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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hockey Log Extra: Writer's backcheck

Author’s note: In its NHL Team Reports section, the current edition of The Hockey News is having its contributors “look back at their favorite moments covering their team.” In a nod to that, the Free Press offers a similar report on the PC women’s team.

Nobody who was on hand November 8, 2009, when Schneider Arena morphed into the OK Corral, can still rightly stand by the notion that defensive hockey is dull hockey.

The budding personal rivalry between Friars goaltender Genevieve Lacasse and Northeastern stopper Florence Schelling hit a fast new height when the contesting sophomores pushed their third career showdown to a 13-round shootout.

Schelling had already repelled 36 regulation shots, Lacasse 27. Each only had to deal with one opposing stab in the five-minute overtime to retain a 1-1 tie and secure at least on Hockey East point for her respective team.

Odds are nobody was thinking about a record-length shootout when the 65th minute of standard hockey action expired. But if, in that second year of shootout usage in the league, one had to guess the goaltending card that would set a runaway record, which other two goalies would one pick?

The first six shooters on each side whiffed. By that point, the record was already in place, but there was still not a single red light in the bonus round.

Then, in the top half of the seventh, Northeastern’s Danielle Kerr nudged the Friars to the brink of gut-socking defeat by beating Lacasse on a low-rider shot. But PC’s Alyse Ruff coolly countered by cutting down Broadway and letting the vital equalizer trickle through Schelling’s five-hole.

Another five scoreless rounds ensued. And by the time Lacasse denied Casie Fields, the Huskies 13th shooter, the Friars –shorthanded by an ongoing smattering of injuries- were but four rounds away from returning to Nicole Anderson at the top of the order.

In the meantime, stay-at-home defender Christie Jensen was spontaneously tapped to try her luck, and with all the open ice, she would reveal an inner portion of herself that neither 5-on-5 nor 4-on-4 nor even, most likely, 2-on-2 would ever permit.

Jensen –who at the time had no regulation goals in her career- took the puck from the center dot and made a dramatic swoop to her left, making no use of the smoothed lane the Zamboni had left specifically for her and her fellow shooters. She gradually cut back to center until she was face-to-face with Schelling, and spooned the game-winner over the Swiss phenom’s catching glove.

A hard-earned two-point package for the victors, well-deserved partial credit for the runner-ups. A bout like that can irrefutably justify what is often maligned as the “loser point.”

Epic battle? That’s an understatement. This author was quick to dub this contest “A Game Worth 10,000 Words.” That is, if we only had the space for it.