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Saturday, October 11, 2008

St. Lawrence 3, Women's Hockey 1

More absolvable sins
Deraney credits PK for minimal damage in loss

Within the final minute of the opening period last night, during an unusually lengthy stoppage of play, the old school Green Day hit “When I Come Around” was flowing out of the Schneider Arena loudspeakers.

Nothing inherently of interest about that, considering the virtual broken record that is the Friar hockey hitlist, but it is a particularly fitting tune for a team that still has everyone wondering when its aspirant volcanic offense will come around.

It did appear to surface in a bite-sized spurt during the climactic stages of the third period, at which point Providence trailed St. Lawrence, 2-0. And with a mere 1:22 to spare, a six-pack attack working for the Friars, and the Saints on just their third full-length penalty kill of the night, freshman forward Laura Veharanta raked in her second career goal to cut the deficit.

That’s as far as the deathbed alms-like rally went, though. St. Lawrence rebounded to insert an empty netter via Carson Duggan –who was also credited with the game clincher- and wrested a grittily executed 3-1 decision away from the Friars.

But the rally, virtually set off when Ashley Cottrell was allotted a penalty shot with 11:42 remaining and ultimately amounting to a 14-7 shooting edge in the closing frame, was indubitably half-full in the eyes of PC head coach Bob Deraney.

“Hey, we had the penalty shot and then we scored,” acknowledged Deraney, his post-game reactionary tone improving by the night despite his club bearing a 0-3 transcript. “I thought we played pretty good tonight. Obviously, I’m not happy with the final result, but I am happy about the fight we showed tonight.”

The Friars, who thrust a night’s total of 28 shots at Saints stopper Brittony Chartier while allowing the Cyclopean St. Lawrence strike force a reasonable 29 against Genevieve Lacasse, were free to flex their fight for the better part of the first and third periods. But those more sanguine stanzas sandwiched a choppy middle frame wherein the austere officiating crew wrote them five two-minute citations versus merely one to St. Lawrence.

More toe-curling was the personnel paying regular visits to the sin bin. Senior defender Erin Normore –whose holding infraction at the 6:38 mark of the first period lent a little facility to Tara Akstull’s icebreaker goal at 7:35- went off once more at 13:32 of the middle frame.

Forward Mari Pehkonen, a common PK employee in the young stages of this season, was flagged on one occasion per period. And crafty sophomore Amber Yung took two whistles in the second, granting the Saints a 5-on-3 advantage the first time and prompting a Friars timeout the second –whereupon PC had been called five times with still 5:25 to work with in the middle period. (At that point, Katy Beach was serving a two-minute sentence for interference, as was SLU’s Karell Emard, which meant a 4-on-3 setup in favor of the Saints.)

Yet through the virtually nonstop killing, the Friars reduced the Saints to a mere four power play shots (11-2 overall SLU advantage in the period) and Lacasse, not to mention the post on an Emard bid in the seventh minute, barred any conversions.

“I don’t think it was a hindrance,” said Deraney of the PK tempest, though it may be granted it bought the Saints welcome time to preserve their brittle lead. “It could have been a hindrance, but our penalty killing units were terrific and allowed it to continue to be a one-goal game going into the third period. I felt really good about our position tonight.”

But to start the third, St. Lawrence bent the Friars to near breaking point, finally augmenting their lead at 4:15. Courtney Sawchuk’s rebound, booted commandingly out of a congesting scrum by Lacasse, magnetically found Michelle Zimmermann on the far point. Zimmermann’s return shot pinballed off the twigs of Duggan, PC center Stephanie Morris, and the near post on its way home.

Over the final twelve minutes, the persistent Friars spiked a 10-2 lead in the shooting gallery, including Cottrell’s free whirl, which Chartier stoned with a simple sprawl and kick of her left skate.

The previous disproportion in penalties, incidentally, began to balance out against the Saints with less than five minutes to spare. A Sawchuk checking infraction at 15:25 only opened the door to one PC power play bid, but shortly after Lacasse was pulled with 2:22 left, Emard slashed Jennifer Freidman’s stick clear out of her hands as they pursued an iced puck behind the Friar cage.

