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Monday, March 3, 2008

Hockey Log

Hot line won’t stop dealing

For junior Mari Pehkonen and freshmen Jean O’Neill and Alyse Ruff, Saturday’s regular season finale was a rare triple-goose egg on the scoresheet. And even the day before was somewhat uncharacteristic as their only points came in the form of a Pehkonen goal and two helpers by O’Neill.

Then again, all three members of the Friars’ top line have another year of affiliation ahead of them –not to mention a first-time playoff test to close out 2007-08 this weekend. Of course, there is no guarantee that coach Bob Deraney will not find an even better arrangement for his strike force over that span, but the past month bares no noteworthy hiccups in this trinity.

Even as Boston College bastion Molly Schaus held them off in the 2-2 tie that nonetheless vaulted PC into the playoffs, they tried her well enough with a routine 11 shots. On three separate shifts, one of the three was apt to make use of her linemates’ rebound. It was a fair enough follow-through on Friday’s 13 stabs, one of which Pehkonen poked home on a first period power play.

After they were linked up in mid-January, the three went wholly arid for their first four games and only dampened that drought over a visit to Vermont when Pehkonen inserted a goal the first night, O’Neill on the second.

But ever since, they have combined at least ten shots on net on seven occasions. In four of those games, they accounted for 13 registered stabs, the lone record holder being 14 against Boston University February 2. Pehkonen alone has accelerated her effort to a season total of 97 SOG –behind only top twig Kathleen Smith’s 159- despite having skipped five PC games to represent Finland in two different tournaments.

And as the habitual stirring has persisted, the molecular scoring touch has spiked. Before Pehkonen returned from her second leave over the holidays, Ruff and O’Neill –who have spent the whole season together with such partners as Cherie Hendrickson and Katy Beach-, had nine and seven respective points over 18 games. They each have nine over their latest 11.

Even the well-voyaged veteran Pehkonen, who at times hinted symptoms of badgering jet lag earlier in the year, is producing at a career rate with twelve points in as many games after only six in her first 17.

Starting with five shared points against the Terriers January 31, they have charged up another 22 over the eight-game stretch drive.

Terriers get their turn: Within hours of Saturday’s tie at Schneider, BU knocked the rival Eagles loose from postseason contention with a 2-0 blanking of Northeastern.

When BU followed that up with a 3-2 win on Sunday, they were technically tied for third with the Friars with 23 points apiece. But PC, by virtue of season series supremacy (2-1-0) and a better GF-GA discrepancy (59-51 vs. the Terriers’ 47-44) get dibs on the higher slot.

Journal Jinx?: BC women’s fans may file the latest kiss-of-death grievance against the New England Hockey Journal right in line behind Northeastern men’s buffs.

The February newsstand issue of the Journal depicted Husky coach Greg Cronin and four key members of his clubs early season resurgence, pondering a “NU Era?” Since February 16, Northeastern is on a five-game slide, stripped of national poll membership, and fast losing hope of home ice in the playoffs.

Similarly, on February 14, online columnist Kayvon Pourmand insisted that the Eagles had the best chance between themselves, the Friars, and BU of grabbing passports to Storrs this weekend. But now look who’s in and who’s not?

Quick Feeds: The reported duration for both games over the weekend was 2 hours, 25 minutes. For the Friars, that made for their lengthiest toil of the season since they took 2 hours and 27 minutes to draw a 5-5 knot at Colgate back on October 19…Fourteen PC skaters suited up for all 34 regular season games this season…Erin Normore has one assist in her last three games for a team-leading 18 on the year…The Friars are in line to face tournament host Connecticut in Saturday’s semi-final at 3 PM. They will follow a UNH-BU bout slated for 12:30.

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