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Power play key to women’s hockey’s successful streak

The power play has not only been a strength of the No. 5 Boston University women’s hockey team, but also a key to its success throughout its six-game winning streak.

In its six games since the new year, BU (17–3–3, 12–2–1 Hockey East) scored on 10 of its 27 power plays, posting an impressive 37.0 power-play percentage. It also took 53 shots on goal during those power plays for an average of 1.96 shots per man-advantage.

“We’ve been doing a better job of having a net-front presence and also keeping it simple,” said BU coach Brian Durocher. “When you have the net-front presence and you’re just getting pucks to the net it creates opportunities, screens and chances.”

The Terriers’ play with the man-advantage was most opportunistic in their last two games. Friday afternoon, they took on the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt., where they were given three opportunities on the power play.

The first came at 13:10 of the first period when sophomore Greer Vogl was sent to the penalty box for hooking. Freshman forward Jordan Juron put the puck in the net for a power-play goal to put BU ahead 1–0 just 1:55 later.

With the Terriers leading 4–2 in the final frame and looking to extend their lead while on another man-advantage, Juron struck again, scoring her second power-play goal of the game. The goal cemented BU’s 5–2 victory and the performance earned Juron Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors.

Durocher said Juron deserved praise for making the most out of her ice time.

“Fortunately for [Juron] she was right there on the back door twice,” Durocher said. “[She] got a rebound on the first one and a loose puck, or maybe a pass from [senior forward] Isabel Menard on the second, and she took advantage of her opportunity.”

Sunday afternoon, BU hosted the University of New Hampshire at Walter Brown Arena. In a tightly contested game, BU’s play with the 5-on-4 advantage proved to be the contest’s deciding factor.

With the game tied at one 16:45 into the first period, defenseman Kailey Chappell was called for a tripping penalty. Junior defenseman Shannon Doyle broke the tie with a wrist shot from the point that beat goaltender Jenn Gilligan glove side, 38 seconds later. It was Doyle’s second such goal in four games.

In the middle of the second period, with the teams knotted up at two goals apiece, defenseman Caroline Broderick was sent to the box for tripping, sending BU’s power play onto the ice for the fourth time in the game.

Seconds later, junior forward Louise Warren and senior forward Isabel Menard showed off their chemistry. On a nifty passing play, Warren was closing in on Gilligan’s left side when she found Menard on the other side of the net and sent the puck over. Menard was able to retrieve the puck and put it past Gilligan. The power-play goal stood as the game-winning goal in BU’s 3–2 triumph.

One doesn’t have to look very far back to find the last time this same duo combined for a power-play goal, as Menard assisted on such a goal from Warren in a game against the University of Connecticut on Jan. 8.

The connection between Menard and Warren — which is in large part responsible for their power-play success — comes from the longevity of their playing time together.

“[Menard and I have] been linemates for two years now, so we’re just getting better with each other,” Warren said. “Our vision and our other linemate, [sophomore forward Kayla] Tutino, is really helping too.”

Menard referenced not just longevity, but also practice as a factor in the duo’s success.

“[Warren and I have] been practicing pretty well, and I’ve been playing with her for two years, so I got to know her and its been going well so far,” Menard said.

The Terriers also recently received an impressive performance on the man-advantage from freshman forward Sarah Lefort. In a close game against Northeastern University on Jan. 16, Lefort scored two power-play goals that helped propel BU to its 5–4 victory.

With different players stepping up and contributing to the Terriers’ power play every game, Durocher said the team must commit fewer penalties than its opponents in order to maximize scoring opportunities.

“I think the power play has been really solid,” Durocher said. “I’d still like to find a way, in games where we’re controlling the shots on goal and the opportunities, that we don’t end up with the same number of penalties … [as] our opponent.

“As the competition begins to escalate, and the games become more important, it gets magnified.”

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