• Check out the Free Press founder's new Rhode Island/New England sports blog
  • http://providencesportsscribe.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Northeastern 4, Men's Hockey 0

No method, all madness
Dazed-and-confused Friars drop season opener

The gradual PC student exodus from Schneider Arena to Mullaney Gymnasium that began in the second intermission –the latter venue hosting the Late Night Madness basketball bash- had been subconsciously arranged weeks in advance. But with the turn of events on the ice and the discrepancy in partisan moods, the bite-sized visiting Dog House legion eventually looked like dramatic come-from-behind victors in a dodgeball grudge match.

Bowing and graciously handing all of the quantity glamour to the Friars, the Northeastern Huskies in turn cashed all of the quality play last night, stamping a 4-0 win highlighted by two Tyler McNeely strikes and a playmaker hat trick by Steve Silva and slapping PC with its fourth choppy opening night loss in as many years.

Providence, which allotted the Huskies a mere three power plays, won a stark majority of the night’s face-offs (39 out of 63) and grew to run up a final shot count of 35 –led by senior Matt Taormina’s five stabs- hardly kindled a single enthralling buzz and egregiously spilled seven power play opportunities, concocting but three man-up shots all evening.

A week’s difference of game experience, at the time when it could be most evident, was. Northeastern, building on a two-game (1-0-1) excursion to Alaska last weekend, initially exploited the numb, untested Friars, hammering the game’s first five shots at freshman stopper Justin Gates (20 saves) within the first 2:13 of play. By intermission, they led the shot category 11-9 and had grated the PC power play force three times, authorizing only two shots on three unanswered man advantages.

The jumpy Friars were finally flagged with 1:59 to spare in the opening frame, vital junior bouncer Mark Fayne taking his first of three hooking citations on the night. Only seconds after the carry-over kill was complete, a would-be PC rush was zapped on a high-stick misdemeanor, bringing the face-off down to their end.

In only four seconds, Silva won the draw in the far circle, one-timing a magnetic parallel feed back to Denis Chisholm on the far point. Chisholm wasted no time letting an ice-kisser trickle home through Gates’ pads.

Fayne was incarcerated once more at the 3:20 mark, effectively inviting the Huskies second strike at 4:53. In regroup mode, Silva strolled the disc back into Friar territory and handed it over to Strathman at the straightaway point. Strathman’s blast thrashed through a screening collage and found the mesh with the help of McNeely’s tip of the twig.

Perked up, PC instantly took constricting command of the shooting gallery, discharging an unanswered seven attempts and rolling up an 11-4 edge in the latter 15 minutes of the period. But Brad Thiessen (35 saves) and Friends were simply the supreme smotherers of the night. They all but facilely nursed the two-goal well into the depths of the closing frame while the Friars continued to shoot in hasty spurts and.

Within the final nine minutes of the game, the Huskies lashed out to make two insurance goals out of a few PC puck control meltdowns. Forward Alex Tuckerman watched an initial clearing attempt commandingly thwarted by far point patroller Bryce Aneloski, but persistently hustled to Heimlich it away from the rookie blueliner and prompt a two-on-one gush, opposite fellow first-line winger Wade MacLeod. MacLeod absorbed Tuckerman’s lateral feed in the near alley and leveled it into a gaping frame of the cage.

Less than three minutes later, in the midst of PC’s penultimate barren power play, Silva pried into the regroup attempt in the Friars’ half of the neutral zone and forwarded a crisp feed to McNeely. Virtually untouched the whole way through, McNeely broke loose to bury an in-your-face shorthanded connection, solidifying the 4-0 final.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Hockey Log

Women’s Hockey vs. Northeastern Quick Hits
· The pace of Northeastern’s crease carousel should have rookie Florence Schelling getting the nod for Saturday, which would all but certainly pit her against another primordial freshman phenom in PC’s Genevieve Lacasse.
· The Huskies, like the Friars breaking in their 21-game Hockey East agenda, stand at 2-0-2 with a 3-2 win over RPI, 6-0 stamping of Union, and two shootout losses at Bemidji State (0-0 and 2-2 regulation scores). The aforementioned Schelling garnered an official shutout in the technical scoreless tie with a 40-save bushel against the Beavers.
· NU’s two wins this month equates their victory count of the previous four Octobers combined.
· Save for the one-sided triumph over Union, the Northeastern net crew has faced no fewer than 40 opposing stabs per night so far.
· NU’s top scorers: Kristi Kehoe (5-1-6); Alyssa Wohlfieler (4-2-6); and Julia Marty (0-5-5);
· PC junior forward Arianna Rigano –a St. Anselm transfer over the summer- will confront her former Hawks’ coach in Dave Flint, appointed to the NU bench in late June. Rigano scraped out a 48-27-75 scoring transcript over 53 games played in her two years under Flint.
· Site: Matthews Arena, 1:00 face-off
· Media: an online audio broadcast will be offered per friars.com, the Northeastern athletics’ website will post updated stats and video through the course of the game.

