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Friday, December 26, 2008

On Hockey

Centers of attention
vanRiemsdyk, Wilson anchor veteran core at WJC


New Hampshire sizzler James vanRiemsdyk somehow squeezed his destructively gawk-worthy frame into that unheard-of median that offers nascent NHLers a third tour of duty in the World Junior Championships.

There are those, like Sidney Crosby, who crack their country’s roster so early (minimum age limit: 16) they have to pack an all-encompassing face shield per IIHF rules. But, by the same token, those peerless players will have graduated to The Show by 18.

More commonly, though, one is selected for the post-holiday adventure when he is a collegiate freshman or the equivalent age and, lo and behold, watches his eligibility evaporate after no more than two tournaments.

But vanRiemsdyk, who won’t hit 20 until May, got a jumpstart to his magnetic attention seizure while a member of the National Team Development Program two years back and has since forged a flexible timetable with the Philadelphia Flyers, who laid claim to his rights with the second overall pick in the 2007 Draft.

Citing a personal cautionary decision to whet his blades for at least another year, concomitant with a timely resurgence on Philly’s part, vanRiemsdyk is topping the scoring charts in Hockey East as a UNH sophomore and now returns to Team USA as the reigning point-leader (11) in the WJC pool.

He and fellow towering pivot Colin Wilson of Boston University both. Wilson, whom Nashville plucked from the pool seventh overall last summer, will split the “A” with associate Terrier Kevin Shattenkirk in his second World Junior excursion, beneath head captain Jonathon Blum –another Predator prospect fostering with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.

The Americans commence round robin play at suburban Ottawa’s ScotiaBank Place in a 3:30 twig-lock with Germany this afternoon. The aforementioned returnees –together with Minnesota freshman Jordan Schroeder, fellow Gopher Cade Fairchild, Notre Dame’s Ian Cole, and Michigan’s Matt Rust- recall coming within hooking distance of hardware and hope this year’s offering tips the scale.

"I know we've got a lot of talent on this team," vanRiemsdyk said in Monday’s issue of the Toronto Sun. "We've got (seven) guys coming back from last year's team and it's exciting to be playing in this tournament again. It's also exciting to play with Colin and Jordan again. We had some good success in the past and hopefully we'll get it started here."

By “it,” he implicitly means a new habit of playing somewhere a tad more upmarket than the bronze medal game for a change. In the four tournaments since the youthful Star-Spangled Skaters broke themselves new ice with gold in 2004, the program has been lodged in a pothole of 3rd/4th place finishes, only once claiming a medal in 2007.

Last winter, the Amerks posted an infallible 4-0 log in round robin action, but puffed out inconveniently when they confronted Canada in the semifinal, losing 4-1 on the minimal strength of vanRiemsdyk’s late third period goal. The following day, they submitted to Russia, 4-2, to relinquish the bronze.

Wilson, vanRiemsdyk, and one fellow Hockey Easterner in BC freshman Jimmy Hayes constitute three of four U.S. strikers boasting the Cyclopean combo of a 6-foot-plus stature and 200-plus pounds in weight. All will indubitably pack in considerable muscle-based maneuverability, but the vets have the rest of their dressing room leaning forward with an expectant, little-brotherly smile for their seasoning and recent radiation in intercollegiate action.

Amongst all HEA puckslingers, vanRiemsdyk is #1 with 26 points overall; Wilson third with 21. In the way of assists, vanRiemsdyk is tops with 17, Wilson #2 with 14. Wilson has been the most proficient individual on anyone’s power play, charging up 4-7-11 totals when the Terriers are a man up. An otherwise shallow New Hampshire PP brigade has been supplied with four goals and six helpers via vanRiemsdyk.

Fifth-year NTDP U18 head coach Ron Rolston –who claims the rotating torch as American foreman from Warwick native John Hynes - has reacquainted himself with both centerpieces, who each underwent last-minute college prep grooming with him in Ann Arbor, Mich. And curiously, he has partnered the two on the top line with Schroeder, another early bloomer who finished second behind vanRiemsdyk with eight points in the 2008 tournament, then went back to business in Ann Arbor before he enrolled at “The U.”

But the statistically gluttonous arrangement flaunted no flaws in this week’s pair of exhibition games. The coastal rivals-by-winter collaborated twice in a tone-setting first period en route to a 13-2 throttling of Latvia Sunday –a goal apiece for van Riemsdyk and Wilson, assisted by the other. They reran that act Tuesday in steamrolling the rival Russians, 5-1, complete with a 40-17 shooting discrepancy.

