Ice Hockey, Sports

BU strikes gold with newfound K-Line

Kearns. Kirchner. Kohanchuk.

Slowly, quietly, these three names have worked their way to the top of statistical columns at the same time the No. 4 Boston University women’s hockey team has climbed the national rankings.

Their role is simple. Lately, it’s been the women’s hockey equivalent to a matchup between Roger Clemens and Cecil Fielder. The K-Line enters the rink, and opposing defenses strike out.

‘Overall, I love playing with them because we’re very comfortable with each other,’ freshman forward Jenelle Kohanchuk said of her linemates, senior co-captain Gina Kearns and sophomore Jillian Kirchner. ‘We communicate and we just know each other very well on the ice. We know where each other is all the time.’

With an authoritative 4-1 victory over No. 8 Boston College Saturday at Conte Forum, BU’s K-Line was in top form, preventing a change in the Terriers’ loss column for the 10th straight game.

A deep bench has made the Terriers the team to fear in Hockey East. BU coach Brian Durocher heralded his lineup’s depth early in the season, and the performance of the Terrier reserves thus far has made their coach’s words sound prophetic.’ ‘

‘It’s nice to know you’re not looking down the road at one player or two players,’ Durocher said, ‘but anywhere from 10-to-18 hockey players, 19 hockey players getting it done out there for us. That’s when you start to look and think you’ve got a pretty good hockey team here.”

Kearns, Kirchner and Kohanchuk play instrumental roles off the bench for the Terriers, usually the line combination that relieves senior Erin Seman, junior Melissa Anderson and sophomore Lauren Cherewyk. The fast-paced game of hockey makes line changes frequent, and the role of the second line is no less crucial than that of the starters.

Just how vital has the combination of Kearns, Kirchner and Kohanchuk been?

Back on Oct. 11, when the Terriers faced then-No. 5 Mercyhurst College, Kirchner scored BU’s first goal, assisted by Kohanchuk and Kearns. The goal cut the Mercyhurst lead to 2-1, and sparked a Terrier comeback. When the clock ran out, BU was on top, 3-2. They had never beaten an opponent ranked so high in the national polls.

Since that game, the Terriers have not lost. Saturday in Chestnut Hill, Kearns, Kirchner and Kohanchuk each had a goal in the victory, while Kohanchuk added two assists. When all was said and done, at least one member of the K-Line had been involved in each of the four Terrier scoring plays. The triumph over the Eagles solidified BU’s then-No. 5 national ranking – the same position Mercyhurst held when the Terriers began their improbable run a month and a half ago.’

The symmetry is impeccable.’ ‘

The puck seems to find the back of the opponents’ net when the K-Line enters a game. In the plus/minus category, the three combined for a mark of plus-21 on the season after Saturday’s game.

Overall, Kohanchuk, Kearns and Kirchner have racked up 14, 13 and 11 points, respectively – good for second, third and fourth-most on the team. Between the three, they have notched seven goals and six assists on BU power plays, which have been invaluable to the Terriers’ success.

‘We’ve been playing well together,’ Kearns said. ‘Jenelle and Jill, they’re very skilled players. It’s just working, it’s clicking and we’re going to keep going with it.’

If the K-Line continues to perform, BU’s odds of achieving Hockey East success are about as high as Fielder whiffing at a Clemens fastball.

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