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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dartmouth 4, Men's Hockey 2

Oh No-vember
Delayed reaction costs Friars against Dartmouth

Report based on Gametracker

Ryan Simpson’s return date to the Providence College crease, like the take-off time for umpteen hundred holiday weekend flights, is not ceasing to augment its delay at the last minute.

In the tantalizing interim, freshman Justin Gates, the solitary symbol of PC’s long-term goaltending hopes with Chris Mannix now glancing ahead to his final semester on the Divine Campus, continues to faithfully lug the better load of the rucksack.

Last night, for all but about three-and-a-half minutes of play, Gates kilned one of his smoother, more soothing, more collected performances, charging up a grand total 28 saves on the night –half of those being recorded in the first period.

But upon returning from the subsequent respite in the locker room, the Dartmouth Big Green caught Gates under the influence of a brief but fatal hibernation trance reminiscent of a turkey dinner’s drowsying aftermath. They whipped home three quick goals before five minutes were gone from the middle frame and in effect paced themselves to a 4-2 victory before a sub-average sized audience of 1,492 at Schneider Arena.

The Friars, whose home white game time suits will now be stashed away for a long (as in six-week-long) winter’s nap, have thus curtained a once savory-looking November home slate at 0-5-1. Their final shot to avert a winless month altogether lies at Union’s Messa Rink tonight.

Leading up to the decisive Dartmouth cyclone, and even in the 35 minutes they had to work with after the fact, Providence dispensed its rabid starvation productively, keeping pace –ultimately pulling a few ice chips ahead- in the shooting gallery and keeping their discipline intact.

Meanwhile, the Green’s Jim Gaudet singlehandedly slipped a pair of written invitations under the Friars’ bench door in the opening frame, claiming the period’s only two citations from the officiating crew at 5:38 (hooking) and 15:01 (interference). But goaltender Jody O’Neill (35 saves) was kept cold throughout his first PK while Andrew Owsiak discharged one registered shorthanded stab at Gates.

During PC’s second power play swing, O’Neill got his hands on three-quarters of a fruitful onslaught while another shot –off Pierce Norton’s tape- dinked off the post.

Although, the period threats of tempest around the other cage was neutralized just as effectively –for the moment. Gates withstood the whole of 14 Dartmouth shots within the first 20 minutes last night while his praetorian guards kept their slates clean.

But Gates gave out at a harrowingly swift pace to start the second, letting the second shot he faced in the period hop by off the twig of Adam Escolet at the 0:51 mark.

Precisely one minute later, Joe Lavin was flagged for hitting from behind while Gates was soaking in a bid from Scott Fleming to summon a whistle. Thirty-five ticks later, the Big Green were 2-for-2 when a man-up and bearing a 2-0 edge courtesy Owsiak.

Gaudet, who would take yet a third no-harm-done trip to the bin for holding at 14:50, capped the outburst at 4:22 for the eventual game-clincher, and only after O’Neill had simmered a four-shot sugar rush on the suddenly frenetic Friars’ part.

Providence –which went empty on a night’s total of 10 shots over five power plays- did gradually come to escalate its output on the board, simultaneously pulling even in the way of SOG and hatching O’Neill’s goose egg with 5:41 left till intermission. First line winger Ian O’Connor tuned the mesh for his second point in as many games, awarding season-long centerpiece John Cavanagh and new fellow wingman Austin Mayer with a helper apiece.

Freshman Rob Maloney would saw the deficit to 3-2 through his first collegiate goal at 5:09 of the third. But O’Neill uncompromisingly fused his borders afterward, pushing away nine more shots and inducing spillage on two more Friar power plays before Matt Reber laced him an empty netter with 24 seconds to spare in regulation.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Hockey Log

Breaking tradition
PC women hope to snap Mayor’s Cup’s annual takeback

The smudged CD lens that has recorded Bob Deraney’s slapshot-paced assessment of tonight’s 14th annual Mayor’s Cup bout is sincerely circumstantial.

As has been the case since 2002, Thanksgiving week culminates with the women’s edition of the Divine City Dance between the PC Friars and Brown Bears. And as has been the case every even-numbered year in that stretch, the Friars are trying to renew their claim to the Cup for another year on the enemy pond.

“As I told them,” said Deraney in reference to the conclusion of his post-game lecture after last week’s 2-2 home knot with Niagara, “we’ve got Brown coming up next Saturday, the game was scheduled for this week, and Brown’s gonna make us bring the Cup over there just to bring it back.”

Which, of course, Providence has not done in 2004 nor 2006. The last time the host program didn’t skate off with the petite token of civic bragging rights was when a 4-4 tie was drawn in 2002 at Meehan Auditorium. The visitor has not been victorious in this annual affair since Brown wrested away a 4-0 decision in the House That Lou Built the year prior.