“A lot of talent,” the simply spoken UNH kid said prophetically, as was also underscored by full-time Wolverine Aaron Palushaj’s hat trick. They just need to be sure that talent comes with a lot of shelf life, preferably with a Sell By date of Jan. 5 or later.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2008 In Review: Women's Hockey

Change of starting pace
Fire beneath burns hotter for Friars


If they weren’t clear on it at any time prior, the PC women were plainly wary of “old” shortcoming patterns by the time the legacy of their first –and, to date, only- NCAA tournament bid became a complete hologram.

That was precisely what happened in the evening stages of Winter 2008, when the Friars duplicated the upshot of their 2006-07 campaign. Pinned right on the .500 fence overall through their 34-game regular season slate, they were yet again helplessly left to rely on the capricious automatic bid that comes with a conference crown.

Once again, they had enough sentimental Rockstar to guide them safely through a stretch drive thriller and a semifinal triumph, this time a 5-1 shellshocker over WHEA tournament host Connecticut. But, yet again, the dream took a Wildcat-enforced nosedive in the title game. The almighty New Hampshire stamped a tensely excecuted 1-0 triumph to stretch their reign of Hockey East supremacy to a threepeat.

And so, the last skating specimens of the fĂȘted 2002-05 dynasty collected their degrees at the Dunk and parted from PC. And their immediate descendents have been left with an enterprise to rekindle the Friars’ national relevance in their own right.

As he approached his tenth year behind the bench, though, head coach Bob Deraney pledged a resurgence of the very sort sooner rather than later. More wholesome recruiting classes were on the horizon, he said, now that constant tangible success wasn’t exactly scaring talent off with the threat of strictly prioritizing veteran pin-ups.

If any fragments of the status quo from where the Friars had left off had a chance to carry over into training camp, it would have been the fast-trendy PRO Line of Mari Pehkonen, Alyse Ruff, and Jean O’Neill. Converging as a unit somewhat circumstantially when Pehkonen returned from a Team Finland obligation in mid-January, the trinity proceeded to charge up a combined 31 points over the final 10 games of the season, unmistakably anchoring PC’s close shave playoff push.

But a preseason upper body injury to the sophomore O’Neill opened the door to new blood and new depth. Ultimately, rookie Laura Veharanta filled the O’Neill void and has since cemented a stable partnership with Ruff and classmate Ashley Cottrell on the top line. Already, Veharanta speaks of a 12-6-18 scoring log over her first 17 games, Cottrell a 2-9-11 transcript.

Generally speaking, the rest of the depth chart has yet to catch on, though it has progressed well enough to clear everyone’s immediate memory of a choppy 2-5 start to this season. The Friars have thus hit the holiday break with a winning record for the first time since the current seniors were freshman, equating the 9-6-2 mark they boasted when the December deceleration of 2005 settled in.

Even when they struggled to thaw out in October, Providence was convincingly self-controlled owing a hefty debt to keen defense and goaltending. At their current pace, the cage tandem of freshman Genevieve Lacasse and incumbent Danielle Ciarletta makes a reckonable candidate for the WHEA’s virtual equivalent of the William Jennings trophy, having authorized a slim 29 cumulative goals (plus two empty netters).

Lacasse, more than anybody, has laid claim to the pleasant surprise label, having pole-vaulted three returnees to earn the nod for 12 of the first 17 ventures. She has pushed away 360 of 379 opposing shots for a league-leading save percentage of .950 (tied with Northeastern’s own freshman phenom, Florence Schelling) and an 8-4-0 record, complete with two shutouts.

Raring to delve into Part II of their season this coming Tuesday, the revamped Friars are modestly yearning for a way to enhance their commanding grip on each individual game, which will, in turn, make for a more relaxed plow into the postseason as opposed to the habitual, detrimental test-cramming they’ve been reduced to in recent years.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008 In Review: Men's Hockey

Thinning ice
Men’s puck on downward spiral, seeks resurgence in New Year


Jon Rheault and the 2007-08 Friars hit a symbolic peak over the second weekend of February. The senior captain and two-time defending team MVP piloted a team perched in the #11 slot of the national leaderboard into a two-game home series with the stealthy Vermont Catamounts.

