The Boston University women’s hockey team defeated the Russian National Team in its third exhibition game of the season with a score of 6–1 on Monday night at Walter Brown Arena.
However, the true significance of the victory lay in the opportunity for the team to work on its game in a competitive — yet friendly — atmosphere.
The No. 5/7 Terriers (9–3–1, 4–2–1 Hockey East) won their second exhibition game of the season. The first victory came against McGill University on Sept. 30 with a score of 4–1. They also tied a game at four against the Boston Blades on Oct. 6.
Playing three exhibition games in one season is an anomaly for the Terriers. BU coach Brian Durocher said his team tried to get two other NCAA games on its schedule, but it was fun to host Russia and the Blades instead.
“Niagara University dropped their program last spring, and we tried to get two other NCAA games, but we were unsuccessful,” Durocher said. “So to add a little bit of pizzazz to the schedule was fun.”
“This team in an international game and obviously the Blades earlier in the year,” he added. “They are games that add a little bit of color and a little bit of a different look, so it was fun to bring them here.”
Last season, BU’s schedule over the Thanksgiving break was much different, and it heeded poor results. It was defeated by Cornell University on Nov. 25 and Nov. 26 en route to a four-game losing streak.
This year, however, BU had a bit of a respite. After a win against No. 6/7 Harvard University on Nov. 18, BU did not play another game until its friendly match up with Russia on Monday night.
Durocher said having a break at this point in the season can be beneficial to the team.
“This is nice that last night we were able to have a practice after three days off and now to play a real game early in the week on a Monday night … it gives us a little bit of a jump start to get ready for our final four [games before the New Year],” Durocher said. “Last year we were a little bit tired come Thanksgiving and we had to go to one of the toughest places to play against one of the best teams in the country … This will hopefully set us up better for the weekend coming up.”
However, the team did not view the game against Russia as an opportunity to rest. With games coming up against Providence College and the University of Minnesota-Duluth, it is crucial for individuals to improve their skills and show that they are worthy of more playing time.
“To come back and have a real game instead of four or five practices gives us a chance to look at some things or maybe make a couple of final decisions on people,” Durocher said. “Certainly I think that … it will help them and give a couple of defenseman some more reps tonight, too.”
Players such as sophomore forward Sarah Bayersdorfer and freshman forwards Rebecca Russo and Jordan Juron, who were line mates in Monday night’s game, were able to get more ice time. They certainly took advantage of the opportunity.
Russo and Juron each earned one goal and one assist in the game. Russo has no goals in regular season games, so getting a goal — even in an exhibition game — could help get her offensive game going.
Juron only has one goal and one assist in regular season games. She referenced the increase in playing time as the reason for her success in the matchup with Russia.
“I got a little bit more ice time, a little bit more flow, consistency out there with my two line mates and it was fun playing with Russo,” Juron said.
She also said concluding the weeklong break with an exhibition game is an effective way to transition back into playing regular season hockey games.
“To come right back in and jump back into it with a game today was nice and kept everyone going and got everybody ready for the games against Providence this weekend and then … Minnesota-Duluth next weekend,” Juron said.
Durocher expressed satisfaction with the team finally being back from the break and playing the type of hockey that got them a No. 5/7 national ranking.
“We were back to being aggressive as a team, aggressive as a group,” Durocher said.