KINGSTON, Mass. - Staring down the barrel of consecutive losses, No. 7 Northeastern (15-5-1, 9-2-1 WHEA) got rebound goals from Rachel Llanes and Kendall Coyne to down Providence in a 2-1 decision at the Bog in Kingston, Mass.
Llanes leveled things late in the second period, and Coyne's winner put the Huskies on top for good with just under nine minutes to play. Senior Florence Schelling made 26 saves for her 13th win of the season.
A mostly impartial crowd watched a mostly impassive start, but it was Schelling who first came to her team's aid three minutes in, when Beth Hanrahan broke in on her after junior Kelly Wallace was stripped in the neutral zone. Coyne responded with an effort on goal moments later that gave PC goaltender Genevieve Lacasse an early touch on the puck.
Northeastern came within inches of an early lead after nine minutes when senior tri-captain Stephanie Gavronsky pinched in from the right point and had a shot from point blank. Lacasse was up to the task, however, and stoned sophomore Claire Santostefano's rebound effort for good measure as the score remained 0-0.
Play remained less than energetic until Providence snatched the lead out of nowhere at 11:28. Kate Bacon found Jessica Vella above the right faceoff circle, and her slap shot beat Schelling along the ice to put Providence in front early.
Coyne nearly pulled the Huskies back level just seconds later, but Lacasse stopped yet another in a series of unsuccessful close-range efforts for Northeastern. The rebound caromed back to Coyne, who had the goal at her mercy with Lacasse out of position, but a Providence defender swatted her second effort off the goal line.
Friars leading scorer Abby Gauthier gave the Huskies some momentum at 14:47 when she hooked freshman Ann Doherty to the ice. Northeastern could garner little in the way of a solid chance, however, its best coming after Coyne got in behind the defense and launched a tight-angle backhand shot, well saved by Gauthier.
Chances remained scarce through the remainder of the period, but Northeastern gradually began to exert more pressure on proceedings as the opening frame wound down. Rebecca Morse went off for interference at 19:05, giving the Huskies their second power play, but Northeastern would take the man advantage into the locker room still trailing, though enjoying 13-4 advantage in shots.
Providence killed the remainder of the penalty as the second period began, and after reaching full strength Hanrahan had another golden chance denied by Schelling's right pad. The rebound caromed out towards neutral ice where sophomore Katie MacSorley ignited a three-on-one Northeastern rush, but graduate tri-captain Dani Rylan missed the puck cleanly after MacSorley set her up to Lacasse's right.
The Huskies maintained the pressure, however, and drew a third power play within minutes when Jessica Cohen was whistled for holding at 2:48. MacSorley once again played a distributing role, finding Llanes in tight quarters in the slot, but a deft blocker save from Lacasse denied Northeastern once again and left them 0-3 on the power play to that point.
Still, Northeastern pressed on in search of an equalizer. Coyne's ambitious cross-ice pass skittered onto the stick of junior Brittany Esposito, who was in space along the right wing, but Lacasse swallowed up her wrist shot.
The Huskies thought they had finally found their goal at the 11-minute mark. Sophomore Maggie DiMasi had plenty of time to wind up for a slap shot from the left point; Lacasse stopped it but surrendered a healthy rebound, but just as MacSorley was stuffing it in, the net came off its moorings to keep the Friars ahead.
At 9:05 Laura Veharanta became the fourth Providence offender when she went off for bodychecking, but the Providence penalty kill maintained its mastery and denied the Huskies, with Lacasse stopping her 24th shot as the game's midway point passed.
Wallace then became the center of attention at both ends: first she charged forward along the left wing and nearly had Lacasse beaten over her left shoulder, but her glove just caught a piece of the rubber to send it flying over the bar; then, after Schelling made a fantastic stop on Haley Frade's deflection, Wallace cross-checked her to the ice to give the Friars their first power play at 13:05.
Northeastern's fourth-ranked penalty kill held fast, however, with Schelling making numerous saves while screened in front of net, and at long last the Huskies' offensive efforts were rewarded at 15:44. Rylan chipped up ice and found MacSorley in the neutral zone, and the Stratford, Ontario native perfectly played Llanes in behind the PC defense. Lacasse's heroics continued on her first effort, but Llanes stuck in the rebound to put the Huskies on level terms entering the second intermission. The marker was the sixth of the season for the San Jose, California native.
NU might have gone in front as the buzzer neared, but Providence snuffed out a couple of odd-man rushes led by junior tri-captain Casey Pickett.
Northeastern started the final frame on the wrong foot when Gavronsky went off for holding Rebecca Morse at 2:40, but Coyne wiped out the power play in one spurt of energy. After blocking a shot, Coyne recovered the puck, hit Pickett streaking through the neutral zone and darted to the front of the net herself to create a two-on-one chance. Veharanta could only drag Coyne down in the slot, preferring an interference minor to a possible goal at 3:04.
The Huskies' portion of the power play came to nothing, and after sitting on the defensive for much of the game the Friars finally seemed to gain a foothold in the game's run of play, with the shots running mostly even after Northeastern's dominant first period. Providence would make good on its increased possession when Pickett tripped Gauthier at 7:45.
The nation's last-ranked power play could muster next to nothing against the Northeastern kill. The best chance of the penalty actually went to Pickett, who came into a mini-breakaway just after leaving the box, but three successive efforts at Lacassse's doorstep bore no fruit for the Huskies.
But Northeastern would not have to wait long to enjoy its first lead of the day. Esposito walked in along the goal line to Lacasse's right and hit Coyne streaking down the slot. Her first effort was stopped, but again a rebound fell the Huskies' way, and Coyne netted her 17th of the season at 11:11, on a backhand effort that just crept over Lacasse's outstretched left pad. It was Coyne's 30th point of the season, which leads Hockey East for the two-time defending WHEA Player of the Month.
An offensive-zone penalty put the Huskies into a defensive shell at 14:05, when Santostefano took a bodychecking minor after burying a Friar along the PC bench. This time the Northeastern kill was dominant, allowing nary a shot on goal over the two minutes. The Friars would get a solid chance just moments after Santostefano's release, however, but Schelling's mask stopped Frade's slapper from the high slot. The Swiss international then put pad to Bacon's rebound effort to end the threat.
Northeastern seemed content to play safe as the clock wound down, dumping the puck repeatedly until Lacasse was pulled for an extra skater with 84 seconds to play. A late flurry ensued in front of net, with Schelling having to shepherd the puck into the corner amidst repeated scrums, but Providence could not muster a clean shot at the Northeastern goal as time expired.