Twenty-three ticks later, Arianna Rigano thrust the puck onto Chartier’s porch out of the near corner and let teammates Beach, Abby Gauthier, and Veharanta hack at it. Ultimately, Veharanta slipped it into the open right slab of the net.

So, that was one. But, naturally, more bountiful output is still in order.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Hockey Log

Bacon shakes off board-shock

After last night’s 3-1 shortcoming, Friars coach Bob Deraney reported that he still has his finger hovering over and practically brushing the “Suit her up” button for sophomore scoring asset Jean O’Neill, sidelined for all three regulation games plus the exhibition two weeks ago with a lower body injury.

Meanwhile, junior center Jackie Duncan has just joined the DL with a similar day-to-day status. Sheer, educated speculation has her returning at least a little less readily than O’Neill.

All that being said, all PC hearts beat irregularly for a moment when second-line winger Kate Bacon laid doubled over along the boards behind the St. Lawrence net with 5:08 gone in the second period after an incidental, inept collision with a backchecking Saint.

Trainer Amanda Bowman hustled to the scene, though Bacon made her way to the bench under her own power.

While Bacon pulled her senses back together, Deraney –who for the duration of O’Neill’s absence has dressed an uncommon chart of 11 forwards and 7 defenders- needed an additional volunteer to double-shift. But it would only last about 14 minutes.

On the final shift before intermission, Bacon was spotted on a pre-faceoff line change with first-liners Mari Pehkonen and Laura Veharanta, giving Alyse Ruff a little breather. The lines rolled as originally planned for the better part of the closing frame and Bacon pitched in her third shot of the game in the final minute.

Friar luck for a few Saints
With two goals last night, St. Lawrence senior Carson Duggan has logged at least one point in each of four encounters with PC, amounting to a final career transcript of 4-2-6. Meanwhile, senior Marianna Locke and junior Tara Akstull built on last year’s multi-point nights with a helper and assist respectively.

On the countering bench, Friars senior forward Katy Beach notched her second career point versus the Saints through an assist on Veharanta’s last-ditch tally.

Quick Feeds: Aside from O’Neill and Duncan, goaltenders Christina England and Jen Smith plus defender Breanna Schwarz were all scratched from last night’s game. It marked the first time this season that Deraney has only dressed two stoppers…While waiting out her recovery, O’Neill has spent portions of recent games manning the press box video camera used for friars.com online streaming. Duncan, meanwhile, kept herself occupied with her Kodak, snapping action pics of her teammates…St. Lawrence claimed a 40-25 edge in the way of faceoff wins last night…Cherie Hendrickson and Jenna Keilch, both graduates of the program last season, were spotted in the stands…Last night’s recorded attendance of 250 is the most substantial the Friars have seen through four openings so far…PC junior Colleen Martin, primarily a project defender, charged up two shots on goal last night, joining her amongst seven teammates in the game’s multi-shot club. For the second time in three games, Veharanta led that category with six stabs…Colgate, slated to lock twigs with the Friars at 4:00 today, dropped a 4-1 decision at Connecticut last night. The Huskies are now 3-1 on the year. The Raiders, meanwhile, are 1-1 with the help of a 4-3 triumph of newfangled Syracuse on October 1.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hockey Log

Shades of Friars, Eagles in Saints
Coaching change breeds curious outlook

Over the summer, Paul Flanagan, this decade’s answer to Jackie Barto, bolted the program he enriched and sustained at St. Lawrence for nine years to flood an all-new Division I pond in Syracuse.

So now, the Saints –six time NCAA dancers in the tournament’s eight year history- are left in the tutoring care of novice foreman Chris Wells, a 1992 alumnus of SLU’s men’s program who split the last 14 years as a sidekick to the men’s skippers of Colgate, Western Michigan, and his alma mater.

Under Flanagan, the Saints, unmistakably prosperous on a consistent basis, were still hampered by a clear case of 21st century Yankee Syndrome. They have constantly given a reputable run at both their conference and national crowns, yet have fallen short in every last endeavor.

Three ECAC championship games –including the last two- and five Frozen Fours –including a smooth-flowing streak of four snapped this past spring- and no untarnished, everlasting glory.