Men’s Hockey vs. Bowling Green Quick Hits
· The CCHA-based Falcons pay their second visit to The House That Lou Built in three seasons. They inflicted a 4-2 pinching on the Friars October 20, 2006. Current PC senior forward Nick Mazzolini pitched in a goal and assist in the losing effort that night.
· BGSU’s senior goaltender Jimmy Spratt –a 2004 seventh-rounder to Calgary, is the program’s lone existing NHL futures satellite.
· BGSU’s top scorers: Dan Sexton (1-4-5); James Perkin (2-1-3); six others tied with 2 points
·
The Falcons come bearing a 1-1-1 record, fresh off a 5-3 falter at Boston College last night. Spratt authorized all five goals on a fairly shallow bushel of 18 Eagle shots. BGSU inserted two shorthanded goals, one power play conversion, and allowed three BC man-up strikes in the loss.
· Site: Schneider Arena, 7:00 face-off
· Media: Online audio streaming, Gametracker, Cox Sports TV

Quick Feeds: Four of the PC men’s nine freshmen made their debut in last night’s 4-0 loss to Northeastern: goaltender Justin Gates, defensemen Bryce Aneloski and David Brown, and forward Matt Bergland. Bergland assumed the right wing of the starting line, opposite Ian O’Connor and John Cavanagh. Brown was linked with David Cavanagh on the third D-unit and joined Matt Taormina on the points to start each power play…Last night’s scratches: Eric Baier, Andy Balysky, Chris Eppich, Paul Golden, Rob Maloney, John Mori, Danny New, Ryan Simpson, Shawn Tingley, and Matt Tommasiello…The Friars’ second line of Greg Collins, Kyle MacKinnon, and Austin Mayer were on the ice for three of Northeastern’s four strikes…Last night’s reported attendance: 2,117.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hockey Log

Veharanta venturesomely productive

It’s early, to be sure, but freshman first-liner Laura Veharanta is so far producing at a spot-on Sonny Watrous pace: precisely one point in as many career games.

What was once the fiery PRO Line of Mari Pehkonen, Alyse Ruff, and Jean O’Neill –broken up by a lower body injury that confined O’Neill to the sidelines until Saturday’s 6-2 pasting of Colgate- now appears to have been rechristened the PRV line.

Incidentally, that’s still a fairly common abbreviation for PC’s home city. And, statistically speaking, the line’s new additive has fittingly plugged the void, currently matching Pehkonen atop the team scoring chart and leading the PC shooting gallery with 18 registered stabs.

One of only four Friars to brush the two scoresheets of the team’s opening series with Ohio State, Veharanta kept her initial gush rolling this past weekend, raking in the lone goal against St. Lawrence and composing a goal-assist package against Colgate.

All three weekend points were subtly aided by a power play and all were cultivated in the dirty-nose zone. In the waning moments of Friday’s 3-1 loss to the Saints, Veharanta was enrolled to join a last-ditch six-pack attack and –together with Katy Beach and Abby Gauthier- lay in salivating wait for Arianna Rigano’s feed out of the near corner. All four attacking twigs had a hold of the puck before Veharanta, stationed along the near post, swept it into a vacant frame of the net, temporarily rejuvenating hope of a rally.

In Saturday’s opening frame, with a glowing 1:49 5-on-3 sequence on the verge of wasteful expiration, Veharanta instinctively perched herself in the sightline of Colgate stopper Ekayna Hamashuk and merely had to deflect point patroller Erin Normore’s screamer over Hamashuk’s mitt, pulling the Friars ahead, 2-0, at the time.

