The challenges keep coming for the No. 9 Boston University women’s hockey team, as it prepares to host the University of Minnesota-Duluth for a two-game weekend series at Walter Brown Arena. After riding on standout offensive contributions from sophomore forward Sarah Lefort and senior captain Louise Warren, the Terriers bounced back from two straight losses against No. 2 University of Wisconsin and No. 5 Harvard University with wins over University of New Hampshire and Northeastern University.
The selfless BU (12-3-1, 8-0-0 Hockey East) offensive attack will need to be on its game facing the Bulldogs (7-6-3).
“They’re from the power conference,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “Wisconsin, [University of] Minnesota, Minnesota-Duluth are the teams that own all of the national championships over the last 11 or 12 years now. [Duluth] owns five of them and they are well-deserved.
“Shannon Miller is a fantastic coach. Their team is in a hockey zone, northern Minnesota, with a lot of talented players in that state and just across the border in Canada. They’re an accomplished program in a big-time division and will come in here with a very talented team.”
Miller is in her 15th season coaching the Bulldogs, sporting a 348-117-39 record. Under Miller’s guidance, Minnesota-Duluth rattled off the only three-peat in NCAA history when the Bulldogs won the national championship from 2001 to 2003. Her five national titles rank first among all NCAA Division I head coaches.
Duluth, which currently sits just outside the top 10 rankings, is coming off a 5-2 exhibition loss against the Russian National Team. The Bulldogs have performed noticeably better on the road this season, posting a 4-1-1 record while compiling a lackluster 3-5-2 record at home. The Terriers have not lost a game at home all season, donning a 5-0 record at Walter Brown.
The Terriers will need to continue their successful offensive stretch to beat the Bulldogs, who have only allowed six goals over their last seven games. The Terriers, in contrast, have averaged 3.1 goals per game this season.
“Offensively, you try to make things happen,” Durocher said. “You try not to get too fancy, you try to make sure you’re playing hard along the walls or sending people to the net and you’re getting pucks to their net. Usually, the team and athletes, they don’t beat themselves.”
Forward Jenna McParland currently leads the Bulldogs with 16 points on seven goals and nine assists. Jamie Kenyon is not far behind, ranking second on the team with 15 points on seven goals and eight assists. Goaltender Kayla Black currently sports a 6-6-3 record with a 2.10 goals-against average in fifteen games, while sporting a .932 save percentage.
Lefort currently leads the Terriers with 18 points on 11 goals and seven assists. Senior goalie Kerrin Sperry, recently named the Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for the second time this season, currently sports an 11-2-1 record while compiling a 1.63 GAA and a.945 save percentage.
Durocher said he believes the Terriers need to stay calm and levelheaded in order to compete at a high level against teams like Duluth.
“They usually come in with a decent-size team,” Durocher said. “They’re obviously skilled and well-coached, but the bottom line is, when you play in this league, you have to make sure that you don’t get intimidated or you don’t get frustrated or you don’t try too hard to do certain things. Just try to execute. If we throw pucks at the net, if we drive to the middle lane, then we have a chance to be successful, but you really have to be diligent in all parts of the rink.”