Does Wells’ advent invite an initial step back a la Joe Girardi in the Pinstripes clubhouse? More to the purpose of puck scrutiny, the Boston College saga of late offers at least a minor cautionary communiqué. There, you had Tom Mutch taking off –albeit for dubious, blurrily publicized reasons- on the heels of a 2007 Frozen Four appearance and leaving the reins for Katie King, under whom the Eagles missed the 2008 Hockey East tournament by the tip of their beaks.

But then, lo and behold, there’s also the local example. Minus a nosedive of a 1997-98 campaign, the Friars were comfortably reckonable for the duration of two decades under the Barto and John Marchetti administrations. Enter Bob Deraney in 1999, and PC continued to hover in the middleweight bundle for two seasons before their four-year league championship sprint.

In Wells’ case, not unlike Deraney’s, it may be little beyond a matter of making requisite tweaks to coach the women’s game –preferably sooner rather than later for SLU’s sake. Certainly, the Saints’ winning provisions and hardware hankering before him have not receded.

Whole new sheet, again
Barring a spontaneous NCAA tournament fixture, tonight’s bout at Schneider Arena is the last call for this PC generation to knead a W out of the Saints, something the Friars haven’t mustered since November 7, 2004, when a Karen Thatcher hat trick and a five-pack of power play strikes amounted to a 5-1 triumph at home.

Since then, St. Lawrence has indulged in burial fun in its annual interleague get-together with the Friars, all but hitting a pinnacle last October, when Providence grudgingly observed All Saints Night, submitting an 8-0 final in the rustic Appleton Arena. Two of the five multi-point artists from that game –Marianna Locke (three first period points, hat trick) and Tara Akstull (goal, assist)- are back for more.

Chartier sharpens the crease
Junior goaltender Brittony Chartier, partnering with the relatively unripe Nikki Bongaerts and Maxie Weisz, should resuscitate her formal game face after red-shirting through the 2007-08 campaign, her first at St. Lawrence upon transferring from the University of Minnesota. While a Gopher, she assumed the bulk of the crease time between 2005-07, charging up a cumulative record of 27-13-2 and claiming silver in the 2006 Frozen Four.

Chartier saw the full length of the action in the Saints’ exhibition bout with McGill University last week, pushing away ten of twelve shots faced in the first two periods before barely holding off a 17-whiff tempest in the closing frame to preserve a 5-4 win.

Quick Feeds: The Saints’ won their previous visit here, 2-1, on October 14, 2006. Current PC senior Katy Beach pitched in the lone goal for her club and absorbed a team-leading three penalty citations that afternoon. The only other Friar still existing in the program with a point against SLU to speak of is two-way connoisseur Erin Normore, who logged an assist in a 6-1 collapse in Canton three years ago…Friar Mari Pehkonen previously faced Chartier when they were instate rivals in the WCHA. Over three encounters in the 2005-06 campaign, Pehkonen, then a Minnesota-Duluth freshman, drew up one shot at the Gopher Chartier and packed an assist as part of a 6-0 Bulldog triumph October 29, 2005…Tonight’s game will be accessible through online video streaming courtesy friars.com and CBS College Sports.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hockey Log

Fresh flow still a work in progress

The finishing trick, not to mention a way of stamping out the post-face-off jitters for the duration of the game, is something they still need to kindle. But the underlying data put up by the Friars’ rookie legion over their first two regulation games should inject a psychological boost as they pick up another four days of fostering before St. Lawrence busses onto campus this Friday.

All but one of nine true freshmen saw regular action over this past weekend’s two game sweep at the hands of Ohio State. And, to their credit, they pitched in a cumulative 18 shots on goal –nearly half of the team total 40- in Friday night’s engagement, then combined for 14 of the Friars’ 33 registered bids on Saturday. Feel free to dab on the one shot by Arianna Rigano –a third-line junior who upgraded her pressure upon her summer transfer from Division-III St. Anselm College.

In both outings, a freshman led team in the SOG column. Starting forward Laura Veharanta unleashed six on Friday and blueliner Jennifer Friedman charged up five on Saturday.

