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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hockey Log

Covell, Schwarz make a smooth swap

On the cusp of the 4:30 mark of last Friday’s first period, with the first penalty kill of the season nearing completion, Providence sophomore Lauren Covell perched herself in the high slot directly in front of Maine puckslinger Amy Stech’s shooting range and struck a rather hasty goalie-like pose.

It worked, though. Covell would get her twig on Stech’s subsequent attempt and deflect it down into the far corner of the Friars’ zone. Within another few seconds, the puck was errantly fouled out of play and by then, the Black Bears had but 18 seconds to work with on their power play, which would come to no use.

Covell’s quick thinking set a solid tone for her first year as a designated defender, a positional tweak that comes after she went through 24 games with a mere four shots on net and zero points as a rookie last season.

Ironically, just one period later, she would attain that elusive icebreaker point when she settled the puck along the near point and forwarded it to Jess Cohen, who nimbly lashed it home for the eventual game-winner at 4:35.

That scoring play, along with two others, factored into a team-best plus-3 rating on the night for Covell. She would sprinkle another point onto that the following day when she was on the ice for Ashley Cottrell’s decider in a 2-1 win. As a result, amongst all Providence skaters, she currently boasts the best rating at plus-4.

As an added bonus, she is one of the eight skating Friars yet to receive a penalty.

“It’s interesting,” remarked head coach Bob Deraney. “Last year, I thought she was a terrific two-way forward, especially a very defensive forward, so it was kind of natural to move her back. We liked what we saw in her as a checking type of forward last season and we felt that she could make the transition back to defense very seamlessly. She’s a very responsible player and I know she can continue to get better if she perfects her position.”

Well, for Covell, no real glitches managed to crack the surface over opening weekend. And as green as any data is bound to be at this phase of the season, all of this only bodes well for a youngster seeking a more rigidly established spot on the game night roster.

Similarly, and on an inverse to Covell’s flip-flop, fellow sophomore Breanna Schwarz finally got her chance to build on a redshirt/MIP campaign that she had spent primarily practicing as a defender –except she is building on it by taking a post on the left wing.

All night Friday, she and senior Pam McDevitt flanked rookie Nicole Anderson on the third line. And on Saturday, with the returns of Kate Bacon and Abby Gauthier, she and McDevitt were rotated in as two remainders attached to the three full forward units.

Schwarz’ results have yet to show up as much, but she at least saw generous quantities of ice team in both even strength and special teams segments.

“Again, I could say the same thing about all of the 22 players in our locker room,” said Deraney. “She worked extremely hard (in the offseason) on the things that she needed to work on –her weaknesses. She’s improved them so much that she can play a role for us.

“You can never have too many responsible players. If you’re responsible, there’s always a place for you in our lineup.”

Quick feeds: Cohen garnered the league’s distinction as Rookie of the Week for her two-game transcript of 2-1-3 in the Maine series…The Friars shall officially remain in first place of the Hockey East standings for at least two more weeks as all action in the coming weekend will be nonconference. PC will engage in six consecutive interleague affairs between now and a Saturday matinee versus Boston University Oct. 31…The Friars picked up six points for an honorable mention in yesterday’s US College Hockey Online poll. Upcoming adversaries St. Lawrence and Clarkson are both ranked at Nos. 5 and 7, respectively.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com