Boston U, Minnesota to face off for championship
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's been a long road back for Jenelle Kohanchuk.
The senior missed most of last season with concussion symptoms but rebounded to play a vital role in getting Boston University into the Women's Frozen Four Championship by scoring 13 seconds into the game and adding an assist in Friday's 4-1 win over Mercyhurst.
"It's definitely hard to come back after a year off, but I thank my support staff, my coaches and my teammates for allowing me to get back into the game," Kohanchuk said. "I'm humbled, and I feel definitely accomplished to have the success that I've had this season and the success the team has had this season. I'm really happy with that."
She also has to be especially happy with her play during the last seven games: 10 goals and five assists.
"I just think that my linemates, Marie-Philip Poulin and Sarah Lefort, definitely help with that," Kohanchuk said. "They make phenomenal plays and phenomenal passes, and I just think they're making me look good with these goals. We just have people working hard and I take the shots right away, and thankfully they're going in the net."
Coach Brian Durocher said the injury might have been a good thing for Kohanchuk, who had 37 goals and 83 points in her first three seasons at BU.
"She's one of those kids that's on the radar with the Canadian Olympic team," Durocher said. "She got to stay in a university system where she's got great support, great off-ice training and lots of competitive games. She didn't have to find a way to continue to train, but more importantly for us, she gives us a big-time bona fide player."
To get Kohanchuk and the other seniors the ultimate parting gift, the Terriers will need to knock off a Minnesota team that not only is the defending champion but also has won 48 games in a row.
"They have a great team and great goaltending, but we have to come as a team and not put any pressure on ourselves," Poulin said. "We know they are undefeated, but we need to work hard as an underdog and try to match them shift for shift."
For the Gophers, perfection will be on the line thanks to gritty third-line center Sarah Davis, who scored 1:39 into overtime Friday night to give Minnesota a 3-2 win over Boston College.
Minnesota seeks to become the first Division I women's team to finish a season unbeaten. The last men's team to accomplish the feat was Cornell, which went 29-0 in 1970.
Amanda Kessel, the NCAA's leading scorer with 44 goals and 53 assists, would have been a better bet to score the game winner in the Gophers' home rink Friday. Megan Bozek wouldn't be a bad guess either as the nation's second-leading scoring defenseman with 20 goals and 35 assists.
Instead it was Davis who scored the goal to extend their season -- a player who does a little bit of everything and is the kind of lunch-pail player that every team needs.
"She's best on faceoffs, blocks a ton of shots, is a great penalty killer and plays the half-wall on the power-play," said coach Brad Frost. "Everything you want in a hockey player is Sarah Davis."
When she gets the opportunity, Frost knows Davis can bury the puck.
"She just has tremendous patience and real, real silky hands," Frost added. "She's been a little snakebit this year. I think that goal tonight lifted a real big weight off her."
It is obvious that Frost has plenty of confidence in the line of Davis, Bethany Brausen and Meghan Lorence. How else to explain the coach's decision to put his third out on the ice with the season on the line in overtime.
"From day one, we've been talking about how the depth of our team is probably our biggest strength," Frost said. "I've got all the confidence in the world in all our lines, so I knew there was a chance they could score just like any other line."
Boston University goaltender Kerrin Sperry, who made 26 saves Friday, said the Terriers can match up with Minnesota's depth.
"Being a goalie, I see a lot of shots in practice, and I believe that anyone on our team on any given day could take it down and put it in the net," Sperry said. "We have some girls on the team who might not play as much, and they're playing their supporting roles. I think depth cannot always be described through the amount of points you score or the number of shutouts you have."