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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hockey Log

Anderson picking up her power

Coming in, her standards were already as comparatively towering as her team-high, 6-foot-even posture, but by sheer circumstance PC women’s freshman Nicole Anderson has been forced to prop up an emotional levee amidst an unpredictable gale of injuries and shake-ups.

Anderson has been a mainstay in her assignment as the Friars’ third line centerpiece since she arrived for orientation. Her associates on the left and right wing alike, not so much.

For the first two weeks of practice, while sophomores Kate Bacon and Abby Gauthier polished off their respective recoveries from preseason ailments, Anderson was flanked by converted defender Bre Schwarz and senior grinder Pam McDevitt. Once Bacon and Gauthier were reintegrated, they bumped those two into a rotation role, but at least the Friars had three constant lines and two flexible spares to work with.

Then last week, Bacon went down once more, resulting in a four-way personnel rotation within the three slots on the third line. And now, at gametime, any given pair can flank Anderson with a spontaneous call to duty.

Remarkably, for a rookie who already has to worry about mastering a two-way position, Anderson has remained unfussy and uncomplaining.

“I don’t think it affects us that much,” she said. “Obviously, it’s difficult but I think we’re handling it fairly well.

“We should have four full lines, but we basically only have two full lines and then the mixtures, so it’s pretty difficult,” she confessed, albeit in a relaxed, soft-spoken tone.

Individually speaking, Anderson has little to complain about. Even while the majority of her mates have misplaced some of their flare from earlier in the month, she has conversely picked up her production. Through her first four college games, she had an infinitesimal two shots and zero points to speak of. In the last four, she has upped her collection to 12 shots along with a 2-1-3 scoring transcript.

“I think I’m getting better at this level,” she said. “The pace is a lot faster from high school and I’m still trying to get used to that. But I think I’m managing so far. I just have to keep going, keep up the hard work.”

Most encouragingly, four of those dozen shots and both of those strikes have fallen on the power play, one with each of two regular units. In all, she accounts for one-third of the Friars’ six extra-strength conversions.

Not to mention, both of her goals have served as much pleasure to the eye as they have to scoreboard. Anderson’s icebreaker fell while she was linked up with the likes of Ashley Cottrell and Laura Veharanta versus Colgate two Fridays ago. She merely perched herself above the near inner hashmark for a late second period face-off, magnetically collected Cottrell’s win, and zipped it home with but 1.2 seconds to spare.

One week later, working with Jess Cohen and Alyse Ruff, Anderson was roaming free before the far post when she absorbed an upward shipment from point patroller Jennifer Friedman and backhanded it behind an unprepared Yale goaltender, Jackee Snikeris.

“I’m still learning the power play,” she humbly insists. “But I think both units have been working out equally well.”

Penalties on a par
The Friars have gotten at least a slight stable grip on their discipline detonator, significantly lowering their frequency in the penalty box. With eight trips to the bin themselves and 11 for the opposition over last weekend, those two parties have pulled even for 48 minor infractions apiece –or an even six citations per game.

Quick feeds: Up-and-coming recruit Corrine Buie, an Edina (Minn.) High School forward by winter, has scored four goals and three assists in her last six games for Team Metro West in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League. Meanwhile, defender Maggie Pendleton –another future Friar from instate rival Woodbury High- has charged up four helpers for Team Metro East…With 34 registered shots on goal, senior winger Arianna Rigano ranks fifth in that category amongst all Hockey Easterners…Boston University, visitors to Schneider Arena this coming Saturday, was ranked No. 10 in both major national polls this week. Connecticut, slated to host the Friars this Sunday, has two honorable mention votes just below the USCHO leaderboard.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com