Kendall Coyne netted twice, Florence Schelling made 32 saves, and No. 10 Northeastern women's hockey (11-4-0, 6-2-0 WHEA) snapped a three-game losing skid in an emphatic 2-0 victory over No. 7 Boston University (9-5-1, 4-2-0 WHEA) at Matthews Arena.
Coyne's tallies were her ninth and tenth of the year and tied her with junior tri-captain Casey Pickett for the team lead in goals. Schelling's shutout was her fifth of the season, which leads the nation, and the 15th of her career.
It was a defensive struggle in the neutral zone for much of the opening ten minutes before junior Pickett ignited the Huskies' attack. Taking control at her own blue line, the Huskies' leading scorer darted into through the neutral zone and found Coyne, who gained space from her defender and sniped the top left corner of BU sophomore Kerrin Sperry to give the Huskies the early lead right on 11:00. The marker was Coyne's third in just over 25 minutes of play; on Saturday at Dartmouth, she scored twice in third period to bring the Huskies out of a 3-1 hole and send the game to overtime.
BU enjoyed an offensive spell late in the opening frame after an errant knee from Claire Santostefano sent Louise Warren sprawling and the NU sophomore to the box with a tripping minor at 15:11. Terriers freshman Kayla Tutino nearly took advantage on two occasions, tipping a shot wide before blasting a wrister that went inches wide. Senior Florence Schelling held fast, however, and the nation's second-ranked penalty kill unit escaped unscathed.
It was Northeastern that took the most offense out of the BU power play; as the two minutes expired, graduate tri-captain Dani Rylan played Santostefano in on net just as she was was exiting the box. Sperry was up to the task, however, sticking aside Santostefano's snap shot after a deke to the forehand side.
The Terriers soon found themselves back on the power play when Rylan went off for tripping with 1:26 to play in the first period. BU would take the power play into the intermission, and a robust forecheck from Coyne and Pickett staved off the remainder of the man-advantage.
Nevertheless BU controlled much of the run of play in the early stages of the middle frame. Three minutes in, Jenn Wakefield dangled in deep and found Tutino unmarked in front of net, but again the BU freshman sent her shot wide of net. Coyne would respond mere seconds later, however, gaining space along the left flank before firing into the pads of Sperry.
Jill Cardella took a hooking penalty at 9:03, and the opportunities came quickly on both sides. The first went to the shorthanded side when BU's Kasey Boucher launched a pass up ice to a streaking Wakefield, but senior tri-captain Stephanie Gavronsky made it back just in time to dispossess the BU captain and prevent a breakaway chance. Seconds later, Pickett had a rebound chance at an open net but could only hit the side netting from a tight angle. Sperry then stoned Esposito from point blank to keep the score at 1-0.
The Huskies kept the pressure on, but still Sperry did well to keep them from doubling their advantage. First Coyne negated a possible icing and fired one in front, but Pickett could only barely put a stick to it and the chance went begging. Not long after it was sophomore Katie MacSorley down the left wing to set up junior Siena Falino streaking to the back post, but again Sperry held fast and denied Rylan's rebound effort for good measure.
The Terriers had registered just two shots on goal at 9:48 when Northeastern drew a Kaleigh Fratkin tripping call to further intensify the pressure, but BU's penalty kill justified its top-ten reputation with a kill devoid of quality NU chances.
Play remained predominantly in the Terriers' end until the 14-minute mark, when Cristina Wiley stripped freshman Ann Doherty of possession in the neutral zone and broke in two on one. Wiley hit an open Taylor Holze at Schelling's right hash, but the Swiss international put pad to Holze's wristed rocket to maintain the Northeastern advantage. With a minute to go, Schelling made an instinctive save with the left pad when junior Isabel Menard redirected a Wakefield effort from the left side.
A Northeastern two on one resulted in a power play after Tara Watchorn slashed Coyne 30 seconds before intermission. It was something of an exclamation point in which the Huskies did everything but score, dominating the shots battle, 16-8, and 23-15 for the game.
The power play ended with little fuss, and the Terriers had the first bona fide chance of the third period. Cardella blitzed into the Northeastern zone along the left wing and wired a left-handed saucer pass into the slot; Holze was there to meet it just as it hit the ice, but Schelling had the angle played perfectly to deny Boston University yet again.
Play continued through final frame's opening ten minutes with little in the way of chances until Schelling surrendered a long rebound off a Kathryn Miller wrist shot. Menard was quick to the puck and launched an immediate effort on goal, but Schelling fought through a screen in front of net to make a fantastic blocker save. Pickett broke out two on one right on the back of BU's chance, but a diving effort from Miller broke up the opportunity.
Northeastern at long last made good on their dominance in open play through Coyne. Sophomore Maggie Brennolt sent a seeing-pass through a myriad of teammates and defenders that caught the stick of the Palos Heights, Ill. native, who had sneaked in behind the defense. Left alone with Sperry, Coyne deked to her backhand side and roofed her tenth of the year, tying Pickett for the team lead.
Coyne nearly had a third when Carly Warren pulled her down on a mini-breakaway to give the Huskies their fourth power play. The Terriers' penalty kill kept them in the game, however, with Sperry up to the challenge of a point-blank effort from Pickett after MacSorley had found her from behind the net.
Sperry had made 33 saves with 2:29 to play when coach Brian Durocher pulled her in favor of an extra attacker. Schelling's shutout did not come easy in the final minutes, but she denied pacey efforts from Wakefield, Menard and Watchorn as time expired to keep BU off the scoresheet and notch her tenth victory of the year.
It was the latest in a season full of dominant performances from Schelling, who stopped 32 shots on the evening and a season-high 17 in the third period. The reigning Hockey East Goaltender of the Month righted the ship after a giving up 10 goals over her last three games, and now boasts a 1.65 goals against average.
With the win, the Huskies move to 6-2-0 in Hockey East play and take back first place from Boston College, to whom they'd lost twice in a home and home Nov. 17-18. The Huskies will have Thursday and Friday to prepare for their next weekend home and home series; they will be at New Hampshire on Saturday before hosting the Wildcats on Sunday. Both games are set for a 2 p.m. start.