Then midway through the third, Veharanta and her on-duty associates demonstrated the same never-mind-the-score persistence as they had the previous night, even with a rigid 5-2 lead at hand. Again laboring with the likes of Beach during a 4-on-3 advantage, and with Normore carrying out her trademark end-to-end carry down the near alley, Veharanta hustled straight ahead accept the two-way connoisseur’s centering feed on the Colgate porch and ultimately left a rebound for Beach to tuck home from the far post.

Century chase
Senior forward Stephanie Morris is now another nine outings away from joining current teammates Beach, Normore, and Brittany Simpson in the program’s 100-career game club. At this rate, junior defender Colleen Martin is next with a cumulative 75 games to her credit, followed by classmate Pam McDevitt (66) and Pehkonen (69).

All have the mathematic potential to hit the three-digit plateau before this season is shelved, though McDevitt and Pehkonen are a bit of an outside shot. With 30 guaranteed regular season games yet to work with, their chances involve the naturally yet-to-be-determined duration of PC’s post-season activity. And for Pehkonen in particular, one ought to factor in however much of her time might be rented out by Team Finland for any given international tournament.

Quick Feeds: Granted, they had an overflowing bushel of opportunities to work with, but the Friars have seen all of their first three forward lines and all defenders in regular action on the power play lately. Most of the way, coach Bob Deraney has simply deployed the same offensive unit as he would in even strength along with at least one of his reliably offensive-minded defenders…Pehkonen, Ruff, and freshman defender Christie Jensen all climbed into the black in terms of plus/minus on Saturday. Veharanta, O’Neill, Ashley Cottrell, Martin, and goaltender Genevieve Lacasse have all pulled themselves even in that column…With her two third period goals Saturday, Beach bulked her career scoring totals to 3-3-6 in five career games against Colgate…The forthcoming weekend’s itinerary has back-to-back brushes with former Friars lined up. Goaltender Stacey Scott (PC 2005-06) will likely be taking a seat behind the so-far effective tandem of Florence Schelling and Leah Sulyma at Northeastern Saturday. But on Sunday, forward Brittany Nelson (2006-07) will be one of three sporting a captain’s C for the host Vermont Catamounts.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bruins Commentary

A few face-off thoughts

The Spokespeople are back in session; though, most likely, only the most incorrigibly feverish Bruins Buffs noticed. Which is moderately excusable given Thursday’s late night opener in Denver –a 5-4 win, by the way- was televised on the sparsely accessible Versus network and Saturday’s visit to Minnesota –a bumpy 4-3 falter- ran side-by-side with Game 2 of the ALCS.

Nevertheless, as of today, the occupational descendents of Barnum and Bailey will depart Beantown and in precisely another week, the always-delayed home opener will finally fall when the Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins drop in.

But, of course, the publicity will likely be delayed even longer than Opening Night, especially since Monday Night Football in Foxboro will coincide with the grudge match at the Garden. And there’s that half-and-half chance that the Red Sox will have renewed their passports to the World Series as late as the preceding night or as early as this Thursday.

Here we go again. The (cough) bias (cough) belittling the Bs is ready to strike and, once again, hamper their allotment on the New England fanfare pie chart.

This despite the evident notion that, compared to last season, there is genuine cause for optimism on the Boston ice. This despite the evident notion that, compared to last season, the Patriots can be nothing but normal, as in not pursuing any everlasting items of history. At this rate, legitimate Super Bowl contention is all but in doubt.

I’ll give the defending champion Sox and Celtics –who will kickstart their title defense two weeks from tomorrow- more of a break here. But to fire out my first slapshot of suggestions, you would honestly prefer to watch Matt Cassel’s vain attempt to equate the roundly braced caliber of Tom Brady than the Bruins’ one-can-only-guess endeavor to keep tilting the scale upward?

Record-wise, the Pats of last year finished an Olympic pole-vault ahead of the NFL’s other 31 teams and were at least at work on the final night of the season. Now they’ve lost their signature player for the length of the 2008 campaign.

Conversely, last year’s Bruins finished in the dead center of the 15-team Eastern Conference, thus laying claim to the final playoff spot. They proceeded to give the detestable Montreal Canadiens a royal fright before fizzling in Game 7. Now they have one of their fan favorites in Patrice Bergeron returning to action after an anguishing 11-month absence.

So, knowing that you can’t have Pats-Broncos and Bruins-Pens at once, ask yourself this: which game has the better chance to whet my appetite for improvement?

