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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hockey Log

Deraney: Bring on anybody

Boston University’s 2-1 edging of Northeastern yesterday, completed some two hours after the PC women had dumped Connecticut, 3-0, in the other Hockey East preliminary round equals a semifinal date for the Friars with host New Hampshire next Saturday at noon. The inimitable Green Line Rivalry between BU and Boston College will immediately follow with its first modern postseason installment between its women’s programs.

Under altered circumstances, Providence might have been slated to promptly renew the Catholic Clash with BC a mere two weeks after they surrendered a forgetful home finale, 5-1, to the Eagles before subsequently salvaging their right to home ice for yesterday’s game. Instead, they’ll rerun their attempt to dislodge the three-time defending WHEA champions three weeks after a 4-1 splashing in Lake Whittemore.

This much is guaranteed: for only the third time in the league’s seven years of existence, one and only one of the last two parties standing a week from today will be the Friars or Wildcats.

“I’m just glad that we’re still playing,” said head coach Bob Deraney, reached in the aftermath of his win, at which point the battle of Beantown was merely in its opening frame. “There are a lot of teams this week that won’t be playing. We’re still playing, and that’s the most important thing. We get a chance to continue to play.

“I don’t care who we play. The games get harder as you move along. We beat a very good UConn team today and no matter who we play next week, they’re going to be a very good team. We just have to continue to bring the best hockey we can and hopefully continue to get better.”

Curiously, sophomore forward Alyse Ruff –who upped her season scoring totals to 10-10-20 with an insurance goal yesterday- voiced the same bottom line sentiment, but added a layer of mild preference. “I would love to play BC again and I know our coach would be excited if we play UNH,” she said, likely weighing PC’s dense history with the Cats on that presumption. “But I can’t wait. It’s only a chance to move forward.”

Peek at the future for UConn
UConn senior stopper Brittany Wilson –who posted a cumulative 4-6-0 log with three shutouts against the Friars and a career transcript of 51-30-11 with 15 blanks- had to settle for a Tyler Sims-like end to her Husky tenure.

Head coach Heather Linstad didn’t take any C-cuts around the facts behind her somewhat intriguing decision to start freshman Alex Garcia yesterday rather than the seasoned Wilson. “Wilson wasn’t playing well down the stretch and Garcia did a good job last week (at New Hampshire),” Linstad offered. “But I definitely don’t think it was goaltending that lost us the game today.”

Already, Garcia –who pushed away four UNH shots in a bite-sized relief effort last Sunday and 20 bids yesterday- has partaken in all or part of nine games, including two visits to PC. Both of those, however, ended in shutouts for counterpart Genevieve Lacasse.

The Huskies, all but drained of their NCAA at-large hopes at this point, should also have rising senior Jennie Bellonio still at their service, though she has put in a mere 15 appearances over her first three seasons.

Home improvement
The Friars sealed their extended 2008-09 home slate with a 9-8-1 record. They went 6-3 here in the active calendar year after an iffy 3-5-1 start from opening night through the December deceleration. Additionally, they picked up their 17th overall win, surpassing the 16 mark of the two preceding seasons and automatically assuring them a supra-.500 record (currently 17-15-3), their first since 2005-06.

Quick Feeds: Junior defender Colleen Martin notched her seventh assist of the season on Ruff’s insurance goal at 10:10 of the third period. With the other helper, two-way connoisseur Erin Normore is tied with Ashley Cottrell for the team lead with 16…UConn and Boston College remain tied for the league’s second most fruitful offense with an even 100 cumulative goals apiece…Senior forward Katy Beach hardly missed a shift despite a freak collision in the Huskies’ zone in the thirteenth minute of the first period. She would skate off stickless and awkwardly, yet under her own power, and was back in action two minutes later for PC’s first power play…Both teams went fruitless on the power play with the Friars scraping out six shots over five chances, the Huskies one over three chances…With four shots on goal, Mari Pehkonen (103 on the year) joins Laura Veharanta (135) and Kate Bacon (110) with triple-digits under that heading.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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