Still, they kilned nothing statistically substantial beyond Veharanta’s inaugural goal in Game 1 and the same milestone from Abby Gauthier the following afternoon. And the Buckeyes were a telling stride ahead of the Friars in the way of development, as partially evidenced by their radiant rookie output. Forward Natalie Spooner (series total: 11 shots) picked a goal-helper value pack on Saturday to erase her team’s 1-0 and 2-1 deficits before classmate Laura McIntosh slipped home the game winner.

Not many leading sentences
The Friars’ captaincy trinity debuted their indicative letters over the weekend –senior defender Brittany Simpson brandishing the C and Katy Beach and Erin Normore each assuming the A.

Somewhat expectably, the team-centric Deraney dodged persistent inquiries about individual leadership aptitude, but expressed trust in the voting panel that is his roster and coaching cabinet.

“I think they’re the perfect picks for our captains,” he offered. “In the ten years I’ve been here, we’ve always done it this way. Everyone gets one vote –even staff members. Each person gets one vote. It doesn’t stand for any more or any less.

“And the kids are good judges on who can lead this team. That’s why we do it at this time, so everyone can see who can be good leaders. And I think they’re doing a nice job.”

To cultivate more detail, though, it may be worth mentioning that Simpson, Beach, and Normore constitute three of only four members of their recruiting batch to have stayed the full length of their eligibility in Friartown. Out of a recruiting class of eight who arrived in 2005 at a program on the heels of four consecutive league titles, the likes of Meredith George, Mara Grainger, Brittney Lomond, and Stacey Scott took off no later than the conclusion of their sophomore year.

The half that have remained here –the votes suggest- figure to have the staunchest, most unyielding appetite to replenish what attracted them to Deraney’s program in the first place.

Clunky clocks
Evidently, the tech personnel Schneider Arena can relate to the players’ yet-to-thaw-out quandary. The scoreboard blacked out shortly after PC assumed the 1-0 lead with 18:04 still to play in Saturday’s first period, though the game obliviously rolled on for nearly another minute. When play was stopped by a natural icing call against Ohio State, the on-ice officials attended to the scorer’s box and had the crew reset the clock to 17:17.

Quick Feeds: The weekend sweep for the Buckeyes improved head coach Jackie Barto to 3-0 all-time in return visits to her roots. OSU now leads the all-time series, 5-1…Mari Pehkonen’s helper Friday and goal Saturday give the Finnish flare an early solitary lead on the PC scoring chart. Pehkonen and linemate Veharanta are tied for the team lead with 9 shots on net…For both of this past weekend’s games, Deraney dressed eleven designated forwards and seven defenders. Senior Stephanie Morris and freshman Lauren Covell took turns on Friday and Saturday respectively lining up with Pamela McDevitt and a select, double-shifting ringer from one of the top three lines…Of the 22 rostered skaters, only freshman defender Breanna Schwarz and still-healing forward Jean O’Neill have yet to see action. By Deraney’s latest account, O’Neill should be ready to crack the lineup no later than Saturday’s bout with Colgate.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Mike’d Up
PC’s play-by-play man bestowed by league

From his own self-effacing account, Mike Logan merely had the 2008 Joe Concannon Media Award –which he formally accepted at the Hockey East Media Day gathering- dropped on his lap in passing.

Reached via e-mail last Monday, when his selection for the honor was publicly disclosed, Logan merely explained that he had been notified by Pete Souris, the league’s public relations director, a month in advance of his slated acceptance.

An Al MacInnis slapshot-paced “No” was all he needed to answer whether or not he had ever entertained thoughts of clutching 17-year-old prize. Even after 13 years and counting as the Friars official TV and radio voice. Even with his selection making him the award’s first Providence-based recipient.

You could let the hockey humility pass, no question. It’s bound to have rubbed off on Logan after conveying roughly half of the PC men’s games each season for radio, and another smattering of men’s and women’s action for Cox Sports TV.

And, given that Hockey East hasn’t branched out to distinguish the talkers and the typists, the Concannon Award serves a most all-encompassing pool. In its history, it has already laid claim to three NESN employees, two former Boston Globe scribes (including the award’s late eventual namesake, who won it in 1998), and another five writers and five broadcasters –all hailing from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Maine.

