Nadia Mattivi and her Boston University women’s hockey team are on a winning streak, which is always a good thing when traveling to Las Vegas.
The Terriers’ winning streak is on the ice, not at the tables, and much of that is due to the leadership of Mattivi. The senior defensewoman is using lessons learned from her six years on the Italian national team to bring positivity and maturity to this team, and she credits an abundance of that in the locker room for a weekend sweep of nationally ranked Connecticut.
The Terriers hope their hot hand continues as they travel to Nevada this week to take part in the Henderson Collegiate Hockey Showcase, the first-ever women’s college hockey tournament in Vegas. With three nationally ranked squads involved — No. 3 Minnesota, No. 5 Yale, and No. 12 Penn State — BU (6-8-0) will need to play its best hockey.
“We have momentum right now, so we just have to keep going,” said Mattivi. “The tournament coming up will be a nice challenge and hopefully we’ll win. These two games will be huge.”
Heading into the series against the Huskies, the Terriers were on a downward spiral. They were 1-3 in November, and sat at 4-8 on the season. But something clicked in Storrs. They not only upset No. 15 UConn, but played their best game of the season in a sound 5-2 victory Saturday.
“We scored five goals in the second game, which definitely felt good,” said Mattivi, who had one of those tallies. “We’re usually a team that wins by one or two goals, so winning 5-2 was definitely huge.
“It showed that we can win, and we can play as a team. We can make good plays and shoot the puck more. I think the second game against UConn is a perfect example of how we should play always.”
Last year’s BU squad had some bright moments but finished 12-15-6 and lost in the Hockey East quarterfinals. It was far from the success of the last decade, when the Terriers won five league titles and were the national runners-up twice.
Mattivi, 22, believes that BU is turning things around from last season’s disappointment, and much of it is due to maturity.
“The culture is way better in the locker room,” said Mattivi. “We have a good group that has fun together. We’re actually enjoying playing hockey. When we started losing, we still had a positive mind-set, and we still wanted to go to the rink and have practice. That’s definitely huge.”
When she’s not leading the Terriers, Mattivi is propelling women’s hockey in Italy forward. A native of Baselga di Piné in northern Italy, she joined the Italian national team at age 16. She had her country just three spots away from Olympic qualification in 2022. In this spring’s Group B World Championships, Mattivi’s team finished third, a promising improvement for a team that will have a host spot for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan. Mattivi was named the tournament’s best defender, a title she’s earned four other times in IIHF events.
Mattivi feels those years of international experience at such a young age show in every game she plays.
“I joined the national team at age 16, playing on a team with older players who were 30 or 35, and that definitely made me become a more mature player and person on, especially off the ice,” said Mattivi. “When you have leaders who are way older than you, you kind of get a sense of what a good teammate looks like. I was very fortunate to have that experience so early on.”
BU is well-stocked with players who have international expertise. While US Olympian Jesse Compher transferred to Wisconsin, the Terriers had Swiss Olympic goaltender Andrea Brändli transfer from Ohio State and gained freshman Brooke Disher from Canada’s U18 World team.
“I also think that’s what’s helping the culture and the team, having mature people that have had different experiences and have different backgrounds,” said Mattivi.
Mattivi and her teammates are ready to see what they can do against some of the nation’s best this weekend, and they are grateful for the opportunity.
“We’re very lucky that we have the resources and the fact that our program believes in us and are sending us to Vegas,” said Mattivi. “It’s definitely a huge opportunity. I think the fact that we’re playing teams that are third and fifth in the nation, it’s a good challenge for us. We’re up for it.”
NU off to Nashville
BU isn’t the only local team playing in a Thanksgiving tournament. Northeastern will play in the Smashville Showcase in Nashville, where it also will face some of the NCAA’s best. The Huskies play No. 14 Princeton Friday and No. 9 Cornell Saturday … Boston College heads into the holiday weekend having earned some Beanpot revenge. In a Tuesday rematch of February’s Beanpot title game, the Eagles defeated Harvard, 5-1. Five different players scored goals, including a successful penalty shot by leading scorer Hannah Bilka. Now riding a three-game winning streak, BC (9-7-1) is back above .500.
Kat Cornetta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.