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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hockey Log

PC women change on the fly

Providence head coach Bob Deraney fired a tricky, twirling wrist shot at the puck prophets by reinstating senior goaltender Danielle Ciarletta at Northeastern last Saturday.

When the Friars were previously seen in game time attire, freshman Genevieve Lacasse appeared to be to sole masked lady of momentum, having made three consecutive starts and backstopped the team’s first win over Colgate two Saturdays ago.

But, this being a game of constant resurfacing, Deraney’s appraisal changed before the team bus even flipped on the ignition. “I felt that they both deserved to play this weekend based on their performances in practice,” he said. “Both young ladies have been doing a good job battling for playing time.”

As fate would have it, Deraney’s move in the cage was merely the taster before a tempest of tweaks in his depth chart between Saturday’s bitter 1-0 falter to the Huskies and the subsequent excursion to Vermont on Sunday.

A few jutting highlights of those revisions: season-long first line forward Alyse Ruff partnered with fellow sophomore Jean O’Neill and junior Jackie Duncan –who were, incidentally, her offensive associates for the better part of the first half of last season. Freshman Ashley Cottrell plugged Ruff’s old spot opposite Mari Pehkonen and Laura Veharanta on the starting line. Two-way connoisseur Erin Normore inched up to center the third line with Abby Gauthier and Arianna Rigano for her first offensive assignment since last November.

Well, those tweaks worked well enough for an immediate dose of redemption –a 4-2 triumph with all of the day’s scoring compacted into the second period and a total of 10 Friars putting their names to the scoresheet.

In her stride along Memory Lane with O’Neill and Duncan, Ruff inserted the eventual game-clinching strike at 9:33 of the decisive middle frame, at that point nudging PC ahead, 3-1, and only 14 seconds after Chelsea Furlani put Vermont on the board with her first of two power play conversions on the day –both of which were assisted by ex-Friar Brittany Nelson.

Duncan, returning from an injury that had sidelined her throughout the previous weekend, collected a helper (as did O’Neill) to go with her goal (PC’s second of the day) at the 8:30 mark.

Only 90 seconds after she stepped out of the box early thanks to Furlani’s second power play tally at 18:19, Normore left a rebound for Rigano to bury, renewing the two-goal lead and ultimately solidifying the 4-2 upshot.

And in her prompt return to the cage, Lacasse handled the bulk of the Catamounts’ 27 stabs, including the last five unanswered in the stretch drive of the third period. It was a somewhat bookish reversal from the Friars’ venture to Northeastern the prior afternoon.

Providence, which besides the game lost senior A-captain Katy Beach to an upper body injury –Deraney’s proclaimed premise for the lineup changes- ran up a 31-20 edge in Saturday’s shooting gallery, sprinting rabidly ahead in the final fifteen minutes after Husky Ali Bielawski beat Ciarletta for the game’s only goal. Under the upgrade in urgency, the Friars authorized but one more shot at Ciarletta while heaving nine at Northeastern’s Florence Schelling, seven of them spaced over three power plays.

But the Huskies’ freshman phenom –who together with sophomore Leah Sulyma has now laid four goose eggs in six outings, including Sunday’s 3-0 knockout of Connecticut- held her ground for the day.

“That’s what happens with good goalies,” Deraney granted. “She got a couple of good breaks.”

And so, the Friars spilled their appetite over to Sunday in Burlington and bussed back to campus propitiated after shattering their scoring chrysalis and pulling even to a 1-1 record in their young Hockey East slate (2-4 overall).

“It’s really important that the girls get rewarded for their efforts,” Deraney offered. “When you only give up three goals on a weekend and score four, you usually expect to get more than just two points (in the standings).

“But we’re getting better every day,” he concluded. “We’re growing.”

Quick Feeds: For a portion of Saturday’s game, the Northeastern online stat tracker erroneously reported that defender Amber Yung had replaced Ciarletta in the crease…Veharanta potted PC’s first goal on Sunday, nudging her into a singular team lead with five points. All four of her goals have come on the power play…Reached via phone late Sunday night, Deraney made a point of crediting defender Leigh Riley’s productive output (1 shot and a +1 rating) at Vermont after she had been sidelined the previous two outings…Rookie forward Kate Bacon, injured all weekend, is “progressing” by Deraney’s account, as is the aforementioned Beach. No conclusive statuses were disclosed.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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