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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hockey Log

Centering her attention
Ruff accepts new responsibilities as a pivot

PC women’s junior forward Alyse Ruff may ordinarily conform to the ultra-attentive, ignore-all-trivial-anecdotes principle of collegiate athletics. But a spurt of human nature showed when she was reminded of the fact that, as of last Friday, all three of her season-opening goals have come at the expense of Colgate.

“I am aware of that and I think it’s very ironic,” she said yesterday. “I wasn’t sure if that was true, but I definitely knew that my first goal of my freshman year was against Colgate –and it was probably one of the worst goals I’ve ever scored. I missed the net, it bounced off the back (boards), and I somehow put it in. But yeah, it’s kind of funny.”

Ruff carried on with her habitually mild self-effacing tendencies as she assessed her first few weeks as a full-time center, a position she regained after having temporarily tried it early in her rookie campaign before sticking strictly to the wing over the last year and a half.

Her relative promotion to the weightier post around the face-off dot and at the core of each zone is not much of a surprise based on the way her game has evolved. As a freshman, Ruff’s defining characteristic was strictly nosing after the net, which amounted to a hefty bushel of 14 goals. Last season, she balanced her output between 10 goals and 10 assists and also earned a regular spot on the penalty killing brigade, hence the implication that she could be relied on to play a decent two-way game.

“I found out I was going to be playing center this summer and I can’t say that I like it, but it’s the position that I’m playing,” she said, matter-of-factly accepting that she is pretty much there to stay.

“I think my sophomore and perhaps my junior year in high school, I was playing center,” she recalls. “But it’s much different at the college level. It’s obviously a lot faster and the other centers are just better, probably because they’ve been playing that position they’re entirely lives.”

For what it’s worth, Ruff, who cultivated three assists before her icebreaker goal on Friday, has at least this much to show: through six games, she has won 51 out of 93 face-offs for a .548 success rate, second on the team only to the .592 winning percentage of first line pivot Ashley Cottrell.

And between Ruff, freshman Jess Cohen, and senior Arianna Rigano, the Friars’ second line has already combined for seven goals, six assists and 59 shots on net in their first six outings as a unit.

“I think center, just as a position in general, requires a lot of skating,” Ruff said. “If I could, I would prefer to still be playing right wing, but (playing center is) doable and I love the other two linemates I’m playing with. Jess Cohen is very talented and Anna has improved tremendously since last year.”

Cohen crowned again
Through her game-clincher Friday versus Colgate and her third period strike against Syracuse on Saturday, the aforementioned Cohen regained her claim to the Hockey East Rookie of the Week laurel, having already earned it two weeks ago. Her six points on the year knot her up at the top of the freshman scoring chart with New Hampshire’s Kristine Horn, her former teammate at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

Additionally, Cohen is already one of three individuals in the league with two deciding goals –opposite Northeastern senior Lindsey Berman and Vermont sophomore Kailey Nash- and now boasts the Friars’ best plus/minus rate at plus-5, tied with goaltender Genevieve Lacasse.

Quick feeds: The final repercussions of Saturday’s 3-1 falter to Syracuse have more or less passed through. The Friars’ vote distribution in the USCHO poll shriveled from 12 to three yesterday evening…With 364:05 minutes already under her belt in the young season, Lacasse has seen more ice time than any other goaltender –or any other player, for that matter- in Hockey East…Senior forward Pam McDevitt is the last active PC skater still without any penalty minutes…After four consecutive tangles with New York-based institutions, the Friars will play all of their next nine games against New England-based adversaries, beginning this weekend with Yale and Brown dropping in and continuing with seven Hockey East contests. Six of those nine total contests will be at home.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com