Although, this season, that trivial trend will be tinkering in conflict with another: the host Bears –who belatedly commenced their season on October 24, at which point the Friars were already 2-4 overall- boast a hollow 0-4-0 transcript at home.

More to tactical relevance, PC’s key to snaring the now 2-8-1 Bears and tipping their own scale back on the north end of the .500 mark is another suffocating barrage at senior goaltender Nicole Stock, who on this weekend last year withstood 20 of 22 first period stabs, but ultimately gave out well enough to hand the Friars a fairly facile 5-2 victory.

Apart from an 18-save, 4-1 overhaul of Union November 1, Stock has rerun her maximum sweat motif in every start-to-finish venture this season, never facing fewer than 30 shots per night. Already, she has rolled up six individual bushels exceeding 40 saves –all but one them in suffocating, losing efforts. The only time she was statistically rewarded for her end of the bargain was in an opening weekend 2-2 knot at St. Cloud State.

· PC’s top scorers: Laura Veharanta (10-4-14); Erin Normore (4-8-12); Ashley Cottrell (1-8-9)
· Brown’s top scorers: Andrea Hunter and Paige Pyett (3-3-6); Maggie Suprey (2-2-4)
· Projected goaltending matchup: Genevieve Lacasse (PC) vs. Nicole Stock (Brown)
· Site: Meehan Auditorium, Providence, RI; 7:30 face-off
· Media: online audiocast courtesy friars.com

PC Men at Union Quick Hits
· PC’s top scorers: Matt Bergland (3-10-13); John Cavanagh (4-4-8); Matt Taormina (3-5-8)
· Union’s top scorers: Stephane Boileau (4-5-9); Adam Presizniuk (5-3-8); Lane Caffero (4-3-7)
· Projected goaltender matchup: Justin Gates (PC) vs. Corey Milan (Union)
· Site: Messa Rink, Schenectady, NY; 7:00 face-off
· Media: online audiocast courtesy friars.com

Quick Feeds: Top gun Andrea Hunters has cultivated all six of her points over Brown’s first six ECAC games. She has conversely been kept mum over five interleague contests…Stock is one of only three rostered seniors on the Bears roster. Of the other two, forward Frances Male has charged up a goal and an assist over ten games while forward Savannah Smith has yet to see a lick of game action this season…On the PC men, only starting defenseman Bryce Aneloski is in the black on the plus/minus front with a +1 rating, one knob down from where he was prior to last night’s opening draw. Paul Golden and Andy Balysky, who both watched the 4-2 falter to Dartmouth from the upper bowl, kept their even rate intact, but Matt Taormina –Aneloski’s established associate- dipped to a -1…Dartmouth’s Joe Stejskal and Scott Fleming led all contesting shooters last night with seven SOG apiece. At one point, during the 11th minute of the first period, Stejskal discharged three consecutive shots in one unwhistled shift, though he was held off the scoresheet the whole night…The Union Skating Dutchmen (5-4-1 overall) will be waiting comfortably after their 5-4 home overhaul of Army.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hockey Log

With ranked Dartmouth, PC opponents not letting up

Now deep into a seven-week recess from its altogether lurid Hockey East slate, the PC men shall commence a petite, four-game itinerary with ECAC satellites for the next week-and-a-half before the December decelaration kicks in.

Tonight’s home tussle with Dartmouth –the last time Schneider Arena lights up for either of its inhabitants before Yule Trees light up in countless worldwide homes- will fall a good 34 days since the Friars (2-9-1 overall) last celebrated an authentic, tangible W –back on October 25 at Holy Cross. It has now been 41 days since PC’s last and lone home triumph –a 4-3 squeaker past Bowling Green.

Hacking through a menacing forest of patchiness ever since, they arguably came closest to clearing their fan base’s collective sinuses last weekend when they at least gave a hibernating New Hampshire team a helpful third period pulse check.

But tonight, Providence will serve as the barricading subject of a gut check for the Big Green, newly admitted to the national polls in the #20 slot this week. Dartmouth (5-3-0 overall) had only seen a five-game winning streak halted last Saturday when mighty Cornell wrested away a 3-1 final.

After a delayed, dawdling start to their season –absorbing a 4-1 biff from Harvard on Halloween and a 3-2 overtime falter via Vermont November 2- the Green have ostensibly stabilized with at least some symbolic aid from freshman goaltender Jody O’Neill, whose lone sit-down to date was the Vermont game.

Since then, O’Neill has bolstered the breadth of the aforementioned five-game rampage before he took a second shortcoming at Cornell. Overall, he has compiled 224 saves on 238 total shots faced in seven ventures, thus bolstering an altogether unremarkable offense that has averaged exactly 3 goals per game while authorizing 2.25 in their own end.

