BU Women’s Hockey Season Opens at Home Friday against RPI
“Can we put pucks in the net? That’s going to be the charge,” says head coach Brian Durocher
For the first time since 2014, the Boston University women’s ice hockey team shares the title of Hockey East’s winningest program. Last season, crosstown rival Northeastern tied the Terriers as top dogs, winning their fifth consecutive Hockey East title. Meanwhile, the Terriers struggled to a 12-15-6 record and a first round exit in the Hockey East tournament.
After a long off-season, the Terriers are emphasizing leadership and a strengthened team culture ahead of their Friday season home opener against RPI. Leading the team is captain Nadia Mattivi (CAS’23), with Lacey Martin (CAS’24) and Madison Cardaci (CAS’24) as alternates. The squad also boasts four seniors and three graduate students, among them transfer Andrea Brändli (MET’23), who hails from the defending NCAA champion Ohio State Buckeyes.
And it isn’t just upperclassmen who will be guiding the team. Terrier newcomer Brooke Disher (Questrom’26), who captained Team Canada to a gold medal in the 2022 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championship, will join Mattivi on the Terrier blue line.
“We have a lot of in-depth leadership starting from the freshman to the grad class,” Mattivi says. “Wearing a letter, it’s definitely an honor, but I’m not doing this by myself. Whether people are wearing a letter or not, we have a lot of leaders on the team.”
One of them is Julia Nearis (CAS’23, COM’23).
“Nearis is the kid who likes to keep everybody connected socially,” says head coach Brian Durocher (Wheelock’78), now in his 18th season helming the team. “She makes sure we have fun when it’s available, and she’s also the most accomplished offensive player, returning with 20 points.”
“The culture determines if teams win championships or not,” Nearis says. “There’s always a respect that we want to give, and that’s our main goal—that we respect each other. But in terms of playing hockey, we do have a lot of experience.”
Durocher says the team knows there is work to be done as they begin the season. “Can we put pucks in the net? That’s going to be our charge,” he says. “People are going to have to evolve, and we’re going to have to be better on the power play. And hopefully both those things can happen. There’s great energy, the kids are ready to play.”
BU scored two power play goals on six opportunities when hosting Université de Moncton in an exhibition game on September 23, winning the contest 5-1.
“Last year, we had good and bad moments,” Mattivi says. “We have to have only good moments this year. I feel like that’s our biggest goal: getting shots, getting goals, and executing on the power play. It only takes one goal to win.”
Joining the Terriers alongside Brändli and Disher are five other newcomers, four freshmen and Ani FitzGerald (CAS’24), a transfer from No. 13 ranked rival Northeastern. FitzGerald picked up two assists in the Moncton exhibition game.
Nearis says she’s excited to play alongside her new teammates, specifically highlighting the shooting ability of Clara Yuhn (Questrom’26). “Clara’s shot is deadly,” Nearis says. “She has actually given me pointers on how to shoot too. We have some other young blood that’s giving their all. We’ll see where the first two games take us. But I think the new talent is definitely gonna give us a big help.”
The 2022-2023 Terriers will make their Frozen Fenway program debut at Fenway Park in January against Holy Cross. The event offers a rare opportunity to attend a collegiate hockey game outdoors. BU’s match with Holy Cross will be the first time Fenway Park has hosted college hockey since 2017. “We are extremely excited,” Mattivi says. “Fenway Park is such an iconic location. I don’t know how to express how happy and excited we are—it’s a great experience and I’m so happy that the freshmen and the transfers get to experience that.”
Prior to playing in Frozen Fenway, the team will travel to Henderson, Nev., over Thanksgiving for a tournament billed as the “Vegas Showcase,” featuring BU, Penn State, Yale, and Minnesota.
For Nearis, the Fenway game may means a bit more than to her teammates. She watched her sister, Abby, compete at the ballpark when the BU senior was in prep school, and says she’s looking forward to becoming the second Nearis to play at 4 Jersey Street. She likens it to playing outdoor pond hockey.
“It’s definitely exciting,” she says. “It reminds a lot of us girls of when we started, playing outside of the rinks. I’m sure I’ll probably get the same feeling and it’ll be fun—I’ll be with all my best friends.”
When the Terriers open regulation play this Friday at home against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, they’ll be looking to avenge their 4-2 loss to the Engineers last year.
“We lost to RPI last year so I just think there’s some fire in our blood for that,” Nearis says. “But I’m excited to see how the team is going to be.”
After RPI, the Terriers will host Union on Saturday, October 8, before opening Hockey East play against UNH on October 14 in Durham, and October 15 at home. BU will then face Boston College in Chestnut Hill on October 21 and host the Eagles October 22.
“We are at Durham, and then BC is right around the corner, so those are two very big games for us,” Nearis says. “As long as we come together as a unit and are structured in our play, I think good things are gonna happen.”
That sentiment is seconded by Durocher. “They’ve been busy as all get-out, they have a good leadership group, and they’re excited. So let’s see if we can carry it into the game activity.”
The BU women’s ice hockey season begins Friday, October 7, at 7 pm, when the Terriers take on RPI at Walter Brown Arena. They open Hockey East play Friday, October 14, at Durham, playing UNH at 7 pm, and hosting the Wildcats the next day at 3 pm. Admission is free to students with a BU Sports Pass; home games can be streamed live on ESPN+.