Rheault proceeded to scrape out four points in the weekend, the third of those a helper to linemate Greg Collins for his 100th collegiate point. Two periods later, Point #101 came in the form of a porch-based tip-in, granting Providence a 4-3 overtime victory before an invigorated throng of 2,121.

Inconceivably, that was indeed on the former bookend of this calendar year. Since that instant classic, the Friars have been fruitless on home ice when tangling with a conference cohabitant, having gone 0-6-3 in that scenario. They’re only home victory overall was a 4-3 squeaker past Bowling Green on opening weekend of the active season.

Apart from two home knots (1-1 vs. New Hampshire Feb. 15; 2-2 vs. Boston College March 1) in the climactic stage of the last stretch drive and a 2-2 draw with the Catamounts here Nov. 7, PC’s most freshly cultivated Hockey East points came February 29 at BC’s Conte Forum no less.

A mere 15 nights later, Friar Puck returned to Chestnut Hill to curtain the most tumultuous Ides of March in PC history (men’s hoops made national ripples by canning ten-year coach Tim Welsh that day) through a 5-1 submission to the eventual national champion Eagles. Such cut short yet another formerly hopeful-bone-tingling bid for a passport to TD Banknorth Garden.

Change Friar Fanatics cannot nor care to believe in percolated rapidly over that pivotal month. It has since leached in a tormenting manner, and only after athletic director Bob Driscoll penned in head coach Tim Army for at least another five years over the summer. To date, the ominous implications from the March meltdown have made a Zamboni broom out of the hints of promise declared in July.

PC fizzled unceremoniously by a cumulative score of 18-2, a sum of two shutouts at the hands of Boston University that zapped their bid for home ice, and the aforementioned quarterfinal sweep by BC. Consequently, they passed on good wishes to the glue guys Rheault and goaltender Tyler Sims –recipient of the Mal Brown Award for student-athlete excellence. Then fan favorite bruiser Cody Wild, a would-be senior this season, hastily made his tracks to start fostering in the Edmonton Oilers’ system.

Wild’s defection, coupled with the graduation of Marc Bastarache and Trevor Ludwig, was readily supplemented with the advent of three freshmen defenders this autumn (Bryce Aneloski, Dave Brown, and Danny New). Meanwhile, Rheault was the lone striker to watch his time run out –voluntarily or involuntarily- and an overwhelming influx of new forwards left the 2008-09 Friars with 20 offensive specialists and the league’s most populous overall dressing room with 31 bodies.

But the adage favoring quality over quantity has acerbically stuck out before the Schneider Arena masses in the first half of the season. The Friars were decisively slit in their belated opener, 4-0 by Northeastern, and have since scrambled to compress the wound, let alone inflict a little damage themselves.

In all 16 games to date (3-12-1 record), they have tuned the opposing mesh 35 times while authorizing 67 strikes in their own territory. With precisely one-third of their Hockey East itinerary done with, they stand at 0-8-1 with an aggregate scoring deficit of 40-14.

The numerical stuffiness and negative databased energy in the locker room has already smothered the resolve of three Friars. Blueliners Joe Lavin and Aneloski and rookie forward Chad Johnson withdrew their membership and returned to the junior life at the conclusion of the most recent semester.

Still with plenty of time to let the calendar Zamboni raze 2008 and let the 2009 surface freeze into place, Providence has little on its fundamental checklist beyond restoring order and scrapping resolutely for a legit run at the Hockey East playoffs, a privilege this program has never missed out on in the league’s 25-year history.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hockey Log

The Hockey News has released its annual “People of Power and Influence” issue. In traditional accordance, the Free Press ranks the most influential people in PC hockey from 2008.

1. Brian Burke, 1977 alumnus- A first-place finish for the foil-fisted executive was already a few strides beyond moderately secure by the time he had a quarter’s share in the Lester Patrick Award to go with his summer appointment as GM of the next U.S. Men’s Olympic Team. But for good measure, Burke went ahead and transplanted himself from the Anaheim Ducks’ front office to the same post in Toronto last month, cementing his distinction as the hockey world’s most influential PC connection in 2008. Naturally, he can get used to prospecting top-shelf hardware like this. And interestingly enough, he did say, “If I had to hire a coach today, I’d hire Ron Wilson,” when he arrived to his one-time classmate and new Leaf Nation colleague. As one can gather, he will have to hire somebody to tutor the Americans come next February in his old vocational home of Vancouver. (Hint, hint? Please stand by…)

2. Cammi Granato, 1993 alumna- Herself a partial recipient of last year’s Patrick Award, Granato has only accelerated her chronic, single-handed plow in captaining Operation Integration for the women’s hockey world. Her hat trick for this calendar year: first female inductee to the IIHF Hall of Fame (opposite Canadians Geraldine Heaney and Angela James); first female inductee to the Lazarene U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame; newly declared namesake for the WHEA’s MVP trophy.

