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

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hockey Log

A tight, mutual grip
Similarities make for heated PC-BC matchups

No two teams in the Women’s Hockey East Association have garnered quite as much bonus mileage this season as Boston College and Providence. Their encounter yesterday afternoon at Schneider Arena would elongate into the Eagles’ league-leading eleventh overtime game of 2009-10, the Friars’ tenth.

Was it much of a coincidence that yesterday –or, for that matter, the clubs’ two previous meetings, which both required a shootout- took so long for one side to lay down the knockout pin in a defensive and intensive arm-wrestling match? Friars’ head coach Bob Deraney thinks not.

“I think we’re mirror images of each other,” he said, a statement with which the stats sheet would have indubitably concurred six weeks ago, when the teams played to a 2-2 regulation tie at Conte Forum and morphed each other’s records to 5-7-7. But it certainly would not appear that way this morning, in the aftermath of a 2-1 PC triumph that improved them to 11-7-8 and docked the lately luckless BC program to 5-11-9 overall.

Data be darned, whenever the Friars and Eagles lock twigs, Deraney stressed, “You have to battle for every inch of the ice. They’re forecheck is very difficult to break, and I like to think ours is the same way, so it’s a game of confrontation. That’s why I think these games are so evenly matched.”

Confrontation? With each other? That’s nothing new to those sporting the Friar Black and Eagle Maroon, BC skipper Katie King speculated. Each roster has at least one player hailing from the states of Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Four Eagles and two Friars in Nicole Anderson and Kate Bacon all whet their skates at the ever-rigorous Minnesota high school level.

And away from their respective homes, there have been countless confrontations at the elite youth levels. Just for one example, current PC sophomores Ashley Cottrell and Genevieve Lacasse were part of a Detroit Little Caesar’s U19 program who lost to BC rookie goalie Corinne Boyles and the Chicago Mission in the 2008 USA Hockey national finals. The following year, Boyles’ team relinquished its title at the hands of current PC forward Jess Cohen, BC defender Dru Burns, and their associates at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School.

“I think we have some teams that just work extremely hard out there,” said King. “I think a couple of (each team’s players) played against each other when they were younger, Minnesota kids and whatnot.

“And I know PC has always been a great team in our league and we’re always trying to come out with a win.”

High time in overtime
Yesterday, the Friars spread their collective ice time beyond regulation for the tenth time out of 26 total games this season. Up to that point, they were a so-so 0-1-8 in the extra frame, with two of those ties amounting to at least an extra Hockey East point courtesy of a shootout victory.

But Jean O’Neill’s turbine tour of the puck down the left alley and homeward bound snapper to the left of Boyles bucked that trend. More critically, it allowed Providence to extend its active hot streak to six consecutive wins, the program’s longest such tear since the climax of the 2004 Hockey East pennant race.

“It’s great to win anytime. Whether it’s regulation, overtime or a shootout, it’s a win.” Deraney said simply. “I don’t mean to downplay it, but you’ve got 65 minutes to win a hockey game, and that’s the way we look at it. It’s just great to win another hockey game, no matter how you do it.”

Same basic elements
As was the case in last year’s event, when the Friars surpassed Northeastern, 3-2, this season’s Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer game at Schneider Arena was preceded by PC senior defender Colleen Martin singing the national anthem and culminated with a home OT victory. The Friars are now 3-1-0 all-time when hosting their chapter of the league-wide charity.

Quick Feeds: With her 30 saves on 31 shots faced yesterday, Lacasse has ascended to second place on the Hockey East save percentage leaderboard (.927), trailing only her personal rival, Florence Schelling of Northeastern…O’Neill, along with Cohen, Cottrell, and Alyse Ruff, now has two game-clinchers to her credit this season…Yesterday was PC’s first win when tied after two periods. They were previously 0-4-5 in that situation. Conversely, the Eagles had been unbeaten (1-0-4) when knotted at the start of the third period…Sophomore forward Abby Gauthier was the only skater on either end to be credited with a plus-2 rating in yesterday’s game. Seven other Friars, along with three Eagles, were a plus-1…BC sophomore center Mary Restuccia led all puckslingers yesterday with six shots on goal. She also took a game-leading three minor penalties…Leigh Riley earned an assist on Kate Bacon’s first period goal, granting the stay-at-home junior her fourth point on the year and doubling her career totals from where they stood at the end of last season.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com