At first glance, it would seem that members of the No. 4/5 Boston University women’s hockey team have their backs against the wall this season.
With three of their top scorers gone this season after losing forwards Jenelle Kohanchuk and Isabel Menard, who graduated in May, and junior co-captain Marie-Philip Poulin, who will represent Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics, the Terriers will need to rely on both their returning players and new players more than ever as they look to make it back to the Frozen Four for the third time in the last four years.
Luckily for the Terriers, they will likely not have to worry the ability of any of the program’s six new players, as multiple freshmen made an impact in the team’s exhibition game against Western University of Ontario Friday night at Walter Brown Arena.
Freshman forward Maddie Elia made her presence felt immediately in the contest, as the Lewiston, N.Y., native scored two goals in her debut with BU. Elia’s first goal came with 7:10 remaining in the third period, as she toe-dragged around a Mustang defenseman before beating Western goalkeeper Olivia Ross glove side with a wrist shot.
Elia added to her scoring less than four minutes later, as she put a rebound shot pass Ross to give the Terriers a 3-2 lead less than 30 seconds after Western tied the game at two apiece on a goal from forward Stacey Scott.
“It was awesome, I was feeling nervous at first,” Elia said after the game. “We all worked really hard out there. There were a few things that we needed to work on, but it was a good first game.”
After the 4-3 overtime win, BU coach Brian Durocher praised Elia as well as the rest of his freshmen players, including forwards Samantha Sutherland and Natalie Flynn, as well as defenseman Sarah Steele.
“Maddie’s somebody who has scored plenty of goals and points in the past with the team she used to play for in Buffalo and Nichols School and even at the U.S. Development Camp, so she’s a kid that people will notice as the year goes on as she gets production,” Durocher said.
“Sam Sutherland is another forward up front, and I liked the way [Natalie Flynn] played tonight up front. She’s noticeable, she uses her skating, so that’s positive up there, and Sarah Steele is certainly very noticeable on defense. She’s good with the puck and carries it well and she’s strong on her skates — some real positives there.
Freshman goalkeeper Victoria Hanson, who is expected to be the primary backup to senior goaltender Kerrin Sperry this season, also saw a good deal of action in the game, as she played 31 minutes and made 13 saves while allowing two goals after Sperry was pulled about halfway through the second period.
“Tori Hanson certainly did a nice job in the net there,” Durocher said. “We left her out to dry a little with one hitting off the post and a breakaway, but she made a couple of good saves, certainly got her feet wet.”
While established players such as senior captain Louise Warren, sophomore forward Sarah Lefort and Sperry are all expected to make huge contributions this season, Durocher said he needs his freshmen to step in immediately and put up numbers if the team wants to make another late run in the NCAA Tournament this season.
“They have to,” Durocher said. “It’s part of the game here where we’ve really got 19 healthy skaters and you want the freshmen to have an impact.”