The way things were going yesterday, the Friars had the very last two things they needed glowering at them within the final three-and-a-half minutes of the third period.
Her team trailing, 3-2, on the strength of a hat trick by Boston College forward Danielle Welch, co-captain Alyse Ruff was flagged for hooking with 3:22 to spare. And less than a minute into her sentence, Ruff watched helplessly as the puck found none other than Welch’s blade on the straightaway point.
Welch unleashed a searing slapper that brushed off the stick of teammate Melissa Bizzari and over the mitt of besieged Providence goaltender Genevieve Lacasse (20 saves) with 2:35 left. It was the Eagles’ second power play conversion on five opportunities, as opposed to one connection the Friars mustered over seven chances.
And, naturally, it was the dagger in a vinegary 4-2 loss at Schneider Arena, amounting to a season-worst three-game skid.
So, as far as head coach Bob Deraney was concerned, never mind the fact that Laura Veharanta splashed her 10-game scoring drought with a pair of goals to briefly pull even at 2-2. Never mind that PC did what only one other team (Quinnipiac on Oct. 22) has done by deleting a multi-goal deficit at the hands of BC.
In the words of Matt Foley, it didn’t amount “to jack squat!”
“It just appears to be we’re standing still,” Deraney said. “This is very disheartening for me because I’m the coach and it’s a direct reflection on me. We are the exact same team right now as we were when we came back from Christmas. What have we been doing in the last month?
“I don’t take any solace at all. We’re supposed to be playing our best hockey now, and we’re not.”
However much of it they dug on their own, the Friars tumbled into an early hole in the opening frame. On the day’s first power play, with PC rookie Rebecca Morse caged for boarding, Welch tipped Ashley Motherwell’s low-riding point shot home to open the scoring with 5:09 gone.
Earning their first 5-on-4 segment 49 seconds later, the Friars proceeded to test visiting stopper Molly Schaus (29 saves) five unanswered times and owned the shooting gallery, 10-4, for the next 12 minutes.
But even with bountiful in-your-face pressure, Schaus wouldn’t yield, and moments after repelling a low straightway bid from Amber Yung, she watched Welch one-time a diagonal feed from Mary Restuccia past Lacasse for a 2-0 cushion with 1:46 till intermission.
“We weren’t playing very well at that point in the game, so you really don’t deserve to get those types of breaks,” Deraney said. “They played with a little bit more purpose than we did and that’s why they ended up jumping to a lead.
“I thought in the second period, we kind of took over and that’s what led to us getting back into the game.”
Over the first 14 minutes of the middle frame, Providence went on a 14-2 SOG romp, six of those bids distributed over three more power plays, including two on a 71-second 5-on-3 advantage.
Red daylight finally broke at the 14:08 mark, when Veharanta strolled with Jen Friedman’s feed into the high slot and slipped it through Schaus’ five-hole, giving the PC power play its first conversion in six tries.
Restuccia was cited for bodychecking merely 33 ticks thereafter, but the Friars’ lone shot attempt, courtesy of Morse, was blocked. That effectively ended another laborious outing for the Eagles’ penalty killing brigade, and their lead was still intact.
“Our PK has been doing great all year long, and to continue that is great for our team and I think our kids really feed off it,” said BC coach Katie King. “It’s tough when you get that many penalties called. It seems to be a trend for our team lately, so we’ve got to really get out of that habit, but our PK has done a great job.”
Likewise, Lacasse and Co. were, if only temporarily, up to the task when the zebras turned their whistles on them. And in between two successful kills, Veharanta nailed her equalizer at 3:35 of the third, traveling up the near wall out of her own zone and roofing a long-range wrister over Schaus’ blocker.
But at 8:14, Welch wreaked another dose of havoc in the slot, taking Kelli Stack’s drop pass and slugging the winner over Lacasse’s trapper.
None other than Veharanta tried to answer without hesitation. Off the very next draw, she swooped down to Schaus’ estate from the far lane, but her sixth and final bid of the day was swallowed by the otherworldly goaltender.
“We’ve got re-learn how to get a lead and keep building on it,” she said. “We’ve been struggling with that, so hopefully we can start doing that again soon.
“We needed that third goal today, but it didn’t come.”
Al Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press