For the first six games of the season, the No. 14 Boston University women’s ice hockey team’s first line consisted of junior center Maddie Elia and senior forwards Kayla Tutino and Sarah Lefort.
But BU (4-4, 3-1 Hockey East) coach Brian Durocher switched out Elia for sophomore forward Victoria Bach this past weekend. Bach had previously centered the second line with senior wing Rebecca Russo and sophomore wing Rebecca Leslie.
Durocher said he was seeking a balance in size when he made the decision to change the lines.
“I just felt like we had one line of fantastic skaters that were all smaller players [Russo, Bach and Leslie],” Durocher said. “The other line we had three stronger forwards [Tutino, Elia and Lefort]. Bringing the bigger center to one line might have given us more balance.”
Tutino and Lefort have been a bit “snakebitten” this season, as Durocher put it, and he said he hoped a change such as this could help them, as well as benefit the second line.
Durocher also noted that, although the numbers don’t show it, the new first line played extremely well against No. 8 Northeastern University on Friday night. While his decision didn’t amount to much in the first game of the weekend set, BU benefitted from the alteration Saturday against the University of Vermont.
Just 1:14 into the game against the Catamounts (1-7, 1-1 Hockey East), Bach put the Terriers on the board with her second goal of the season. Lefort and Tutino were attributed with the assists. Bach now has two goals and five assists on the season.
The second line also produced a goal in the first frame. With three minutes remaining in the period, Russo scored her fourth of the season with assists from Elia and junior defenseman Sarah Steele.
Elia quickly settled into her role as second line center. She notched an assist on the Terriers’ only goal Friday night, but truly shined in the game against the Catamounts.
With less than a minute left in the second period, Elia netted the puck off a pass from Russo. Halfway through the third, she sent another one past Vermont goaltender Molly Depew. Elia ended the game with a plus-3 rating, and concluded the weekend with two goals and two assists.
Alexis Crossley, Sarah Steele turn defense into offense
Steele and fellow junior defender Alexis Crossley added to BU’s offensive success Saturday.
Crossley, still adjusting to playing as a Terrier after transferring from the University of New Hampshire, has already begun to prove she is a valuable addition to the team.
She earned her first point as a Terrier in Saturday’s win over Vermont. Crossley sent the puck to Elia for her second tally of the game.
“Alexis Crossley was an All-Star at UNH,” Durocher said. “She’s a top defenseman in the league, let alone the team.”
Steele scored her first goal of the season just 2:13 into the game against Vermont. Another defenseman, senior Alexis Woloschuk, earned an assist on Steele’s goal.
Steele found some chemistry with the newly constructed second line. A pass from Steele to Elia, who then passed to Russo, led to the Terriers’ third first-period-goal against the Catamounts.
“[Steele] has offensive capabilities and plenty of experience,” Durocher said. “We expect a little bit of everything from her. She’s part of our penalty kill, and our second power play. We expect her to contribute to all parts of the game.”
Inconsistency plagues Terriers
Although the Terriers dominated the second match of the weekend, they did not play well during the Northeastern (6-1-1, 2-0 Hockey East) game.
This inconsistency first arose in a two-game weekend set against Pennsylvania State University on Oct. 9 and 10. Just as they did this past weekend, the Terriers lost the first game, but came back for the win the next day.
In the first game against Penn State (3-5), BU looked unprepared and ultimately lost, 5-3. Knowing what to expect, and what needed work, the Terriers defeated the Nittany Lions, 3-1, in the second game.
This same turnaround occurred in the Terriers’ most recent weekend set. Northeastern’s offense got the best of the Terriers in a 7-1 defeat. BU exhibited some good moments and tallied 31 shots on goal, but the Huskies simply outplayed it. On Saturday though, the Terriers put the puck on net 39 times en route to the 5-2 win.
“We haven’t found a way to become consistent in all parts of the game,” Durocher said. “We continue to get our share of shots on goal. We can generate offense but it’s not turning into points. We got to get dirtier, tougher. Not everything is going to be a pretty play.”