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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hockey Log

Excitement shooting up
Deraney emphasizes perceived growth pattern

The PC women, by nearly all statistical counts, should have been sentenced to grudgingly chow into a limburger-based donut in the way of points last Saturday. From the moment they started nursing a newly established 3-2 lead at the 5:32 mark of the third period, they collected one count of holding, one of body-checking, one of tripping, and two of hooking –in that very order.

All the while, host Boston University buzzed through the arcane, one-sided offering of power plays and ran up a disproportionate shooting discrepancy of 18-1.

But minus the last-minute equalizer, spotted by Terrier Gina Kearns on her team’s last regulation shot and last of a whole dozen power play stabs, senior stopper Danielle Ciarletta bailed the Friars’ out of a full-scale spillage catastrophe. Furthermore, head coach Bob Deraney noted, the quartet of skaters before Ciarletta made a practice of sending BU into frequent regrouping mode with more resolve than he’s seen all season.

Implicitly, in his book, that made the point saved in the eventual regulation tie/shootout loss a point well earned.

“We are a much better team than we were two weeks ago,” Deraney acknowledged. “We’ve improved tremendously in a lot of different areas, both in wanting to win and in our commitment to winning.

“There’s definitely a new commitment to winning. You can see it in how determined we are to get the puck out of (our) zone. There were times when we cleared the puck over them rather than try to shoot it around them. There’s that little extra effort that basically tells (the opposition) ‘Hey, no matter what you do, you’re not gonna keep this one in.’”

And as an ultimate result, after both parties collected their guaranteed point, a mutual treat was shared between the Friars, Terriers, and the packet of onlookers at Walter Brown Arena. Each lineup went two-for-three in the “regulation shootout” round, PC’s Laura Veharanta and Ashley Cottrell each lighting up the Terriers’ Allyse Wilcox and Melissa Anderson and Tara Watchorn –who made the difference two nights prior in a shootout tipover of New Hampshire- converted once more against Ciarletta.

The fetters of tension only tightened as Kate Bacon stepped up for the first sudden-death whirl, ultimately missing and opening a wound for Erin Seman to finalize the BU triumph.

Most certainly, purists will deprecate the alleged peewee treatment each team got –i.e. everyone skates off with something beyond moral achievement for their efforts. And there will likely continue to be the protect-the-integrity-of-the-game outcry.

So be it, Deraney intimated.

“I thought there was some unbelievable skill showcased on both ends,” he said. “BU scored two, we scored two. Veharanta and Cottrell’s moves (for our goals) were absolutely outstanding and at the same time the kids who scored for BU –Melissa Anderson and Tara Watchorn- were outstanding. We had a chance to showcase the skill of our game, and I think that’s really important.

“When (the spectators) walked away from there, I’m sure they were talking about our two players and their two players. Not just the game that went on but, ‘Wow! Did you see those moves?’

“(If) you get people to start talking about our game outside the game, you’ll have a chance to bring in bigger crowds. So we’re willing to sacrifice that to grow the game.”

Warming Pehkonen’s seat
Senior forward Mari Pehkonen, whose goal-assist value pack Saturday splashed a personal four-game scoring drought, promptly parted with the Friars after the game to link up with Team Finland in Lake Placid –site of this week’s Four Nations Cup.

The Finnish Flare’s temporary absence is nothing new, although it may be interesting this year to see newcomer Laura Veharanta adjust to not collaborating with Pehkonen on the top forward line for the first time since her September arrival. Together, Veharanta and Pehkonen have assisted one another’s goals four times and run substantially ahead of their teammates in the way of shots (36 and 32 respectively).

Come what may, Deraney asserted, “I’ve always said that when you recruit world-class players, you have to be willing to let them go. At the same time, you have to be prepared to play without them. And our program is bigger than one player.

“Obviously, not having (Pehkonen) in the lineup will be a bit more challenging, but we like challenges.”

The Finns commence round robin action against almighty Canada at 1:00 this afternoon.

Quick Feeds: Sophomore forward Jean O’Neill sat out Saturday’s action due to a mild illness. But with her return, Deraney foresees a first-time vacated IR ward. “We’re looking forward to, hopefully, having everyone healthy for the first time all year,” he said…Just as the Friars did earlier in the season, BU ran a depth chart consisting of 11 forwards and 7 defenders Saturday…Sophomore defender Leigh Riley is currently the Friars’ solitary plus-minus leader with a +3 rate.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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