In the latest edition of The Hockey News (press date: February 5) “Team Reports highlight the best rookies on all 30 teams.” Here now is PC’s answer to that feature:
Joe Lavin came to campus this past fall on the heels of an aura-dampening 126th overall (fifth round) selection by Chicago in the NHL Draft. Figuring even prior to the draft that he could go as early as the second round, most outspoken scouting reports were nonetheless questioning the so-labeled project defenseman’s defining traits.
Since then, on a baby-step basis, the slick-skating Lavin has kneaded that rocky energy clod well enough to have a prominent impact on the resurgent Tim Army Corps. To start the season, he verified the popular stay-at-home ideal when he failed to crack a point on his transcript through ten games despite a tendency to venture a few inches into the circle-tops and at least nail a quality rebound bid.
Lavin, the only Friar younger than 19 years of age, finally moistened his scoring drought on November 17 with two assists in a 5-4 overtime falter to the forceful New Hampshire Wildcats. He has since upgraded to a total of 7 points –all of them helpers, and four of them in the month of January alone- through 22 games played. Among PC’s freshmen scorers, he is only one knob behind leader Kyle MacKinnon.
As his initiative attacking ambition has come to flash more colors, Lavin has been rewarded with a fixed position on the first power play unit. As added bonuses, he is unfurling an impressive disciplinary standard –matching Matt Taormina as the regular Friar defender with the fewest penalties (4 two-minute minors)- and leads the team with a +6 rating.
Meanwhile, women’s rookie Amber Yung is penning a keenly similar saga in her first year here. Like Lavin, Yung –along with junior Brittany Simpson- holds the cleanest slate among PC backliners with a mere 10 penalty minutes, with none of those being logged in her last nine games.
Then there’s the implicit aim at an Erin Normore apprenticeship as a distinctive two-way connoisseur. Yung, particularly back in the preseason, has been sighted after practice lugging the puck bucket back onto the ice to hone her shooting and self-passing with the aid of the dasherboards. In game action, she has no reservations about chasing a fugitive puck behind an opposing cage anymore than she does retrieving it back in the depths of her own end.
Discounting a recent ten-game stretch where her stick fell asleep before she helped classmate Jean O’Neill break her own spell last weekend, Yung’s approach has been good enough for 8 assists and 9 points through 24 games this season.She might as well keep stoking the offensive habits as they are merely abiding by an intriguing PC tradition. After all, her elders Normore and Kathleen Smith are currently the top two scoring defenders in Hockey East.