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Monday, January 10, 2011

Boston University 4, Women's Hockey 3

Full bench, empty pockets
Riley, PC women toil, but whiff again

Report based on Gametracker

BOSTON- For the first time in all of their 24 ventures, McGill exhibition series and all, the Friars doled out ice time to a maximum limit of 18 skaters yesterday. As fate would have it, they did so against a pack of Boston University Terriers who are inclined and perfectly equipped to chase after any 18-wheeler. Either that or maybe they are a bunch of race hounds who can dare a machine of any caliber to catch up with them.

Come what may, the host Terriers did chase PC goaltender Christina England to the bench after she answered all but two of 14 first period shots and found her mates facing a 2-1 deficit.

Freshman netminder Nina Riley validated her spontaneous insertion long enough, turning away 26 of the first 27 shots she faced, including 17 in the third period alone, while her skating mates repeatedly deleted one-goal deficits.

But the fourth time was a charm for the tireless Terriers, who escaped with a 4-3 victory at Walter Brown Arena on the strength of captain Holly Lorms’ second strike of the game with 55 seconds to spare in regulation.

For the second time in as many intercollegiate twirls, Riley was virtually abandoned in the final frame, kicked up a valiant struggle, but ultimately took an L-shaped albatross decided by one measly goal. BU owned the third period shooting gallery, 18-3, and pulled off a critical penalty kill moments before Lorms inserted her decider.

At the 14:25 mark, junior sizzler and longtime Friar-killer Jenn Wakefield was caged for bodychecking. The PC power play brigade mustered three shot attempts, only one on net, before a turnover allowed the Terriers to take three shorthanded hacks at Riley.

Riley withstood four more unanswered bids until Lorms raked in the winner from the deep slot. Thirty seconds thereafter, as she had done last Monday in Maine, Riley took a seat and watched a six-pack attack’s vain struggle to salvage at least one point, which the overall effort certainly warranted this time.

During England’s abbreviated shift, wherein she faced one more shot than she did in a full 60-minute tangle with Maine (13) last Sunday, the discipline detonated for both parties. But England and her four praetorian guards deterred the Terriers’ superior power play well enough, squelching an aggregate six SOG over four separate opportunities.

Furthermore, BU would not receive another numerical advantage at any point in the second or third period. The Terriers thus went scoreless on the power play for the first time in seven games.

But in the opening frame, clearing the zone in the aftermath of the penalty kill was another issue for Providence. At 12:47, within 28 seconds of Amber Yung’s release from a two-minute bodychecking sentence, the Friars were caught with too many skaters on the ice.

Emily Groth took the fall to the bin, and then came back into the equation after England repelled three power play shots. But the Terriers continued to churn long enough that, 14 seconds after things returned to 5-on-5, Wakefield converted a feed from Louise Warren at 15:01 for the 1-0 lead.

It was only the presage to a wintry mix of citations and scoring plays that closed out the final four minutes before intermission. During that span, two Terriers and two Friars were whistled, Jean O’Neill knotted things up on a power play strike with 16:11 gone, and Kathryn Miller restored the BU lead to 2-1 with a 4-on-4 conversion at 17:32.

The tempestuous air tapered off along with all the snow the Zamboni had swallowed for the middle frame. And with Riley on duty in the crease, the Friars kept BU within vaulting distance throughout a penalty-free period. Riley stopped each of the first six shots she faced in the first 10 minutes, after which the Friars went on a 9-1 sugar rush in the shooting gallery.

At 12:46, O’Neill drew a 2-2 knot, and though Lorms finally solved Riley with 1:22 left in the period, Ashley Cottrell instantaneously retorted in a matter of 49 seconds, nimbly depositing a turnover and forging a 3-3 knot at the break.

After Yung and Kate Bacon took successive stabs at Terrier goaltender Kerrin Sperry (21 saves) in the sixth minute of the third, Boston took 22 of the game’s final 27 shot attempts and all but one of the last 17 on net. But PC just wouldn’t break, until the last minute anyway.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com