• Check out the Free Press founder's new Rhode Island/New England sports blog
  • http://providencesportsscribe.blogspot.com/

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Hockey Log

Lacasse hauls in the hardware

Durham, N.H.- At least as far as their first year is concerned, the rivalry between PC’s own Genevieve Lacasse and Northeastern’s Florence Schelling is a sequential Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin breed.

Across the database, the Friars’ surprise savior from Scarborough thoroughly outpaced the Hub Huskies’ primordial hype magnet in a Top Rookie derby that by the dusk of the regular season was clearly not inclined to set one blade out of the crease.

Goals-against median: 1.90 to 2.24, advantage Lacasse. Save percentage: .935 to 933 in favor of PC’s young backstop. Winning percentage: a Friars’ feast of .596 to .306. Shutouts: 6-2, advantage Lacasse.

Not to mention, the fact that PC had the less straining night-to-night dilemma. Lacasse –who unhesitatingly enrolled at the Divine Campus even with three incumbent goalies waiting to work with her- has thus far consumed 75.9% of her team’s crease time and is sure to augment that overwhelming fraction in today’s semifinal tussle with New Hampshire. Schelling handled 52.9% of NU’s custodial duties, only a few strides ahead of the not-so-scruffy Leah Sulyma (46.6%).

And last night, Lacasse got the expected stamp at the WHEA’s Awards Banquet in UNH’s Huddleston Hall, claiming the top rookie prize and making a tangy tradeoff of accolades with seasoned Boston College keeper Molly Schaus.

Schaus –just one constituent of a celestial now-junior class at Chestnut Hill that Providence skipper Bob Deraney yearns to foundationally duplicate with his rookie corps- planted her flag on the moorings of the league’s First-All Star team, indubitably bolstered by a superior team record, gobs of shutouts (10 total), and the Triple Crown of goals-against average, save percentage, and winning percentage in overall play.

But Lacasse –tapped to scrape the blue paint on the Second All-Star squad- laid claim to the ITECH Goaltending Championship for her jutting output within conference boundaries. Playing in all but three regular season games against conference cohabitants, she topped all of her peers with a .940 save-percentage and outclassed Schaus under the GAA heading (1.55 versus 1.64), though Boston University’s Melissa Haber ultimately topped that chart with a 1.54 median.

Schelling, whose scrappy Huskies submitted to the Terriers in last weekend’s preliminary swing, could only cultivate a split position with Lacasse on the All-Rookie Team.

Quirkily enough, the Friars’ top gun Laura Veharanta –one of four selected forwards- was the only unanimous pick for the freshman honor roll, even when the likes of Schelling had pitched in on her scoring slowdown in the stretch drive. Come what may, Veharanta retained her season-long lead atop the rookie scoring charts (16-15-31 overall, 7-10-17 in league action) and reaped extra dividends with an honorable mention All-Star spot, opposite five upperclassmen from foreign programs.

Apart from Lacasse and Veharanta, only BU defender Tara Watchorn (Second All-Star team) had the privilege of posing with her elder standouts. Eight of the other nine selections were juniors or seniors.

Cats’ crease fuzzy
UNH boss Brian McCloskey –who has just scooped up his fourth CCM Coach of the Year Award- has the option between fresh history and fresher history in his goaltending decision today. Sophomore Kayley Herman is already two-for-two in career WHEA postseason games, complete with two shutouts and a banner, penned to her resume. Although, her formerly Lacasse-like stats have taken a comparative nosedive this season and she authorized five goals in a revolutionary beating at the hands of the Friars at Schneider Arena on January 10.

Conversely, rookie Lindsey Minton –who is technically as inexperienced in do-or-die games now as Herman was 52 weeks ago today- is not far removed from twice stuffing up Providence in a mid-February home-and-home series, which enhanced her pristine record to 7-0-0.

Minton proceeded to extract two more wins over Harvard and Connecticut, though Herman was reinstated in the regular season finale and pushed away 19 UConn stabs as part of a 4-2 triumph.

