Ice Hockey, Sports

Special teams the difference in two BU wins

The power play is all about capitalizing on the advantage from an opponent’s mistake. This weekend in its two close wins over the University of Connecticut and Providence College, the Boston University women’s hockey team used its opponents’ mistakes to score at crucial moments of the games.

Against UConn (2-11-2, 2-5 Hockey East), the Terriers (9-4-1, 4-1-0 Hockey East) ran into a solid goalkeeper in senior Alexandra Garcia, who made 41 saves through the first two periods alone and maintained her shutout entering the third period.

However, with the Huskies leading 1-0 just over four minutes into the third, UConn defenseman Sami Evelyn was given a five minute major penalty for checking from behind, as well as a game misconduct that kicked her out of the contest. The Terriers capitalized twice on that advantage while surrendering a short-handed goal to make the score 2-2 midway through the period.

“We got a chance to score a couple of goals. It was starting to look like one of those games where it might end up 1-0 and their goalie would have 50 or 52 or 54 saves,” said BU head coach Durocher. “We have seen five minute opportunities go south, but we made the most of it.”

The first goal for BU came with just over three minutes remaining on the power play, when senior defenseman Tara Watchorn netted her first goal of the year when she turned and rifled a puck past Garcia.

While UConn retook the lead on that same power play, junior center Isabel Menard scored off assists from Watchorn and freshman forward Kayla Tutino to tie the game again before the advantage was over.

“We have a habit of sometimes trying to try to do something special or something fancy,” Durocher said. “This week it was a little bit more meat and potatoes with people going to the net and pucks going to the net.”

Then, when sophomore defenseman Kaleigh Fratkin was sent off the ice for checking, BU was forced to prevent UConn from taking its own opportunity to take the lead.

Instead of conservatively defending their opponent’s power play, the Terriers attacked it and scored their own short-handed goal. The goal was set up thanks to a strong rush to the net by senior captain Jenn Wakefield, whose rebound was snapped into the net by Tutino.

Tutino was again the beneficiary of special teams play in Sunday’s win over Providence (6-7-3, 5-3-1 Hockey East), when she scored a power-play goal late in the third period to give her team the 3-2 win.

Watchorn and Menard were once again involved with the play, as each of them earned an assist on the tally.

Providence added a short-handed goal earlier in the period to tie the game at two apiece, but the Terriers’ power-play goal helped the squad emerge on top in the end.

While the power play did its job of scoring goals over the weekend, it needs to do a better job of preventing short-handed goals if it is to be considered an elite power play.

Nonetheless, BU’s power play is the top-ranked unit in the conference with a 22.7 percent power-play percenatage. The next closest team is Northeastern University with 20 percent.

UConn is the only team with a better penalty-kill percentage than BU in the Hockey East, with 93.9 percent over BU’s 92.9 percent. However, BU has done more offensively with their penalty kill, as it has scored as many short-handed goals as it has allowed power-play goals.

While the Terriers’ dominance with special teams has the potential to influence the entire season in a positive manner, Durocher is just happy to have a strong effort from them over the weekend though.

“We had good composure and did things that are going to lead to good opportunities,” Durocher said. “It was a nice job by the power play.”

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