For 64 minutes and 36.3 seconds last Friday, the Boston University women’s ice hockey team seemed to be in a pretty familiar position. The Terriers jumped to a lead, a three-goal lead in this instance, against Robert Morris University, only to squander that advantage in the third period before a tie score sent the game into overtime.
This very script had already been played out twice the previous weekend as BU blew a 1-0 lead to Ohio State University Friday night followed by a 4-2 blown lead the next day in games that ended in 1-1 and 4-4 ties, respectively. Given that, giving up three goals and tying only seemed like the next logical step in the sequence.’
However, with one flick of the wrist, BU junior forward Lauren Cherewyk changed all that as her goal with 23.7 seconds left in overtime lifted the Terriers to their first win of the young season, bucking what came close to being a three-game trend of losing a lead only to tie.
Only the future will tell whether or not that single goal starts a new trend for the Terriers, like their first winning streak of the season. However, questions still linger about BU’s ability to defend a lead down the stretch.
In their three games so far on the season, BU has outscored its opponents by the outstanding margin of 8-2. However, once the third period kicks off, the tables turn to the tune of 6-0 in favor of the other guys.
One direct reason could be the lack of a solid penalty kill by the Terriers in that third frame. Five of the six goals scored by BU opponents have come on the power play, including the Colonials’ first two goals Friday.
‘I think sometimes we’ve taken a couple of penalties in the third period that were not good decisions,’ BU coach Brian Durocher said. ‘I’d put that down as one of the number one concerns.’
Durocher also pointed to the relative inexperience of the Terriers as another potential reason for the letdowns. After graduating nine seniors last year, BU had several holes to fill coming into the season. The eight freshmen forced to fill those gaping holes skated in their first collegiate game just a week ago, so it may take some time for them to get comfortable to the college game. In the meantime, teams like the Colonials and Buckeyes will continue to take advantage.
When it all boils it down to it though, there may not be one particular reason for the all-too-frequent third-period comebacks by opponents.
‘I don’t think there’s one particular thing there so I think on all fronts we have to do the little things that stop teams from getting on a little bit of a roll,’ Durocher said. ‘You hope you don’t need to need to get a three-, four- or five-goal lead but rather take care of business with the lead we have.’
Now, how does one take care of business with the lead in hand (bonus points for sports metaphors)?
‘We’ve got to be able to turn the faucet off when [we lead] late,’ Durocher said. ‘When Robert Morris gets one goal or when Ohio State got it to 4-3, we’ve got to clamp down.”
‘ And now that the Terriers will escape the friendly confines of Walter Brown Arena for five-straight road games over the course of the next three weekends, that lesson may mean more now than ever.
‘Once in a while you can get away with [losing a lead in the third] at home, but if you let that happen on the road, all of a sudden adrenaline and momentum goes to the other team,’ Durocher said. ‘That’s when they’re going to beat you so as we approach more road games, we know we have to tighten down in all areas.’