After a winter break schedule in which the Boston University women’s ice hockey team went 1-2-1, resulting in the team’s first absence from the national rankings since Oct. 20, the Terriers will look to right the course with a pair of road tilts against Hockey East foe the University of Maine tomorrow and Sunday.
The first step BU will need to take is to fix an offense that has played sub-par as of late. The two losses over break both came via shutouts at the hands of conference opponents Northeastern University and the University of Connecticut. In both contests, shooting was not the problem for the Terriers ‘-‘- the team had 31 shots on net against both Husky squads ‘-‘-, but unfortunately BU was never able to put the biscuit in the basket.
In fact, in BU’s last eight contests, during which the team has gone a lackluster 1-5-2, the Terriers have averaged 1.63 goals per contest, almost a full goal below their season average of 2.48. These numbers are further skewed by a five-goal performance by BU against Ohio State University in the heart of this set of eight games. With the OSU game taken out of the equation, the Terriers then average a lowly 1.14 goals per game in the other seven contests.
BU coach Brian Durocher points to a couple of unlucky bounces of the puck as the reason for the recent offensive downturn.
‘I think we need to bring the same mentality and same attack that we’ve had the past few games. If it weren’t for a couple of pucks bouncing off the post or goalies making some great saves, we’d be in a better position right now,’ Durocher said. ‘All we need is a screen, a tip and a little bit of puck luck, and we should see things turn around.’
If BU is looking for a good place to turn its poor offensive performance around, two games against the Black Bears make for an almost perfect place to start.
The last time the two teams faced off was Oct. 25 at Agganis Arena. In arguably the Terriers’ best game of the season from a statistical standpoint, BU bested Maine by the barn-burning score of 8-1, setting a season high for goals scored and margin of victory.
Sophomore forward Lauren Cherewyk scored her first career hat trick, only the third in program history. Cherewyk’s linemates senior Erin Seman (2 goals, 1 assist) and junior Melissa Anderson (1-3-4) added to the multitude of scoring on the day for BU.
On the defensive end, the Terriers stopped the Black Bears from ever garnering much of an attack. Junior goalie Melissa Haber was never truly tested, allowing one goal on only 13 Maine shots.
Things have not gotten much better for Maine since that fateful day at Agganis. The Black Bears have a 2-10-2 record since that game and currently sit in last place in Hockey East with only three points. Abysmal as that may seem, Maine’s lone win against a Hockey East opponent came against conference leader No. 6 Boston College in a 5-3 contest in Orono.
On a more individual level, senior forward Vanessa Vani has led Maine in assists, with 14, and points, with 18. Sophomore forward Jennie Gallo and junior forward Amy Stech are tied for the team lead’ with eight goals. In net, senior goalie Genevieve Turgeon has logged 84 percent of the minutes, but has put up some rather uninspiring numbers this season. Her 3.99 goals-against average puts her ninth out of the 10 qualified goalies in Hockey East, while an .890 save percentage ranks her eighth.
Yet Durocher still expects a couple of difficult contests out of the Black Bears this weekend.
‘[Alfond Arena] is always a tough place to play,’ Durocher said. ‘It’s a very friendly building for them and plays into their game a little. We’ll get their best.’
In the end, what matters most for BU this weekend is the opportunity to get out of their present funk while also potentially helping their chances in the Hockey East standings. When the top five teams in a conference are only separated by three points, every possible point matters.
‘On any given weekend, if you can grab four points, it really changes the complexion of things [in Hockey East],’ Durocher said. ‘If we can start a streak with one win, we can potentially find ourselves reeling off three, four or five in a row and put ourselves in a really good spot.’