Tale of Two Knights
The top guns on both of tonight’s contesting clubs –freshman Matt Bergland of PC and sophomore Adam Escolet of Dartmouth- are products of the Minnesota high school powerhouse Benilde-St. Margaret’s. They had each transferred prior to their respective junior campaigns and played simultaneously for the Red Knights in 2006-07.

Other ex-collegiate prep teammates reconvening tonight as adversaries: Danny New (PC) and forward Paul Lee (Dartmouth), both freshmen straight out of Avon Old Farms; Ben Farrer (PC) and Rob Smith (Dartmouth), both alumni of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks; PC’s Eric Baier, Justin Gates, Matt Germain, Austin Mayer, Ian O’Connor, and Dartmouth’s Jimmy Gaudet, all claimed from the talent factory that is the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.

Dusty Dartmouth scorebooks
Tonight will break a nearly nine-year-old fast from Friar-Big Green get-togethers. These programs last crossed paths here on December 10, 1999, when Boyd Ballard pushed away 30 shots and Mike Farrell and Jay Leach both tuned the Dartmouth mesh in the second period towards a 2-0 victory.

Dating back to 1953, the Friars lead the all-time series, 14 games to eight.

Could have been theirs
PC sophomore defenseman Eric Baier of North Kingstown, who has battled mild unspecified ailments off and on this autumn, snapped a four-game hiatus away from action in last weekend’s two-stop excursion to Lowell and New Hampshire. Assuming he suits up again tonight, he will have a chance to confront the program he had initially committed to before converting to the more local Friars.

· PC’s top scorers: Matt Bergland (3-9-12); Matt Taormina (3-5-8); John Cavanagh (4-3-7)
· Dartmouth’s top scorers: Adam Escolet (4-8-12); Joe Stejskal (6-2-8); Doug Jones (1-7-8)
· Projected goaltending matchup: Justin Gates (PC) vs. Jody O’Neill (Dartmouth)
· Media: Cox Sports TV, WOON AM 1240, Gametracker, online audio streaming

Quick Feeds: Ironically, the current incarnations of the Friars and Green are getting their programs reacquainted only four days after Dartmouth hockey’s latest gem, Lee Stempniak, was dealt by the St. Louis Blues to the Toronto Maple Leafs, coached by none other than PC’s all-time points leader, Ron Wilson…Dartmouth’s lone current NHL draftee: sophomore blueliner Joe Stejskal, a 2007 fifth-rounder to Monreal...From here, the Friars will bus off tomorrow night to renew their animosity with Union for the second straight season. It will be PC’s first visit to the Achilles Rink since drawing a 4-4 knot on November 20, 2001…Longtime Boston Garden staple Rene Rancourt’s annual Christmas Carol regional rink tour makes its Providence stop tonight.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On Hockey

PC women master the art of drawing
Putting adversaries in the box not hurting their cause

Last Saturday, the less-than-potent Niagara Purple Eagles could have, by all means, laid claim to a most shakily executed 2-0 blow to the Friars and gotten away with it.

If only they have taken a productive pointer from the Connecticut Huskies, who six days prior had spilled their own shot at a wholesome visit to Schneider Arena with hefty thanks to climactic penalty trouble.

As UConn had done while it was still holding its ground in a daylong zilch-nada draw with the Friars ten days ago, Niagara let its discipline detonate in the evening minutes of regulation on Saturday, in effect wrinkling its lead to 2-1 with 4:28 to spare.

Then, upon Mary MacKinnon’s cross-checking sentence with 2:46 remaining, Providence coach Bob Deraney, as he had done when the Huskies went down 5-on-3 with precisely 7:00 on the clock, summoned a timely timeout.

And on the other end of that timeout, just as they had done the preceding Sunday, proficient puckslingers Laura Veharanta and Alyse Ruff collaborated towards potting the eventual deciding goal, this one an equalizer in a tie that indubitably slanted to the winning half of the sentiment scale.

With that, one calendar week had been bookended with two cases of Veharanta feeding Ruff for a clutch power play conversion. And the weekend curtained on a digestible note after the Friars had gone numb on 17 consecutive player-up segments through the length of a 3-0 Friday falter to Mercyhurst and the majority of an eventual 2-2 tie with the Eagles.

Naturally, PC is still yearning for consistent connectivity on the front lines. In order to so much as get a hook on their expressly desired ends, they must inflict routine red light blindness on the opposition. And, looking at the latest scoresheets, which are saturated by Ruff, Veharanta, and Erin Normore –who nailed her own power play strike for Saturday’s first goal- the wealth ought to spread, too.