3. Mike Logan, Cox Sports TV/WOON broadcaster- While confined to fairly obscure, not-always-accessible media outlets, the longtime voice of PC hockey is reliably there for the most scoop-hungry Friar Fanatics. His decade-plus of consistent game-to-game service to the program’s fan base earned him this year’s Joe Concannon Media Award prior to the season’s commencement.

4. Bob Deraney, women’s head coach- One semester away from rounding out a full decade of stable service to the Skating Sorority. He hopes the cherry on that sundae comes in the form of his exponentially evident youth movement blossoming into another round of conference crowns and NCAA invitations. Currently, he has his pupils off to their best start (9-6-2) in a collegiate generation, smoothly subsisting on defense and patience.

5. Tim Army, men’s head coach- An externally untiring preacher of composure and discipline, the fourth-year skipper, for all the statistical and psychological lesions his team has absorbed in Part I of the active season, has yet to resort to stepping up to a podium and spewing, “Hal Gill is not walking through that door, Fernando Pisani is not walking through that door, Nolan Schaefer…” Although, his ultimate torture test waits in the forthcoming stretch drive as the Friars look to freeze and repeal their melting glacier after a sorely needed holiday hiatus.

6. Fernando Pisani, 2000 alumnus- Pisani was nearly yet another Friar Puck product brandishing a little hardware in 2008 when his resurgence from ulcerative colitis brought him back to noticeable normalcy with the Edmonton Oilers at midseason and had him one of the last three Masterton Trophy nominees standing. He would fall short only to Toronto’s Jason Blake, who had veiled the effects of leukemia treatment to play the full length of the last regular season.

7. Karen Thatcher, 2006 alumna- A perennial partaker in international competition since her graduation, Thatcher is the one visible pioneer inclined to blow a second wind into PC’s Olympic tradition come next February. Not to mention, she has practiced another PC principle by giving back to the game as a volunteer skating instructor for teams of varying levels and genders as her own training regimen allows.

8. Ron Wilson, 1977 alumnus- In May, the San Jose Sharks asserted that Wilson’s connectivity with their club had run dry after a three year rut of snuffing it in the second round of the playoffs. But the veteran coach coolly reran the personal recovery process he had followed in 1997 and 2002, ultimately sealing his dream job behind the Maple Leafs’ bench. Now conjoined with the aforementioned Burke, Wilson had the baby-stepping Buds at .500 (13-13-2) through 32 regular season games.

9. Matt Bergland, men’s freshman forward- Jon Rheault, who among others missed membership on this Top 10 list about as closely as Gordon Bombay missed clinching the Hawks a peewee title on his penalty shot, graduated as the 48th admitted member to Friar Puck’s 100-point club. And so pleasurably soon, Bergland has stepped in on the other end of the summer and kindled 16 points in as many outings so far.

10. Erin Normore, women’s senior defender/forward- Normore stores a full package of items essential to her game: consistent productivity (78 career points); leadership (she shares the “A” with Katy Beach); and an iron build (not a single game missed in 124 cumulative ventures). Not to mention, her visually appealing style of play that has something to do with the better-than-nothing crowds her team draws.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Commentary

Of Ice and Women

The night of Thursday, January 31, 2008 was a conventional game night for me. As always, I made a point of grabbing an otherwise improperly timed dinner (this meant hitting the dining hall about 5:00) and dashing off to Schneider Arena, home of Providence College hockey, well in advance of a 7:00 face-off.

This despite my experience-honed wisdom that the doors would take eons to open and I wouldn’t have anybody competing with me to get my first choice of seating –especially when this particular team does not charge admission nor require spectators to pick up a ticket stub.

My incurable, compulsive propensity to hustle down there might have been more justified if, say, this were PC’s historically celebrated men’s hockey team tussling with the likes of Boston University. Instead, those two schools were pitting their women’s programs against one another. It was therefore an invincible bet, far beyond shouting distance of a gamble, that the rink would be getting the fledgling Federal League team treatment.