Quick Feeds: Boston College first-liner Mary Restuccia was formally declared the first runner-up in the run for top rookie accolades…The Wildcats (defender Kacey Bellamy, forwards Sam Faber and Jenn Wakefield) and Eagles (Schaus, defender Maggie Taverna, forward Kelli Stack) evenly split the six slots on the First All-Star team…Today’s 12:00 p.m. twig-lock may be viewed for a $6 cyber-admission fee courtesy of B2 Networks.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Friday, March 6, 2009

On Hockey

Not much to do but play
Dogged Friars face nothing-to-lose scenario vs. UNH once more

The PC women have twice combated and defied presumptively vengeance-minded adversaries to claim their passport for tomorrow’s voyage to Lake Whittemore, where the WHEA tournament-host New Hampshire Wildcats are 12-0-3 on the year and primed to dislodge the Friars for the third consecutive season.

Translation: time for a 180-degree reversal of roles. And time to purge all of the finer points.

Flustering as it may be for critical observers, the pad-clad women in charge at ice level and contesting skippers Bob Deraney and Brian McCloskey have a most diluted scroll of talking points before them in advance of tomorrow’s 12:00 p.m. semifinal face-off.

As far as unadulterated, objective projections are concerned, the almighty Wildcats tip the scale in most every department. And so, for their part, the Friars need only labor on a cruiser-load of determination and the fundamental notion that if they literally stood no chance, they would not be allowed to conduct this contest in the first place.

But not much can be produced in the way of an assessment without forking beneath the basic layers of this pregame card. And in hindsight, Providence has the red meat of recent history all to itself, seeing as the Cats have floated along on a 13-game winning streak since their 5-0 nosedive at Schneider Arena on January 10.

A mere three weeks to date, the Friars scraped out one of their less forgivable shortcomings –as far as Deraney was concerned- in the form of a 3-2 home falter. The following night, they submitted a 4-1 decision in Durham. And in a matter of 26 hours, their deficit in the Hockey East points column broadened from four to eight and UNH happily hopscotched away with the regular season championship and the tournament hospitality duties that come with it.

Ever since that weekend, this author has already taken about ten voluntary full-rink sprint laps as penance for his initial call on the numerically challenged 2008-09 Wildcats.

Much to the torment of coastal fans who view his program with animosity formerly reserved for the New York Yankees, it is now plain that McCloskey used the months that he had to formulate his approach to that drawback before training camp even started. His seventeen rostered pupils have since shot out to a respectable 4-0-2 start, hit a 5-4-2 speed bump prior to Christmas, and then took the aforementioned bow to the Friars to start the new calendar year.

Since then, they’ve merely charged up a dozen unanswered wins by an aggregate 56-23 margin and are indulging in an extra week’s worth of post-season fostering plus yet another regular season crown. And so, up to this point, not much has changed for McCloskey’s four seniors who are pining for one last conference banner.

Well, why not? They’ve got their jealously guarded, overgrown pond to defend their title on, have they not?

That’s where the most harrowing sliver of data lies: since a 2-1 slipup before Princeton on November 11, 2007, the Cats are 22-0-4 at home. PC drew the first of those four ties on January 19, 2008, and have plucked a point out of two other visits since the WHEA’s 2002 inception. But, on the whole, they are 0-13-4 in their last 17 full-blooded away games at the Whittemore Center, their last (and only) win being a 4-3 final on January 11, 1997.

Although, any Friartownies who do flock up north tomorrow are certainly entitled to a faith in eventual change. After all, their beloved male pucksters just missed the Hockey East playoffs for the first time in 24 years.

And, potentially, this game could be more enticing for the visiting masses if the rust from a 13-day respite takes its toll and forces the Wildcats to resharpen their blades with the ice itself for about ten minutes. Dimensions and dynamics aside, first dibs on momentum just might make the Friars float. That’s how last Saturday’s preliminary round overhaul of Connecticut unfolded and it’s also how a bitter load of virtual postseason games against UNH and Boston College turned against them and ultimately zapped their shot at a first-round bye.

But if freshness is enough of a factor, perhaps they will cease to dwell on the consequences of that altogether vinegary February. That goes for the prospect of spilling this bout into a protracted overtime period, too. Under those eventualities, New Hampshire’s numerical deficiencies could be to March what a flu bug is to April: not a ghastly threat, but still able to bite.

Still, the Wildcats stashed away their collateral early and often. If not for the sheer satisfaction of spoilership and conference bragging rights, they could throw this game and do no harm to their NCAA viability. Conversely, the Friars expressly believe that they still have yet to reach the height of their game, let alone flaunt it. And they’ll need to pull it out if they are to prolong their season anywhere beyond tomorrow.

They can’t say they don’t know that drill. And naturally, the elder classes are especially weary of compressing the bleeding of a Catscratch as they march en route to their locker room’s spring cleaning spree. Some are running out of time to reverse that fortune.

