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Women’s hockey views upcoming game vs Harvard as crucial NCAA bout

A week ago, the No. 3 Boston University women’s hockey team had a hope of winning its first Beanpot trophy since 1981 and its first as a varsity program. In a matter of 60 minutes, however, Northeastern University dashed that dream as it defeated the Terriers (18–4–3, 13–2–1 Hockey East) in the first round of the tournament.

With its chances of winning the title gone, BU has decided not to look at Tuesday’s consolation game against No. 5 Harvard University as a part of the Beanpot.

“Fortunately and unfortunately, I’ve taken ‘Beanpot’ and ‘consolation’ out of my vocabulary this week because it’s a huge NCAA game that we’re looking at against Harvard,” said BU coach Brian Durocher.

Both BU and the Crimson (17–3–2) have compiled successful seasons so far with the teams having just four and three losses on the season, respectively. With both teams in the top five of the PairWise and USCHO rankings, a win for either program could help a team as the playoffs draw near.

“I think that getting a win here in this game could solidify us in a pretty nice position relative to the PairWise and the ultimate NCAA Tournament,” Durocher said. “That’s our goal.”

Back on Nov. 18, in the teams’ other meeting this season, the Terriers served the Crimson their first loss of the season, as the Terriers defeated Harvard 2–1 at Walter Brown Arena. At the time, Harvard was ranked higher than the Terriers.

Senior forward Jenelle Kohanchuk and junior forward Louise Warren led the way for BU, as they each scored in the close contest. Both of BU’s goals occurred in the first half of the game, and Harvard came close to staging a comeback as forward Mary Parker scored her second goal of the season 2:18 into the third frame of the game. Forwards Jillian Dempsey and Lyndsey Fry, who are first and second, respectively, on the team in scoring, earned assists on Parker’s goal.

“They might be even a little more confident bunch than they were earlier in the year,” Durocher said. “They’ve played well throughout the year. They’re obviously a well-coached team. They’ve got a real super player that leads them in Jillian Dempsey. They’ve had good goaltending all year.”

Like the Terriers, Harvard will come into the game having not played since the first round of the Beanpot. Both teams had their weekend games canceled due to the snowstorm that rocked the Northeast.

“We’ll both go into it in kind of the same situation,” Durocher said. “Everybody has got four to five months [of hockey] under their belts. They’ll be ready for a hockey game.”

The Terriers will also have one of their team leaders, junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin, back to full strength after the forward struggled in last week’s game because of the flu. According to Durocher, while Poulin — who is now at 100 percent — felt well going into the game, she struggled as the contest progressed.

“[She] definitely was weak when she was on the ice, just not really having the jump, the strength she’s accustomed to having,” Durocher said.

The Terriers have never come in fourth in the Beanpot Tournament as a varsity program. But, as Durocher said, the game is now less about the Beanpot and more about earning a spot in the national tournament.

“With no disrespect to the Beanpot, I’m calling this a huge NCAA game and one that we’ve been focusing on for three days to be ready to go,” Durocher said.

“This is going to be a battle of two teams that have remained pretty consistent all year and have only lost a few games each. It’ll probably be a one-goal game one way or the other.”

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