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Monday, October 29, 2007

Hockey Log

Hunt for red light October

PC Women try to end month on rebound with trip to Boston College

The last time the PC women’s hockey team struck the opposing basket, October 19 in a 5-5 draw at Colgate, the Red Sox were priming themselves to eventually knot up the American League Championship Series at three games apiece.

Considering how archaic that moment now is from a faithful diamond dwellers’ perspective, and the fact that the Friars have since spaced out two losses by a 13-0 aggregate, there are long-throbbing wounds in need of attention on the women’s side of Schneider Arena.

Five nights apart from a 5-0 setback at Connecticut, and another ten from an 8-0 debacle at St. Lawrence, they have their chance for a reversal. Catch is, they have to hurdle over the Boston College Eagles, who as of Monday are #9 in the nation according to US College Hockey Online, inches behind the aforementioned Huskies.

Long before training camp, there was popular conviction that the two clubs converging on Conte Forum Tuesday night would have a substantially new matchup outlook compared to their confrontation in the 2007 Hockey East semi-finals, a 3-2 Providence win. After all, the Eagles happened to nab back-to-back 6-2 triumphs of the Friars two weeks previous and subsequently regrouped from the conference tourney falter to come within an overtime goal of a berth in the NCAA title game, losing to already proven contender Minnesota-Duluth in double-OT.

With the side-by-side transcripts for this season, a lot of forecasters have reason to lean back in their desk chairs and half-break a satisfied “See, what’d I tell you?” grin. Or they might be a tad taken aback themselves.

The lone salient question mark surrounding the Chestnut Hill girls was how they would respond to the abrupt departure of their program resurrecting coach Tom Mutch. So far, save for a 4-1 drawback to almighty New Hampshire (currently 2nd in the national rankings), BC is spotless with four wins and a tie to Princeton as they now accelerate into the depths of their conference slate.

All in all, none of that is much of a surprise. The bench has been left in the caring, crafty hands of Katie King, a Brown University alumna and owner of three Olympic medals. And as rookies last season, this year’s sophomore class proved the chief kindlers of a team not suitable for opposing fans with weak constitutions.

Though defending Hockey East Rookie and Player of the Year Kelli Stack has yet to get back up to speed (two points in her first six games), classmate Allie Thunstrom is already on a point-per-game pace, as is junior defender Maggie Taverna. Meanwhile junior forward Meghan Fardelmann and captain Deborah Spillane each boast five tallies.

Then there’s league-of-her-own cage custodian Molly Schaus, whose aggregate 85 saves, 37 of them beyond regulation, may have been the prevalent benefit towards Boston’s edging of Dartmouth in last year’s national quarter-final and near-miss in Lake Placid. At the rate the sophomore keeper is stoning opposing gunslingers (she notched career shutout #6 at Colgate October 12 and is keeping up with last season’s .931 save percentage), she could aptly repaint her face mask to depict Medusa.

Challenging from a Friars’ perspective? The collective circumstances may, at least, call for a Fantastic Four type of reaction to reports of the forthcoming Silver Surfer; a rather smooth “that’s a challenge” acknowledgment. Providence is still stepping around a messily arranged schedule –which in the short run does not get any less unusual as they will be idle for a week after this before the November 6 home opener against Northeastern.

Part of that effort means trying to immobilize a discipline detonator that has been a partial factor in their 0-2-2 overall start plus shooting out of the slightly time-exaggerated abyss that their line charts have dwelt in of late.

Not to mention, they want something more substantial than two overtime points to curtain the month of October with and ultimately carry into next week’s long-awaited homestand.

Quick Feeds

Lately, the Friars’ three busiest blades in their radar-blinded efforts have been those of Mari Pehkonen, her off-and-on linemate Cherie Hendricksen, and defender Amber Yung. Pehknonen, the team leader with 13 shots on net on the year, lashed four at UConn’s Brittany Wilson, while Hendricksen belted five, making for nearly half of the team total of 19 for that game. Yung spiced up her input with four attempts in the last two outings after only one in the previous two…This will be senior Sarah Feldman’s second-to-last visit to her former campus before the Friars and Eagles clash at Conte again in March. Feldman transferred from BC in the summer of 2006.

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