BU Women’s Hockey Set to Open Season This Weekend
Terriers will begin with a two-game series at UNH?
Nearly nine months after the Terriers last took to the ice in competitive action, the long-awaited 2020-2021 Boston University hockey season starts this weekend when the women’s team travels to UNH for a two-game series, one on Friday, one on Saturday.
The season begins amidst the backdrop of a still-raging COVID-19 pandemic. The Terrier men had expected to begin play as well, on Saturday at UConn, but had to temporarily halt their season opening after one person affiliated with the team tested positive for COVID-19.
When Hockey East released its original schedule on November 11, the BU men were slated to start their campaign with a visit to Vermont this weekend, and the women would head to Maine. Since then, both UVM and Maine have paused athletic activities, so BU had to adjust its plans.
One big change this season as a result of the ongoing pandemic? Don’t expect to see fans at the games. With contests being played behind closed doors, Hockey East has partnered with CBS Sports Digital to stream every game online—for free. All BU games not broadcast on NESN will be shown live on CollegeSportsLive.com.
The conference has already made changes to the initial schedule in an ongoing effort to accommodate all member institutions and their status in regard to playing sports during the pandemic. Flexibility is the focus, and women’s head coach Brian Durocher (Wheelock’78) says his team’s positive attitude has been essential.
“I think our kids have really worked hard at controlling what they can,” he says, and he gives “a lot of credit to the maturity and the smarts and the focus that the kids have had. They really enjoy coming to the rink, they enjoy practice, and they enjoy trying to get better and ultimately being prepared for when the puck drops for real.”
Entering the new season, the BU women have high expectations—and something to prove. They are ranked 8th in the national polls after spending much of last season in the top 10 before being upset by Maine in the Hockey East quarterfinals last March.
Durocher says the team’s mentality entering this season is the same as it always is. “I talk to the kids about being ready and playing well every game, and that it’s amazing how your record at the end will be something you’re probably proud of,” he says.
Durocher’s Terriers finished the 2019-2020 regular season in second place, with a 18-6-3 conference record, 24-8-4 in all competitions. The women’s Hockey East preseason poll picked BU to finish second again, trailing reigning champion Northeastern.
The Terrier women have some big holes to fill this season with the graduation of First Team All-Stars Sammy Davis (CGS’17, Sargent’19, Wheelock’20) and Abby Cook (Sargent’20), among others. Davis led BU in goals (17), assists (24), and points (41) last season, while Cook ranked in the top five in those categories, exiting with the most all-time points of any BU defender.
The team does have plenty of promise among its returning ranks, highlighted by cocaptains Jesse Compher (SHA’21) and Nara Elia (CAS’21). Compher finished second in goals (13) and fourth in assists (16) and points (29) last season despite missing 10 games, while Elia was fourth in goals (11), third in assists (19), and tied for second in points (30).
Aiding the offensive effort is Julia Nearis (CAS’23), who ranked third on BU’s roster with 12 goals as a freshman last year, as well as Kristina Schuler (Questrom’21) and Courtney Correia (CGS’20, Questrom’22), who tied for fifth in goals with eight tallies each. Newcomers Catherine Foulem (CAS’24) and Lacey Martin (CAS’24) bring accomplished résumés to the attacking group.
In their months of practice, Elia says, she’s seen significant development across the roster. “All the way down the line, I see players who I think have made big improvements,” she says.
On the blue line, the Terriers will lean on Alex Allan (CAS’22), the lone upperclassman on the defensive depth chart. Nadia Mattivi (CAS’23) impressed as a freshman last year, recording the fourth-most blocks on the team (40) while placing second in goals (5) among defenders. Tamara Giaquinto (CAS’24) and Andi Calderone (CAS’24) headline the incoming class of defenders.
Durocher says the defense will have to be the biggest area of growth this season, with four first-years entering the mix. “We’re going to have to give them a little bit of time to succeed and move forward in college hockey, because it is a quick game and players are strong,” he says. “It’s important for us to get up to speed.”
In goal, Corrine Schroeder (Sargent’21) set team records in save percentage (.943) and goals-against average (1.54) last year, both of those marks ranked in the top five nationally. Kate Stuart (CAS’22) was equally sharp as backup, with a .938 save percentage and 1.58 goals-against average. Durocher thinks the goaltending duo is his team’s greatest strength.
“We have not only talent but depth there,” he says. “Corrine Schroeder’s an all-star, and for my money what Kate Stuart has done in about 14 or 15 games over two years really parallels Corrine’s statistics.”
In a season like no other, the Terriers feel they have an opportunity to do something special. They’ve put in a lot of hard work and patience to get to this point, but when the puck drops, Elia says, the team will be ready to go.
It’s all about “taking advantage of what we get,” she says. “I think we’ve been just really trying to push for that and staying positive in everything.”
Both games this weekend will be played at UNH’s Whittemore Center, with Friday’s contest starting at 6 pm, and Saturday’s at 5 pm. View both games live here.