Gauthier in a groove
Veteran winger hints at more fruitful year
Compared to her linemates, and many of her peers for that matter, PC women’s hockey starting right winger Abby Gauthier has been several strides behind in the productivity department.
Entering last night’s showdown with Rensselaer, Gauthier’s two left side partners, the now-ailing Jean O’Neill and her successor Kate Bacon, had combined for eight goals and two assists in six games on the top line. Centerpiece Alyse Ruff had charged up a succulent 3-6-9 scoring transcript.
Meanwhile, Gauthier had scraped out a mere three assists, slotting her in ninth place on the Friars’ scoring charts.
Still, through six games, that gave her an irreproachable median of half a point per night. And after last night, with a goal and an assist in the losing effort, she is suddenly on a stark pace to make like many of her fellow upperclassmen and cruise to a career year.
Gauthier, once a hype-magnet for battering the record books at St. Mary’s of Lynn High School, mustered a mere 10 points as a rookie and followed that up with nine last year. But this season, she suddenly has five points in seven games. It took her 15 games to reach that height as a frosh, 19 games as a sophomore.
“I think that Abby’s really come along nicely,” said head coach Bob Deraney. “Even from the beginning of the year, she’s been doing some terrific things out there that she hadn’t shown in her first two years. I think it’s a credit to her work ethic, her preparation for the season, and it’s nice to see her rewarded for that. She deserves it.”
Gauthier’s multi-point performance was the fourth of her college career and the fourteenth pulled off by any Friar this young season. Additionally, she was one of only three PC players –along with senior defenders Leigh Riley and Amber Yung- to finish last night with a positive plus-minus rating.
Covell drops back
After filling one of the two line chart cavities in the forward department, two-way connoisseur Lauren Covell stuck strictly to patrolling the points last night, effectively giving the Friars a bonus blueliner and 10 forwards –i.e. three full lines with a remainder of one.
The third line simply had the likes of Nicole Anderson, Jess Cohen, Emily Groth, and Jessie Vella, rotating in and out each shift. Covell likewise partnered with a variety of designated defenders, most strikingly starting the overtime period with Yung at the other post.
With O’Neill still out indefinitely with her injury, only time will tell when Deraney can deploy a quorum of 12 strikers. So for the time being, Covell is likely to alternate her position on demand.
“We use different players in different situations based on who we’re playing and personnel groupings,” the coach explained. “There’s no rationale behind (switching Covell’s position). We’re just trying to put people in positions that’ll be successful.”
The drawing board
It is not an official statistic at any level of the sport, but odds are Bacon reached a career high in drawing five opposing penalties last night, including three out of four in the first period and both of the Engineers’ third period infractions. Four of the whistles were for bodychecking, the other a cross-checking citation to RPI defender Katie Daniels.
In addition, Bacon’s second period goal expanded her career-high point-scoring streak to six games. One more strike will match her career high with eight on the year.
Two special events will surround this afternoon’s game versus Princeton (4:00 p.m. face-off). It will be the one annual game wherein all money raised through ticket, concession, and contest sales go to domestic violence awareness charities. After the final buzzer, the Friars will also invite fans to skate with the team.
Quick feeds: PC has scored the first goal in both of its losses and 3-2-0 overall when striking first…Corinne Buie, Laura Veharanta, and Yung led the team with four shots on net apiece last night…Until last night, the Friars had been riding a 12-game unbeaten streak (2-0-10) in OT matches. Their previous sudden death loss was a 3-2 falter at Clarkson on Oct. 9 of last season…For the third time in as many regular season home games, the PC penalty kill was flawless, repelling all four of the Engineers’ power plays and granting them six shots…The Friars had their best night at the dot so far, winning 40 out of 64 face-offs with all four centers taking the majority of their draws. Ruff went 18-for-29, Ashley Cottrell 11-for-15, Bacon 6-for-11, and Vella 5-for-9…Princeton, this afternoon’s opponent, commenced its regular season last night with a 2-1 loss at Northeastern. Paula Romanchuk potted the Tigers’ lone goal…Prior to last night’s game, junior defender Christie Jensen, the mastermind behind September’s “Road Hockey Rumble” event, assisted in presenting a $700 check raised from that tournament for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Rhode Island.
Al Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org