But, to their credit, the Friars are progressing in the way of unbolting their own door to quality scoring chances. In their last five games, they have either tied or surpassed the opposition in the way of discipline.

Final “scores” on the power play front: November 7- PC 10, Robert Morris 8; November 8- PC 7, Robert Morris 5; November 16- PC 5, Connecticut 5; November 21- PC 10, Mercyhurst 6; November 22- PC 10, Niagara 6.

Over that same stretch, Providence has concocted a cumulative six conversions while authorizing merely two when shorthanded themselves.

Tellingly on the defensive front, neither of those opposing power play strikes came off a Mercyhurst twig, even amidst a 54-shot firestorm in Friday’s 3-0 falter.

One of them, though, did hop off a Niagara blade the following night when Melanie Mills shoved home the icebreaker late in the first period, effectively numbing the Friars for the next twenty-plus minutes.

But when the time came for fidgeting turbulence in the third period, the Friars found some way of keeping their hustles smooth and constructive as they assumed uncompromising command in the shooting gallery, 12-3. In the process, they exhaled their instability and let it latch on to the leading Eagles.

One play by one, the polar exchange sunk in. At the 2:24 mark, only eight seconds after Kate Bacon was boxed for tripping, granting Niagara its fifth power play on the night, MacKinnon shepherded penalty killer Christie Jensen behind the net, amounting to 1:52 of 4-on-4 and diminishing the Eagles’ shot at a potential KO goal.

At 8:45, Katy Beach cut loose to the Niagara porch when she herself was suddenly hooked by Christina Jablonski. PC proceeded to put forth a lengthy, one-shot (Ashley Cottrell), cyclone in the Eagles zone.

Finally, with 5:17 to spare and still a 2-0 differential glaring down on them, Veharanta, less than a minute removed from her own jailbreak for slashing, submissively let a mini mob of defenders ambush her after a whistle in the sightline of goaltender Jenni Bauer. Niagara’s Leah Whittaker was accordingly flagged for holding after the whistle and Normore formally sparked the rally 49 seconds later.

Jensen would draw her third Eagle penalty of the period with 2:42 to work with upon absorbing an unmistakable cross-check by MacKinnon in neutral ice. Ruff would knot it where it mattered at two-all in another 59 ticks.

So apparently, these Friars –their reliable starting brigade, especially- are both asserting themselves as behavioral superiors and fostering a passable habit of popping out their best carbonation in the clutch.

Maybe sooner, rather than later, they’d appreciate some fresh enlightenment to the pressure that comes with trying to assert themselves as an NCAA bigwig.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Monday, November 24, 2008

On Hockey

Untimely awakening
PC Men can’t build on Saturday’s finish for some time

“We didn’t lose the game. We just ran out of time,” reads just one flabbergasting passage in the colorful tome of Vince Lombardi.

Perhaps Friar Puck cited that passage as part of this week’s Sunday sermon in a nod to Saturday night’s unfinished rally at New Hampshire. Upon authorizing three unanswered goals in the middle frame to dig themselves a 4-1 hole, Providence perked up in the third to run up an uncharacteristic 18-3 edge in the shooting gallery, draw themselves four unanswered power plays, and wrinkle the Wildcat lead to 4-3 courtesy radiant rookie Matt Bergland at 1:27 and, of all unlikely heat guns, bouncer Mark Fayne at 12:23.

That’s as far as it went, though. So whether you’re uncompromisingly swearing by the stats or circumventing the end result a la the late Vehement Vince, perhaps there’s this ground for compromise: the Friars plainly didn’t win.

And, with a full third of their 2008-09 Hockey East slate in the books, they haven’t won once. With the ice chips having settled from the past weekend, they bear a plebeian 0-8-1 transcript together with the league’s only GF-GA differential to read worse than a negative-10. Specifically, the collective rating is a -26.

All things considered –their continual, outward flow of blood dating back to opening night versus Northeastern October 17, and the fact that they were combating the treacherous depths of Lake Whittemore- the Friars concocted a comfortably unruffled closing frame Saturday. Their newfangled self-possession, which had been lacking in such ventures as Friday’s 6-1 lashing at Lowell or the sweep they granted UMass-Amherst three weekends back, came out of hiding and brushed the roof with the tip of its pointer.

But the other skate dropped when the final buzzer solidified a 4-3 triumph for the Wildcats, and brought a partner with it in the form of a little reminder. Morally quenching as Saturday’s final sprint may have been, PC will not have a chance to build on it for another 47 days.

The Riverhawks, who have already eradicated the once invincible parity between these programs in the form of 4-1 and 6-1 victories at Tsongas Arena this season, will pay their lone scheduled visit to Schneider Arena on January 10, thus commencing the heat of the Hockey East pennant race. Until then, the Friars have four interleague engagements and a holiday break to look forward to.

