Boston University Terriers
USCHO prediction: Second
Coaches’ prediction: Second
Last season: Second (25-9-3, 15-5-1 Hockey East)
Marie-Philip Poulin is gone and is impossible to replace in the short term, so a team has to find other recipes for winning hockey games without her. Minus her firepower, one approach would be to find ways to reduce the goals allowed.
“Everybody here would like [the goaltenders] to take that step as a college player,” coach Brian Durocher said. “Victoria Hanson has been here two years, but last year was really her first year playing. She did a great job in the stretch, the last five games or so, maybe six. And Erin O’Neil got her feet wet in grand fashion; she played 15 or thereabouts games. I think both of them are positioned to take a good step. They came here with good resumes. They’re both talented kids. I don’t believe they played quite to where they could play.”
One way to help goalies be more effective is to play better in front of them.
“In the back end, we’ve got enough experience as far as what year the kids are,” Durocher said, “But we may not be on paper as talented as we were two, three or four years ago. I like the group’s work ethic and their conviction.”
After graduating three mainstays from the blue line in Shannon Doyle, Shannon Stoneburgh, and Caroline Campbell, the unit is bolstered by junior Alexis Crossley, who by rule had to sit out last season after transferring from New Hampshire.
“She’s probably in the best shape of her life,” Durocher said. “Last year, while she didn’t have to play games, I think she really worked hard on her conditioning. It’s nice to know you’ve got an anchor. Obviously, a big-minutes person, and it’s relieving for a coach and very positive for her team.”
Although Durocher no longer has Poulin at his disposal, that doesn’t mean his team is devoid of offensive contributors.
“Up front, that should be the rudder that steers our ship this year,” he said. “There’s experience. There is some high-end talent with [Sarah] Lefort, [Kayla] Tutino, [Victoria] Bach, [Rebecca] Leslie. I like the fact that our second and third line is going to be made of predominantly juniors and seniors: Sam Sutherland, Maddie Elia, Rebecca Russo, Jordan Juron, Dakota Woodworth. So it’s an experienced group and a talented group.”
Over the last six years since BU became a national tournament team, it has an overall record of 144-58-24, for a winning percentage of .690. The Terriers have been able to run their streak of consecutive tournament appearances to six by winning five of the six Hockey East tournaments, including three seasons where they needed the automatic qualifier to ensure they reached the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m not the type of person who’s screaming and yelling at people and get them tight, so that when we get to a situation like that, I think they’ve answered the bell pretty well over the years,” Durocher said. “I think that goes with after an unimpressive game or game where we don’t bring our A game, I’m still not in their faces. I just try to point out the factors that led to it and say, ‘Look, we have to be more accountable here; we have to be better here.’ Hopefully, it will allow them to be kind of relaxed at the end of the year when the chips are on the line.”
Boston College holds an edge in talent over BU, but the Terriers have a similar advantage over everyone else. That should put BU second and closing well as the season winds down.