With the Beanpot Tournment approaching in just five days, the Boston University women’s hockey team has hit a rough patch at the wrong time, but will look to right the ship this weekend with a home-and-away series against the University of Connecticut.
BU (16-8-1, 9-5-0 Hockey East) has lost each of its four games and has fallen in five of its last six. Before the current slide, the Terriers’ longest such streak was just two games.
Unfortunately for BU, its struggles have been prevalent on both ends of the ice.
During the four-game losing slide, only four different players scored. Sophomore forward Sarah Lefort is averaging .76 goals per game on the season, but that average was just .50 goals per game during the slump.
Freshman forward Maddie Elia seemed poised to continue her strong play, as she scored two goals in BU’s 4-3 loss to Providence College Jan. 17. However, she was held pointless in the team’s last three games.
Senior forward Louise Warren, the team’s second-ranked point-getter, has put up just three points in the past four games. That is good for a .75 points per game average, which is a sizeable decrease from her season average of 1.16 points per game.
With BU’s top offensive weapons not producing at a pace the Terriers have come to expect, an increase in secondary scoring would be a welcomed commodity. For the Terriers, no such increase has occurred.
BU coach Brian Durocher said he attributes the recent scoring trouble to the impressive goaltending BU has run into, but that the Terriers’ recent goal totals could translate into wins with better defensive play.
“Maybe we haven’t scored some goals, but sometimes you’re going to run into a hot goalie,” Durocher said. “The Vermont [junior] goaltender [Roxanne Douville] is an all-star goalie who had a real good weekend and made it tough for us to score.
“Some nights that’s going to happen, but you can win a lot of hockey games with two goals if you’re playing good defense.”
Despite allowing just 2.48 goals per game on the season, good for second-best in Hockey East, the Terriers have allowed 4.0 goals per game over their past five contests. They also have not held an opponent to under three goals since their Jan. 4 matchup against Dartmouth College.
Durocher said he thinks the Terriers need to focus on details in order to improve their defensive play.
“I just think we haven’t had a very good attention to detail,” Durocher said. “And that’s a wide range of things; from how we’re back checking, how we’re thinking, how we’re covering in front of the net and how quick we are athletically with our feet and legs.
“We’ve all got to be ready to compete and fight because that’s basically what defense is.”
UConn’s (7-17-2, 4-8-1 Hockey East) offense could provide BU with the ideal opportunity to gets its defense back on track. The Huskies rank just seventh in Hockey East in scoring with a measly average of 1.92 goals per game on the season. They do not have a double-digit goal scorer this season, as their top scorers, forwards Sarah MacDonnell and Kayla Campero, have netted nine pucks apiece.
Durocher said UConn can be dangerous, as it is making a push to move up in the Hockey East rankings.
“[UConn is] a team that’s trying to inch forward in the playoff picture,” Durocher said. “If they keep getting better, if they keep finding ways to defend hard and be in competitive games, they’re going to gain a lot of confidence when they get to that playoff game.
“I think [UConn coach] Chris MacKenzie has done a good job in that area and we know we’re going to have an opponent that’s going to be very competitive and work very hard.”
UConn has improved its play of late, going 3-3 in its past six games. But even during that stretch, the Huskies scored just 11 goals, only good for 1.83 goals per game — lower than their season average.
“I think it’s a good matchup if we play hard in the defensive end of the ice,” Durocher said. “Our team has to recognize that when you get to the playoffs, when you get to the big games — and that might be the Beanpot next week — they’re probably not going to be won 7-6. They’re going to be won 3-1, 2-1, 3-2, so you better not give up goals.”
“The more we can dominate defensively and be very thorough and diligent defensively, the better chance we’re going to have to win games against anybody.”