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

Saturday, November 27, 2010

On Hockey

They should make more shots count

Yesterday, for the sixth time this season but the first time in six games, the PC women discharged at least 35 shots on goal. And they could have upped that bushel well beyond 40 had they more fuel in the climactic phases of a narrow 3-2 Mayor’s Cup triumph at Meehan Auditorium.

“Narrow” is a much more operative term than “triumph” for this one, although given the Friars’ recent road woes and inconsistent output in the standings, there are still some luscious contents in this cup of lessons.

The Friars were leading the shooting gallery, 12-5, by the time Laurie Jolin scored her first of two goals to pull Brown University ahead, 1-0, with 16:11 gone in the first.

After defender Jen Friedman drew the 1-1 knot at 5:19 of the second, they issued quite the assertive follow-up flurry. Five different skating Friars pelted goaltender Katie Jamieson with six shots in a matter of two minutes. The madness was disrupted when a suddenly vulnerable Brown team went to the box on a roughing infraction to Kelly Kittredge. But there was still no mutation on the scoreboard.

By the second intermission, things were drawn at 2-2 and PC led, 28-17, in the way of registered stabs. Out of 17 active skaters, 14 had already taken at least one.

Translation: the quantity was there, the diversity in participation hardly warranted complaint, but there was not enough at the heart of the stats sheet to instill any due comfort to Bob Deraney’s coaching cabinet.

The tension only tightened in the last three quarters of the closing frame. When there were 14 minutes to spare in regulation, the Friars had 33 shots to the Bears 20. They mustered only three more afterward –the last one being Ashley Cottrell’s cathartic clincher in the final minute- with those shots each spaced apart by no fewer than four minutes. In that stretch, goaltender Genevieve Lacasse handled eight shots from the newly energized Bears.

Partial credit is owed to Jamieson for keeping it interesting early on, but PC owes every ounce of its acclaim to Lacasse for preserving the potentiality of a cardiac win. And going forward, the strike force owes its trusty backstop a return, or at least a halfway drive back, to the thick of October, when 40-plus shots and four-plus red lights on the other end were more the norm.

When the second period clock hits 10:00 during tomorrow’s tangle with Union at Schneider Arena, the Friars’ 33-game regular season schedule will be half-finished. And generally speaking, at this point, most anybody with fewer than five goals and/or 10 points on the year are those who could either stand to pick up the pace or elevate her own individual standards.

Junior Kate Bacon, who kindled a momentary 2-1 lead at 9:32 of the middle frame yesterday, is the PC Paramore’s only exception. Or at least the only undisputed one. Her latest goal is No. 12 in 16 games on the year, equating her combined output in 62 games as a freshman and sophomore.

Furthermore, Bacon has been doling out multiple servings of salsa-based rubber on a constant basis, her latest platter being a team-best seven shots yesterday. She now has 75 of those for an even 16 percent connectivity rate.

Not much more to assess over there. Bacon remains the team’s singular paradigm of quantity and quality. And Cottrell, last year’s top gun, is not far behind. She now has six strikes out of 50 shots for an exact 12 percent accuracy.

The Friars’ second- and third-busiest puckslingers, Corinne Buie (60 shots) and Laura Veharanta (56), are both still on pace to bag at least 10 goals before the playoffs. But there is no sense in settling down. And Buie, in particular, is slowly showing the need for a Bauer blow dryer to reverse the threat of freshman frostbite.

Everybody else just needs to let more out in the hopes of putting more in. Right now, everyone outside of the aforementioned has yet to reach 40 in her SOG column and they all have fewer than five tallies.

Collectively, the sub-Bacon crowd sketches a plain illustration of the team’s outlook, as did yesterday’s Divine City dance.

The prognosis: they’re good, but to meet their potential, they can’t afford to pass on a slight, simple upgrade.

At 10-5-1, the Friars are all but in a watertight position to take fulfilling confidence rather than frenzying consternation into the December deceleration. But odds are they will not find themselves escaping unscathed if they juggle with torches the way they did yesterday at any point in the Hockey East pennant race.

So instead of daringly juggling their acetylene sticks, they should refuel them and direct them solely at the adversary from here on out. No one in that dressing room needs to be told that Hockey East goalies are usually a tad tougher to mollify than Jamieson.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com