If nothing else, they have that incentive to subsist on in tomorrow’s bout.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hockey Log

Newest gems in old form again
Husky slayers Veharanta, Lacasse honored by league

Laura Veharanta –the season-long leading point-getter for the Providence College women’s hockey team even with a six game spell hogging up much of her February- spontaneously revived her insidious, blistering touch to start last Saturday’s Hockey East quarterfinal tilt with Connecticut. And all she needed was to be ready off the opening draw of the first period.

Cutting square to the front porch of the net unchallenged while left side winger Mari Pehkonen churned with the puck to the far corner, the freshman first-liner waited for a centering feed, whiffed on her initial shot, but then slugged home her own rebound for her 16th strike of the season and first since the Friars’ previous tilt with the Huskies on February 1.

“It was good to get on the scoreboard early,” acknowledged Veharanta, still considerably shorter on decorative words than she is on salsa-based pucks. “Mari gave me a good pass and their defense just didn’t get back quick enough.”

Come what may, Veharanta’s conspicuous onset poise not only set an unhesitant tone and pace for PC’s eventual 3-0 triumph at Schneider Arena, but also revved up her psychological engines for a most timely U-turn of confidence.

In the young days of February, Veharanta –also the team’s runaway leading puckslinger with 135 registered shots- was but one point shy of matching the bushel of 30 corralled by last year’s top gun, Kathleen Smith. At her pace, with still six regular season games plus an indefinite playoff itinerary yet to come, she could have easily been entertaining thoughts of equating, if not surpassing, the regal numbers of Kristin Gigliotti (39 points) from 2006-07.

Instead, the ostensible foundation of the Friars’ drastic scoring resurgence blew a tire, going fruitless on a cumulative 19 shots in the final three weeks of the regular season, and losing her once-inseparable partnership with Ashley Cottrell and Alyse Ruff in the process.

But together with her dogged colleagues, Veharanta buckled down for her first genuine do-or-die battle, inserting her fourth game-winning strike of the season (which ties her with Ruff for the team lead), and pitching in an assist Pehkonen’s empty net dagger within the final three minutes of regulation. It was her ninth multi-point performance of the season and her first since she contributed a set of helpers in a 5-1 overhaul of UConn to round out January.

For that, she was deemed the WHEA’s rookie of the week yesterday, her second such bite-sized honor of the season. Meantime, classmate Genevieve Lacasse split the weekly defensive player accolades with personal rival Florence Schelling of Northeastern –who had pushed away 35 stabs in the Hub Huskies’ 2-1 falter to Boston University.

Lacasse’s 18-save performance Saturday amounted to her sixth shutout in a mere 28 career swings with the Friars, sheared her goals-against average from 1.97 to 1.90 and nudged up her save percentage to .935.

Lacasse’s first shutout? That would have been back on November 16, when she swallowed the entirety of a 30-shot onslaught at the hands of Connecticut –a performance that brought on her first of three rookie of the week honors.

One of the other difference-makers that day happened to be Veharanta, who set up Ruff’s go-ahead strike in a fashion visually identical to Pehkonen’s playmaking recital last Saturday.

In all, Veharanta has tallied six points at the Huskies’ expense.

No harm done
Yesterday’s region-wide wintry nor’easter expectably fettered the entire Providence College campus, though its timing auspiciously happened to miss the net on head coach Bob Deraney’s itinerary. Mondays are frequently a strict off-day for the Friars, who still have four more days to retool for this Saturday’s semifinal expedition to New Hampshire’s Lake Whittemore.

Quick Feeds: Saturday’s second period was the 24th mutually scoreless, full-length, twenty-minute stanza the Friars have shared with their adversaries this season, and the fifth out of 12 total periods versus UConn…PC is now 8-6 in games decided by a three-plus goal differential and 12-6-1 when scoring first…The ultimately famished Huskies made a particular hotspot out of the far circle of the Friars’ zone in Saturday’s first period, firing nine of their 23 shot attempts from that radius. Only two, however, would actually reach the net to be played by Lacasse…Senior centerpiece Steph Morris and junior wingers Jackie Duncan and Pam McDevitt appear to be the go-to threesome for the fourth line from here on out, having suited up together for each of the last three games.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hockey Log

Masters of muzzling
Lacasse, PC women’s defense suffocate Husky offense

Reached for an eat-and-run paced interview following her team’s 3-0 Hockey East quarterfinal falter Saturday, Connecticut skipper Heather Linstad gave maximum props to the Friars’ new go-to stopper, Genevieve Lacasse.

