Advanced courses in the creases
The constituents of this weekend’s matchup between the PC and Northeastern women are each certifying their reps as the Massachusetts Institute of Goaltending and the Rhode Island School of Warding through dense, deep membership as well as selectiveness.
Both the Friars and Huskies –each coached by former netminders in Bob Deraney and Dave Flint and with at least one other ex-goaltender behind their bench- roster a quartet of keepers but have only allotted regular action to two this season.
Behind the radiant tandem of Florence Schelling and Leah Sulyma at Northeastern, ex-Friar Stacey Scott –who transferred after posting a 2-1-0 freshman year here in 2005-06, effectively opening the door to Danielle Ciarletta- has dressed for 21 contests this season. Junior Syd Arbelbide has warmed up and assumed a bench door assignment on nine occasions.
Their cumulative ice time so far this year: nada. Scott last saw action for two periods of an 8-2 drubbing via New Hampshire on January 26, 2008 and has not concocted a win since she answered to Deraney. Arbelbide was last seen laboring two seasons ago, when she composed a 2-7-1 transcript over 12 ventures.
Similarly, the Friars appear on a trek towards building harmless red shirt collateral, especially for the likes of sophomore Christina England, who has yet to be integrated into regulation game action since her arrival last autumn. Her classmate, Jen Smith, did take in all or part of six ventures last season and relieved freshman phenom Genevieve Lacasse versus Dartmouth on January 13, though she would be dealt no shots over a slim seven minutes of play.
Last night, Scott and England were the odd women out for their respective teams –who can dress a maximum of three stoppers- while the fast-anointed go-to girls each recovered from uncharacteristic hiccups early on to push things into overtime.
Lacasse’s penultimate save out of 22 total was likely the most telling. With the bite-sized, five-minute bonus round just half over, NU’s Annie Hogan absorbed a fugitive puck on the PC blue line and swooped uncontested down the far lane. A sprawling Lacasse, however, fortified the ground post-to-post whilst zapping Hogan’s attempt to lob home a would-be winner.
Only about 85 more seconds hopped off the playing clock before Mari Pehkonen inserted the clincher and incidentally –but rather symbolically- collided with the shagged out Schelling.
And while the Swiss starter (53 saves) pulled back up to join the handshake line, Sulyma was spotted giving personal, to-the-side props to the victorious Lacasse.
A lesser burden
By seizing the full two-point package, and exactly a minute before each side could at least claim one before a shootout, the Friars have permanently distanced themselves from Northeastern in the 2008-09 Hockey East standings.
Each with five regular season games left, PC (11-4-1) is temporarily tied for first with UNH, brandishing 23 points apiece. NU, meantime, still holds a mere 11 for a now incurable 12-point deficit.
Only one more chaser needs to be immobilized before Providence is assured of home ice in the playoffs. But, Deraney reminds, they have to play their part, beginning with tonight’s back-end of this home-and-home up at Matthews Arena, where they lost, 1-0, in mid-October.
“All I know is that we want to win every (season) series,” Deraney said. “And so, with the win tonight, it gives us a chance tomorrow to win another series. We’re not looking that far ahead. We’re just looking to make sure we’re on the right side of every series. If you do that, good thing will happen to you in the standings.”
After the annual Skating Strides ceremonies –featuring the likes of Hockey East associate commissioner Kathy Wynters and Joe Gemma, a dean at PC and co-founder of the Gloria Gemma foundation- a chiefly what-the-heck arrangement had junior defender Colleen Martin assuming the mike to perform the Star-Spangled Banner.
She proceeded to pitch in one of the Friars’ 56 shots on net whilst indirectly helping to bar uncalculated would-be Husky shots as part of the win.
Quick Feeds: The PC pep band put in its second appearance at a women’s hockey game this season, helping in part to compose a season-high audience of 417 and churning all of the standard Friar Fanatic disturbances typically seen at men’s events. “No doubt we fed off of that,” Deraney granted…All but two individuals Friars recorded a shot in their season-high bushel of 56…Sophomore defender Leigh Riley claimed an assist on Jean O’Neill’s second period equalizer for her first point of the season…An injury-plagued Northeastern –which has consistently had a short bench since the end of October- fielded only 10 forwards last night, though they did get left defender Breanna Frost back in action after a five-week, 11-game absence which had left the depth chart with as many as four cavities at a time…An online audiocast will be available for tonight’s contest (7:00 p.m. face-off) per NU’s athletic website and shared with friars.com.
Al Daniel can be reached at email@example.com