A few more thoughts to entertain while the Black and Gold settle into their seats in your sporting mind:

First, may this mark the very end of the constant references to the Bergeron-Randy Jones incident early last season. In the eleven months since, not a single update on Bergeron’s recovery status could be delivered without a tedious, wince-worthy reminder of why he was out.

Newsflash: the comeback is complete, save perhaps for his emotional return to a regular season home game. But by then, he and his associates will have already logged four regular season games. Chances are Bergeron will not be craving the type of moving reception Ray Bourque got the one time he rolled onto the Garden ice in Avalanche attire. He’ll be craving the more standard ovation the follows a goal by himself or one of his teammates.

And certainly don’t try to rekindle bitterness directed at the Flyers when, through the Jones hit on Bergeron and later Scott Hartnell’s concussive biff to Andrew Alberts, they appeared to be callously reviving their Broad Street Bully rep. You’re just going to invite a wave of Rush Limbaugh-like tirades from proud Flyer Fanatics, to which you will respond with equally needless vehemence.

Please. These teams don’t even converge until February 4. You can’t possibly hang on to a tub of simmering animosity stew that long.

If you do want to exercise your right to a rivalry, opportunity knocks this very Wednesday. Some rather serendipitous scheduling has the Bruins’ out of action between the Wild game and their first trip to Montreal’s Bell Centre since they were eliminated there last spring.

Meanwhile, the Sox have Games 3 and 4 today and tomorrow. Then, lo and behold, Wednesday is their off day before Game 5 on Thursday. Also note that there’s no Celtics pre-season slated for Wednesday either.

In other words, NESN’s coverage shall take no excused or unexcused absences. And couldn’t you use an energizing break from the ALCS when you can get one, especially since we have to resort to artificial cold this mild October?

And for longer term planning, there will be another 71 Bruins’ games after the World Series. In case the Sox are in the Fall Classic and Games 6 and 7 are needed, the Bs will be in the midst of a Western Canada road trip, but will be back home November 1.

Please stand by.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Wiser after winning
Champion Eagles can still mold a better overall season

More and more pundits are dusting off their keyboards for the new season and, seemingly by knee-jerk instinct, assigning the national champion Boston College Eagles to the #1 slot in both the conference and national polls. It’s by no means an unwarranted prophecy, though.

Reliable blue paint hog John Muse is back at The Heights in more clear-cut collegiate shape than he was as a freshman last autumn. Senior forward Brock Bradford is back from an injury-slighted, five-game run with a presumably sturdy arm and a “C” over his heart. Bradford –who did muster a point per game when available last year- shall be flanked by –just to name a few- sophomore scoring beacon Joe Whitney, junior Ben Smith, senior Benn Ferriero, and a promising rookie by the name of Joe Whitney.

And there was an antsy buzz over the early departure of Nathan Gerbe for what reason, exactly?

It’s settled that the BC roster never lacks the means to makes ripples in the playoff ponds. But the extra coat of reverence for 2008-09 comes with the explicit lessons normally restricted to also-rans that they filched last season.

Friar Fanatics, still having to wait another six days to start icing the psychological lesions sustained seven months ago in the Hockey East quarterfinal, just might know it best. That series, by a factor of two points, was almost booked for Schneider Arena rather than Conte Forum. Nothing short of free spirited speculation can conclude what would have happened in that event.

Come what may, once they deftly cleared the home ice hump, the Eagles vented all of the winning energy they had saved during the bumpier portions of the season. They were again the program to which Jerry York has instilled gratifyingly prosperous consistency; the program that has now logged eight Frozen Four appearances and six NCAA title game entries in the last 11 seasons.

But eyeball every ingredient of their run, beginning with the OT own goal discomfiture versus Michigan at the Icebreaker Invitational and ending with the 5-1 steamroll over Notre Dame in Denver, and the degree of luck doesn’t lie. If they’ve never felt it in their physics or calculus lecture halls, York’s student-athletes of last season surely found out what it’s like to earn points on a curve.

Imagine, for a nanosecond, if the regular season champion New Hampshire had struck first in one of the three overtimes of the Hockey East semifinal. No Lamoriello Trophy, no automatic bid for the fourth-place Eagles.

Or what if Vermont had enough steam to polish off their Charlestown Chiefs-like turnaround? After all, getting to the league championship game wasn’t enough for the third-place Catamounts to woo the selection committee, was it?

Yet another puck-friendly parable one can take out of math class. One malfunction early on can, and all but always does, thump the whole endeavor off course.