Still, it had to brush the Ocean State sooner or later. And all Logan has done is try to build on his booming introduction to the Schneider Arena booth in the 1995-96 season, which culminated in the Friars’ most recent Hockey East crown.

Since then, he has observed and detailed the latter half of Hal Gill’s college career, the full scope of Fernando Pisani’s stay on the Divine Campus, the program’s last March excursion to the Hub in 2001 –which was earned by way of a Game 3, triple-OT overthrow of Boston University, the not-so-climactic finish to the Paul Pooley Period, and the first three years and counting of Tim Army’s bench tenure.

Through it all, plus the more trivial series of alterations in the Friars’ radio affiliates, uniform schemes, and supplementary color commentators, Logan has only hardened the ice supporting his posts and moorings. Although, he is quick to lend credit to the PC athletic department, which has offered him full auspices since the former WLKW-AM 790 station pulled away in 1999.

“They have been very loyal and supportive ever since then,” Logan noted emphatically.

Whitehead or lighthead?
Weighing in along with five other select Division I men’s coaches on collegehockeynews.com, Maine skipper Tim Whitehead struck again with his innovative, outside-the-boards thinking. Queried on the shootout –which only the CCHA, the WCHA women, and the Hockey East women plan to enact this season- and other tiebreaking options, the man who once proposed a two-ref system long before any other NCAA coaches this time suggested taking a step back in time. “If the coaches vote to keep the status quo again for 2008-09, I have already decided to propose that we go to 7-on-7 for all OTs in 2009-10,” Whitehead told CHN’s Adam Wodon.

Hockey history bookworms ought to know what this means. Whitehead wants to bring back the rover, a position that was commonplace in the pre-NHL era, for all bonus round action.

But why? That’s bound to congest the ice surface that some anti-two-ref advocates already insist is unduly bunged up. Logically, this would amount to less efficient puck movement, therefore less chance of someone potting the walk-off goal.

Exactly, Whitehead elaborates, likely swerving into thorough tongue-in-cheek mode.

“That will increase the odds of the game ending in a tie, and should make them feel better,” he said. “Another positive of a possible 7-on-7 OT format would be that youngsters attending the games will already be asleep by the time they reach the car, making it easier for their parents to put them down when they get home.”

Granted, Whitehead does parent two grade school-aged children, so there may be that ice chip-sized possibility that he genuinely feels for other parents who want their kids to doze off at a favorable time and, as an added bonus, give them a visual history lesson before bed.

Cats hardly declawed
The very morning that the Hockey East coaches’ polls were unfurled to the public eye, New Hampshire women’s skipper Brian McCloskey offered a spotlessly undaunted self-assessment to the Foster’s Daily Democrat. “Any concerns about having no fewer than three empty seats on your bench every night?” the coach was implicitly asked.

"We just don't have the margin of error we've had in the past,” McCloskey granted. “We have a group that very much is going to have to rely on each other."

And yet, "On paper our core of athletes are certainly proven scorers, proven defenders and a proven goaltender," said McCloskey. "We're not concerned that we're not going to have a strong, strong team again."

Sure enough, neither do half of McCloskey’s challengers. The Wildcats topped the poll charts, claiming half of the eight first-place votes. The second-rate Boston College Eagles and bronze medalist Friars split the other four.

Two cents from PC foreman Bob Deraney, a direct dagger victim of McCloskey’s these last two years: “Quality, not quantity…What’s interesting is that, for the first time, it’s not seven votes for the first place team and one for somebody else. It’s spread out pretty good where a couple of coaches think of us to give us a couple of votes, but BC got two votes too, and UNH only got four votes instead of seven or eight like last year.

“But UNH is going to be good again this year. Don’t let their numbers diminish how good they’re going to be. It just means that those players are going to be on the ice more.”

He could have been theirs
Time for a quick look back at the Fall 2008 recruiting tempest and where, on the Friars’ schedule, a coaching staff will confront a freshman who, under altered circumstances, could have been on their side:

PC blueliner Danny New had the option of Northeastern (the Friars’ adversaries come the season opener October 17), among others. Winger Andy Balysky, meanwhile, may just as easily have been a Holy Cross Crusader (October 25).