I don’t make that point out of derision, but flat observation, concomitant with a self-contained dollop of lamentation. There was no realistic hope of any Friar Fanatics kindling their witty “Sucks to BU!” chant tonight the same way they would if this were the Tim Army Corps vs. Professor Parker’s Pupils.

No, the only fellow students I would observe or hear comment on the game this evening would be six young men from PC’s ROTC program. As I waited out the 6:00 door-bust before the main entrance facing Huxley Avenue, the cadets strolled down the neighboring sidewalk en route to or home from an evening project.

Noticing that the arena lobby was illuminated, one of them asked, a little perplexed, what for. Another volunteered to explain that it was “girls’ hockey tonight.” After a brief pause, he tossed in a taboo, baselessly stereotyping D-word, much to the amusement of his colleagues.

I only wish I had a way of getting MSNBC primetime commentator Keith Olbermann on speed dial so as to submit a tip for his “Worst Persons in the World” segment. Those cementheads were a surefire “winner” in my book.

The next best thing, though, is to cautiously and temporarily sashay from my routine journalistic regimen and deliver this “Special Comment” (to borrow another Olbermann phrase) in this midseason break while the news is a tad slow. As a writer, I vow to remain nonpartisan in terms of specific teams and schools. But the aforementioned incident was a cheap shot to women’s hockey –and, arguably, all of women’s sports- as a whole. That calls for unanimous, stern, rulebook-based retaliation. It is no different than watching your talented teammate take a spear to the stomach and translating your rage to a blistering power play goal.

Any young male athlete or sports enthusiast of any degree who unconditionally and baselessly belittles women’s hockey has not a clue what he is missing out on. From my experience dating back to the beginning of my teenhood, a prime “turn-on spot” for the opposite sex is common interest. Are you telling me you would rather date a girl who groans over your itch to watch a pivotal football game with your best bros than someone who might actually consider an hour of open ice rental an ideal romantic outing?

Admittedly, growing up, this logic was purely second nature for me. And as a result, the following story tells of the single best, perhaps sole positive experience I had during my own altogether brief, unfulfilling athletic career: in late February 2004, my season on the JV hockey team at University Liggett School –a private day school in Michigan- was winding down and our coach had spontaneously decided to fill our final practice time slot with a scrimmage against the girl’s team.

Upon this revelation, I was pumped for one self-explanatory reason: I had taken “that kind” of interest in one of the female pucksters several months prior. An unmistakable factor in the development of my feelings was seeing her come to class in her hockey jersey one day, signifying her membership in the program. And now we were to take to the ice simultaneously.

And just for the record, we had long ago established that this girl didn’t even return my feelings. I couldn’t give a flying puck at this point. Sometimes, in sports and life alike, you learn to appreciate the smaller victories when the paramount endeavor is lost.Think I’m shallow yet? It gets kookier. In the second period, with us the JV guys up, 2-0, my crush cut our lead with a long-range airborne wrister from the circle-top. Watching from our bench, I promptly mused, “If I can somehow get a goal myself, this will be the perfect game whether we lose by 10 or win by 10.” Incidentally, I did manage to tune the mesh at the other end later that period, and I could have and should have hung up my blades on the spot.

By night’s end, while I beamed with a rare sip of personal joy, everyone else in our dressing room was coolly wrapped in celebration of our 10-1 exhibition victory –emphasis on exhibition. They would take any petty scrap of evidence and manipulate it in order to advance their opinions of girls’ sports –those that they voiced without care and those that they kept within the locker room. All this despite the fact that we literally had the worst work ethic of any high school program in history, which amounted to an endless slew of blowout losses in regulation games, while our female counterparts –handfuls of whom were novice pucksters simply exploring a new winter activity- scraped out a respectable record year in and year out.

The most pathetic proclamation I can recall from the locker room was a teammate assessing his notion of a three-way caste system in the University Liggett hockey program. It had Varsity (he meant “Boys’ Varsity”), JV, and Girls in descending order, because “Girls’ Varsity isn’t really Varsity.”

Mr. Olbermann, I have another belated nominee for “Worst Persons.”

But as a guy, you have to be careful about neutralizing these attacks. Apparently (and this is just another hypothesis based on locker room talk), if you object to the belittlement of female athletes, you’re gay. After all, the boundaries of acceptable physical attraction end well before you consider young women who, like you, strap on that gear and sweat in it for a few hours before they shower and return to a presentable state in society. And I’m sure all ladies just die to whiff a hockey hunk in his gunky gear as opposed to when he’s fresh from a self-lathering of Old Spice.

