For the third time this season, the Boston University women’s hockey team (10-16-3, 9-12-3 Hockey East) will face cross-town rivals the Boston College Eagles (17-12-1, 14-10-0 HE) at Walter Brown Arena on Saturday.
BU has started to fall into a pattern of success with an unbeaten streak of six games before falling short to the No. 5 Northeastern Huskies in the Beanpot semis. Despite the loss, BU played a gritty game against the top opponent in Hockey East.
Whether you go for an inter-Beanpot matchup, another Battle of Comm. Ave, or for the Chili, the Terriers will look to pick up from where they left off. BU lulled for much of November and December and were held to just eight goals through eight games before finally clicking offensively in mid-January, for a total of 20 goals since Jan. 17.
Grad transfer Andrea Brändli and sophomore Callie Shanahan split the net for the early part of the season, but Brändli’s consistency between the pipes has given BU someone to lean back on since being named starter. Since the Providence game in mid-January, Brändli has let in just ten goals on 181 shots, for a save percentage of .944 in her last six games, including four overtime periods and three shootouts.
In addition to goaltending, the Terriers’ shots are finally starting to reach the back of the net. Upperclassmen like Julia Nearis, Lacey Martin and Nadia Mattivi are leading the way in points, with Martin continuing to push her group offensively, producing just about three shots per game for a total of 90– 21 more than the runner-up.
The Terriers’ top line also continues to shine thanks to the growing success of sophomore Christina Vote and juniors Catherine Foulem and Madison Cardaci. The three have combined for 17 points in the same stretch of eight games, and were a huge force in the Terriers’ latest matchup against the Huskies.
Finally, freshman Brooke Disher has also started to make her presence known on the ice. The Team Canada captain struggled early in her collegiate career, but has recently started to find her stride, collecting eight points – including the Terriers’ lone goal on Husky goaltender Gwyneth Philips – in her last six games.
The Terriers played a hard-fought game against Northeastern, and while a loss is a loss, Tuesday’s matchup was a huge step in the right direction compared to their 6-0 defeat a month ago. The Eagles will enter the game with momentum, having shut out Harvard 3-0 en route to the Beanpot championship game next week.
The Battle of Comm. Ave was reignited in mid-October when the Eagles rolled the Terriers on Friday 3-0, before letting in three unanswered goals and barely holding onto a 5-4 victory the following night. Backed by graduate student Abby Levy, the Eagles have a reliable and experienced Hockey East goaltender to lean on. Levy sits third in the conference goaltending statistics with a 1.70 goals against average and .948 save percentage; the Terriers will have to create opportunities and put pucks on net if they want to get anything past Levy.
The Eagles lean heavily on co-captain Hannah Bilka and sophomore Abby Newhook, who lead their group in points with 34 and 29 each. Bilka is an aggressive playmaker with 23 assists and over 110 shots this season, while Newhook is a finisher who leads the Eagles in goals with 16. Either way, the Terriers will have to play shutdown defense to keep the puck off of either of their sticks.
The last time the two teams met, BU was able to creep back into the picture through the third period, and with a strong start and some offensive ability this second half of the year, the Terriers might just be able to break through. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00pm on Saturday at Walter Brown Arena with full coverage on the blog, Instagram @boston.hockey.blog and Twitter @BOShockeyblog, so be sure to follow along.