“I think she’s had a great year,” said Linstad, who has now seen her offense all but stifled to the core in each of four WHEA postseason twig-locks with PC, losing all four by an aggregate 18-2 goal differential. “I think she’s up for rookie of the year and should be, but certainly she was one of the top goalies in the league this year.”

The Huskies –defined by such Cyclopean scorers as Dominique Thibault, Michelle Binning, Amy Hollstein, and Monique Weber- inserted an even 100 strikes during their 35-game run in 2008-09, a feat equated only by Boston College along this coast. Yet they whiffed on 116 of 119 cumulative stabs in four confrontations with Lacasse.

Thibault, the league’s second busiest puckslinger (172 shots on net) behind New Hampshire’s Jenn Wakefield (179), threw 23 total shots at Lacasse this season. The only one to go through was a third period power play equalizer in UConn’s 2-1 OT triumph on February 1.

Tritter, the decider in that tussle at Freitas Ice Forum, missed her six other swings.

And Hollstein, who pitched in a power play conversion the day prior in a 5-1 Providence victory, was otherwise stifled on 11 other tries and didn’t get a single registered stab under her belt on Saturday.

“I had a shutout against them before in November –the first of my career,” said Lacasse, recalling her 30-save feat in the teams’ initial confrontation on November 16, a 2-0 triumph decided on Alyse Ruff’s 5-on-3 conversion with a mere six minutes to spare.

“It gave me a lot of confidence knowing that and knowing that it was possible to do it again. I knew (going in) not to be intimidated by Thibault and those other big names.”

Nor would she have to work up the heaviest of sweats over the course of the game itself. After charging up no fewer than 30 SOG in each regular season confrontation, UConn discharged a grand total of 47 attempts, though a mere 18 reached touching distance of Lacasse.

Another 10 of their tries were channeled wide while Lacasse’s praetorian guards stepped up to block 19 –including one late bid by starting centerpiece Michelle Binning that Amber Yung stuffed up in the high slot, drawing fiery praise from head coach Bob Deraney.

In other words, PC’s collective band of skaters notched one more save on the day than their designated stopper.

And only once were Lacasse’s services needed on the penalty kill. Sami Evelyn unleashed a straightaway point blast on the Huskies’ only full-length power play at the 11:11 mark of the opening frame, and that was it. The Friars took merely two more penalties –both in the second period- and held the opposing strike force at bay until an eventual UConn infraction amounted to 4-on-4 segments.

Cleanest noses
The Friars and Huskies entered and exited Saturday’s swing with the league’s two best disciplinary records. UConn, which amassed 10 penalty minutes, barely stayed in first place of that category with a season average of 11.1 minutes per game. Providence paid a mere three minor trips to the bin, slimming their PIM median from 11.5 to 11.3.

Plus signs
Four Friars –Ashley Cottrell, Colleen Martin, Mari Pehkonen, and Laura Veharanta- all stamped a +2 rating Saturday while another seven –Kate Bacon, Jennifer Friedman, Erin Normore, Leigh Riley, Ruff, Brittany Simpson, and Yung- were a +1. Cottrell and Martin remain tied for the team lead amongst skaters at +10 (Lacasse is tops at +12) and with Normore having tipped the scale on a previously even rating, 16 of PC’s 23 active skaters stand in the black.

Conflicted crowds
Saturday’s afternoon engagement at Schneider Arena, which drew a reported audience of 286, was outdrawn by an overlapping women’s basketball home finale (372 viewers) and the men’s lacrosse team’s home opener (510). “I guarantee that if those two events weren’t going on we would have had an even bigger crowd,” Deraney told Pete Souris of the Hockey East P.R. office for an online audio featurette. “But the building was still electric. It was pretty loud.”

Quick Feeds: As of Saturday’s semifinal excursion to UNH, Simpson will have played her 141st career game, surpassing 2005 graduate Hilary Greaves and tying 2003 alum Melanie Ruzzi for third on the program’s all-time iron leaderboard. Simpson only trails Normore (141) and 2006 alumna Katelyn Laffin (143)…PC bested the Huskies, 35-30, at the face-off dot Saturday and has outdrawn the opposition in all but one of its last nine games…A total of nine pucks fluttered out of bounds in Saturday’s contest –three in each period.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Women's Hockey 3, Connecticut 0

Lining up
Newfangled offensive trios click for Friars

With an inherently brittle two-goal advantage favoring the Friars in the 17th minute of yesterday’s third period, Connecticut’s longtime top gun, Dominique Thibault, lassoed a fugitive puck in the slot and promptly engaged in a one-on-one staredown with one of the Huskies’ principal obstacles –Genevieve Lacasse.

