Where the fans should be seeing stars tonight, Bob Deraney and his pupils plan to simply see a band of skaters wearing a uniform different from their own.
Where pollsters see the potential for the Friars to hop over the dasherboards separating them from the Top 10 crowd, the pucksters just see another opportunity to whet their blades.
Really? Is there no absolutely aroma of intrigue behind the fact that the reloaded Boston University Terriers will come back to Schneider Arena for the first time since raising the Women’s Hockey East playoff trophy here last March and give the Friars their first league test of the season? Not to mention, the fact that PC is likewise offering the No. 5-ranked, 6-1-0 Terriers their first intraleague opponent?
“Just looking forward to our next game, no matter who it’s against,” said Deraney. “We come to play and we want to play the best. That’s what we talk about all the time. We wanted RPI to bring their best (last Friday), we wanted Princeton to bring their best (last Saturday), and we want BU to bring their best, because the only way you’re going to get better is if people play their best against you.
“We don’t want people to have a crappy night. We want people to bring their best because whether you win or lose, it doesn’t matter, it’s going to make you a better team.”
The last time BU confronted a Women’s Hockey East cohabitant was a revolutionary battle at Schneider Arena, culminating in a 2-1 overtime win over Connecticut for the program’s first conference crown.
Nearly eight months and one Cyclopean recruiting spree later, the Terriers come to start defending their title with the likes of ex-New Hampshire Wildcat sizzler Jenn Wakefield, Canadian Olympic hero Marie-Philip Poulin, and graduate defender Catherine Ward, another gold medalist from the Vancouver Games.
All has gone according to plan in the first month of action for Brian Durocher’s capstone class. Poulin –the scorer of both goals in Canada’s 2-0 gold medal triumph over the United States- leads the NCAA with nine strikes and the team with 16 points. Wakefield boasts an 8-5-13 transcript in her first seven college games since transferring from Durham.
As a team, the Terriers have had 11 different scorers contribute to a median of 4.57 goals per game. The power play likely still has yet to hit its stride, but already has a 21.9 percent success rate. On the flip side, Poulin, Wakefield, and junior defender Tara Watchorn have combined to give the team a frightful pile of six shorties.
BU has even hinted at answering its topmost question in the crease. Freshman goaltender Kerrin Sperry is a seamless 5-0-0 and has authorized merely eight goals on 107 shots faced.
That should be plenty from goal line to goal line to test the 6-2-0 Friars and their own nascent well-rounded roster. And while the collective data probably anoints Boston as the favorite on all betting lines, Providence may have one advantageous X-factor in goaltender Genevieve Lacasse.
The Scarborough Save-ior enters tonight’s matchup armed with familiarity. She spent large ice chips of her summer, as well as the last weekend of September, training under the Mighty Maple Leaf with the likes of Poulin, Wakefield, Watchorn, and reckonable BU junior Jenelle Kohanchuk.
Yet even from Lacasse, the word on the matchup still translates to “nothing special.”
“We’ve been doing a little bit of trash talking, I guess,” she said. “It helps a little bit, I know their moves, but who knows if they’re trying to play mind games? If they’re not going to pull their moves on me, pull something different? So I’m just trying not to think about it, pretend like they’re any other opponent.”
Lacasse was pressed further to imagine a potentially bigger-than-usual audience tonight, which would be drawn particularly by the presence of Poulin.
“It might,” she said. “I’m excited for it. Whatever comes our way, we’ll take it.”
Quick feeds: Last year, BU won the season series with the Friars for the first time since its 2005 inception, claiming two of the three meetings. Counting their two Hockey East playoff wins, the Terriers are 3-7-0 all-time at Schneider Arena…In her two seasons at UNH (2007-09), Wakefield mustered an aggregate 3-2-5 scoring log in seven meetings with Providence…Both BU alums, Deraney and Durocher will ironically square off only two nights after their former college coach –men’s skipper Jack Parker- received a share of the 2010 Lester Patrick Award at the TD Garden. Parker, who has taught the Terrier men since 1973, was honored on Wednesday along with fellow recipients Jerry York (Boston College men’s coach), Cam Neely (Hall of Fame player and former Bruin), and Dave Andrews (president of the AHL).
Al Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press