BOSTON — Senior Samantha Sutherland had to play the last few games of last season on a broken foot. Sutherland got her skating legs back today, powering the Terrier offense with her first collegiate hat-trick on the way to a 5-2 victory.
Boston University (1-0-0, 1-0-0 Hockey East) downed the Providence Friars (0-1-0, 0-1-0 Hockey East) to open the 2016-17 regular season with a win. BU is now unbeaten (5-0-1) in their last six season debuts, and have won the last ten contests against Providence.
“It doesn’t always have to be the prettiest win, it was one of those games that was broken up with penalties,” BU head coach Brian Durocher said. “They’re trying to emphasize certain things, the officials are, and I think they did a real good job under the jurisdiction they’ve been put under.”
The two teams combined for 21 minor penalties, 14 were a type of stick infraction (hooking, tripping, slashing). NCAA officials were given new guidelines at the open of the season to enforce those penalties with more vigor than the last few years in an effort to increase scoring.
“2004, they kinda took the game back at all levels, the NHL included,” Durocher said. “Now, they’re trying to dial it back a little further,” he added.
After graduate student Mary Parker netted the first goal of the year by finishing off a passing play with Victoria Bach, Sutherland ripped home her first of the year and 20th of her career.
A face-off won by Providence was taken away by Sammy Davis, who passed it away from danger and onto Abby Cook. Once the defense cleared from Davis, Cook reconnected. Davis noticed Sutherland wide-open in the opposite face-off circle, and her one-timer did the rest.
“I have high hopes for this team, we’re a lot deeper this year,” Sutherland.
Providence would get on the scoreboard early in the seCassidy Carels, a Friar co-captain, forced a turnover in the opening five minutes of the second and went off to the races with Emily Landry. Carels opted to keep the puck and shoot it herself, finding the top-shelf over Victoria Hanson.
Some confusion opened up the third when Whitney Dove closed her hand on the puck to stop play. Initially, the call was for a penalty shot to be taken. Then, the play went to review, where the officials determined that Dove covered the puck outside of the crease, only resulting in a minor penalty. Kate Freisen joined her in the box, granting the Terriers a five-on-three.
The Dove minor expired, but Sutherland capitalized on her chance to restore the two-goal lead. Sarah Steele kept a fluttering puck in along the blue line and shoveled it away to Davis. She went cross-ice to Nina Rodgers, who put it on a platter for Sutherland to finish off.
“I think we just capitalized more than they did,” Sutherland. “It was a close game, I would much rather have that than a blowout.”
Carels, after a collision at the blue line knocked two Terriers out of the play, again choose to shoot high on a mutli-player break-out, and again she scored to bring Providence back within one.
Blair Parent was whistled for a late hooking penalty, which would have lasted the duration of regulation were it not cut off by Maddie Elia’s goal. Bach rounded the net and found her waiting for the slapshot.
With under a minute to play, Madison Myers was signaled to the bench for the extra attacker. Within seconds, their chances at another goal were dashed, as Sutherland wound up the left wing and deposited her first career hat-trick into the yawning cage.
“Hat-tricks don’t come very often, and to get one, I think it’s a great reward when you can pick up the last one on the open net,” Durocher said.
“I think my linemate was more excited than I was,” Sutherland said. “Didn’t really realize what was happening, but it feels pretty good.”
The Terriers dressed seven defenders and twelve forwards. Durocher said it is not the ideal situation, but it is what they will go with for the time being.
“We’ve talked to them and said ‘Lookit’, we want to have you out there, but there’s gonna be times when people will have a void in their playing time,'” Durocher said. “They have to determine what the’r role is gonna be.”
Hanson finished the afternoon with 34 saves, including 15 in the third period. The defense around her cleared out goalie screens and kept most shots to beyond the face-off circles the entire game.
“I thought she controlled the puck well,” Durocher said. “The challenge is on for her and for Erin [O’Neil], they compete, they do a good job, and if one of them wants that job, then wrestle it away from the other.”
The Terriers are out of action for a week before they welcome the University of New Hampshire to Walter Brown Arena for a Friday night contest. It will be Alexis Crossley’s 100th collegiate game, coming against her former team. Six more Hockey East teams will open their regular season in the intermission between games for BU.