Boston University forward Rebecca Russo scored a last-second goal to hand UConn a 2-1 loss in the first game of the regular season on Oct. 2 at Walter Brown Arena. The Huskies have another chance to take down the Terriers this weekend with a home-and-home series against their conference foes.
UConn (7-7-2, 3-4 Hockey East) currently trails BU (11-7, 8-3 Hockey East) in the Hockey East standings, but showed that they can hang with the Terriers earlier this season.
“It was early in the year and we learned that we can compete with them as long as we manage the puck the right way,” UConn head coach Chris MacKenzie said.
The Huskies have won three of their last four games, including three conference wins, and have boosted their defensive play in recent weeks. They have only surrendered two goals in their last three games and seem to be hitting their stride in conference play. BU is in a similar situation, having won five of their last six games entering this weekend.
The series begins at Freitas Ice Forum on Saturday at 3 p.m. and continues at 3 p.m. on Sunday at Walter Brown Arena in Boston. Coach MacKenzie doesn’t think his team needs any extra motivation from their heartbreaking loss on opening day.
“Any time we play for league points there is motivation,” MacKenzie said.
Some of the Huskies’ younger players have emerged as leaders for a team that does not have a lot of standout scorers, but relies on a complete team effort. Freshman Jordy Zacharias and sophomore Leah Lum are tied with a team leading nine points on the season, although they have come in very different ways. Lum’s points come from eight assists and one goal, while Zacharias has four goals and five assists. They are followed closely by senior Brittany Berisoff and sophomore Justine Fredette, who each have posted eight points.
The UConn defense will need to continue their strong efforts against a BU team that has seven players with at least 13 points this season. Sophomore Rebecca Leslie leads the Terriers with 24 points and has shown a tremendous ability to find open teammates with 19 assists. In order to stay in front of a talented team like BU, the Huskies need to constantly have energized skaters on the ice.
“We have a few injuries right now, but our conditioning is very solid,” MacKenzie said. “One of our keys is to keep our shifts short and manage our game effectively.”
With a strong showing in Storrs on Saturday, UConn will have a chance to get even with the Terriers this season. The Huskies will likely be satisfied with a split series, but would be ecstatic if they can sweep the series and vault themselves ahead of the four other Hockey East teams with three conference wins this season.
Aaron Esposito is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.