November has not been especially kind to the four women’s Beanpot schools.
Northeastern suffered just its second loss of the season Tuesday at Providence, a team skyrocketing up the national polls. Harvard began November with two ties and a loss before turning things around with a 2-0 win over Cornell Saturday. Boston University was in a similar boat, suffering three straight losses before defeating a nationally ranked Vermont team in overtime Saturday. Boston College has yet to win this month, falling to UConn and NU in consecutive weekends.
Despite the frustrating times, there are some high points for all four teams, and leaning into those will be key to their rebounds. Here is what each team should be building upon.
At 4-8, there has to be worry on Commonwealth Avenue, especially because the Terriers face a hot UConn team this weekend. But the offense is showing more promise than last season. They have been shut out only once all season, and they are scoring 2.3 goals per game to their opponents’ 2.8.
The Terriers are keeping up with opponents, with much of that thanks to senior Julia Nearis. The Beverly native has at least 1 point in six of her last seven games. Junior Lacey Martin had two goals and an assist in the win over Vermont, including the winner. If Martin can keep up her recent goal output, the Terriers could turn things around.
The sophomores have finally earned playing time, and they are showing their worth for the Crimson (2-4-2). Five of the team’s top 10 scorers are sophomores, led by Gabi Davidson Adams. She already has doubled her scoring output (two assists) from her first year, with three goals and an assist, with two of those goals against Union and RPI in the first weekend of November.
Davidson Adams and her fellow second-years will need to step up even more if Harvard is to keep pace in this season’s uber-competitive ECAC.
If the Eagles (6-7-1) didn’t already love Hannah Bilka coming into this year, they sure do now.
Bilka hasn’t skipped a beat since coming back from her first World Championships appearance this summer, with 18 points through 14 games. The senior has been held scoreless only three times this fall, and has offered the Eagles several highlight-reel goals.
Bilka and sophomore Abby Newhook are responsible for 31 of their team’s 76 points, and if the Eagles want to end their November skid, they will need the rest of their roster to chip in.
Though Tuesday’s loss was frustrating, the Huskies (12-2-1) can easily rebound. They still have one of the best goalies in the country in Gwyneth Philips, who has an 0.81 goals against average, good for second in the nation.
Another defensive highlight for NU has been the penalty kill. The Huskies have allowed only four power-play goals thus far.
Getting back to their usual form should be possible for the Huskies this weekend with a home-and-home against Holy Cross, but they face a tough test Thanksgiving weekend against Princeton and Cornell in Nashville’s Smashville Showcase.
Contact rules clarified
Over the last decade, college and professional women’s hockey teams haven’t always seen eye-to-eye when it came to recruiting college players for pro teams.
In the earlier days of the PHF (then known as the National Women’s Hockey League), players were drafted prior to their senior year of college. It made for awkward situations when players decided to play elsewhere or end their hockey careers.
Starting last April, the league eliminated the draft, instituting unrestricted free agency for all players, including rookies.
“This particular class of graduating collegiate-level players is extremely robust and we’re excited to begin a process that offers them the same autonomy as veteran players to explore all available options on their own terms,” said Lisa Haley, the league’s senior vice president of hockey operations at the time.
According to PHF bylaws released in September, players must register to be considered and are deemed eligible if they have completed their NCAA eligibility or have already forfeited the remainder of it (which is subject to league review.) The bylaws specifically encourage players to finish their college commitments — which, until the PHF or its competitor, the PWHPA, can pay all players a full-time wage, is smart to recommend.
But free agency can be wild, and teams may try to get a leg up any way they can. In a league media call in late October, Boston Pride coach Paul Mara alluded to contact occurring between teams and college players during players’ college seasons.
“In Boston, we allow those players to enjoy their senior season, trying to develop a winning culture where they are,” said Mara. “We don’t bother college players during the season. I know other teams do, but we don’t.”
Paul Krotz, a PHF spokesman, stated that while communication may occur, the league limits what it can include.
“Communication with athletes is permissible, but the scope must be in general terms and may not include any contract negotiations or verbal/written agreements prior to the completion of a student athlete’s eligibility,” Krotz said Wednesday.
Kat Cornetta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.