And in that protracted interim, all nine of PC’s conference cohabitants will have at least one more league game. Translation: one or more chances to augment their lead from the cellar dwellers currently subsisting on but a single point.

Ninth-place Merrimack, for one, will lock twigs with Lowell tomorrow night at Lawler Arena, visit UNH this Saturday, then welcome Maine on Sunday, December 7. By the time everybody takes a second to straighten out and focuses solely on the derby to TD Banknorth Garden, the Warriors could lead the Friars by anything between three and nine points.

At the bottom of the black, the Riverhawks, Wildcats, and BU Terriers currently boast eight points apiece, but are one assertive lash away from pole-vaulting over the likes of Maine, UMass, and Vermont.

Granted, come the New Year, the Friars will have one game in hand on the Minutemen and Catamounts and two in hand on the rest of their leading adversaries. But as head coach Tim Army noted a year ago during a midseason teleconference, “Games in hand are only effective if you win them.”

Naturally, the Friars have no reason not to relinquish the fruitful fervor that’s bound to carry over from Saturday into this practice week leading up to Friday’s visit from Dartmouth. But their foremost pressing cause at this time is lassoing a comfortable degree of relevance in the Hockey East pennant race.

On that front, where they stand at this particular moment, they are sheer victims of circumstance. Not only will they have the seven-week hiatus from intraleague action to surmount, but between the Mayor’s Cup on Tuesday, December 9, and the aforementioned home date with Lowell, they are bound to absorb a full month’s worth of rust.

In shallow supply of options, Army’s best bet is to implement a steady, slow-consumption diet of psychological subsistence until this vexing delay of games runs its course. Or perhaps a cathartic Holiday off Ice followed by a clean slate for Games 10 through 27 can be made an incidental remedy.

Otherwise, the matter-of-fact rationale may end up being, “We didn’t lose momentum. We were just forced to take time off.”

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Women's Hockey 2, Niagara 2

Friars’ hourglass turns half-full
Last ditch rally abolishes 2-0 deficit

The red light flickered a tad prematurely while the seated Niagara goaltender Jenni Bauer failed to clamp down Laura Veharanta’s initial face-to-face shot on her porch.

But the way the dramatist Friars were already getting away with cramming, having just sawed a 2-0 deficit via Erin Normore’s power play conversion less than three minutes prior, the goal judge’s slippery fingers merely made for a minor spillage of the refreshing comeback potion.

As Bauer was hastily pulling herself back upright, Alyse Ruff seized the fugitive puck along the near post and wasted no time burying it home and drawing a 2-2 knot with 1:43 to spare in regulation time.

Ruff, the decider in three of PC’s first six victories this season and both of their last two, can now pad on an equalizer to her rapidly budding application for the College Hockey Clutch Capstones Club.

As an intangible bonus, when nobody clicked in the resultant five-minute bonus round, Normore proceeded to insert the only goal out of six aggregate shootout stabs, granting the Friars their first triumph in the one-on-one derby this season.

“(I’m) very happy with the last seven minutes of the game,” acknowledged head coach Bob Deraney in reference to the regulation climax that saw PC cultivate three power plays, two conversions, and a 5-1 edge in the way of shots. “I think the lesson that we take out of this game is that at the beginning of the game we got a few 5-on-3 power plays and we just didn’t go after them with as much determination as we did in the end, (initially) thinking that ‘We’ve got more time, if I don’t get this one, I’ll get another opportunity, there’s so much time left.’

“With seven minutes to go, all of a sudden we knew time was clicking down and we went after those pucks with more of an urgency and a vengeance than we did earlier. If we went after rebounds like we did late earlier in the game it wouldn’t have been as close. So that’s a lesson we’ll be able to feed off of later on.”

As Deraney noted, PC initially wrung out a commanding edge in the shooting gallery -12-4 as of the first intermission- and enacted a few reckonable rubber flurries, bolstered in part by four consecutive Niagara penalties spanning between the 2:21 and 8:50 mark. The Purple Eagles’ dysfunctional fa├žade reached an emblematic pinnacle when a whistle halted the Friars’ breakout setup to slap Alison Malty with a game misconduct for verbal abuse at 8:19.

But the visitors’ very last column standing, that being Bauer (39 saves), withstood all five Providence power play stabs and collected immediate compensation from her skating colleagues shortly before the period expired.

Churning along through their third power play on the evening, the Eagles tuned the net first at 19:21. Christina Jablonski thrust a wrister out of the far circle into a blinding collage before goaltender Danielle Ciarletta (17 saves) and strikers Autumn Stuntz and Melanie Mills promptly forked for a rebound. Mills ultimately bumped the conversion home within the near post.