The Eagles effectively maneuvered through it all last spring, but that flirtation with ultimate disappointment isn’t likely to relent so kindly a second time.

Never mind the fact that BC swallowed a learning experience through its 2006 NCAA shortcoming versus Wisconsin, then another the following year when they submitted to Michigan State. If they are to punch in a fourth consecutive passport to the final frontier, they will have to resort to consistently inflicting their oppressive, roundly braced roster.

In other words, no more letting York rhetorically shake his head after tying Maine’s paper Black Bears, 3-3. Next time that happens, he just might need to send everyone to the goal line and repeatedly holler “Again!” for the next hour.

But hey, these guys are –at last- certified champions. Logically, they wouldn’t let that happen.

PC’s core classes look to their leaders
In a nod to the current edition of The Hockey News (press date: October 14), wherein you “See which players need a hot start to the season in our Team Reports,” the Free Press offers the same report for PC:

PC men’s coach Tim Army can’t be consistent enough in expressing his pertinent craving for consistency out of his players –a lack of which has bumped the Friars little by little in recent seasons. As a second-year captain, Laughlin is a radiant individual embodiment of that need. Granted, if Laughlin storms out with an acetylene twig, his October will be no different from that of last year, when he stamped a pleasurable 5-3-8 scoring transcript in the first six games. This time around, he could stand to show that he can run up those numbers for the length of the season. He is, after all, by class year hierarchical standards, filling the skates of Jon Rheault –likely the last 100-point man the Friars will see for a while. Who better than the elder captain to set a team standard?

Across the arena, there’s no telling how consistent the line combinations will remain for the women’s team. But, for the moment, freshman Laura Veharanta is linked up with certified cage-stuffers Mari Pehkonen and Alyse Ruff, plugging the void left by Jean O’Neill’s recent injury. Most anybody, including any one of Veharanta’s four offensive classmates, could have been summoned to stab at that taxing enterprise. But, at least initially, Veharanta was the chosen trainee, and she ought to have studiously and/or instinctively have Xeroxed something off the blades of Pehkonen and Ruff. Even if that’s just a gentle-firm welcome-to-PC, there’s no cause for her to delay the learning process. If the future really is now with the class of 2012 –as the advocates insist- then the “now” half involves setting the tone at the earliest possible time.

Tempo promptly shot up
The wee hours of the Women’s Hockey East Association’s usage of the shootout had the flawless first-shift fortunes of Mario Lemieux. The only 2008-09 league game on record up to this point is last Wednesday’s technical 2-2 draw between New Hampshire and Boston College –though really a 3-2 Wildcat win by virtue of Kacey Bellamy’s strike in the fifth round of penalty stabs.

From an entertainment angle, from which the women’s game in particular has but nothing to lose, Bellamy impeccably embodied the league’s sizzle from the face-off dot to the net.

BC coach Katie King to the Foster’s Daily Democrat: “It’s like the playoffs. It made it fun for the kids. It made it exciting and that’s what it’s all about.”

UNH skipper Brian McCloskey: “It’s just what I hoped when we vote it in. Can it do anything but enhance the game?”

Based on the upshots effect on each team’s records, it could enhance the fervor of the pennant race if it comes into frequent-enough use. But stat scarfers will want to enhance their alertness in order to track it. For right now, the Wildcats’ boast a 1-0-0 transcript in conference play, but are 0-0-1 overall. The Eagles, 1-0-1 overall after their Clarkson series last weekend, claimed the single point for the Hockey East standings, but tacked another tie onto their national persona.

What does this mean? Entertainment value aside, it will be more to the benefit of aspirant NCAA contenders to stash away the W within regulation. Otherwise, as was just the case for the Cats, they spill a potential dollop of poll recognition.

