For the first time in its six-year history, the No. 3 Boston University women’s hockey team will be participating in the NCAA Frozen Four. The Terriers are set to take on No. 2 Cornell University at 8 p.m. on Friday in Erie, Pa.
“I think I speak for myself and definitely for all the young ladies that any time you can get on center stage with really the majority of the hockey world watching, it’s a great honor and a great opportunity,” said BU coach Brian Durocher.
After losing to Northeastern University in the semifinals of the Hockey East playoffs, BU (26-6-4) was able to defeat sixth-seeded Mercyhurst College in the NCAA quarterfinals for the Terriers’ first-ever tournament win. During the 2009-10 season, BU played Mercyhurst in the same situation but was instead served a 4-1 loss.
This season, the Terriers were able to capitalize on strong offense from junior forward Jenn Wakefield, a now seemingly healthy freshman forward Marie-Philip Poulin and a good outing by freshman netminder Kerrin Sperry to defeat Mercyhurst 4-2 on Saturday.
Wakefield scored two goals in the win over Mercyhurst. Those two tallies mean that Wakefield has now scored 11 out of BU’s last 22 goals and is on a seven-game point streak.
“We’re lucky as coaches and as a team when great players play great,” Durocher said. “[Wakefield] has certainly done that the whole year but in particular with a couple of injuries to Marie-Philip Poulin and Taylor Holze. We needed somebody up front to maybe take another step forward and she’s certainly been one of those people scoring goals, scoring big goals and playing just a very thorough overall game.”
Wakefield is the only Terrier who has previous experience in the Frozen Four. She went as a freshman with University of New Hampshire and scored a goal against the would-be champion, University of Minnesota-Duluth.
“We’re real fortunate that she’s wearing the BU jersey and performing big on center stage here for us,” Durocher said.
The team is also fortunate that after fracturing her wrist back on Feb. 5, Poulin appears to be back to full strength. During the game against Northeastern, Poulin was up to her normal skating speed but her shots were falling flat. However, against Mercyhurst, Poulin was able to land a shot for her first goal, and point, in her two games back with the team.
“I’m sure that she was excited to get that goal,” Durocher said. “I think she was apprehensive in the beginning and now I think she has her confidence back to know that things are pretty well healed and she’s getting stronger to shoot the puck… for her to get a goal in that game in that situation was huge and obviously a tribute to her ability, and a sign that she is back and pretty fully healed.”
In the net, Sperry blocked 30 shots, tying her career high. Out of the 30 shots, 14 came in the first period of the game.
Cornell (31-2-1) will be coming into the game after defeating Dartmouth University 7-1 in the quarterfinals. The Big Red’s seven goals came from six different players, three of which have over 20 goals on the season. Brianne Jenner, Catherine White and Chelsea Karpenko have 23, 21 and 22 goals this season, respectively.
The game will be the first time that the Terriers have faced off against Cornell in their history.
“It will be an interesting matchup,” Durocher said. “There are a lot of acquaintances or friendships on these two teams. They’ve also got a bunch of kids who played in the under-18, under-22 or Olympic teams with Canada as we do. There are plenty of friendships there that should be fun and that give a chance for bragging rights one way or the other.”
Sperry, as well as the team’s defenders in general, will need to have another strong outing if the Terriers are to be successful against Cornell. The Big Red average 4.6 goals per game and close to 36 shots per game.
“I always go back to our team defense and that we’re taking care of business in that end of the ice,” Durocher said. “It’s not just the goalie, and it’s not just the defensemen. It’s everybody included… Against a team like Cornell, that’s a pretty active team… nobody can take a shift off so hopefully we start with pretty good team defense and are opportunistic offensively from a line, from an individual, or from a special team.”