From there, Niagara snuck in an additional goal at 4:27 –ccourtesy Mary McKinnon’s one-timer off a feed from center point patroller Jocey Kleiber- and mutual sluggishness settled in to take a suffocating toll on the general flow of the game. In one protracted stretch between the 8:08 and 13:41 mark, the action wrenched choppily from end to end without a single stoppage until a scrum before the PC bench warranted a whistle, freezing the already old fogey play dead.

And even as the Friars sprinkled another dozen shots at Bauer, the sustainability that defined the wee minutes of the previous stanza was conspicuously absent.

“What happens is, when you control the play the way we did and get nothing for it, it kind of gets demoralizing for us and gives them a lot of confidence,” Deraney said. “And then, all of a sudden, they get a power play goal and we’re kind of scrambling. All of a sudden, they believe they can and we’re starting to doubt ourselves.”

But in the third, Niagara’s output regressed from eleven second period bids to merely three. And initial disturbances of an epic rally materialized when McKinnon’s obstruction hooking felony at 12:37 invalidated the final 20 seconds of an Eagle power play and rekindled the buzz around Bauer’s porch.

Only six seconds after McKinnon’s jailbreak, teammate Leah Whittaker was flagged for mugging Veharanta after a whistle before her own net.

Forty-nine seconds later, Normore made a trademark venture beyond her point post to the near face-off dot, where she imported Katy Beach’s feed from the high slot and leveled it top shelf to bring the Friars aboard.

Deraney utilized his timeout with 2:42 when McKinnon was flagged yet again, this time for an open-ice cross check to Christie Jensen in the neutral zone. There, the likes of Veharanta and Ruff dutifully butted into Bauer’s personal space and rounded out the rally with Ruff taking a triumphant spill as she raked home the equalizer.

“To our players’ credit, they saw time ticking down and never gave up,” said Deraney. “We got one, and all of a sudden we believed we could and they started to question themselves.

“It’s a game of momentum. Go back to the beginning of the game, when we had opportunities to score but we just didn’t go at them with the same urgency that we should have like we did at the end of the game. If we had done that, we wouldn’t have been in that situation.”

PC’s revived resolve marched on through the overtime –albeit fruitlessly on the scoreboard- as they drew one more power play (10 total on the night) and heaved another five shots on net.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Hockey Log

Eagles Ciarred in shootout
PC’s senior stopper redeems BU falter

Noticeable elements of statistical consensus were the prevalent theme between Danielle Ciarletta and the opposing Niagara Purple Eagles en route to last night’s 2-2 regulation draw at Schneider Arena.

First, Ciarletta relinquished her career-old shutout streak against the Eagles –after she had laid three goose eggs in as many confrontations over her sophomore and junior campaigns- at the game clock age of 199:21. Translation: 39 seconds short of 10 consecutive shutout periods.

But after her teammates absolved that drawback, plus another at 4:27 of the second, Ciarletta ultimately earned an invitation to whitewash the bittersweet finish to her previous outing. Three weeks prior, when she put in her last active appearance at Boston University, she submitted a 0-for-3 save rate in the shootout and spilled an extra point for the Friars in the Hockey East standings.

Uncannily enough, after giving way to Genevieve Lacasse for the next four outings, Ciarletta was the crease custodian on duty for PC’s next 65-minute-tie-enforced shootout. And this time, she fended off the likes of Melanie Mills, Emilie Castonguay, and Ashley Riggs, thereby pacing Erin Normore to the last-round clincher.

Ciarletta’s responsiveness was inessential on Mills’ attempt in the first round as it shanked wide of the left post. Castonguay gave a whirl at a Nathan Gerbe impression, turning her back to the cage halfway through her straightaway stride, only to see her thrust brush off Ciarletta’s trapper and drop over the cage.

Riggs, Niagara’s top gun, offered a harrowingly soapier, ice-kissing shot that initially eluded Ciarletta’s clutch and partially trickled to the top of the goal line before the goalie lashed out her right boot to clog it.

Both Laura Veharanta and Ashley Cottrell –who had each singed BU’s Allyse Wilcox three weeks back- fell short in their shootout strides for the Friars this time. Niagara’s Jenni Bauer tilted Veharanta’s attempt to her right and got a piece of Cottrell’s tricky floater before flopping back to wrest it from the jaws of the goal.

Morris’ milestone
Upon delving into her first shift last night, senior forward Stephanie Morris became the 60th female skater on record to have worn game-time Friar attire at least 100 times.

With that, all four members of this season’s graduating class who have stuck around for the full four-year time limit (Morris, Katy Beach, Erin Normore, Brittany Simpson) have fastened their membership in the 100-game club.

Juniors Colleen Martin and Pam McDevitt both have legitimate potential to hop aboard themselves before this season is up.

