomers enter BU as accomplished players with impressive pedigrees and that they have the potential to make a significant impact. Case in point: transfer student Reagan Rust (CAS’20), who scored her first goal as a Terrier in the season opener, a 1-2 loss to Merrimack, on September 23.

“These young players have really set their mark in the gym and on the ice and off the ice too,” says captain Rebecca Leslie (CAS’18, Questrom’18). “It’s really exciting that they have the confidence to play their positions, because we’re going to need them through the year.”

The Terriers will also be looking to last season’s conference scoring leader, Victoria Bach (CGS’16, COM’18), along with fellow seniors Nina Rodgers (CAS’18) and Leslie, to help them maintain their standing as the best offensive team in the conference. All three were selected in this summer’s 2017 NWHL draft: Bach and Leslie were chosen by the New York Riveters, and Rodgers was picked by the Connecticut Whale.

So in spite of their season opening loss, and the aforementioned challenges, it’s a confident group of Terriers preparing to take on Northeastern.

“We’re coming for a championship this year,” Newton says. “We’re a little bit underestimated right now, but that’s the best place to be.”

The BU women’s ice hockey team hosts Northeastern tomorrow, Friday, October 6, at 7 p.m., at Walter Brown Arena, 285 Babcock St. Admission is free for students with a sports pass, $5 for faculty, staff, and students without a sports pass, and $8 for the general public. The Patriot League Network will broadcast the game live. 

Jonathan Chang can be reached at jchang19@bu.edu.

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