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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hockey Log

PC women flip-flop the Finns
Recoveries, scoring funks prompt line chart tweaks

Though still safely tops amongst all Providence College point-getters and all Hockey East rookie scorers with a 15-14-29 scoring transcript, Laura Veharanta has hinted to a yearning for fresh foil on her offensive punch, having been held dry for each of the past two weekend series.

And so, head coach Bob Deraney did the nearly unthinkable –though no less worth trying- and broke up the youthful top line of Veharanta, classmate Ashley Cottrell, and sophomore Alyse Ruff. Over the last four ventures, this line –together with the team in general- has felt a tantalizing numbness in their twigs, with only three collective points to speak of: one assist by Cottrell, two helpers by Ruff.

With the ensuing reconfigurations, Veharanta’s Finnish countrywoman Mari Pehkonen has claimed her red practice jersey and been reunited with the likes of Ruff –with whom she collaborated on six scoring plays late last season and another early this season. If all goes according to Deraney’s plan, he will now simply be deploying the same front line trinity (i.e. of Pehkonen, Cottrell, and Ruff) that has lately constituted the first power play unit for full-time, even strength engagements.

Although, Pehkonen’s prompt availability to put this experiment into game action is suddenly fuzzy. The celestial senior had her practice cut short yesterday when she vanished with trainer Amanda Bowman after blocking a shot about midway through the day’s work. She would return for about four minutes to at least try to join in on a power play drill, only to adjourn once more with an apparent nagging sensation in her upper body.

Come what may, Veharanta has converted to a hunter green tune-up sweater and collaborated with classmate Kate Bacon and crafty senior Erin Normore –who has nudged back to center with defender Christie Jensen’s full return to the regular regimen. Jensen, who did see slivers of action last Saturday, has simply been reunited with sophomore Amber Yung, whom she had partnered with for three consecutive games until she was sidelined with a head ailment at the tail-end of January.

Jensen’s fellow IR discharge, junior attacker Jackie Duncan, has linked up with Lauren Covell and Arianna Rigano, donning fourth-line orange sweaters. Steph Morris and Pam McDevitt, who were both absent from yesterday’s practice, will likely rotate with those three in whatever shall remain of the Friars’ game schedule.

Eagles’ radiant rookies
Boston College freshmen forwards Danielle Welch and Mary Restuccia –who will pay their second career visits to Schneider Arena tomorrow afternoon (4:00 face-off)- are steadily whittling their way up the WHEA’s rookie scoring charts, though they each still trail Veharanta by six points and second-rate Jenelle Kohancuk of Boston University by five.

Restuccia, the league’s reigning rookie of the month who has earned her way to the top line with seasoned sizzlers Kelli Stack and Allie Thunstrom, has been held officially pointless in her last two games, stuffing up a 2-3-5 tear she had been brewing in the previous three. But she was the hero last Saturday when she curled a backhander behind BU’s Allyse Wilcox, granting the Eagles their first shootout win out of two opportunities and effectively tightening their grip on the second first-round bye in the playoff picture.

With that, only the Friars and Northeastern have yet to experience a shootout triumph in the experimental first year of this tiebreaking approach.

All six of BC’s freshmen skaters have pitched in at least two points over their first 31 outings and have polished off 32 of the team’s 94 goals (34%). Similarly, the Friars frosh crop has directly scored 30 of their club’s 80 goals for a substantial 37.5% share.

Quick Feeds: Deraney devoted a full ten minutes yesterday to a forechecking seminar, expressly fostering a formula to seduce and ambush BC’s keen defense…Covell, still hunting for her first collegiate point, earned Deraney’s single-loudest stamp of approval on the day when she cut off a breakout in neutral ice and buried a countering conversion during transitioning drills…Apart from the aforementioned Morris and McDevitt, only forward Katy Beach and goaltender Christina England were unseen throughout yesterday’s skate…The most reliable word has Genevieve Lacasse raring to start in net tomorrow. Lacasse’s five shutouts –which tie her with Connecticut’s Brittany Wilson- are a distant second to BC stopper Molly Schaus’ 10.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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