By James Garrison
After earning a much needed shootout victory Tuesday night against Providence, the Boston University Women’s Hockey Team (7-15-1, 6-12-1 HE) is set for a weekend tour of Northern New England.
The Terriers will kick off their weekend with a 4:00 pm. matchup against the University of Maine (11-14-0, 8-10-0 HE), followed by a Saturday afternoon tilt with the University of New Hampshire (8-16-0, 6-11-0 HE).
An opportunity lies before BU this weekend, as they sit in the middle of their two upcoming opponents in the Hockey East Standings. The Terriers hold a two-point margin over UNH and sit just three points behind the Black Bears.
A nine point gap currently lies between UConn, who is fifth, and sixth place Maine. With just eight Hockey East matchups remaining in the regular season, the six seed appears to be the Terriers’ ceiling. In a first-round matchup, the Terriers need to avoid a matchup against Northeastern, who is currently running away with a Hockey East title.
Therein lies a major incentive for the Terriers for the weekend, if hoping to build off an impressive midweek showing wasn’t enough already.
In a recent development, Andrea Brändli has finally been awarded multiple consecutive starts. Brändli has delivered top-level goaltending since the beginning of the season, but has shared the crease with sophomore Callie Shanahan in the first half.
It seems though, that head coach Brian Durocher will rely on Brändli much more down the stretch. The graduate goaltender has started four consecutive games now, posting a .917 save percentage down that stretch, which includes a 6-0 blowout loss against Northeastern.
With only 26 hours to separate the matchups that span over 200 miles, it is likely to see Shanahan this weekend. The sophomore goaltender, who was given plenty of development reps in the first half of the season, could likely see some of her final action of the season.
The weekend will also feature the final out-of-state play of the regular season for the Terriers. After this weekend, BU will only be seen in the likes of Walter Brown Arena, Conte Forum, and Matthews Arena.
In a positive development, the Terriers’ power play has converted in two consecutive games. For a group that has struggled all year on the man-advantage, a late-season surge on special teams would be wholly welcome.
Earlier this season the Terriers managed to capture four out of six points against the Wildcats – one of only two weekends in which they secured the majority of points available. The Black Bears managed a weekend sweep of the Terriers earlier this year at Walter Brown Arena.
The Scarlet and White captured momentum out of thin air with an impressive victory over Providence on Tuesday. As the regular season hits its home stretch, the Terriers have an opportunity to build on their new momentum with a strong road trip.
BU’s high point of their season so far was three consecutive victories against Vermont and UConn. It is not uncommon for the Terriers to play their best hockey against higher-level opponents.
The Terriers will have to play that style of hockey against teams that they are close to in the standings. If they can do that, they just might have a shot at getting hot at the right time. Puck drop is set for 4:00 pm at Alfond Arena, so be sure to follow along on Twitter @BosHockeyBlog and Instagram @BostonHockeyBlog for continued coverage across the weekend.