On the flip side, goaltender James Mello was reportedly pursued by the Friars, though he ultimately landed at Dartmouth (November 28. And, incidentally, PC sophomore defender Eric Baier will get a look at his other commitment option in this game). Forward Matt Marshall is a newly arrived Vermont Catamount (coming here November 7).

Both PC and Boston University were open to admitting Bruins ’07 draftee Tommy Cross, who instead committed to BC. The Eagles, who will pay two visits to Schneider in the latter half of the season, also beat the Friars in the derby for Barry Almeida, Paul Carey, and Edwin Shea. The Terriers (March 6), meantime, have enlisted Andrew Glass.

For a time, Phil DeSimone literally had half the league ogling him (six institutions to be precise), and Dick Umile ultimately managed to stamp the Capitals’ prospect on his New Hampshire roster. Finally, Kelen Corkum could have gone to the Tim Army Corps or either of the Hub Hunks, but naturally pounced at the chance to play for father Bob’s alma mater of Maine.

Acclimation rounding out
PC men’s head coach Tim Army, raring to tutor the last band of seniors picked by Paul Pooley’s cabinet, skated right to the point on his confidence in the captain tandem of senior Kyle Laughlin and junior John Cavanagh –one of his first recruits.

“I’m entering my fourth year at Providence College, and this is the best group of captains that we’ve had,” he insisted during the media day assembly at TD Banknorth Garden this week. “I think they have a real good understanding of the culture that we are creating and they’re truly an extension of our coaching staff in the locker room.”

Trickling directly off of that prophecy, Army offered this equally optimum prediction in an encapsulating assessment of his 08-09 roster as a whole: “I expect this year’s team to be more consistent on a game-to-game basis. When I say consistent, I’m emphasizing a truly competitive approach each and every night.”

Special Ks
Unlike the brood of the now-disgraced Roger and Deb Clemens, PC’s skating sorority still offers a cute trivial tidbit specific to those whose first names begin with a K. Glance over your shoulder to the advent of the Women’s Hockey East Association in 2002-03, and in each of the last six seasons, either Kelli Halcisak, Karen Thatcher, Kristin Gigliotti, or Kathleen Smith has topped the Friars’ scoring chart. Is Katy Beach raring to keep this trend alive in 2008-09? And, planning further ahead, will current rookie Kate Bacon be ready to let the legacy move into her twig?

Quick Feeds: Former Friar Cammi Granato’s singlehanded string of strikes in Operation Integration can’t even be stopped beyond her control. Currently finalizing her acceptance speech for next weekend’s US Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies in Denver, where she will go down as the first female honoree, she has received official notice that the WHEA Player of the Year award will be named after her effective at the next year-end gathering…According to her foundation’s website, Jamie Coyle, the 12-year-old member of the RI Selects program stunningly stricken during a game in August, was released from Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Center on Wednesday. The P-Bruins were the latest of umpteen generous entities to conduct a fundraiser in her name at Friday’s preseason game at The Dunk…Highlighted categories in the freshly announced Hockey East 25th anniversary fan ballot, honoring the most regal achievements in the league’s history: best goaltender, best goal scorer, best playmaker, best defensive player, best defensive forward, unsung hero, most memorable moment, best individual performance, best coaching performance…As far as the keenest eyes can conclude, the goaltending showdown for the Beanpot’s first round nightcap on February 2 –John Muse of BC countering Northeastern’s Brad Thiessen- is on Paleolithic ice. But, so far, the other half of the Hub –that being BU and Harvard- is so bug-stricken with Brett Bennett’s takeoff from the Terriers and Kyle Richter’s leave of absence from Cambridge that you can’t tap that “submit” icon just yet…This author’s picks for the out-of-region game of the week: The Syracuse women make their College Hockey America debut with a two-night (Friday-Saturday) visit to regional rival Robert Morris.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Ohio State 3, Women's Hockey 2

Friars leap-frogged by Buckeyes in third

Reaping for a quick statistical and emotional redress before the curtains dropped on opening weekend, the Providence College bench was unmistakably jumpy at the 1:56 mark of yesterday’s first period when Abby Gauthier poked home the icebreaker. It made for a no-time-wasted lead and the team’s second consecutive rookie to break in her membership on the stats sheet.

