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Friday, March 21, 2008

Hockey Log

The PC women's hockey team is expected to distribute its team awards in the near future. Only the players and coaches get an official say in the voting process, but the Free Press decided to offer its own writer's choice selection ahead of time.

Most Valuable Player: Kathleen Smith
When you have a team-leading 16 goals (7 on the power play) and 30 points with the majority of those coming while perched on the point, well, you've made your point.

Smith's senior stats obliterated any bar she had established in her previous years on the Divine Campus. Coming in, she had a career total 13 strikes to speak of and her best year (2005-06) saw her cultivate 24 points. But there was little reason to ponder the spark behind her with-a-bang closure.

With Smith and four others gone, the legacy of PC's only team to ever dip into the NCAA tournament is essentially a hologram. But if she did her job right, Smith helped to leave behind a gang raring to replenish the Friars' banner-hoisting tendencies.

Most Improved Player: Jean O'Neill
O'Neill had but two points to speak of when the calendar morphed into December. But that's okay, she was only a freshman.

Oh no, it isn't, she said through action in the subsequent series against Maine. Beginning with a decisive hustle after a loose puck -on what was already too long of a shift- and an eventual snipe from the far circle, O'Neill charged up two goals and an assist against the Black Bears.

By season's end, she had totalled 7-10-17 on the scoring charts, gobbling most of those as part of the new hot line with classmate Alyse Ruff and Mari Pehkonen.

Unsung Hero: Colleen Martin and Brittany Simpson
Martin -one of the few established project defenders in PC's stable- defined her essence with a rigid +16 rating, third-best on the team behind only two-way connoisseur Erin Normore (+19) and goaltender Danielle Ciarletta (+22).

But Normore has been camera-ready with her trademark singlehanded breakouts as has Ciarletta with her cornerstone netminding. What does Martin get? Well, she should at least get this hunk of hardware to go with her MIP plaque from last season.

Martin's fellow point patroller Simpson charged up a blowaway career year with 15 points (versus a total of 7 in her previous two). Yet the likes of Normore, Smith, and a vast array of offensive specialists tend to shine brighter in the red light. This despite the fact that two of Simpson's four goals were on the power play and that she was the third-busiest puckslinger on the team with 89 shots on net.

7th Player Award (for the player who surpassed expectations): Danielle Tangredi
Simply put, Tangredi is the prime feel-good side dish for this year's Friar diaries (though classmate and captain Rachel Crissy's gutsy return from an ACL injury was a worthy last-minute candidate). The Maine transfer came to PC in 2006 with a petite dish of 16 career points to her credit. In a shriveled junior year with the Friars, Tangredi sprinkled a mere three assists over 24 games.

But this season, Tangredi played all possible games (36) for the first time as a collegian and saved her best stretch for last with six goals and 11 points over the final two months for a senior transcript of 9-5-14.

Additionally, Tangredi inserted three game winners, assisted on another, and potted a particularly vital goal in a January 19 1-1 draw at New Hampshire, the Wildcats' only non-win against a conference rival this season.
West Still Best: The WCHA's Frozen Four hegemony is safe and sound in the aftermath of Thursday's semi-final action. Top-ranked Harvard submitted to two-time defending champion Wisconsin, 4-1, before Hockey East's lone representative from UNH succumbed to the biased dynamics and dropped a 3-2 count to the host Minnesota-Duluth.

With that, the Badgers and Bulldogs will rerun their get-together in Lake Placid last year -a 4-1 Wisconsin triumph- and either way will grant the Midwest its eighth consecutive national crown.

Taormina tabbed: Men's defenseman Matt Taormina was the lone Friar bestowed at Thursday's Hockey East awards banquet, landing a spot on the second All-Star team. Point partner Cody Wild and senior captain Jon Rheault were two of six honorable mentions.

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