A scarlet and white target sits on the back of the No. 2 Boston University women’s hockey team and the first dart is ready to launch.
The preseason-favorite Terriers will face off against the No. 7 University of Dakota in a two-game series at Walter Brown Arena to open up the season this weekend.
“I think everybody’s certainly excited,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “I think [North Dakota is] a team that, in my opinion, is flying under the radar a little bit.”
BU comes in to the opening weekend with it’s highest national preseason ranking in program history after a season where the Terriers were the first Hockey East team to make it to the championship round of the Frozen Four.
Last weekend, the Terriers took on the Ottawa Senators of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League in an exhibition game to jump start the season.
BU took an early lead just 28 seconds into the game on a goal by sophomore forward Meghan Riggs.
Junior forwards Jill Cardella and Taylor Holze added on to BU’s total with two short-handed tallies in the span of one penalty to account for the final score of 3-1.
BU played without some of its key components from last season in the exhibition game because a few players were in Canada with the national team at the time of the game. All of these players, including sophomore forward Marie-Philip Poulin and captain senior forward Jenn Wakefield, are back in Boston for the games against the Fighting Sioux.
However, senior defenseman Tara Watchorn and redshirt freshman defenseman Caroline Campbell will most likely miss this weekend’s action because of injuries.
Watchorn suffered a concussion toward the end of the Canadian national team camp in August when she fell on a hockey stick that was left on the ice.
“She felt fine, but there’s been definitely at least a couple of weeks, maybe close to three weeks, where there’s been lingering effects,” Durocher said. “This day in age they’re going to be very careful, very professional about how they deal with getting clearance.”
Campbell, who injured her ankle, might make an appearance in the end of one of the games, but will likely be out for a few days.
North Dakota comes into the series after an early finish to last season at the hands of the eventual NCAA champions, the University of Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated the Fighting Sioux 3-0 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association final.
Like the Terriers, North Dakota played exhibition games last week to prepare themselves for the upcoming season. The team faced off against the Manitoba Bisons in what would prove to be a clear display of the Fighting Sioux’s offensive abilities, as North Dakota defeated the Bisons 11-0 in the first game and 10-0 in the second game.
Sisters Jocelyne Lamoureux and Monique Lamoureux-Knolls, who had 28 and 22 goals, respectively, led the Fighting Sioux last season. Joining the Lamoureux sisters on the starting line is Michelle Karvinen who earned a bronze medal with Finland in the 2010 Olympic games.
“I think their team is going to be a real exciting team and a team that’s going to challenge to get to the Final Four,” Durocher said. “From our standpoint we’re just hoping to go out there and work hard.”
When the two teams met up to kick off the year last season, North Dakota took the first game from the Terriers before BU bounced back to win the second half of the series.
“We felt we kind of got out worked in the first game at North Dakota last year,” Durocher said. “Fortunately that didn’t happen too many times the rest of the year but we learned a quick lesson that talent doesn’t get us anywhere near as far as you want to go.”
According to Durocher, the loss to the Fighting Sioux last year should help the Terriers this season.
“I think it brings credibility to what I’ve been talking about,” Durocher said. “We weren’t quite prepared last year in the first game and a little careless defensively.
“I think everybody on this team knows enough about their program that [North Dakota is] much deeper and much stronger team than they were last year.”