Sept. 29, 2012
The No. 6 Boston University women’s ice hockey team has high expectations entering the 2012-13 season, as the Terriers will look to once again be a major player on the national scene.
BU is the defending Hockey East champion and will be looking for its fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance this season. The Terriers return 19 letter winners, including co-captains Jill Cardella and Marie-Philip Poulin, from last year’s squad that finished 23-14-1 overall and 14-7-0 in league play.
“I think every season is a new season and you try to make sure you have good team chemistry,” said head coach Brian Durocher, who enters his eight season behind the BU bench. “You certainly like to look at your leaders to be the people that shape your team. Obviously Marie-Philip and Jill have the letters on their shirt but there’s going to be others that are important that are seniors. I look for leadership from them in helping bring the team together.”
“When I look at our team I think we have experience in all three positions which is important. You definitely have some high-end talent and we’ve now had experience in big-game situations multiple years in a row, having been to the NCAA tournament three years in a row and having played for a Hockey East championship and won two of the last three years.”
12 Returning, 2 Lost, 5 New
Despite losing arguably the greatest goal scorer in Hockey East history when Jenn Wakefield graduated in May, the Terriers will have plenty of firepower at forward. Senior Jenelle Kohanchuk will look to play a full season after she redshirted last season due to injury. She will join four of the top six scorers from last season’s squad, including senior Isabel Menard (18g, 30a), sophomore Kayla Tutino (19g, 20a) and senior co-captain Jill Cardella (11g, 10a). Menard was a Hockey East Second Team All-Star last season and Tutino was on the league’s All-Rookie Team.
“We probably aren’t going to replace that goal-scoring with one person, but I can look at Jenelle, who’s been forgotten a little bit here because of last year, as someone who can take 40 points, and on a big year, accumulate more than that,” Durocher said. “To have Isabel and Marie-Philip here as well is huge. I expect Jill and (sophomore) Louise Warren
to have good years this year and they’re obviously players who have been around the block a few times and have been in the big games. There’s a long list of forwards that give us the most depth we’ve probably ever had, with good speed and accomplished talent. If we can keep everybody healthy we’ll be in great shape. If we have to deal with a couple of injuries, we’ll probably still be in reasonably good shape because of the depth.”
Durocher recruited several talented forwards who will look to crack the lineup as freshmen. Sarah Lefort comes to BU after winning a gold medal with the Canadian Under-18 team, while Rebecca Russo has experience with the U.S. Under-18 team. Jordan Juron and Lillian Ribeirinha-Braga were each NEPSAC All-Stars last year, with Juron being named Division 2 Player of the Year. Dakota Woodworth rounds out the newcomers up front and brings two years of leadership experience as captain of the Boston Shamrocks.
4 Returning, 4 Lost, 3 New
The BU blue line will have a different look to it as three seniors from last year’s team have departed in Hockey East Best Defenseman Kasey Boucher, Carly Warren and Hockey East Second Team All-Star Tara Watchorn. However, the Terriers’ defense will have a good mix of experience and youth heading into the 2012-13 season. Senior Kathryn Miller (2g, 14a) and junior Kaleigh Fratkin (3g, 6a) are the lone upperclassmen on the Terrier blue line and can be productive in all three zones as well as on the power play. Sophomore Shannon Stoneburgh (2g, 1a) had a strong debut last season and will contend for ice time. Redshirt sophomore Caroline Campbell (2g, 4a) played most of last season at forward, but will return to her natural position of defense in 2012-13.
Two freshmen and a junior transfer will join the Terriers on defense this season. Shannon Doyle played the previous two seasons with Colgate and was a member of Team Canada during this summer’s series with Team USA. Diana Bennett and Alexis Woloschuk will also be competing for ice time, with Woloschuk having played for the Canadian Under-18 team in 2010.
“On defense, while we might not be as innately talented as we were last year, but I always look for the silver lining,” Durocher said. “For me, it’s the fact that Shannon Doyle transferred from Colgate and is not a first-year player but a third-year player and knows college hockey. Caroline is in her second year of playing because she redshirted as a freshman, but it’s going to be her first year where she’s played on defense full time. The good thing is that it’s her third year she’s been part of a college program; she’s been through the weight room for two years. I see tremendous growth in her physical stamina and her strength.”
“So there’s my silver lining, that two kids are a lot more experienced than one might think. Then, to be complemented by Kathryn and Kaleigh, who are upperclassmen and very solid players. I like to think we might be a little more blue-collar on the blue line but could still be a pretty darn good group back there.”
3 Returning, 0 Lost, 0 New
Junior Kerrin Sperry started all but four of the Terriers’ games last season and saved some of her best play for the final weeks. She finished the year with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage en route to compiling a 19-14-1 record. She allowed just four goals in three Hockey East tournament games, making 83 saves in the process. She also made a program-record 58 saves at Cornell in an NCAA quarterfinal contest.
“Kerrin has earned the opportunity to be called the number one goalie right now,” Durocher said. “If she ran the table and had a fantastic year she’d probably get the lion’s share of the activity.” Senior Alissa Fromkin battled injuries for much of last season and only made two appearances, including a win in her only start last year. If she stays healthy, Fromkin is set to be a reliable option for Durocher between the pipes. Fromkin and Sperry will be the only two active goaltenders this year for BU, as junior Braly Hiller will redshirt this season following hip surgery.
“Alissa had a good summer and really I think (is) in pretty good physical condition. There’s days when we have to lighten the load a little bit but that’s just to make sure we don’t have any reoccurrence of the injury. I’m hoping sometime in October we can get her into some games and get her to start feeling comfortable again and it wouldn’t shock me in the least if her confidence continued to grow and she played better and better as we went along. That will help me and help us determine who is going to get ice time. We can’t just save her for some emergency. We’ve got to get her back in the fire and get tested and hopefully she can continue to gain her confidence and grow in her senior year.”
The Terriers will play three exhibition games and 31 regular-season contests, including 19 at Walter Brown Arena and a historic night game against No. 3 Cornell at Agganis Arena. The schedule is highlighted by 15 contests against teams that were ranked or received votes in last season's final USCHO.com poll. Five of the Terriers' nine October contests are against ranked opponents, including four against teams in the top five.
"I think the schedule is an interesting one where we’re playing a couple games under the NCAA limit, but that shouldn’t be a real factor as long as you’re playing quality opponents and it might actually give the young ladies a little more space to be students and have a little more time to themselves," Durocher said. "To me, as I said it’s an interesting schedule and I say that because we open up with McGill who is perennially a Canadian power in an exhibition. We have the Boston Blades which has the USA hockey Olympic team flavor to it, and then you have a couple of real powers in two games with Cornell and two games with Minnesota-Duluth that put a lot of pressure in the non-league part of the schedule."
Once again, BU will have its work cut out for it in Hockey East, as the eight-team league will be competitive from top to bottom this year. The Terriers will have 21 league contests before the postseason begins on March 2.
"Hockey East has grown in leaps and bounds from the time we started getting involved until now," Durocher said. "Ourselves, Boston College, Northeastern and Providence have held serve near the top. UNH until two years ago was basically the mainstay of the league and I know they’re on their way back up. Maria Lewis has done a ridiculously fantastic job at Maine and now there’s new spirit at Vermont. And last but absolutely not least is UConn, who I think is as well coached as any team in this league. It’s hard to find a weak link and we know every single day we have to get after it in this league to get a win or even get a tie some nights. Hopefully we’re up to the task. We want to put together a strong season-long body of work as a team and potentially get ourselves in the NCAA tournament no matter what happens in the postseason."