Defender Abby Cook scored back-to-back power-play goals last weekend to help Boston University finish off a sweep of rival Boston College. (Rich Gagnon/Boston University Athletics)
There were quite a few underdog performances to note from last weekend in NCAA Division I women’s hockey play. Defending national champion Clarkson fell to Colgate and Cornell. Previously winless Holy Cross upended Northeastern, snapping the No. 5 team in the country’s 12-game unbeaten streak.
And Boston University, behind a superb weekend-long special teams effort, swept Boston College in a home-and-home series.
It might not have been a historic pair of wins, but it was a statement nonetheless for the Terriers, who finished below the .500 mark last season for the first time in a decade. They were slated to finish fifth in the Hockey East preseason coaches’ poll this year, while their crosstown rivals garnered nine of 10 first-place votes.
BU held a 4-4-4 record going into the weekend, but knocked off the Eagles with a 3-2 win on Friday and a 4-2 win on Saturday. Goaltending was huge; Kate Stuart and Corinne Schroeder made a combined 79 saves to stave off BC’s offense. But the Terriers’ special teams were in excellent form, too. All three of their goals on Friday were scored on the power play, and they chipped in two more power-play goals in the second game.
Defender Abby Cook was responsible for both on Saturday. She scored twice in a seven-minute span on nearly identical plays: well-screened one-timed shots from the point.
“I think we were moving the puck well and Sammy [Davis] was really drawing the defender towards her up top, so that really opened up the lane for me, which was huge,” Cook said. “I think Nara [Elia] on one and Mackenna [Parker] on the other were screening the goalie really well so that helped.”
Her first goal tied the game for the Terriers, and the second gave them a critical lead, which they held onto for the rest of the game.
BU’s penalty kill also came up big in the series. The Eagles took a 1-0 lead on the power play in game two, but that was the only power-play goal the Terriers would give up, killing off nine other chances on the weekend.
Boston University has had a few down years—they haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2014-15, which isn’t quite up to the lofty standards of a program that finished as national runner-ups twice in a three-year span. But BU is always motivated to play Boston College. Even in the midst of a subpar year last season, the Terriers took the Eagles to overtime in the Beanpot final. In the team’s first meeting this season, BU kept it a one-goal game in the 4-3 loss.
“Going into those games, we’re always really excited and we know that we have to work really hard,” Cook said. “We’re always up to the challenge.”
BU is led up front by sophomore Jesse Compher and junior Sammy Davis, who have 24 and 20 points this year, respectively. No other Terrier has reached double digits yet, so that’s quite a heavy burden for the duo to carry. But last weekend, they got some much-needed goal support from the rest of the line-up. Cook’s two markers from the blue line were key, and both Emma Wuthrich and Deziray De Sousa chipped in with their first goals of the season.
“That’s really exciting,” Cook said of those individual firsts. “We’ve been waiting for those goals to happen because then everyone gets really excited and we all start working really hard after that.”
Cook is no small contributor to this BU squad. The junior was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star and a New England Division I All-Star last season, finishing tied for 20th in scoring in Hockey East with 26 points and sixth in blocks with 66. This season, she has five goals and eight points, third-best on the team, while continuing to log big minutes.
As she takes on more of a leadership role this year, her game plan is pretty simple.
“I want to have a bigger voice on the team and just [be] someone that the younger girls can look up to,” Cook said. “I just want to work really hard and just do the best I can for my team.”
Last weekend’s sweep marks the first time the Terriers have won two games in a row against Boston College since a three-game win streak that spanned from Jan. 25 to Oct. 5, 2012. It also marks a pretty clear turnaround for a team that struggled in the first month or so of the season. BU started the year off with a 1-3-3 record, but since Nov. 9 the team is on a 5-1-1 run, with the lone loss coming against the Eagles.
That’s helped the team find a renewed sense of confidence.
“I think we always have high expectations for ourselves but we have been gaining confidence as the year is going on,” Cook said. “Just in practice and everything, you can tell we’re working a lot harder, and everyone’s really bought in right now so that’s helping with all those games. I think that’s a major difference right now.”