Upon Thibault’s failure to pluck the disc off the ice, though, the radiant rookie opportunistically clamped it down, freezing the clock at 3:19. UConn skipper Heather Linstad promptly summoned a timeout, after which she forked out goaltender Alex Garcia (20 saves) in favor of the classic, last-ditch six-pack attack.

“She really didn’t challenge me that much,” Lacasse reflected. “I was expecting a much bigger move, but instead she just kind of left it there. So, I think (the save) really gave our team momentum. If it had gone in, it might have been a much different game, but I think we still would have pulled through.”

Come what may, Lacasse (18 saves) would be needed thrice more to foil stabs by Cristin Allen, Michelle Binning, and Thibault yet again. But not before her loyal praetorian guards made haste off the post-timeout draw to tune to vacant Husky cage, courtesy a center ice roller from Mari Pehkonen, with 2:56 to spare. That goal served to solidify a 3-0 Providence triumph before 286 spectators at Schneider Arena, pole-vaulting the Friars into the Hockey East semifinals for the seventh time in as many years.

Whether it was more a matter of Lacasse –who finished the season with two savory shutouts and only three goals-against in four encounters with the Huskies- having their number or just a flustering lack of explicit fury on their part, UConn’s offense couldn’t stash away any of the spontaneous, fleeting rushes characteristic of this rivalry, characteristic of playoff hockey, and necessary to tip the scale.

Conversely, the Friars’ top two lines –newly reconstructed as late as last weekend- clicked in stimulating spurts. Pehkonen and Finnish countrywoman Laura Veharanta –who flank Ashley Cottrell on the starting trinity- collaborated on the empty netter for their second respective points of the day, some 56 minutes after they had paired up for the eventual decider.

Off the initial draw in the opening frame, left defender Brittany Simpson vacuumed the remnants of Cottrell’s win and shipped it to Pehkonen along the blue line. Pehkonen bustled her way into the far corner and thrust a centering feed to Veharanta on Garcia’s porch. Whiffing on her first try, Veharanta slugged home her own rebound and her six-game scoring drought was gone in 16 seconds.

“That’s what great players do, but I really think it has to do with our preparation,” said head coach Bob Deraney. “We were ready. We learned last week from Boston College, that you have to be ready to play right from the very beginning, and we were.”

PC had not drawn first blood in any of their last four regular season games. And, quirkily enough, they had surrendered the icebreaker to the Eagles 16 seconds into their last home venture, a foul 5-1 falter.

“You know you have a good team when you learn lessons instead of make mistakes,” said Deraney. “What I mean by that is a mistake is when something happens to you and you don’t make a correction. A lesson is when something happens to you, you correct it, and then you build upon it. So it was an exciting way to start the game.”

But possibly a deceitful tone-setter. Already down, 2-0, in the shooting gallery, Connecticut proceeded to run up a 9-7 lead in that category at the first intermission. And for the remainder of the day, the contesting defenses brandished laser-beamed twigs to snuff out any chances of an overwhelming flurry.

Even when the Friars sprinkled six unanswered shots between the fourth and 12th minute of the second period, their expressed priority was keeping Lacasse undisturbed.

“Obviously, having offense is a great thing,” said sophomore winger Alyse Ruff, who would eventually insert an insurance tally midway through the third. “But I think we’re more of a defensive team. It starts from the goal out, so we’re all about making sure the puck stays out of our net first and working our way from there.”

Ruff’s gravy goal fell at the 10:10 mark of the closing frame, at which point the Huskies had gone more than nine minutes without pelting Lacasse while confining the Friars to merely two tests of Garcia. Second line centerpiece Erin Normore took a counterclockwise tour around the back of the cage and fed Ruff –positioned most identically to Veharanta on the previous scoring play- for a one-timer.

This coming only a week after Ruff had aided Normore’s equalizer in a pivotal shootout win over BC.