Quick Feeds: For the second consecutive night, a pair of too many players citations were distributed. Niagara was caught at 2:21 of the first, whilst laboring on their first power play no less, and the Friars at 17:31. On Friday, visiting Mercyhurst had been caught with an unauthorized six-pack of skaters at 15:16 of the first and 2:49 of the third…Both the first and second periods commenced in virtually the same fashion. Ciarletta shuffled out of her crease to play a relatively light Niagara dump-in, effectively etching them a shot on net both times…The starting line of Cottrell, Veharanta, and Alyse Ruff, combined for 18 of PC’s 41 registered shots last night…The Friars salvaged their all-time unbeaten transcript in visits from the Purple Eagles, who are now 0-5-4 in drop-ins to Schneider Arena since the birth of their program in 1998.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Fresh scrapings in the creases

No Ben Bishop and no Andrew Sweetland make Maine fans go crazy. Crazy for the fact that their beloved college icers are hereby condemned to the doldrums indefinitely.

Colin Wilson or no, Boston University bears no surefire specimens of well-rounded stability. Better play it safe and count them out.

Merrimack? Wasn’t that where America’s Underdog, Mike Eruzione, thought he was destined when he had virtually given up on pursuing a Division I scholarship?

Yep. These were some of the outspoken, primordial sentiments emitted by everyone from casual laptop loiterers on the chat forums to hungry, hard-charging analysts –this author included.

But in the young weeks of the 2008-09 Hockey East season, all three of the aforementioned programs have, at the very least, exceedingly veiled their initially iffy outlooks through what may be summed up in the memorable style of the late political journalist Tim Russert.

Goaltending. Goaltending. Goaltending.

Or, more to the intriguing point, a triple scoop of punctual, reliable freshman goaltending.

In Maine, as soon as onlookers were finally acclimated to the notion of a beggar-like Black Bear team, Scott Darling has stepped in and, so far, pulled the reverse shock factor. Heading into this weekend, he led all HEA stoppers in the way of overall GAA –authorizing but one goal, no more, no less in six start-to-finish outings- and save percentage –a .961 efficiency rate- and was second only BU’s Kieran Millan in win percentage.

Over four conference games, the latter three of them wins, Darling’s praetorian guards have packaged him a too-close-for-comfort nine goals. Gustav Nyquist (team leading 10 points in nine overall games) aside, the overhauling depth chart refill project is far from the ideal par. But Darling (who, just as this column was going to press, was reportedly suspended for Part I of this weekend’s home series with Merrimack) has authorized a mere five flickers of the light behind his cage over that same intraleague stretch.

Perhaps the puck prophets should have known better. There was, after all, a time when Big Ben was a cagey new crease custodian with the task bigger than his 6-7 stature of filling the pads of Jimmy Howard.

As for Millan, there were grounds for snooty talk that a John Muse doesn’t break out on such a frequent basis, and he had already landed the other Hub Hunks a national title in his first year at Chestnut Hill. But Professor Parker’s Pupils at BU are on pace to refreezing the slushy remnants left by John Curry’s graduation in spring 2007 with the help of Millan and Grant Rollheiser –good enough for two halves of a Muse.

Millan is 5-0-0, just stamped his first collegiate shutout over Northeastern last Sunday, and has left the rest of the load to Rollheiser, a thickset Toronto Maple Leafs’ draftee who stands at a fair-enough 2-2-0 and accompanies Millan amongst the top ten goals-against rates in the league.

On paper, the Terriers’ lone missing link was that supremely vital last line of defense. It posed the program’s only reckonable question mark. So far, so good.

And at Merrimack, junior Andrew Brathwaite had briefly been in a sympathetic dilemma reminiscent of Tim Thomas in the Bruins’ pre-Claude Julien era. Key tense: had been –until Joe Cannata stepped in this season and proceeded to split the workload responsibly. Cannata, 6th on the HEA leaderboard in the way of save percentage, 9th in GAA, and with a 1-1-2 record and a shutout over five games, has collaborated with Brathwaite towards a passable 24 goals against over ten overall games.

From a Warriors’ standpoint, it’d be revolutionarily refreshing if the stoppers’ praetorian guards did something to build on their similarly infinitesimal goal count of 20.

But through Cannata’s handy input, Step 1 towards Merrimack’s first passport to the postseason since 2004 appears assuredly fastened.

Providence rosters becoming more Pacific
In a nod to the current edition of The Hockey News (newsstand date: December 1) wherein “NHL Team Reports looks at the unique cultures and identities of each NHL club dressing room,” the Free Press offers the same report concerning PC:

Beyond the appreciable speaks-for-itself flavor emitted by Finnish Flare Mari Pehkonen, the deepening diversity in the PC women’s locker room is attributable to the booming presence of west coast tenants –specifically, Californians, Oregonians, and one British Columbian in Christie Jensen. As late as two seasons ago, no rinks in those localities shared the common frequent touch of a Friar blade with Schneider Arena.

