In a nod to the latest edition of The Hockey News (press date: May 11), wherein “NHL team reports break down each team’s comeback players this season,” the Free Press offers the same report concerning PC:
Jean O’Neill’s once-enticing productivity rate took much longer to heal from a preseason injury than whatever region happened to be ailing at the time. The sophomore’s struggle to recover her playmaking identity that, as a rookie, made her a constituent of the famed PRO Line –opposite then-junior Mari Pehkonen and classmate Alyse Ruff- was such that her persona was at least temporarily modified to a third-line grind status.
Regardless, after missing five of the Friars’ first 16 games and charging up but one assist in her first 11 appearances, O’Neill had stabilized her availability by January, ultimately cemented an underrated partnership with Katy Beach and Abby Gauthier, and went on a brief scoring spurt of 3-2-5 in a space of six games.
Although her final transcript (31 games, 3-5-8 scoring totals, 32 shots on net, plus-2 rating) hardly equated her freshman bushel (36 games, 7-10-17, 70 shots, plus-6), a healthy O’Neill should easily contend to fill one of the two top six vacancies in next year’s depth chart.
In the men’s sector, towering pivot Nick Mazzolini was initially bent on an agonizing Eric Lindros ride when he crumpled at the hands of a Vermont shot on November 7, amounting to his second injury in eight appearances, carrying over from a ruinous open-ice biff by Boston College’s Benn Ferriero the previous March.
Mazzolini, who had three points in six games leading up to his latter setback, took leave from action for the rest of the term, but re-emerged from the team’s five-week holiday hiatus looking like the epitome of refreshment. He would anchor a stimulating January with a 4-2-6 outburst in six games and smoothly sprinkled an additional two goals and five assists even as the Friars fizzled through a winless February/March. At least someone flaunted effective hunger in the dusk of his collegiate career.