“I think it’s just from everyone having played with each other this entire year,” said Ruff, who not long ago complemented an inseparable trinity with Cottrell and Veharanta. “One minor switch isn’t a big deal. Obviously Laura and Mari are playing great together, and I absolutely love playing on my line.”

“Sometimes you can get stale,” added Deraney. “And so, when you make just little adjustments based on looking at strengths and weaknesses and what’s going on out there, and the chemistry, and which players would fit in well with each other, you figure that a little tweak of the lines can make a difference, and it did today.”

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Hockey Log

Deraney: Bring on anybody

Boston University’s 2-1 edging of Northeastern yesterday, completed some two hours after the PC women had dumped Connecticut, 3-0, in the other Hockey East preliminary round equals a semifinal date for the Friars with host New Hampshire next Saturday at noon. The inimitable Green Line Rivalry between BU and Boston College will immediately follow with its first modern postseason installment between its women’s programs.

Under altered circumstances, Providence might have been slated to promptly renew the Catholic Clash with BC a mere two weeks after they surrendered a forgetful home finale, 5-1, to the Eagles before subsequently salvaging their right to home ice for yesterday’s game. Instead, they’ll rerun their attempt to dislodge the three-time defending WHEA champions three weeks after a 4-1 splashing in Lake Whittemore.

This much is guaranteed: for only the third time in the league’s seven years of existence, one and only one of the last two parties standing a week from today will be the Friars or Wildcats.

“I’m just glad that we’re still playing,” said head coach Bob Deraney, reached in the aftermath of his win, at which point the battle of Beantown was merely in its opening frame. “There are a lot of teams this week that won’t be playing. We’re still playing, and that’s the most important thing. We get a chance to continue to play.

“I don’t care who we play. The games get harder as you move along. We beat a very good UConn team today and no matter who we play next week, they’re going to be a very good team. We just have to continue to bring the best hockey we can and hopefully continue to get better.”

Curiously, sophomore forward Alyse Ruff –who upped her season scoring totals to 10-10-20 with an insurance goal yesterday- voiced the same bottom line sentiment, but added a layer of mild preference. “I would love to play BC again and I know our coach would be excited if we play UNH,” she said, likely weighing PC’s dense history with the Cats on that presumption. “But I can’t wait. It’s only a chance to move forward.”

Peek at the future for UConn
UConn senior stopper Brittany Wilson –who posted a cumulative 4-6-0 log with three shutouts against the Friars and a career transcript of 51-30-11 with 15 blanks- had to settle for a Tyler Sims-like end to her Husky tenure.

Head coach Heather Linstad didn’t take any C-cuts around the facts behind her somewhat intriguing decision to start freshman Alex Garcia yesterday rather than the seasoned Wilson. “Wilson wasn’t playing well down the stretch and Garcia did a good job last week (at New Hampshire),” Linstad offered. “But I definitely don’t think it was goaltending that lost us the game today.”

Already, Garcia –who pushed away four UNH shots in a bite-sized relief effort last Sunday and 20 bids yesterday- has partaken in all or part of nine games, including two visits to PC. Both of those, however, ended in shutouts for counterpart Genevieve Lacasse.

The Huskies, all but drained of their NCAA at-large hopes at this point, should also have rising senior Jennie Bellonio still at their service, though she has put in a mere 15 appearances over her first three seasons.

Home improvement
The Friars sealed their extended 2008-09 home slate with a 9-8-1 record. They went 6-3 here in the active calendar year after an iffy 3-5-1 start from opening night through the December deceleration. Additionally, they picked up their 17th overall win, surpassing the 16 mark of the two preceding seasons and automatically assuring them a supra-.500 record (currently 17-15-3), their first since 2005-06.

Quick Feeds: Junior defender Colleen Martin notched her seventh assist of the season on Ruff’s insurance goal at 10:10 of the third period. With the other helper, two-way connoisseur Erin Normore is tied with Ashley Cottrell for the team lead with 16…UConn and Boston College remain tied for the league’s second most fruitful offense with an even 100 cumulative goals apiece…Senior forward Katy Beach hardly missed a shift despite a freak collision in the Huskies’ zone in the thirteenth minute of the first period. She would skate off stickless and awkwardly, yet under her own power, and was back in action two minutes later for PC’s first power play…Both teams went fruitless on the power play with the Friars scraping out six shots over five chances, the Huskies one over three chances…With four shots on goal, Mari Pehkonen (103 on the year) joins Laura Veharanta (135) and Kate Bacon (110) with triple-digits under that heading.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com