A new hockey tradition is growing at Boston University.
Last Sunday, the 5-year-old women’s program captured its first Hockey East championship and earned its first NCAA tournament berth. On Saturday, the Terriers will play in their first NCAA playoff game.
“We’ve got a storied tradition on the men’s side,” coach Brian Durocher said of the men’s team, which won its fifth NCAA Division I championship in 2009. “All the young ladies who are part of this program were extremely proud to make their own statement in the history of Boston University hockey.”
But the Terriers women’s team isn’t satisfied. Now they want their first NCAA Tournament win.
The No. 8 Terriers are on a roll heading into Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup with No. 1 Mercyhurst. The Terriers beat Boston College and No. 7 New Hampshire – the teams that ended the Terriers’ season in the Hockey East tournament the past two seasons – to reach the title game against No.9 Connecticut. Then sophomore defenseman Tara Watchorn’s shot from the blue line capped the Terriers’ 2-1 overtime win.
“We’ll walk in there (to Mercyhurst) with great pride,” Durocher said. “We now need to go in there (against Mercyhurst) and try to be loose.” He wasted no time in making sure his team isn’t “content with having a (conference) championship,” Durocher said. “My job is to start to push their buttons early.”
Durocher has pushed buttons all season. The Terriers struggled early this season with holding leads.
The Terriers lost or tied 17 of their first 31 games. But a 2-1 win against Northeastern on Feb. 14 sparked BU’s current six-game winning streak, in which they outscored opponents 16-4.
“Definitely from the neck down, we were not a bad team,” Durocher said. “The record didn’t indicate that because from the neck down we were a little bit soft or a little bit unprepared. … In February and March, we’ve decided to take care of business in our end and hope we’re good enough to get goals.”
Now the Lakers are ready to face the up-tempo Lakers.
“They’ve been there. They are led by great people,” Durocher said. “Mercyhurst plays at a real high pace. When that happens, you definitely have to be ready with your legs. And more than anything else, you’ve got to be ready from the neck up.”
– Victor Fernandes