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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hockey Log

Scoring woes be gone
PC’s noses hardening in each zone

A grand total of 14 new points were split amongst thirteen different Friars on yesterday’s scoresheet, thus splintering a handful of spells and prolonging a few positive trends.

All three constituents of PC’s top line –Ashley Cottrell, Alyse Ruff, Laura Veharanta- were apt to splash their respective three-game scoring droughts yesterday. Cottrell rinsed out her vinegar with a tone-setting power play strike early in the second period, as would Ruff and Veharanta in assisting Normore’s player-up conversion at 13:20 of the third. Veharanta would sprinkle an additional helper on her resume, collaborating with Jennifer Friedman in the neutral zone to set up Mari Pehkonen’s empty netter.

Meanwhile, senior grinder Steph Morris inserted her first goal of the season –the eventual clincher- and granted linemate Pam McDevitt a helper in the process, the junior’s second point in her last three games.

Abby Gauthier halted her seven-game pointless streak with the initial assist on Jean O’Neill’s goal roughly five minutes after Morris connected. Upon snatching the other helper, Katy Beach has statistically contributed in each of her last four ventures and 10 of her last 14.

Not to mention, PC nailed two power play conversions for the first time since they steamrolled New Hampshire, 5-0, three weeks ago.

Yesterday’s 5-1 victory was most tellingly laid out in the first half of the second period, wherein the Friars converted thrice on a twelve-shot sugar rush in a matter of seven minutes. By period’s end, they had outpaced UConn on the board, 3-1, and the shooting gallery, 17-12, between Zamboni shifts.

Naturally, that data was not foretold in the pregame playbill. Not for this matchup or this time of year.

“I’m not sure if we really have that type of offense,” observed head coach Bob Deraney, “But we’ve sure done it a lot lately, being able to score goals in bunches when the first one comes.”

And, he continued, being able to flood a sturdier moat in defense of those resultant leads.

“I think we’re becoming better playmakers, we’re becoming more opportunistic. I just think that our kids aren’t afraid to go into the tough areas of the ice now, especially around the crease. There’s a great confidence, determination and ferocity that we’re starting to display around the net. If you want to score goals, you have to be willing to go into those areas and compete there.

“And, conversely, in front of our own net, we’re battling. You know the way a football line is supposed to create a pocket for the quarterback? I think our defensive players are doing a great job of creating a pocket for our goalies, so they can get a good-enough look at the rebound.”

Upper hand finalized
Regardless of the upshot today over at UConn’s Freitas Ice Forum (1:00 p.m. face-off), the Friars have already scampered merrily away with the better half of the three-game wishbone with the Huskies.

Coupling yesterday’s 5-1 win with the 2-0 triumph here in mid-November, PC gets the better part of UConn for the fifth time in their seven years as WHEA cohabitants.

Couple that with best-of-three triumphs over Boston University, Maine, and Vermont, and they are now 4-for-4 in Hockey East season series.

“Our goal going in every season is to win series,” Deraney acknowledged, though we would add, “if you’ve won a series and you still have another game to play, then that means you have a chance to sweep. And that’s what tomorrow’s all about.

“We’re not satisfied. The goal is to sweep every series. And unfortunately, in a couple of these series (Northeastern and Boston College), we haven’t won the first game, so all we can do is win it, not sweep it. But here’s an opportunity to sweep, and that’s going to be the mentality tomorrow. Whether we do it or not? Hey, we’ll let the next 60 minutes decide that.”

Quick Feeds: Yesterday’s game featured three 4-on-4 segments. Monique Weber’s body-checking felony terminated UConn’s first power play, putting each team down a body for 48 seconds late in the first. At the halfway mark, Pehkonen was called for interference five seconds before Husky Brianna Uliasz was due out for boarding. And Beach was flagged for tripping with 26 seconds on Brittany Murphy’s third period checking major…Two first period shot attempts of UConn twigs –one by Sami Evelyn in the ninth minute, another by Michelle Binning in the fourteenth minute- dinked off the crossbar…Pehkonen led all participants with nine shots on goal…PC swept yesterday’s three-star selection for the fourth time in their last seven games, with Morris, Genevieve Lacasse, and Normore honored in ascending order…With Vermont’s 4-0 loss to Boston University, the Friars –along with BC and UNH- have assured themselves a passport to the postseason with still one-third of their regular season Hockey East schedule yet to be consumed.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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