Ruff meets smooth
Sophomore scorer is the hero once more
PC women’s hockey sophomore Alyse Ruff and freshman Laura Veharanta –two primordially well-matched wingers brandishing similar acetylene sticks and scoring prowess- traded traditional positions in the ultimate deciding play of Sunday’s 2-0 tipover of Connecticut.
Deployed with centerpiece Ashley Cottrell and point patrollers Brittany Simpson and Christie Jensen with precisely 7:00 to spare and a 5-on-3 advantage, Veharanta, already with seven power play strikes to her credit and usually given to violating goalie’s sightline, this time took up the task of feeding Ruff for a grittily executed tip-in.
The goal would go down as Ruff’s second game clincher in as many ventures and her third this season. Pad on her two deciders as a freshman last season, and she already has five in a mere 48 career outings.
Enlightened to that data, though, Ruff responded in pure Nuke Laloosh of Bull Durham mode. “I just go out there and put forth my best effort every time and just hope the best out of the situation,” she mused.
But surely, there was something extra pleasurable to extract out of capitalizing and shattering a rigid 0-0 knot against a frustratingly thorny defense like that of the Huskies, right?
“The way we go into every game is to give our best effort out there (regardless of circumstances),” said Ruff. “So whether we score shorthanded, or on a power play, or even strength, they all give us great opportunities to win.”
Conn descending statements
Granted, the Friars’ startling 5-1 throttling of the Huskies in last year’s Hockey East semifinals layered a welcome sweet frosting on an initially limburger-based cake that was the 2007-08 season series. The same held true in 2006-07, when the Huskies nipped PC at Schneider Arena, 1-0, in October, only to bow before them in both ends of a home-and-home series in the final week of the regular season.
That notwithstanding, head coach Bob Deraney has stressed the urge to kiln a more convincing persona of start-to-finish aptitude.
“This game had some significance because, one, it’s the beginning of our season series with them, so it was important to kick that off in our favor,” he said. “Secondly, it is two valuable points in the league. And they’re a very tough team. They have to take away points from other teams so it’s important that we take as many points as we can from them.
“When they’re ahead, they’re a very tough team to come back against. But when we’re ahead of them, it opens things up for us, and as you can see, they’re a very disciplined, well-coached team that just tries to wear you down.
“That’s what I’m most proud of. We won the mental battle.”
Finnish flare Mari Pehkonen, who contracted mononucleosis while at the Four Nations Cup more than a week ago, has skated lightly and periodically in practice, but sat Sunday’s game out. “Luckily, she doesn’t have a very severe strain of it,” Deraney noted. “So it could be one week or it could be three weeks. But it’s not going to be very long (before she returns).”
Elsewhere in the medical wing, junior defender Colleen Martin –still alleviating an upper body injury sustained at Robert Morris on November 8- is classified as day-to-day and still looking hopeful for a return in time for Friday’s visit from Mercyhurst.
Quick Feeds: Goaltender Genevieve Lacasse garnered recognition as the week’s top defensive player in the league for her 30-save, career-first goose-egg…Sophomore Jen Smith joined in on the pregame warmup and took a seat at the one of the bench doors, opposite Danielle Ciarletta, making for the first time the Friars have dressed three goalies since October 11…For the first time since October 10, Veharanta led the team in registered shots on Sunday with five, boosting her team-best cumulative total to 49 on the year…Kelli Doolin, a 2008 graduate of the program and co-captain last season, put in a cameo appearance at Sunday’s game.
Al Daniel can be reached at email@example.com