What a difference a year makes.
Heading into the winter break one year ago, the Boston University women’s hockey team held a rather melancholy 6-9-2 (3-3-0 Hockey East) record. It took eight games for the Terriers to win their first contest of the season. Against ranked opponents, BU stood 1-6-1, including three losses to Hockey East foe the University of New Hampshire when the Wildcats were ranked fifth, second and first in the country.
A national Top-10 ranking seemed like a dream.
One year later, the No. 6 Terriers stand at 8-5-4 (6-2-0), and program records have fallen like the Dow Jones this season.
A 10-game unbeaten streak set a new standard for excellence for the Terriers. A No. 4 ranking on Nov. 24 was the team’s highest ever. That, of course, came after the Terriers were left out of the Top 10 on Oct. 20.
Wins against then-No. 5 Mercyhurst College and then-No. 4 UNH set team records for the highest-ranked opponent ever beaten by BU. Against ranked opponents, the Terriers are 3-2-3 this season ‘-‘- 5-2-1 if the two shootout wins over UNH are taken into account, as they are in Hockey East.
It has been quite the record-setting first semester for the Terriers.
When put in direct comparison with last year’s team, the contrast becomes even starker. Against opponents shared by the two schedules, the 2007 Terriers went 4-6-0. The 2008 version stands at 6-3-2 ‘-‘- or 8-3-0 depending how you look at it (shootout wins aren’t recognized on the national level) ‘-‘- when facing those same teams.
There is no doubt at this point. This fourth-year program is only getting better with age.’ ‘
This year’s edition of BU women’s hockey can point to several different factors as to why this first semester has gone so well.
For starters, the play of several returnees has improved in only a year’s time. Sophomore Lauren Cherewyk already has seven goals and 11 points on the season. She tallied eight goals and 15 points in all of 2007-08.
The play of backup goaltender Melissa Haber has given BU head coach Brian Durocher extreme confidence between the pipes this season. After a rather subpar sophomore campaign in which Haber posted a 3.95 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage, the netminder from Toronto has turned it around with a 1.98 GAA and a .917 save percentage ‘-‘- tops on the team in both categories.
A newcomer on the BU hockey scene has contributed in a major way. Freshman forward Jenelle Kohanchuk, who did not play last night due to a concussion, is currently tied for the team lead in points with 18. She also is tied for second on the team with Cherewyk in goals with seven.
But as much as the times are changing at Walter Brown Arena, some things never really change.
Junior forward Melissa Anderson has picked up right where she left off in her sophomore year, when she was named a Second-Team All-Hockey East selection. After leading the team with 29 points in 2007-08, Anderson is tied with Kohanchuk for the team lead with 18 points. Her excellent playmaking abilities have produced a team-high 14 assists.
Senior goaltender Allyse Wilcox, a First-Team All-Hockey East honoree last season, has also been a key member of the Terriers’ 2008 campaign. Although her numbers are down just a hair from last season ‘-‘- 1.96 GAA in 2007 to 2.30 in 2008 ‘-‘- Wilcox continues to rack up the accolades again this season. In her final season at BU, Wilcox has already garnered two Hockey East Goaltender of the Month awards.
However better the 2008 Terriers are playing than in the past, after last night’s 5-0 drubbing at the hands of No. 9 Boston College, Durocher continues to stay grounded about where his team is and still expects more out of these Terriers.
‘We’re happy, but we’re disappointed,’ Durocher said. ‘We’re happy that we have a pretty solid record right now. We’re happy that we’re in pretty good position in Hockey East, but we’re disappointed because the bar has been raised a little bit here.’