The Boston University women’s hockey team (8-15-2, 7-12-2 Hockey East) will look to continue rolling and gather momentum against Hockey East competitors with a split-opponent weekend at Walter Brown Arena. After recently finding a smidge of consistency in their play, the Terriers will take on both the Merrimack College Warriors (7-19-1, 4-15-1 HE) and the No. 11 University of Vermont Catamounts (17-9-1, 12-7-1 HE).
The Terriers’ underperformance this season has led to them dropping games against opponents who shouldn’t really be a threat, but in recent weeks it seems like they may have found their footing with two ties (and shootout victories) and one regulation win against three different teams.
Players named Julia have stepped up and shown their skill, as senior forward Julia Nearis leads her squad in points with 18 from nine goals and as many assists. Nearis is a player who sometimes holds onto the puck when she should make the extra pass, but when your team goes 140 minutes without scoring a goal, sometimes you do have to lean on the individual play of your star forwards.
Defenseman Julia Shaunessy has struggled for much of her junior season. During the 2021-22 campaign she posted 12 points on four goals and eight assists, placing her seventh on the Terriers’ point production list, but after taking a huge hit in November and missing a few games, her scoresheet was blank from Oct. 22 through Jan. 17. It seems like she finally started to get back to her game during the matchup with Providence where she got her first goal, followed by the weekend in Durham where she assisted on freshman Brooke Disher’s power-play equalizer.
In addition to the Nearis and Shaunessy, the leadership of Lacey Martin and Nadia Mattivi has to be acknowledged. The two combine for 135 shots, are tied for second in points with 14 and consistently keep their team in games.
Last of the Terrier praise goes to the goaltenders Andrea Brändli and Callie Shanahan. Brändli at this point has taken the starting role, but Shanahan has definitely stepped up and is a very solid backup if necessary –– and for the next few years after Brändli graduates. In their last three games, the two have combined for 97 saves on 103 shots.
As for their opponents, the Terriers last faced Merrimack in October and split the weekend with a 5-2 loss at Lawlor rink followed by a 5-2 win home in Boston. Merrimack, like BU, struggles to get shots on net and the Warriors average just 1.8 goals per game to opponents 3.4. Of their goals, Merrmiack is led by senior captains Katie Kaufman and Madison Oelkers, who combine for 14 goals, 14 assists, and 28 points. Sophomore Alexa Pongo sits in between the two with 12 points of her own from nine goals and three assists.
Senior Emma Gorski will take over the Warrior net, making 19 starts this season. Gorski allows 3.48 goals per game for a .891 save percentage, but if a switch needs to be made, freshman Calli Hogarth is a fine alternative with a 2.83 GAA and .919 save percentage.
Either way, the Warriors are on a winless streak since Dec. 31 and will look to get back into the win column. What looks like an easy win on paper for BU seems to be their biggest ailment, as they have struggled hard against “easy” teams like Holy Cross so far this year.
Vermont, on the other hand, poses a much greater challenge. Sitting just outside the top-10 in the national polls and at second in Hockey East, the Catamounts take nearly 30 shots and average about three goals per game.
Junior forward Natálie Mlýnková leads UVM with 33 points on 15 goals and 18 assists and is closely followed by graduate forward Theresa Schafzahl, who has 32 from one fewer assist –– for the record, the top two Terrier point leaders have 32 points combined. The Catamounts are loaded with production up and down their roster, with seven players above the 15-point mark.
Junior goalie Jessie McPherson has made 26 starts this season, boasting a 1.87 GAA and a .910 save percentage. In addition to her impressive numbers, she has four shutouts with her most recent coming against Providence on Jan. 13.
The Catamounts are heading to Boston after falling to the No. 7 Northeastern Huskies at home. Northeastern is an almost unbeatable opponent so the loss isn’t too much of a surprise, but UVM is likely looking for some more consistency in their play again. In their last meeting, the Terriers split their series with the Catamounts thanks to an overtime winner from Martin, so they’ll be searching for revenge against BU specifically, too.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm on Friday against Merrimack and for 3:00pm on Saturday against Vermont, with full coverage available on Instagram @boston.hockey.blog and on Twitter @BOShockeyblog.