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Friday, January 9, 2009

Hockey Log

Goalie dilemma revitalized
Ciarletta renews her case with familiar foe on deck

Genevieve Lacasse was generally, if not openly, expected to hit at least one muddling speed bump before her potential Team MVP/Rookie of the Year season ran its course. It happened this past Sunday in the form of a sixteen-minute, nine-shot, three-goal mini-firestorm at the hands of Cornell University.

Former incumbent Danielle Ciarletta has since assumed every ounce of the action in the Friars’ net, unhesitatingly dousing Lacasse’s uncharacteristic flame en route to a 4-3 win, then absorbing a 4-1 biff Monday in her first start-to-finish swing since before Thanksgiving.

It is thus plain that both of PC’s top two netminders have nimbly taken their chances to thaw out in the team’s first two weeks back in the routine. But who shall be deemed the one more fit to confront the program’s New Hampshire nemesis tomorrow afternoon?

As much, if not more than at any other point this season, head coach Bob Deraney reserves the right to stash up a backup dose of Advil as he mulls over that decision.

The latest statistical lesions from Cornell aside, both stoppers still rank no lower than sixth in the league under both the goals-against and save percentage headings. Lacasse, whose save count stands at exactly 400, has undergone slightly more testing –a product not only of more ice time accumulation, but circumstantially weightier average workloads.

Ciarletta’s heaviest single workload this season: 38 pelts from Boston University on November 1, 35 of which she handled. The second largest happened to fall on Monday, when she pushed away 23 of 26 stabs from the Big Red. Lacasse, conversely, has oft-coolly dealt with brimful bushels, charging up five individual save counts of 30-plus in her 14-game-old career.

And the last time Lacasse was seen at work in a brightly lit version of Schneider Arena, she merely amassed a career-best 50 saves in a 3-0 shortcoming to Mercyhurst.

Then again, one will recall Ciarletta’s intraleague breakthrough two years back when she clamped down 40 of 42 New Hampshire shots to pull off a 2-2 knot in the treacherous Lake Whittemore. She has since seen her praetorian guards step up a tad more responsibly against the Wildcats’ tireless stick rack, never having to face more than 28 shots in all of four encounters last season.

Regardless, though, the Friars altogether have yet to scrape a full two-point package off their rivals since before Ciarletta’s classmates were signing the NLIs.

Come what may, and start who may, the Providence tandem has this tinge of trivia smiling upon them: Lacasse and Ciarletta alike are ahead of UNH cornerstone Kayley Herman in both individual categories –though Herman has answered her call well enough for a slightly superior winning percentage.

Limited lamp access
The Wildcats have an active shutout streak at Schneider Arena touching all or part of their last three visits here and resting at 148 minutes and 51 seconds. PC last raised its collective sticks before its home mass during a tussle with UNH on January 27, 2007, when then-sophomore Katy Beach beat Melissa Bourdon to cut a deficit to 2-1. The Cats, however, proceded to stamp a 3-1 knockout that afternoon and they have since slapped the Friars with 7-0 and 3-0 decisions.

Between three different goaltenders –Bourdon, Lucy Schoedel, and Kayley Herman- New Hampshire has confined the Friars to three goals and three shutouts through their last six get-togethers overall.

Still Poll Cats
The compact, but never-say-die UNH bench has retained its program’s membership in every national poll through the duration of this season. In fact, even while idled for a full month, they ascended from #7 to #6 in the eyes of USCHO and two spots from #8 in USA Today when those panels broke out of three weeks’ hibernation on Monday.

Czeching for gold
PC assistant coach Amy Quinlan, on leave to serve as video coordinator for the U.S. U18 team, will witness and break down a semifinal game against the Czech Republic at 2:00 today. The Americans –whose roster includes UNH commitment Kate Brock- swept through the round robin portion of the Germany-based World Championship by a cumulative score of 37-2 over three games. The bronze and gold medal games will be conducted tomorrow morning at 9:30 and 11:30 respectively.

Quick Feeds: As of this morning, PC-UNH and Connecticut-Boston University are the only two unopened season series in Hockey East. Both of those will change come 1:00 tomorrow afternoon…Tomorrow will be the first of two women’s-men’s home double-headers at Schneider Arena this season, with the men hosting UMass-Lowell at 7:00. Both games will be carried on Cox Sports Television.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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