The Boston University women’s hockey team started off 2023 with a game against Holy Cross at Fenway Park. Given that Fenway Park is in the school’s backyard and the Crusaders had only two wins coming in, the Terriers entered the game confident of a victory. When the opposite occurred — a 3-2 loss — and they followed by dropping their next two games, something had to change.
“Like any other tough game, we definitely threw it in the trash,” said BU forward Julia Nearis. “We had to have a better mind-set going in. We were just kind of tired of losing, and we just needed to buy in.”
Enter Nearis, a senior from Beverly, to give the 10-15-2 Terriers a jump start. BU’s new captain clutch has become the go-to player when the game is on the line.
In the last five games, Nearis has had a goal and a shootout goal against Providence, a tying goal and shootout winner against Maine, and an overtime winner against Vermont. BU is undefeated in those five and has leapfrogged Maine for sixth in the Hockey East standings.
“Nothing’s really changed dramatically in the past weeks, but our mind-set has changed,” said Nearis.
“I’ve made it clear from the beginning with the coaches that I want to be the player that you turn to for hard situations and challenging times, like a shootout or overtime,” said Nearis, who leads the Terriers with 19 points (9 goals, 10 assists.) “That’s definitely something I’m confident in. I always bring that level of confidence to win. I’ve never been a good loser.”
Nearis said her most recent game-winner, in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over 11th-ranked Vermont, stands out as a favorite. Brooke Disher intercepted a pass as overtime began and was trying to play the puck off the boards when Nearis saw a Catamount player coming for it. She deftly cut her off and went dashing into the zone for the goal.
“Brooke Disher lined it up for me,” said Nearis. “She stopped that defenseman on the blue line. I had to make a decision and not hesitate to lift the girl’s stick up. I found myself alone and that’s where I kind of relied on what I know how to do best, and that is to go five-hole.
“During that whole game, everybody bought in. They’re the 11th-ranked team in the nation, and I thought we played them very well. I thought we played them with a level of confidence in our own self, and that definitely contributed to the win.”
The growing confidence comes at a great time, as the remainder of the Terriers’ schedule won’t be an easy road. They host another national ranked team, Connecticut, this Friday before facing off with Northeastern in the opening round of the Beanpot next Tuesday. While they earned a sweep of UConn earlier in the season, the Huskies shut them out, 6-0, three weeks ago.
Nearis thinks her BU squad shouldn’t be counted out.
“We’re going to stick to our game plan,” she said. “Hopefully good things will come our way if we continue to grind like this.”
Amherst on a ‘revenge tour’
Burlington’s Rylee Glennon and her Amherst Mammoths currently hold one of the nation’s longest winning streaks: 17 consecutive wins. The Mammoths (18-1) have not lost since a 2-0 shutout by Hamilton Nov. 19.
Glennon, a product of Rivers and the Boston Junior Eagles, is currently Amherst’s second-highest scorer, with 9 goals and 11 assists, including a goal and two assists against Bowdoin last weekend. She is one of 14 players on the roster with multiple goals this season, a testament to the team’s depth and tenaciousness.
“Our team plays very fast and gritty,” said Glennon. “A huge part of our game is just consistently doing the little things. Being able to work hard in the corners, get the puck deep, and wear down our opponent is what has allowed us to do really well this season.”
🏒 FINAL from Orr Rink:— Amherst College Athletics (@AmherstMammoths) January 28, 2023
#3 @AmherstWIH 7️⃣
• 17th straight win for the Mammoths!
• Kate Pohl scores 2 goals and adds an assist
• Maeve Reynolds & Rylee Glennon each tally 1 goal, 2 assists
• Mammoths back in action 7pm Friday at #11 Colby#TusksUp🦣 pic.twitter.com/wZlJ3RoQ1k
The Mammoths’ run was inspired by a shutout loss to Middlebury in last season’s NESCAC championship game. When they earned a weekend sweep of Middlebury in early December, their eyes were opened as to how stellar this season could be.
“Getting those wins was really fun,” said Glennon. “It’s a little bit of a revenge tour after the championship game last year. Especially the second game against them, where we started down two goals and came back to win..
“I think that was a big moment for our team, where we realized how good we were capable of being.”
Mueller sets record
Northeastern’s Alina Mueller set the Hockey East record for career points Friday. Her game-winner in a 4-0 victory over Holy Cross was her 168th point, besting the previous record held by another Husky great, Kendall Coyne Schofield. As it stands, three of the top four career scorers in the league are from NU: Muller’s current teammate Chloe Aurard is fourth with 142 … Harvard’s Anne Bloomer earned ECAC Player of the Week honors after a 6-point weekend, including her second career hat trick in a 7-6 win over Cornell.
Kat Cornetta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.