Quick Feeds: All hail the Hub Hunks. They really do. This publication, as well as Inside College Hockey, US College Hockey Online, and the coach’s panel all expressly foresee a 1-2 finish between BC and BU respectively in the Hockey East men’s league…Colin MacDonald and Cody Wild, both Friars of the not-too-distant past, were deferred from Edmonton training camp and shall again team up on the Springfield Falcons, on tap for the P-Bruins this afternoon at 4:00 at The Dunk…Speaking of Wild, Jim Connelly of USCHO recently listed the would-be senior bouncer as one of PC’s key returnees for this season. True, everyone trips over their own skate once in a while. But judging by the seemingly robotic response by young fans who were asked “Who’s your favorite Friar?” during games last season, this particular misprint is a psychological slapshot to the shin for Friar Fanatics…The still-infant, Providence-based Naukabout apparel manufacturing company has hopped on the roster of Hockey East’s business partners…Apparently, some PC women’s fans want an explanation on Ohio State perching one of its assistant coaches behind the Friar cage for parts of last weekend’s series. Just keep note of this: Bob Bellemore and Amy Quinlan take in every game from a hawk’s-eye view in the press box. There are no grounds for a Spygate-like search warrant in either case. It’s all merely scrutinizing the action and tweaking one’s own tactics accordingly… This author’s picks for the out-of-market game of the week: certified CCHA powerhouse Miami-Ohio will perk up the Gutterson Fieldhouse in a two-game visit to Vermont, which is striving to similarly cement itself in the Hockey East Parthenon.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Women's Hockey 6, Colgate 2

Make-up artists
Tenacious Friars throttle Raiders, break win column

The gale force tempest of Colgate Raider shots -44 total on the day- was arguably eclipsed by the tireless Category 5 whistle storm on the part of the officiating crew, which handed out a game total of 60 penalty minutes between the contesting teams.

But both of those ice-shattering elements were dwarfed by the Friars’ volcanic output on the scoresheet. Eight players put their pens to that sheet, six of them rolling up a multi-point performance en route to a 6-2 Providence triumph at Schneider Arena yesterday afternoon.

The lowdown: Katy Beach sprinkled two tallies; starting forwards Mari Pehkonen, Alyse Ruff, and Laura Veharanta each claimed a goal-assist value pack; and defenders Colleen Martin and Erin Normore each logged two helpers.

And so, individual and group catharsis was passed around the dressing room hours after a verbal stress ball made its way around the team lunch table.

“I told them today at our pre-game meal that after watching the tape (of previous games) we can get discouraged or we can persevere,” said head coach Bob Deraney. “And I told them a story from a book called The Traveler’s Gift. In this place where Gabriel is there are these cases of trophies, diplomas, cars –all these material things.

“The traveler asks Gabriel, ‘What are these things?’ These are the things that, right around the corner, where they decided to stop going after them. So what do we want to be? Do we want to be discouraged or do we want to persevere?”

So for a team tantalized by the specter of posting a big 0-4 mark on their season-opening homestand, Deraney decided to bring best-selling motivational scribe Andy Andrews into the equation. Go figure. This is the institution that put Development of Western Civilization on the map.

Come what may, the Friars made the upward U-turn they had pursued since last weekend.

“Today was just a product of how close we’ve been,” Deraney concluded. “We got the breaks and we deserved the breaks. We executed and we played really well.”

None other than Pehkonen got the victorious gush flowing. Pehkonen, who took an uncharacteristic three penalties in Friday’s falter to St. Lawrence, nimbly rekindled the productive game that has molded her rep on this campus, those she has visited, plus three continents.

Yesterday’s contest was but 39 seconds old when Pehkonen drew a power play by letting Colgate defender Kiira Dosdall’s give her a stick to the midsection in front of the cage. After sitting down for the first power play shift, Pehkonen returned with all of her fellow starters and helped captain Brittany Simpson set up a regrouping breakout.

Simpson forwarded the disc to Ruff, who nimbly offered Pehkonen a moving cross-ice feed through neutral ice. With it, Pehkonen let a low flying wrister through traffic and in to the left of Colgate goalie Elayna Hamashuk (8 saves).

Less than ten minutes later, in the waning seconds of a protracted 5-on-3 advantage, Pehkonen offered a parallel feed to Normore at the near point. A screening Veharanta tilted Normore’s subsequent blast top shelf for the 2-0 edge.

Ashley Cottrell more or less joined Pehkonen in the Friday redemption department on a shorthanded break at the 15:26 mark. Cottrell, who had whiffed on a third period penalty shot against SLU, bought herself a breakaway on her own money yesterday. Scooping the loose puck out of a scrum along the far walls of the neutral zone, she swooped in virtually uncontested and buried her first collegiate goal within the near post.

Well before the game hit the halfway mark, PC had equated its cumulative scoring output (four goals) of the previous three games. At 7:13 of the middle frame, Ruff, who about three minutes and one shift earlier was snuffed on a long-range slapper, was forking at Veharanta’s rebound along with Martin before she finally reached behind Hamashuk’s blades to nudge it in.

