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Friday, January 23, 2009

Hockey Log

PC, BU pack a few parallels

She’s merely a frosh, but she has been a constant at the top of her team’s offensive depth chart for as long as she’s been on campus. She has retained at least one veteran partner for the duration of that stretch. She is tops on her team in terms of power play scoring and shots on net.

And she is embodied by two nascent scoring beacons raring to clash with one another at Schneider Arena tomorrow and again at Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena on Sunday: Laura Veharanta of the Friars and Jenelle Kohanchuk of the Terriers.

Kohanchuk accompanies her associates for the lone visit of the season currently brandishing team highs under the headings of SOG (75), plus/minus (13) and power play goals (4, tied with Gina Kearns and Lauren Cherewyk). Her overall transcript of 9-11-20 places her second on the BU scoring charts behind only junior Melissa Anderson (6-16-22).

In the league’s rookie leaderboard, her totals are sandwiched by top dog Veharanta’s log of 14-12-26 and fellow Friar (and linemate) Ashley Cottrell’s 4-14-18.

And Kohanchuk might have the top slot right about now if not for a recent four-game hitch that only ended against Maine last Sunday. But should she resuscitate her lately snoozing stick and retain her previois pace, she could plausibly post the second-most fruitful freshman campaign in this Lazarene program’s modern four-year history. Anderson’s standard of 34 points set in 2006-07 is a long shot, but she could at least surpass the 28 points charged up by now-senior Laurel Koller in 2005-06.

She will need to do little more than rekindle the pleasurable consistency she has shared with the likes of Kearns and a varying left side linemate, most recently Koller. Koller succeeded sophomore Jillian Kirchner in that position prior to the Maine series after Kirchner and Kearns had sandwiched Kohanchuk for her first 17 appearances.

Meanwhile Kearns, who is to Kohanchuk what Alyse Ruff has been to Veharanta on PC, has collaborated with the Terrier rookie on six scoring plays, though none in any of their last six games. Kearns herself had only snapped a protracted scoring slump of six games in last weekend’s road sweep of the Black Bears.

More duplicate data
Beyond the youthful, individual spotlight magnets, the third-place Friars (7-3-1) and second-rate Terriers (8-4-0) measure up chin-to-chin in most every major statistical category. Most telling to that parity, PC will pit an aggregate 62-52 GF-GA differential against BU’s tally of 62-51. On average, Providence ranks fifth in the league in terms of scoring offense, fourth in defense. Boston’s offense rates fourth, its defense fifth.

PC’s total penalty minute intake of 290 is only a dollop higher than BU’s bushel of 280, though the Terriers are lagging a bit on both sides of the special teams’ spectrum.

Limited selection
Out of the Terriers’ last seven Hockey East wins –stretching as far back as October 25- three have been regulation clock-cleansings of Maine, another three shootout triumphs over the Friars or New Hampshire Wildcats.

And BU has still been subsisting on shootouts more than any of their peers. Out of the three NCAA conferences giving the breakaway bonus round a whirl this season –WHEA, WCHA women, CCHA- only the men’s programs of Notre Dame and Alaska have equated the Terrier total of three shootout wins. No other women’s team has scraped out more than one thus far.

Starved for bean soup
The shootout point from their last tangle with the Terriers aside, Providence has yanked a win from every conference cohabitant except for the three Hub Clubs, having dropped 1-0 and 3-1 decisions to Northeastern and BC in October.

Quick Feeds: There might be a few tweaks in the Friars’ defensive arrangements tomorrow. Yesterday, sophomores Amber Yung and Leigh Riley practiced in green jerseys while Colleen Martin and Christie Jensen partnered in blue. Riley was previously linked with Jensen, Martin with Yung. The top pairing of Jennifer Friedman and Brittany Simpson appears unfettered from the last game…According to a freshly released attendance report, BU is the second-best road draw in Hockey East with a gamely average of about 298 behind only BC, which ironically has attracted the fewest home spectators. PC comes in third with a count of 292…Tomorrow will be Katy Beach’s 125th career game played. She shall thus join classmates Erin Normore and Simpson, along with 31 of their predecessors, in that milestone club. Meanwhile, BU defender Amanda Shaw is slated to hit the same milestone, which will join her in with Kearns, who played Game #125 this past Sunday. Sarah Russell should be the third Terrier with that distinction come Sunday’s rematch.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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