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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hockey Log

Friars, Terriers should pit stern defenses
Anyone could go in goal this weekend

With her recent pattern of alternating undress and redress –indeed a jutting diversion from the celestial standard she has set for the better part of the season- Genevieve Lacasse leaves an extra dollop of ambiguity to the PC women’s never-definitive goaltending rotation for today.

In starting five of the last six games, the radiant rookie has laid two goose-eggs but also been forked out early on two occasions, been tagged with her first no-decision, and twice authorized four-plus goals after never having done so in her first 14 whirls-around.

Lacasse may be demonstrating slight disturbances of burnout, which would only warrant a small reduction in playing frequency for the established No. 1 stopper. Meantime, the Friars this afternoon play host to Boston University, whom senior Danielle Ciarletta has stared down in each of the last four opportunities, including the mutually stimulating 65-minute/shootout showdown in the Hub back on November 1. Ciarletta owns a lifetime log of 3-1-1 against BU with only the long-graduated Jana Bugden withholding any experience against the four-year-old program.

On the opposite roster, the Terriers have their own active pattern in the crease –one likewise nonexistent prior to the protracted respite. Senior Allyse Wilcox has rotated with junior Melissa Haber in each of BU’s last six games after the understudy had handled but four of the first 17 ventures.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, head coach Brian Durocher should again call upon Wilcox for Part I of this home-and-home series today at Schneider Arena (2:00 p.m. face-off), which would make for her sixth confrontation with the Friars out of seven possibilities. In turn, though, Haber –who is 0-2 lifetime against PC- would be slated to get the nod tomorrow up at Walter Brown Arena.

The 2006-07 season saw a more even split in the BU backstops’ workload, the then-sophomore Wilcox consuming 56.8% of the allotted ice time, Haber 42.7%. Last year, Wilcox –who is credited with all three of BU’s only regulation wins against the Friars, plus the extra shootout point from their latest tussle- tipped the scale to take credit for 26 games while limiting Haber to ten appearances, including a 4-3 falter here last January 31.

But in light of the imminent dusk on Wilcox’s collegiate tenure, Durocher is implicitly rebooting Haber’s activity for a comfortable transition to next season, by which point she will partner with a colder classmate in Ashley Leichliter and a newcomer in Alissa Fromkin –currently of Phillips Andover Academy.

Regardless of whom Durocher employs today and tomorrow, the Friars will be attempting to circumvent another laser-beamed defensive guild that has not allowed the opposition to break 30 on the shot clock in any of their last five games, though that coupled with inconsistent supplementary offense has amounted to a 2-2-1 record in that stretch. The Terriers are on the heels of docking plebeian Maine, 5-2 and 5-1, only after they had been blanked by both Northeastern and Connecticut the preceding week.

The 22 shots afforded to Providence in their last meeting with the Terriers stands as their third-shallowest bushel on the season. They have most recently been confined to 26 stabs in a 7-3 falter at Dartmouth, 18 in last week’s 3-0 triumph over Vermont, and 28 in the Catamounts’ retaliatory 5-2 decision. That despite PC restricting UVM’s shot count to 20 for a weekend total of 36.

Oddly enough, Ciarletta’s heaviest sweat this season was against the Terriers (38 shots, 35 saves), though that data was chiefly emboldened by the Friars’ toe-curling pile of 13 penalties plus the five-minute bonus round that preceded the shootout. BU gluttonously charged up 22 power play shots that afternoon, including Gina Kearns’ last-minute equalizer. Exactly half of the 38 total stabs dealt to Ciarletta fell in a third period stocked with five Providence infractions.

Scrap the notion of a recurrence of that and the Friars and Terriers will likely just collaborate for another pair of trendy, stuffy arm-wrestling bouts.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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