Game Previews, Women's Hockey

Terriers to face Maine Black Bears in back-to-back home games

Photo by Caroline Fernandez

Even though they failed to score in their most recent 120 minutes of play, the Boston University women’s hockey team (6-10-0, 5-7-0 Hockey East) is coming off of somewhat of a hot-streak against Hockey East opponents. The group will look to pick up six more points with back-to-back home games against the University of Maine (9-10-0, 6-6-0 HE) this weekend. 

The Terriers flew out to Las Vegas for the Henderson Collegiate Hockey Showcase where they fell to then No.5 Yale Bulldogs (8-0-0, 4-0-0 ECAC) and then again to No. 12 Penn State (11-8-1, 3-1-0 CHA). While the lack of goals was obviously frustrating, there were some bright spots in the Friday night matchup.

In the competition between Yale and BU, both teams were kept off of the score sheet until 14:54 of the final frame. First year forward Carina DiAntonio’s goal from the crease broke through Terrier graduate goaltender Andrea Brändli to put her group ahead by one, and 37 seconds later, sophomore forward Emma Harvey got the puck past Brändli for the second time for the 2-0 final. While Yale came out top-dog, BU showed their ability to skate with the best. 

Saturday proved more problems for the Terriers as sophomore netminder Callie Shanahan let in a goal each period for a final score of 3-0. In terms of discipline, BU stayed out of the box for the full 60 minutes on Friday, but systems seemed to fall apart on Saturday as the Nittany Lions and Terriers took a combined seven penalties.

While the weekend had little to statistically show for itself, BU at least got the opportunity to face some new opponents on a, theoretically, more visible stage. Prior to the showcase, BU had taken down ranked opponents in Providence and swept UConn. Now, the Terriers will take on the Black Bears in back-to-back home games at Walter Brown.

Like BU, Maine has fared well against its ranked opponents. Most recently, they split their series with No. 10 Clarkson with a 8-1 loss and a 5-4 overtime win. They also had some earlier wins over UConn and Northeastern, who was ranked third at the time of the contest.

Maine has found the back of the net thanks to contributions up and down their lineup. Fifth year forward Grace Heiting leads the Black Bears in points with 13 on seven goals and eight assists, and she’s a production powerhouse with 81 shots and just four penalties in 19 contests. Second to Heiting is the Welcke sisters, Lilli and Luisa, from Heidelberg, Germany. Each has put up 11 points in their first year in Orono, demonstrating a high level of competition and immediate impact on their team.

Similar to the Brändli-Shanahan split net, Maine has a goalie tandem of their own. Junior Jorden Mattison is a bit more veteran posting a 2.61 goals against average and a .912 save percentage, while starting in only eight games. Freshman Brooklyn Oakes has taken the net 11 times, but lets in, on average, 2.79 goals, and has a .905 save percentage. While those numbers may be skewed by the 8-1 loss at Clarkson, Mattison came in to relieve Oakes after she let in four quick goals. Either of the two could start on Friday night.

Neither BU netminder fell apart in Vegas, but Brändli kept Yale from reaching the back of the net for 55 minutes. It’s clear that head coach Brian Durocher doesn’t want to choose one starter as Shanahan continues to develop, but at some point, he might have to crack down and pick one. 

In front of the net, upperclassmen lead the Terriers in points. Unfortunately, the stat sheet looks exactly the same as it did heading into the Vegas weekend. Senior forward Julia Nearis leads the group with 14 points, followed by juniors Lacey Martin and Catherine Foulem. Tied with Foulem is senior captain Nadia Mattivi, who leads the blueline with eight points.

Right now, Maine is two points ahead in the Hockey East Standings with 18 points in 12 games to the Terriers’ 16 in the same number of games. Worth noting however, is that BU has scored 30 goals to Maine’s 22, and has a 2.2 goals per game average to the Black Bear’s 1.5.

On paper, BU produces at a higher level than Maine does, so it will be interesting to see which team is able to break through the opposing goaltender first. The Terriers will have to lean into their offensive side in order to come away with six critical points in a tough league.

Puck drop is set for 7:00 pm on Dec. 2 on Friday and for 3:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, both at Walter Brown. Be sure to follow along on Twitter @BOShockeyblog and Instagram for continued coverage through the weekend.

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