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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Boston University 4, Women's Hockey 1

Friars fail to finish off BU

BOSTON- As uncontrollably eager as the PC women may have been to think otherwise, the Boston University Terriers could not be fazed frozen by any of the would-be speedbumps they faced yesterday.

“I think they had a very good game plan against us,” mused head coach Bob Deraney in the aftermath of a vinegary, fall-from-ahead, 4-1 loss at Walter Brown Arena. “Nothing that we didn’t know was coming. I just don’t think we handled it as well as we could have

The absence of their top three point-getters –Jenn Wakefield, Marie-Philip Poulin, and Tara Watchorn, all serving Team Canada in the Four Nations Cup- wasn’t enough to curb BU for a full 60 minutes. Neither was the added challenge of protecting an unripe goaltender in Alissa Fromkin, curiously getting the start in lieu of the hot-handed Kerrin Sperry.

Not even a five-minute bodychecking major issued to rookie blueliner Kaleigh Fratkin with 5:34 to go in a deadlocked second period could biff the Dogs into a suffocating, broken Whack-a-Mole hole. That was probably because the Friars never applied the mallet.

PC would squander four minutes of its all-you-can-score buffet on two penalties to Alyse Ruff and one to Rebecca Morse, and by the time Fratkin’s sentence was through with 34 ticks till intermission, Boston was savoring a 3-1 lead.

With five seconds to go, blueliner Kathryn Miller made it 4-1. By day’s end, the Friars had spent a cumulative 3:24 of clock time on the power play (three chances) when they could have spent as much as 7:27.

“I didn’t have a problem with any of the penalties that (the referees) called or the way they called them,” Deraney insisted. “Probably the worst thing that happened to us was getting that five-minute major penalty called against BU, because it looked that we kind of let down a little bit.

“That’s the one thing that we need to do a better job of: trying not to let down our guard. We trap ourselves that way. It’s that 10 minutes again that we talked about earlier in the year. There’s a 10-minute span where we just kind of get a little lost or a little loose, and all of their goals were scored in 11 minutes. It’s that 11 minutes where we’re learning to play a full 60 and until we do that, we’re still trying to find the team we’re capable of becoming.”

The prototype Deraney desires, or something close to it, was visible enough in the first period, wherein the Friars ran up a 14-4 edge on the shot clock and etched an early lead at the 5:30 mark.

Goaltender Genevieve Lacasse (season-high 41 saves) safely vacated her crease to play rolling BU dump-in and lobbed a feed up along the wall to Ashley Cottrell in front of the PC bench. Cottrell strode into the Terrier territory and roofed her third goal –and the Scarborough Save-ior’s third assist- of the season.

Cottrell’s strike, in effect, snapped an early rut of end-to-end air hockey-paced action in favor of a Friar-issued flurry. In response, Fromkin (27 saves) brought forth a strategy more conservative than the Tea Party. Within the last 10 minutes of the opening frame, four out of eight whistles were summoned when the BU stopper either lassoed in a shot or elected to smother a loose rebound or dump-in.

Accordingly, she kept her worthily poised mates in the game, and they put a 180-degree spin on everything in the middle stanza, discharging 26 shots at Lacasse, four behind Lacasse.

With 8:03 gone, not long after another brief segment of fleeting back-and-forth play, captain Holly Lorms snuck undetected into the deep and absorbed a feed from Meghan Riggs to slip home the equalizer.

And then, 40 seconds into the Friars’ major power play –as it happened, their last 5-on-4 chance of the day- Ruff was flagged for tripping. She was released as soon as Louise Warren shoveled a backhander into the top right corner of the net with 3:19 left in the period and still 2:45 left in the Fratkin penalty.

Morse drew a citation for holding 39 seconds thereafter and was joined right off the next draw by Ruff, booked for interference. Now with a 4-on-3 advantage available for as long as 1:57, the Terriers only needed 33 seconds to set up world class point patroller Catherine Ward, who magnetically absorbed the remnants of Lacasse’s stick save and slugged home her first NCAA goal.

Miller, credited with the lone helper on each of the previous two goals, collected her own on Jenelle Kohanchuk’s upward feed, which she drilled low from the right point into the opposite post to complete the eruption.

“They picked up the tempo of the game,” Deraney said of the decisive middle frame. “They started stretching, they started skating, things that we’re accustomed and that we usually handle well. But for some reason today, I don’t think we handled their adjustment as well as we could have.”

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com