But now, you have Oregon dually represented by the likes of reserve freshman defender Breanna Schwarz (Portland) and Alyse Ruff, a native to the Portland suburb of Tualatin who has satisfyingly saturated the scoresheets in her year-plus here. Ruff now regularly collaborates with Laura Veharanta, a Finnish-American picked fresh from the California Wave, opposite defender Jennifer Freidman.

And, as it happens, Bob Deraney hasn’t employed a Rhode Islander since Lauren Florio graduated in 2006. Conversely, the Tim Army Corps have seen a yearly recruitment recipe that leaves their roster with no fewer than six Ocean State sons since Army arrived in 2005.

Nonetheless, the co-bearer of Rhode Island’s royal hockey family torch reached noticeably beyond the Eastern Time Zone to compose this year’s freshman class. Already with Californian Kyle MacKinnon and British Columbian Jordan Kremyr coming in last season, Army admitted his first two Minnesotans in now-evident scoring beacon Matt Bergland and Rob Maloney. Additionally, blueliner David Brown, the first Coloradan to come along in recent memory, did some last minute honing in the self-proclaimed State of Hockey at Cloquet High School.

Cheap shot typist hits home
(With apologies to Keith Olbermann) This week’s worst person in the world of Rhode Island sports: Providence Journal columnist Jim Donaldson.

Of the local men’s icers’ plebeian, 0-6-1 start to their Hockey East slate, Donaldson wrote last Monday in his semiannual blurb of puck talk, “If people cared about PC hockey the way they do about PC basketball, coach Tim Army would be feeling some serious heat…Granted, Army did lose his top goalie to injury, but (former men’s basketball coach) Tim Welsh wasn’t cut any slack last year when he was without injured point guard Sharaud Curry and, if Davis were to start his fourth season in the Big East 0-6, what do you think the fan reaction would be?

“Army isn’t in any trouble, though, because AD Bob Driscoll, clearly in an overly generous mood, extended the coach’s contract over the summer. It’s worth noting that Army was originally hired by Driscoll, while Welsh was not.”

Jim, it shall be granted, you have a point in that the fiercer a dual athletic/business entity grinds for green, the more inclined they are to treat coaches like chewing gum. But that doesn’t make it right or rational. Nor is it exactly ethical, practical as it may be, for commentators to try to subsist exclusively on tangy negativity.

Where is Mr. Donaldson when other PC teams, such as the Skating Sorority, or other regional franchises, such as the Bruins, are thriving? Dissecting a possible Red Sox trade for an audience starved for a break from baseball? Reminding Patriots fans for the umpteenth time that Tom Brady’s services are invalid this season?

Not to press insufficiently grounded charges, but considering Donaldson’s evident inclination to flee the rink the moment his head feels numb, if America in general, Southern New England included, cared as much about hockey as they should, what do you think the fan reaction would be?

Quick Feeds: Two-minute minor to the Schneider Arena ice-level maintenance crew for misty glass negligence at last Saturday’s affair with Maine. Unseasonable mugginess had rendered every pane of glass across the rink more of a door than a window, yet in all the time they had to wipe it off, the management only bothered to clear the views of the goal judges, forcing all spectators to wait until their fog subsided satisfactorily –not until about the third period- before they had a reasonable view of the action…Friar freshmen backliners Bryce Aneloski and Danny New –both passed over in last summer’s NHL Draft- have thrown their sticks back in that center circle and are ranked in the B and C range respectively in the latest Central Scouting report. Teammate Dave Brown has plunged in as well, also rated under the C heading…The P-Bruins’ revolving door this week bumped out former BC Eagle Brett Motherwell after a mere four games worth of a month-long ATO and plugged the resultant void with the likes of BU grad Kevin Schaeffer, who appears to have rounded out his rehab from summer shoulder surgery …Is something of Cammi Granato’s rubbing off on fellow Friar and Olympic veteran Stephanie O’Sullivan? The 1995 alumna, who still leads all PC women in career assists with 127, was formally inducted into the Mass Hockey Hall of Fame Wednesday, and now comes news of her forthcoming enshrinement to the PC Athletics Hall of Fame, to be carried out on February 20…One regular season series is finalized in the Hockey East men’s composite schedule: BC surpasses Merrimack, 2-0-1…This author’s picks for the out-of-market game of the week: The startling Air Force program, 10-0 coming into this weekend, tests itself with intrastate rivals Colorado College Friday and Denver Saturday.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com