On the whole, it was mission accomplished –if you’re abiding by the Commander-in-Chief’s Dictionary.

Only able to nudge back ahead in the second after Ohio State retorted, PC watched a bushel of missed opportunities bolster the Buckeyes to two tautly executed third period goals, amounting to a 3-2 loss and the short end of a weekend sweep.

Thriving only in spurts, and spilling eight of nine power play opportunities –as they did in Friday night’s 2-1 shortcoming, the Friars came away from the series still feeling a stinging need for 60-minute energy.

“I thought that we didn’t play with as much jump and tenacity as we did in the third period (of Game 1) and I just think that has to do with playing six periods in less than 24 hours,” mused head coach Bob Deraney. “It might be a conditioning thing. There’s a lot of young kids in our lineup who aren’t used to playing that type of hockey, so I credit a little bit of that to the end result.”

Yesterday’s puck took protracted, football-paced shifts through the two zones for the better part of the game. No stoppages of any sort were warranted on the Friars’ opening onslaught, wherein the Buckeyes twice cleared the zone only to promptly regress to backcheck mode. And a few ticks shy of the two-minute mark, attacker Jackie Duncan unleashed a centering feed from the far corner for Gauthier to stuff in on the first shot of the game.

But the road to reversal was idled by a hooking penalty to Kate Bacon at 3:45, which opened the door to a Buckeye buzz. It only took OSU two shots in 20 man-up seconds to beat freshman stopper Genevieve Lacasse (32 saves). A seated Lacasse couldn’t clamp down the fugitive puck in a too-crowded-for-comfort crease and forward Natalie Spooner whipped it home, knotting the score with still a mere 4:05 off the clock.

That type of fruitful ineptitude on the Buckeyes’ part would ultimately define Lacasse’s 101 lesson on tending an NCAA net.

“Every goal that was scored on her was just a play where we lost some one-on-one battles where we really didn’t help her out,” Deraney observed. “She didn’t let in any shots, she let in three scrums. And our defensive responsibility is not to let those scrums happen.”

Indeed, minus the scrums, Lacasse resolutely thwarted everything even as the one-way biscuit blizzard carried over into the second period. The Buckeyes augmented their 13-5 shooting edge from the close of the first to 20-5 well before the five-minute mark. But Lacasse kept the Friars afloat leading up another tide-turner –this one a holding penalty to OSU defender Teal Bishop at 5:15.

PC’s perked-again run rack nimbly proceeded to draw another call –a tripping infraction on Spooner- to allot them a savory 94 seconds of 5-on-3 play. And in another 51 seconds of patient, shotless puck rotation, near point patroller Brittany Simpson shipped a diagonal feed to Mari Pehkonen along the far post. Pehkonen’s lightly delivered bid, slowly but surely, dripped past goaltender Liana Bonanno (31 saves) with still another 1:09 to work with on Spooner’s sentence.

Much like Lacasse, though, Bonanno fused afterward, even as the Friars racked up another 12 registered stabs, four of those spread over another protracted 5-on-3 sequence.

At day’s end, Bonanno had pushed away 16 power play shots, and, Deraney suggested, could have confronted more.

“On the power play, there’s no doubt that they want to do the right thing,” said Deraney of his strike force. “(But) so much so that they put themselves in a disadvantaged position around the net. They’re so intent on going to the cage when a shot in taken that if the puck shoots right by them, they’re too close (to the net to retrieve it). You can’t fault them for wanting to do the right thing but they do need to put themselves in better situations with the puck.”

The productive famine came back to bite the Friars in the third. In the seventh minute, Spooner strode down the far lane and lobbed a backhand feed into another congesting collage of bodies in the crease. Morgan Marziali ultimately assumed control and nudged it in.

Then, with a mere 6:32 to spare, Buckeye Laura McIntosh picked off a PC breakout in neutral ice, snaked through a small maze to the slot, and let a trickler squirt past Lacasse for the eventual decider.