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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hockey Log

Less crime, less time (and sprints)
PC cuts back on penalties

Last week, PC women’s head coach Bob Deraney was repeatedly prodded, but never budged, with the inquiry as to an offense that was only a few ice chips less shallow than that of his collective opposition.

The arithmetic in the top layer of the scoreboard is what matters most to him on that front. And the fact is, the Friars have deftly stretched their dollar-a-day scoring to outdo or drawn a knot with the opposition in nine of their last 10 ventures.

OK. But what about the lower layers of the scoreboard?

Deraney kickstarted last week’s itinerary with the customary skate-for-every-penalty drill. He sent the whole team on six full-length sprints in accordance with six penalties taken against Brown University the preceding Saturday, then let the guilty individuals build their legs a tad extra.

And this was on the heels of a close shave first period when the Friars paid five trips to the bin in the first period alone, though they warded off Brown’s power play brigade to ultimately pave a 1-0 PC victory.

Even that, the typically optimistic skipper would have to confess, needed to discontinue. The odds of juggling too many PK torches coming back to singe rigid goaltender Genevieve Lacasse are harrowingly greater than those of insufficient goal support boosting the opposition.

It is uncertain whether there was a sharp difference in Deraney’s intensity last week when he cited the weekly damage report from the discipline detonator. But if there was, its effect surfaced on the two scoresheets in last weekend’s authoritative sweep of Maine.

Last Friday night’s 4-1 win saw PC’s single lowest penalty accumulation of the season (3). Saturday’s tally was the second-lowest (4). The Friars had previously been tagged for at least six minor infractions in all but three of their 15 games in October and November.

Granted, the Black Bears kept pace and endured an infinitesimal two penalty kills on Friday, two on Saturday. And their lone goal on each day was bolstered by a power play.

But after Providence abolished an initial 1-0 deficit in Friday’s first period, they offered up little, if anything, that could have been translated as a written invitation for Maine to usurp a point or two. Instead, the Friars kicked the nail-biter habit and posted their first three-goal triumph in a month.

Still stuck in second
Lacasse boosted her overall GAA to 1.60, but her save percentage stayed right where it was last week at .950 (the light bushel of 11 shots faced Saturday did her in there) and she still sits behind Northeastern’s own radiant rookie, Florence Schelling, in both categories.

Although, in strictly conference statistics, Lacasse tops the chart in terms of her GAA (1.20) and winning percentage (.800, record: 4-1-0).

For when they get back
The Friars will take the lengthiest respite from Hockey East amongst any of the league’s eight programs (off until they host New Hampshire on Saturday, January 10). In the 33 days between now and then, everybody else save for Maine will tangle with a conference cohabitant at least once, and by time the Wildcats –who currently knot the Friars for third place with 11 points apiece- drop in, PC will have at least one game in hand on everybody.

Quick Feeds: Saturday’s reported elapsed time of 1 hour, 57 minutes, was the first PC game to take less than two hours this season…All four centers –Ashley Cottrell, Erin Normore, Katy Beach, and Pam McDevitt- picked up an assist in Saturday’s win…With Jen Smith unable to make the weekend trip for undisclosed reasons, fellow sophomore Christina England suited up as PC’s third on-duty goaltender for the first time this season…Maine’s Vanessa Vani, as has been the case more frequently than she cares for, was a lone ranger of achievement on her bench, cultivating the only goal and winning 16 of her 20 face-offs while her mates dropped 22 out of 40 draws with the Friars…The latest USCHO poll, released Monday evening, had the Friars receiving one vote for its first inclusion in the honorable mention slot this season.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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