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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Boston University 3, Women's Hockey 1

Kohanchuk, killers squeak BU past Friars

A little more pre-ordered punch on their part, and the Friars might have had a facile and pleasurable time exploiting Boston University’s D-plus-grade gang of penalty killers yesterday.

The trouble was PC had been too busy all week kicking ice chips over the rancid remnants of a submissive loss to Brown the week prior. So even in defeat, a 3-1 outcome at Schneider Arena, and even with a 1-for-6 finish on the power play, head coach Bob Deraney allowed the reheating fundamentals a little more microwave time while his team, first and foremost, proved that they have their willpower back on straight.

“It’s nice to have our team back,” he said. “I thought we played really well today, (but) when you play against a good team like Boston University, you can’t give them gifts, and we gave them two gifts today.

“Obviously, I’m not satisfied with the result, but I am very happy with the effort today. We competed, created great chances, we stayed out of the penalty box. We played the game the way it’s meant to be played. I thought we did a good job.”

Going in, both contesting clubs were primed to wash out relatively fresh vinegar, the Terriers having just surrendered a 7-2 decision at Clarkson. And to start, while the host Friars applied all the pressure –heavily leading the shooting gallery 8-2 through 14 minutes, forcing whistles around the net and by virtue of BU icings, and inducing BU penalties- the Terriers never budged, amounting to a scoreless opening frame.

Boston, the last team to get around to playing an intraleague contest until yesterday, settled down a little more after their first power play late in the first, and afterwards the game was another testament to the primordial parity in Hockey East, top gun Jenelle Kohanchuk ultimately spelling the difference on two third period strikes.

“We’re good enough to be in every game and we’re good enough to stay in every game too,” said Deraney. “I love our league, it’s very competitive from top to bottom, and today was another example of that. They’re the No. 10 team in the nation and it could have been a different outcome today.”

It certainly could have been different if the Terriers had played like the team that came in with a toe-curling 67.6% penalty killing rate. But by day’s end, they had done enough to improve that mark to 69.8% (borderline C-minus).

Over six total chances on the day, the Friars’ power play packed eight shots at BU stopper Melissa Haber (24 saves). During their fourth opportunity, granted at 4:45 of the second when Tara Watchorn went off for hooking, they thrust five attempts in one continuous buzz, though they were all blocked, telepathically directed wide, or dinked off the post.

But the main point was, in those first four chances, they never tuned the mesh. Furthermore, two minutes after they killed their third penalty, a carry-over holding call against Kathryn Miller, the still-dignified Terriers snatched a 1-0 lead at 2:27 of the second as Britt Hergesheimer leveled home a slapper from the near circle-top.

“I said to the team that you don’t get instant gratification,” Deraney said. “What I mean by that is there’s a new work ethic in practice. I think we kind of got lax there a couple of weeks ago and just because you get back to what made you successful doesn’t mean it’s going to happen immediately. But we saw some signs of that hard work.”

Eventually, with Miller caged again for bodychecking Nicole Anderson and the Friars on their fifth extra-strength chance in less than 40 minutes, a little gratification finally came. Point patroller Lauren Covell paused with the puck behind her own net while her mates were in regrouping mode and eventually let Ashley Cottrell swing by to pick up the disk.

Cottrell (team-leading four shots) would dart the full length of the far alley, cut uncontested to Haber’s property, and deposit an in-your-face conversion just 17 seconds before the Friars could fall to 0-for-5.

But Boston would ultimately restore its lead on a similar act of stealth. Just as the Terriers’ laser-beamed PK square had repelled all of those swarms in the first two periods, Providence had kept the radiant likes of Kohanchuk and Jillian Kirchner off the scoresheet.

That changed with 6:27 to spare in the third as the starting linemates engaged with defenders Jennifer Friedman and Christie Jensen behind the net. The puck ultimately dripped in behind Genevieve Lacasse (22 saves), Kohanchuk lacing in her seventh goal of the year and granting Kirchner the assist.

Kohanchuk would finalize the 3-1 upshot on an empty netter with a mere 3.5 seconds remaining.

“They got the breaks today and we didn’t,” shrugged Deraney. “It’s really as simple as that.”

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com