Gee, shame on me for fantasizing about buying my crush a soda after the game and exchanging genuine pleasantries about hot topics in the NHL.

My viewing angle shifted drastically when I transferred to the Minnesota-based hockey powerhouse at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, where I responsibly purged my twig and picked up my pen.

But the gender-based tensions I witnessed were arguably worse. So much so that in my first full year on the SSM hockey beat, when the Boys U18 team fell short in their bid to repeat their 2005 national championship, a few members vent their frustration on their female counterparts, who did lug home a second banner. There were reports that while the banner sat glimmering in the main entrance of the school building, a few disgruntled male skaters spit on it.

What the puck? To put it flatly, you would have thought these guys were picking a fight with time-honored rival Culver Academy or the Boston Junior Bruins (the national tournament nemesis who swiped their title away). Instead, they were slighting and antagonizing their fellow Shattuck-St. Mary’s Sabres; their classmates; their potential prom dates; their fellow torch-bearers in the ceaselessly growing Sabre hockey tradition.

And, implicitly, all because of a case of threatened masculinity; all because the dudes just happened not to hit the pinnacle of their natural hockey habitat this year while the ladies did.

Perhaps I just don’t get it. After all, I entered and hastily left the game mindful of my modicum of physical gifts. I never had any sense of supreme stardom to defend. I was in it for sheer love of the game. But for an underweight, bespectacled nerd, firsthand participation is not the way to foster one’s love for a sport. The perpetual persecution I underwent leading up to my prompt “retirement” is biblically just compared to what the proficient female pucksters have to confront just for blackening in the “F” oval when an application or standardized test asks about their gender.

For other wannabe, go-nowhere athletes of my gender, the tang of reality is less sensible. During my senior year at Shattuck, shortly after the Girls U19 team had clinched the Minnkota District crown, renewing its right to vie for the national title, one of my classmates from the second-level boys’ team, himself not bound for any high-profile tournaments, termed it “embarrassing.” He hailed from the Bay Area in California, and now his female peers were about to win his school a third national championship in San Jose. He couldn’t take it.

Embarrassing? How? This particular dis rolled off the tongue of a young man who had attended and skated at Shattuck for five years, split amongst three different teams, none of whom play at a level that qualifies for Nationals. He understandably enrolled craving a crack at a national title and a subsequent NCAA scholarship, but it was not to be. So the next best thing is to cheap shot those who do achieve such privileges. And I guess it’s that much more cathartic if you can throw misogynistic cheap shots.

But, as is generally promised, albeit to a minimal extent, the transition to college equals an upgrade in maturity. And I do pleasurably report that in covering PC’s Skating Sorority for the Free Press and, since the beginning of this season, The Cowl, I have seen packets of devoted buffs of the male gender at every home game. It is also not uncommon to see the better half of the men’s team in the stands as their schedule allows the same way the women take in their games when both teams are on campus.

It doesn’t help to take up an all-or-nothing attitude. Progress is happily evident. Still, here you have the consistently winningest winter team in the Providence athletic department –a program that is an over-the-shoulder glance removed from four conference championships and an NCAA tournament appearance, and which generations prior had produced the face of women’s hockey, Cammi Granato- consistently drawing throngs well below 500 to their home games.

Not to mention, on top of the apathy, the poison problem still lingers in the form of sexist ROTC cadets –who, incidentally, have a noticeable handful of female colleagues in their department- and fellow students of the same narrow-minded sentiments. (Say, if you call women who don and labor in hockey equipment unprintable names, what exactly do you call women who don and labor in military uniforms?)

I think I’ve made enough out-of-my-way points, except for maybe one more that I shall openly present and then carry on with my second nature habit of following. To quote Shattuck U19 head coach Gordie Stafford, cultivator of three USA Hockey championships in his first four years at the helm, we are talking about “athletes who happen to be female.”

And so, when college hockey’s general itinerary thaws out for Part II of the season, I’ll simply carry on with my never-humdrum habit of strolling into Schneider the minute the door opens, walking past a collection of amiable, footbagging Friars en route to my seat, and internally savoring the entirety of my project the same way I would in an NHL press box.

Let me report, and the let the girls continue in their hard-grinding dig for more substantial, evenhanded publicity. We’ll let you decide what to make of them. Of these hockey players will all the trimmings who happen to be female.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com