Gone was Hamashuk in favor of Lisa Plenderleith (15 saves) and long gone were the young pointless streaks of Cottrell, Martin, and Ruff.

“You just gotta get that feel,” said Deraney. “Once you get that feel of your body doing it, all of a sudden it becomes a little bit easier. I’m happy for them to see them break out because they’re on the cusp of being terrific point producers for us.”

Together with the parity, the discipline between the two teams began to somersault out of control in the latter half of the game. Even with a hitting-from-behind major to Colgate’s Kristi-Lyn Pollock with 2:37 till intermission, the Raiders crashed the Friars’ all-you-can-score buffet by drawing two minors and cutting a now 5-1 deficit (courtesy Pollock at 9:10 and Beach for PC at 16:32 –both power play strikes) with 0.6 seconds remaining.

Six ticks after Friar Jennifer Freidman went off for tripping –granting the Raiders a 4-on-3 edge- Dosdall fed Todd Clancy for a homeward bound floater from the far circle-top.

But PC would virtually seal its borders through the length of the third period and tacked on one last power play conversion –their fourth of the day- via Beach.

“We played hockey today,” Deraney said bluntly. “We made plays; we didn’t panic with the puck; we didn’t treat it like a hot potato. Everyone was consistently trying to make plays.”

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Hockey Log

Status quo working fine in net
Rookie stopper Lacasse continues to please

By order of preseason circumstances, Genevieve Lacasse should have been thrown the red shirt from a Hail Mary distance while she strolled down the hall to the dressing room for her first Friars practice last month.

After all, she was wedging her way into a goalie’s guild that was returning all three of its 2007-08 constituents –Danielle Ciarletta, Jen Smith, and Christina England- and couldn’t even make time to offer all three game action last season.

Then Lacasse dressed for the preseason exhibition, and then the regular season opener, opposite the senior Ciarletta and sophomore Smith. When she got the nod for Game 2 of last weekend’s Ohio State series, it was all but surely a sign that head coach Bob Deraney had a baseball pitchers-like rotation in mind.

But since she pushed away 32 Buckeye bids and authorized three goals on “not shots” but “scrums” in Deraney’s words, the crease has been all hers. And she only reinforced her singular claim to the cage over this weekend, kicking out 26 St. Lawrence shots Friday and 42 Colgate stabs for her first collegiate win yesterday.

It was easy to miss given the way the PC attack squad disassembled the Colgate tandem of Elayna Hamashuk and Lisa Plenderleith, but Lacasse backboned yesterday’s onslaught by withstanding one spurt after another –including five unanswered power play shots within the first minute of the third period. The period-by-period shot distribution read a fairly balanced 15-15-14, but save for two connections in the middle frame, Lacasse lugged the whole bushel unhurt.

Not to mention, she spiked her three-game save total to precisely 100. So now, by order of her initial track record, Lacasse looks like a lock to start this Saturday’s Hockey East opener at Northeastern.

“We’re a meritocracy and the best players play,” Deraney said. “She’s played very well and as long as people play well, they’re gonna play.

“I’m sure Danielle will get in there again and she’ll have the opportunity to do the same thing. But, I always say that not the best players, but those who are playing well are going to continue to play more.”

O’Neill easing back in
One of the quieter Friars in yesterday’s rubber blizzard was Jean O’Neill, returning from a pre-season injury and plugging the third-line center void left by an ailing Jackie Duncan. Her only tangible, statistical achievement was a 5-for-8 rate on the face-off. But, Deraney offered “For her first game –I put her in a lot of different situations- I thought she was up to what we asked her to do. I thought she did a pretty good job, considering she was out for our first four games.”

Among other things, O’Neill briefly reunited with former linemates Mari Pehkonen and Alyse Ruff on the first shift of a power play at 15:06 of the second period.

Quick Feeds: With her two-point performance yesterday, Ruff’s first goal of both her freshman and sophomore seasons have come at Colgate’s expense…Returning to the standard 12-forward, 6-defender depth chart, Deraney put down sophomore blueliner Leigh Riley as a healthy scratch yesterday…Under the no-nonsense officiating crew, which whistled each team on 13 occasions, yesterday’s tussle saw two sets of coincidental minors, three 5-on-3 sequences, two 4-on-3 moments, and three brief four-on-four stretches. Twenty out of thirty-six dressed skaters paid at least on visit to the box.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com