Just three games after making a shakeup on the first line of the Boston University women’s hockey team, BU coach Brian Durocher has seen major results. The trio, consisting of senior center Louise Warren, sophomore left wing Sarah Lefort and freshman right wing Samantha Sutherland, tallied a combined 24 points in three games this past week against Northeastern University and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
“We decided to put those kids together because they’re very talented group,” Durocher said. “They’ve got a freshman who’s played well with them. The other two lines are certainly able to place at a high level in this conference but we feel like that maybe we had to stack the deck a little bit more, putting Louise and Sarah together than maybe we were in the past.”
A knee injury to junior center Kayla Tutino, who is likely out for the rest of the season, necessitated a restructuring of the first line. Durocher moved up Warren, the captain of the Terriers (14-3-1, 8-0-0 Hockey East), up from the second line, where she was playing left wing, to the first line, where she now mans the center position.
“Obviously with Kayla and Sarah together, you had a real dynamite group and Louise was a catalyst on the second group,” Durocher said. “Right now, we’ve got to change our focus a little.”
The new line debuted during the Tuesday 5-2 victory at Northeastern and immediately sparked production. Lefort tallied a hat trick and an assist, Warren scored two and assisted on two and Sutherland had one assist.
“The line changes gave us a new jump, a new look,” Lefort said. “Louise Warren and Sam Sutherland help a lot. We just find each other easier on the ice and it’s just flowing well.”
Lefort in particular has seen in a major increase in her offensive output. In the three games since the line change, the Ormstown, Quebec, native has hit the back of the twine on seven occasions and assisted on four other goals. It is also the first time in Lefort’s career that she posted at least three points in three straight games.
“[Lefort] is a goal scorer, but she’s got a real fire about her,” said BU assistant coach Katie Lachapelle. “You can see yesterday, one shift in particular where she just took over and it just keeps building from there. She’s got a lot of heart, she’s a hockey player. She loves hockey and you can see it on the bench. She’s talkative and she’s just got a lot of passion. She doesn’t like to lose, so that helps too.”
Sutherland, who leads the team with 11 assists, said playing with Warren and Lefort helped improve her own game on the offensive end.
“It was pretty hard at the beginning, but I’m playing with two amazing players,” Sutherland said. “They’re unreal, as you can see on the ice. They just make me better so hopefully I can stick with them.”
Despite the line only playing together for three games, Lefort said she believes that chemistry is the key to success for a line.
“Chemistry is pretty much everything hockey is about,” Lefort said. “The more chemistry you have, the easier it is on the ice to play and flow the puck and pass and shoot towards the net. These line changes have definitely given us a new jump, as you can see in our past couple of games, so we’re just going to build off of that.”
Since the changes in the lineup, Warren has compiled nine points in three games, including two goals in the series finale against Duluth (7-8-3). Warren also said that the cohesion on the line has helped her offensive numbers as well as those of her linemates.
“We just click,” Warren said. “Some lines just have chemistry and I think that’s been us. We’ve had a few lucky breaks and we’re feeding off each other, making some plays and it’s just been working.”