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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hockey Log: Sunday Edition

Don’t lock Normore out of Hall

Erin Normore’s diverse athletic background –complete with participation in at least five different organized sports during her high school years- and her lengthy scroll of small victories in four seasons at Providence College are both dwarfed, sentimentally if not numerically, by a myriad of shortcomings.

The two-way connoisseur enrolled in 2005 and rapidly surfaced as a prospective cornerstone to sustaining the Friars’ habitual Hockey East banner-raising. Yet out of a program record 143 career games played (a landmark tied with that of 2006 alumna Katelyn Laffin), not one ended in a cathartic victory lap nor was one ever conducted under an NCAA tournament heading.

At the halfway mark of her collegiate tenure, Normore made an offseason business trip to Calgary in hopes of sealing a spot on Canada’s U22 squad for the then-Air Canada Cup. But Puckworld’s pool is simply too deep and her chances of future international engagement now look about as slim as a skate lace in profile view.

Earlier this month, she might have linked up with the Eastern All-Stars at the Frozen Four Skills Challenge. She had the opportunity by way of membership on the final ballot, but the informal fan-controlled polls didn’t work in her favor.

Later this week, PC will distribute its 2008-09 team awards. This author is not about to retract the assertion that radiant rookie goaltender Genevieve Lacasse has a magnetic pull on the MVP prize, but if anybody can pull an upset on that front, it’s Normore. Still, that’s not exactly a guarantee.

Thankfully, though, there is one other means –a much wider open means at that- of materially underlining Normore’s achievements: the PC Athletics Hall of Fame.

This too may be a long shot, especially considering those whom the Friartown City Council still haven’t gotten around to immortalizing – Cindy Curley, Sara DeCosta, Karen Thatcher, Sonny Watrous. (If not for that five-year freeze between 2003 and 2008 that saw no new inductee classes whatsoever, they’d be much further along with this).

But this type of honor can wait a while and it can be a wait well worth it.

Let’s be honest: Normore’s positional flexibility and concomitant entertainment value will be virtually impossible to replace. She hardly went through a single contest, regardless of her specific depth chart assignment, without extracting the puck from the corner of her own zone and touring unchallenged across both blue lines –sometimes en route to a stimulating scoring chance, sometimes not, but magnetic to the eye in any case.

Most recently, the likes of Amber Yung and Colleen Martin –rising juniors and seniors, respectively- have been spotted emulating the audacious cut from her point perch to the enemy crease, but that’s as far as either of them have gone. No net-to-net navigation has been tried, much less mastered, on their part. That’s how rare a find Normore is.

Well, actually, there’s more to the matter. Normore couldn’t have carried out those enterprises on such a routine basis unless she had cemented an exceptional trust with head coach Bob Deraney fairly early in her PC gig. From there, it ought to have been fast evident to even the most novice observers that her adhesive stick blade would only give out and give the puck away at a rate that just reminded everyone she was human.

The rest of the time, though, Friar Fanatics were treated to the equivalent of South Park fans whetting their funny bones for Kenny McCormick’s newest madcap demise. And on the best occasions, malnourished women’s hockey advocates were treated to a split-second wherein Normore had to exert an extra dollop of maneuverability to make the neutral zone incision. And if there were enough student spectators on hand –especially males- an excited interjection of “Ooooo!” actually channeled through Schneider Arena.

That’s still far from a sufficient supply of fanfare, but all things considered, it stands out as something. There was clear-cut admiration for the feats of a female athlete. And who, specifically, delivered?

Erin Normore. A reminder, too, that she pulled that stunt on a near-gamely basis en route to 25 goals and 66 assists over a career 143 ventures. Before you spew out the Don Schula/Mercury Morris within and note that there are a few more games per season than in the former days, consider this: in the current calendar decade, the Friars have conducted at least 35 games per season and during that time, only one player has demonstrated the requisite durability to dress on every possible night.

To do that, let alone freely play two positions at once, let alone embolden the team’s scoring punch whilst composing a career plus-25 rating and a comparatively irreproachable 102 penalty minutes?

Admittedly, those aren’t your standard accolades detailed in the column of accomplishments for most PC Hall members. But you should bet your full CCM duffel bag it’s worth a look.

And perhaps, sometime circa 2025, just as she’s resting after leading a band of professional pucksters through a taxing power skating seminar, Normore will receive the momentous news.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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