A mere seven months ago, the Boston University women’s hockey team appeared in the Frozen Four for the first time in the program’s history.
After defeating Cornell University in the semi-final game, the Terriers moved on to face the University of Wisconsin, a team that possessed a No. 1 ranking and a roster filled with talented players.
In just the sixth season of the team’s existence, the Terriers entered this game with the hope of winning their first national championship, but the Badgers denied them the opportunity in what would become a 4-1 victory for Wisconsin.
“Without a doubt, I thought last year [Wisconsin was] the best team in college hockey,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “I think they proved it on that given day.”
With a memory of last March’s events still fresh in their memories, the No. 4 Terriers will take on the still-powerful No. 1 team from Wisconsin this weekend.
“Throughout [last] year Wisconsin proved to be the top team,” Durocher said. “I think this year they’re out of the gate in similar fashion though . . . they might not be a step and a half above everybody, but they may still be the best team.
The Terriers (5-1-1) will enter into this important series after a successful weekend of play in the far north of New York.
Freshman forward Kayla Tutino led the way for the Terriers, scoring the equalizing goal with 5:21 left in the game against Clarkson, forcing the game into overtime.
Clarkson outshot BU 4-0 in overtime, but did not score.
The next day, Tutino scored the first goal of the game against St. Lawrence University. Junior forward Shannon Mahoney followed that up with her first tally of the year before senior captain Jenn Wakefield gave BU a 3-0 lead on her team-leading eighth goal of the year.
After the strong first half of the game, BU’s offense quieted down and the Saints took notice, scoring two goals before the game ended.
“I’d like to see us try to maintain our tempo throughout 60 minutes,” Durocher said of the team’s performance. “If you [maintain tempo] for the first 20 minutes, it gives me the belief that we can do it for the second or third 20. But saying it and doing it are two different things.”
Wisconsin (7-1, 5-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) enters into this weekend’s games after having defeated the University of Minnesota Duluth 4-3 and 6-3 this past weekend.
Offensively, Wisconsin is lead by junior Brianna Decker and senior Hilary Knight who both lead the team with nine goals apiece. Decker and Knight scored a combined 81 goals last year, which accounted for more than 38 percent of the team’s offensive production.
One of the key players for the Badgers is sophomore goaltender Alex Rigsby, who, in her eight starts, has 198 saves and a .930 save percentage.
Rigsby was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the week for the second-consecutive time on Tuesday for the 80 saves she accumulated against Minnesota Duluth.
“I don’t see any holes in their team, “Durocher said. “They’re going to be a very top to bottom team . . . we’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game to get points coming out of that rink.”
Luckily for the Terriers, senior defenseman Tara Watchorn and redshirt freshman defenseman Caroline Campbell might reenter the lineup for the series against Wisconsin. According to Durocher the players will likely travel with the team and see some ice time.
The team will face one problem, though, as senior forward Jenelle Kohanchuk will likely not be traveling with the Terriers after getting banged up at the end of the game against St. Lawrence.
“It’s two for one on the injury front,” Durocher said.
Despite all the inherent importance of this game, Durocher said the emphasis rested more on playing well against a solid opponent than retaliating against Wisconsin.
“I don’t think anyone is marketing it as some type of revenge or retaliation thing,” Durocher said. “I’m sure for some kids they’ll be wanting to get a win against a top program and doing it on the road would be even sweeter.”