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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Scale of up to 10
The most likely Vancouver-bound PC connections

Just because reaching a three-year respite from the Olympics –much like the U.S. Presidential derby- is the mark superior to the hypists’ tongue-curbing willpower, the last week has marked that time for rife continental door-busting in eyeing the Vancouver Games due to commence in still another 12 months.

Well, what can you do? You may as well get in line and claim a few slices while they’re at their hottest and freshest. And so, for the reading pleasure of flag-waving Friartownies, we profile ten PC personalities –one of them guaranteed, and the rest with a feasible shot- at sporting their country’s colors next winter.

Brian Burke- The pride of the Friar Puck community’s foil-fisted populace is ahead of everyone else in this game –now officially 254 days into his term as the U.S. men’s general manager. This program has stressed its itch to resurge from its slipshod showing the last time around in Turin, Italy. Burke is bound to take a protracted business trip to the same city where he had spent six years commanding the Canucks –a relationship that ostensibly ended on jagged terms in 2004. If he has his way, the alliance of those circumstances will take a vengeful toll on the competition.

Jackie Barto- Granted, she just fell short in Team USA’s head coaching derby to the exponentially popular Wisconsin skipper, Mark Johnson. But with eons of intercollegiate and international experience, the 1984 alumna should not be ruled out for either an associate or behind-the-scenes role.

Hal Gill- Gill saw no action when he tagged along with the Americans to Italy. But given GM Burke’s continual craving for “pugnacity, truculence,” something else, “and belligerence” the towering, hulking, five-time World Championship veteran can expect a written invitation to take the next step in Vancouver. After all, Team Slovakia will thus be the only program conceivably capable of matching or exceeding Gill’s individual imposition.

Genevieve Lacasse- Having made a nearly infallible impression through the duration of her young collegiate career, the PC women’s go-to stopper has every inalienable right to throw her hat in the ring for the peerless privilege of brandishing the Maple Leaf on the game’s most heralded platform before a patriotic home following. The equally natural drawback: umpteen individual competitors reserve the same rights and, in most cases, brandish more saturated international resumes.

Mari Pehkonen- Already having charged up a team-best three goals in the Turin Games –where Finland finished a respectable fourth- and having since gotten reacquainted with Suomi’s Skating Sorority in every tournament possible, Pehkonen would require a hefty bribe and a spilled conscience not to return for the 2010 tournament.

Fernando Pisani- Akin to Lacasse, the 2000 Divine Campus graduate and veteran Edmonton Oiler will indubitably pine for participation as his native country hosts the event. And just the same, he’ll find himself engulfed in a supremely spirited, sizeable pool of candidates.

Karen Thatcher- Recall that Thatcher captained the Hockey East All-Star band that assisted the Amerks in their “Skate to 2006” tune-up tour. Her trek in the three-plus years since will all but shoo her in to the other bench the next time that exhibition is conducted. Since she snagged her degree at the Dunk about three months after the Turin Games, Thatcher –like Finnish counterpart Pehkonen- has latched on with Team USA for every major event imaginable.

Laura Veharanta- The dual American/Finn has expressly vowed to take her swing at a quick reunion with current collegiate teammate Pehkonen next winter. Her impression leading up to her arrival at PC and for the duration of her rookie season has been sound enough, although her posture on the international platform is fuzzier. Translation: no guarantees, but if she misses, just as well for the Friars, who will be in the climax of the 2009-10 season.

Ron Wilson- Hey, the aforementioned Burke said, flat-out, only after the game’s worst kept secret of the century was confirmed in Toronto circa Thanksgiving, “If I had to hire a coach today, I’d hire Ron Wilson.” And here they are again, circumventing the invincibly logical conclusion. Beyond their renewed partnership with the Leafs some three decades after their concomitant commencement, Burke is looking at Wilson’s resume and finding a gold medal in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, just to name his core token of accomplishment.

Amber Yung- The PC women’s sophomore defender has made harmless headway in taking on a little Stars-N-Stripes seasoning, having spent parts of the past summer and winter breaks with Team USA’s U22 Selects. But owing chiefly to experienced, competitive blockage, she will likely have to withhold her Five Ring ambitions until at least 2014. In that sense, her international course will likely resemble Thatcher’s pattern.

Dog Fight just warming up?
Little more than a temporary –though most untimely- psychological cyclone cost Northeastern its bid to splash a two-decade men’s Beanpot drought last Monday. The game shipshape in the way of competitiveness, as advertised, for about the first fifty-four minutes, Boston University wisely drew an extra slight on the Huskies by converting two shorthanded breaks in a matter of 30 seconds to solidify the assertive 5-2 final. But while BU is impeccable on its part, what with the record-busting ways of rookie goalie Kieran Millan and their pristine 9-0 interleague record to solve its two standout flaws of last season, it is not invulnerable to outside factors. Expect a more learned NU band to emerge in this week’s home-and-home set between Hockey East’s runaway titans. And if nothing else, by the time this report is disclosed, the new pair of Hub Hunks (BC is slipping sympathetically to irrelevance) should be boasting the league’s first two playoff passports.

Quick Feeds: This is a shamefully belated catch, but six of the PC women’s rookies bear the retired numbers of legendary Bruins: #2 Laura Veharanta and Eddie Shore, #4 Christie Jensen and Bobby Orr, #8 Lauren Covell and Cam Neely, #9 Arianna Rigano and Johnny Bucyk, #15 Kate Bacon and Milt Schmidt, and #24 Breanna Schwarz and Terry O’Reilly…Yet another jutting step in women’s hockey’s Operation Integration this week as Part II of the Beanpot saw two all-female quartets officiating the third-place and championship games…Veteran USCHO inkslinger Dave Hendrickson notched some stirring entertainment points in his Thursday column, assessing this on the Tim Army Corps: “The Providence Friars donned their Dracula capes early in the second semester, coming back from the dead after an 0-8-1 start within the league.” He proceeded to squander a few of those points by signing off with a birthday greeting to his daughter. Hey, Dave, you do know you have the right and power to establish a personal webpage outside the office, don’t you?…This author’s picks for the out-of-market game of the week: Cornell, trying to bump itself up the ECAC men’s standings, hosts Union, clinging to nearly negligible viability on the national landscape, on Saturday.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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