Game Previews, Women's Hockey

Terriers to face Vermont and Merrimack in split weekend series

Photo by Cristina Romano.

“Do we want this feeling to be our destination or do we want this to be the regular for how we feel?”

Head coach Tara Watchorn said this after the Boston University women’s hockey team’s game against Vermont on Jan. 20. The Terriers had just completed a sweep of the Catamounts to stack on top of their Beanpot semifinals win over Boston College. 

After the Vermont game, Watchorn’s words were a galvanizing force for an up-and-down team seemingly turning the corner. Since then, the words have been a sobering reminder of recent shortcomings.

Since defeating the Catamounts, BU has lost five of its last six games, including two to the cellar-dwelling Holy Cross Crusaders. 

The Terriers (12-15-3, 10-12-1 Hockey East) have the opportunity to right the ship with another game against the Catamounts (11-15-4, 9-11-3 HEA) on Friday afternoon. BU follows it up with another team in the latter half of the Hockey East standings in a Saturday matinee against the Merrimack Warriors (10-17-3, 7-13-3 HE). 

One key factor missing for the Terriers in the six-game stretch since the last Vermont game is the offensive production. BU averaged just under three goals per game prior to the Beanpot Championship, and has since scored just over one per game.

A contributing factor is a slowdown from the Terriers’ top trio of scorers — forwards senior Lacey Martin, senior forward Catherine Foulem and sophomore Clara Yuhn — who have each only scored one goal in the last six games.

Junior goaltender Callie Shanahan has been playing on a regular basis for the first time since returning from injury. Shanahan has allowed an average of 2.28 goals per game, the lowest mark among the Terriers’ goaltending room, but the lack of production on the other end has led to upwards of 25 shots faced per game. 

Photo by Cristina Romano.

However, the best game the Terriers put together in this stretch was their lone win in a contest against ranked Boston College at Conte Forum on Feb. 3. The Terriers were aggressive on the forecheck leading to junior forward Liv Haag’s first career goal. BU then scored its first power play goal in six games in the third period. Shanahan also earned a 19-save shutout, the second of her career as a Terrier and the first of the season. Everything clicked.

“That was one of the best defensive games we played all year,” Shanahan said postgame. “We really needed a win to pick up some momentum here towards the end of the season.”

Then, the following weekend, it was a lot of the same in a 3-1 loss to Maine. The Black Bears gained an early advantage, capitalizing on the transition and a rebound in front of the net. Meanwhile, the Terriers struggled to get the offense going until the end of the second period, failing to score on three more power plays. 

Despite battling the injury bug, the Terriers have all the tools and have shown the ability to handle two beatable teams, gaining momentum into the postseason. However, will it be the BU team that scored 10 goals on Vermont a month ago? Or, will it be the team that has taken over since then?

Three things to know about the Catamounts:

  • UVM lost seven straight games from Jan. 5 to Jan. 26. Since then, the Catamounts have been to overtime in four of their last five games, winning two games and sending three to a shootout.
  • The second period has been crucial to Vermont’s success recently with seven goals in the middle frame across the last four games. 
  • The Catamounts’ offense is led by senior forward Natalie Mlynkova, who is on a four-game goal streak, earning seven points in that span.

Three things to know about the Warriors:

  • Merrimack has only won seven conference games all season, however, three of those have come in the team’s last four games as they hit their stride with a sweep against Maine.
  • Merrimack’s sophomore goaltender Calli Hogarth has started in 29 of the Warriors’ 30 games, allowing an average of 2.67 goals per game and a .908 save percentage. 
  • The Warriors’ offensive production is pretty evenly distributed across the team with no skater scoring more than eight goals, but seven scoring at least four goals.

Puck drop is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday in Burlington, Vermont for the contest between BU and UVM. Saturday’s game against Merrimack is at 4 p.m. on the road. The Boston Hockey Blog will have full coverage of both matchups so be sure to follow along on Twitter (X) @BOShockeyblog and Instagram

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