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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hockey Log

Depth short, but diverse

Assuming the current disturbances of a league-wide obsessive-defensive approach scoop up speed and cyclical force, the rest of the PC women’s season promises to see fewer pens and more tumbleweeds blow across the rows and columns of their scoresheets.

The forecast calls for conditions inclined to induce widespread toe numbness in goaltenders and an epidemic of goal judges losing proper feeling in their thumbs due to inactivity.

Hockey East as a whole saw six shutouts in eight league contests over the past weekend. The best aurora of red lights amongst those games was New Hampshire’s 5-1 throttling of Maine at the Whittemore Center Saturday.

For the Friars part, in a cumulative 4-1 final spaced over a home-and-home sweep of Boston University, the trinity of beacons comprising the first line –i.e. Ashley Cottrell, Alyse Ruff, and Laura Veharanta- were muzzled for the entire ride. (Granted, though, Ruff was initially credited with an assist on Jean O’Neill’s first period equalizer on Sunday before that point was transplanted to Colleen Martin’s resume. Ruff would have been statistically rewarded if there were a three-assist allotment).

But, to their credit, others have stepped in to plug the modest offering of open slivers. And just enough to have inched Providence into a snug squeeze in the upper-middle half of the standings.

O’Neill, trying to bury the last afterthoughts of an injury that nagged her for three months, has snagged two goals in eight games this January, effectively doubling her bushel of points to four on the season.

“The first half of the year was rough, but I think things are starting to get better now,” she said. “And not just for me personally, but the team as a whole. I think everyone’s coming together more. And we just had a big weekend against BU, and I think things are just going to start building off of that.”

Fourth-line center Steph Morris, confined to diddlysquat in the way of scoring for her first 16 outings, has pitched in two pivotal assists over her last six, including one on O’Neill’s latest strike on Sunday.

Morris’ associate, Pam McDevitt, was likewise fettered for all of her first 15 ventures. She splashed that personal drought in early December and has since proceeded to initiate Katy Beach’s icebreaker/game-winner against the Terriers on Saturday.

Freshman Kate Bacon, lately supplementing the crafty international stars Erin Normore and Mari Pehkonen on the second line, aided in the Finnish Flare’s insurance goal that same afternoon, amounting to two goals and two helpers for her on the month and upping her total transcript to 6-4-10 in 24 swirls.

Even primordially defensive connoisseur Jennifer Friedman –though statistically silent in the latest series- is on the heels of a four-goal, five-point-in-four-games sugar rush, which spiked her data up to a 4-3-7 log from a 0-2-2 reading prior Christmas.

In partial thanks to this handful of pleasant surprise perk-ups, the Friars –who at any rate have long established their self-proclaimed comfort with defensive arm wrestling bouts- have split their last 23 goals amongst 10 firsthand strikers and 18 different point-getters.

“Our whole team’s getting better as the season goes on,” said O’Neill. “The season half of the season is where I think everyone starts to come together and everyone’s best play really comes out and shows.”

Quick Feeds: Nineteen individual Friars have now combined for exactly 100 assists…Each of the last nine PC-BU get-togethers have been decided by two goals or less. The Friars hold a 6-2-1 upper hand in that space…Within strictly league action, the Friars and BC Eagles are currently tied for the best scoring defense with a mere 19 goals against…According to head coach Bob Deraney, reached via e-mail yesterday, there have been no modifications to Jackie Duncan’s “day-to-day” stature on the IR, delivering that revelation more swiftly than Bruin Zdeno Chara’s superior slap shot…With a cumulative 57 saves on 58 shots faced over the weekend, goaltender Genevieve Lacasse was deemed the WHEA’s Rookie of the Week for the second time in three offerings and third time overall. She currently reigns supreme in the conference-only leaderboard under the headings of both goals-against average (1.10) and save-percentage (.958).

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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