March 14, 2011

Wired: Chestnut Hill Follows Dougherty's Lead

by Jac Coyne | | Twitter

Sophomore Dakota Maurer was instrumental in Chestnut Hill's overtime victory against former No. 2 Mercyhurst by making 13 saves. But what would you expect from a Brian Dougherty-coached team?
© Jim Roese

"I don't go into any game thinking I'm going to lose," said Brian Dougherty. "That's just not the way I'm wired."

Chestnut Hill's first-year head coach didn't become one of the best goalies in the history of the sport by accepting defeat easily, even if the deck was stacked. It was stacked about as high as it gets on Sunday afternoon when Doughtery's second-year program took the field against then-No. 2 Mercyhurst.

Some teams might try to keep it close and not get blown off the field. But again, Dougherty doesn't condone the notion that his team will finish second.

"I'm trying to relay that to our guys, and they've done a good job of not being scared of the big guys," said Dougherty. "I just told them to believe in what we're doing here. Then as we kept hanging in there [against Mercyhurst], that started to sound better and better."

When the game started, it appeared the standard script would be followed. Mercyhurst out-shot the Griffins 12-2 in the opening frame and took a 3-0 lead. With a couple of clutch saves from Dakota Maurer, however, Chestnut Hill managed to keep the damage to a minimum.

"They definitely came out and punched us in the mouth early on, but we did a good job of making sure it was 3-0 and not 6-0 in the first quarter," said Dougherty. "We just kind of gained our composure and for three quarters it was even."

Trailing 5-2 midway through the third, Chestnut Hill finally punched back, scoring five of the next six goals to hold a 7-6 lead with 1:22 remaining. The Lakers managed to send the game into overtime with a marker 12 seconds from the final whistle, but Mike Landau netted the game-winner for the Griffins halfway through the overtime stanza.

Mike Winkelspecht was critical in Chestnut Hill's run, finishing with game highs in goals (3) and points (4). But it was Maurer in net who was the difference -- who else would you expect from a Doughtery-coached squad? The sophomore finished with 13 saves, including a crucial stop in extra time.

"He has been unbelievable for us," said Dougherty. "He's at 66 percent and something like 18 or 19 saves a game. Throughout the year we've kind of rode him because we've had problems giving the ball back to the other team. Whether it's turning it over in our own end or not clearing it, so he has been called upon to make a lot of saves."

The win not only gives Chestnut Hill its first program win against a ranked opponent, it was also the first ECC triumph for the school. The Griffins have a game on Wednesday, but as someone who enjoyed celebrating all of his many victories, Dougherty is going to let his kids bask in the glow of this most improbable triumph.

That's just the way he's wired.

"I'm definitely going to let them run with it," he said. "This is good. I think there are too many coaches out there who try to control everything and they are so focused on the next game. This is fun. This is why you do it. We're going to enjoy this."

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