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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Women's Hockey Summer Notes

Let’s see: two Minnesotans, two Mountaineers, and a Minutewoman.

This year’s freshman class won’t exactly be the most geographically diverse the Friars have sported in recent years. In fact, this reads more like the product of a vintage college hockey recruiting spree, having touched on and extracted talent exclusively from the State of Hockey, Assabet Valley, and an upstart prep program perched in Lake Placid, N.Y.

How much, though, can this quintet of rookies do to help revert Bob Deraney’s program back to its own “vintage” persona? You know, the way it was when YouTube, iPhones, and America’s Got Talent were still cultural afterthoughts?

It is a safe bet, at the least, to assume each member will be integrated into the band early enough. Barring any further roster shifts (always be mindful of invariable summer transfer winds) in the next eight weeks, the Friars figure to converge 22 players at training camp with but one surplus skater and one more goalie than the maximum game night roster limit.

As best as one analyst can read and interpret potential, here is the lowdown on each incoming Friar in alphabetical order:

Corrine Buie, forward: A Top Five finalist for Minnesota’s coveted Miss Hockey laurel, Buie was the consensus catalyst on Edina High School’s run to a berth in the Class AA state title game, scoring 36 goals and 55 points along the way. If there are any lingering questions for her to address, it will be whether she can handle a slightly lengthier, more intensive college campaign right away. As rising junior Kate Bacon and sophomore Nicole Anderson –themselves Minnesota high school alums- have variously proven in the last two years, that’s always hit-or-miss or something in between.

Stephanie Demars, forward: In April, Demars boldly confessed to the Lake Placid News that she “cried for half an hour” when her National Sports Academy team was eliminated from the USA Hockey tournament quarterfinals. That was not before she established herself as a two-way connoisseur and charged up a 24-45-69 scoring log in her senior campaign, including four points in as many Nationals games. Translation: she has shown she cares about results and can do her part to scrape out those results. If she can transfer that same productive passion to the college level, she may be PC’s most valuable rookie this season.

Although Demars does have some experience patrolling the points, the Friars will already have seven full-time blueliners and barely a quorum of forwards when she enrolls, meaning she will likely be a pure attacker on Deraney’s strike force. There’s nothing wrong with that, though, based on her credentials. She might even challenge for a spot on the starting line before her first season is up. But none of that should rule out the temptation to let her quarterback a power play unit.

Rebecca Morse, defense: A longtime teammate of Demars at the NSA, Morse was also a prolific point patroller at the U19 level, amassing 61 assists and 89 points in 71 games and leading the team with an otherworldly plus-92 rating. Her 28 goals on 280 registered shots made for an even 10 percent accuracy rate. She was also the potent Mountaineers’ top playmaker, contributing 12.2 percent of the team’s total assists.

Recall, in the wee stages of the Friars’ hot-cold-hot 2009-10 campaign, that a handful of designated defenders made a daring habit of straying into the depths of the attacking zone. That trend ultimately receded and from mid-November onward, Amber Yung was the lone blueline brigade member to regularly pen her name to the scoresheet. Morse has the potential to offer welcome reinforcement –not to mention, the ability to mail in more homeward bound pucks from the office.

Maggie Pendleton, defense: Coming from the same state and the same level as Buie, Pendleton inevitably has the same question marks as to how much she can handle in her first college season. Look for her, at least initially, to split the shifts with one or more of her upperclassmen as the sixth active defender.

In her class’ welcome statement last winter, Deraney lauded Pendleton as a top-notch “first-pass” breakout artist. And she does rival the likes of Yung and Jen Friedman with her 5-foot-10 posture. If she promptly and diligently uses that frame to her advantage and the team’s, she can cement her permanent spot on the game day roster sooner rather than later.

Nina Riley, goal
: With the ever-stiffening success of Genevieve Lacasse, it is hard to envision Riley emerging as PC’s answer to Tuukka Rask. But based on her resume –an embarrassment of shutouts with Lexington High School and two national titles at two different levels with Assabet Valley- Deraney may want to at least give her a few slurps of action this season. Lacasse is only half finished with her career, but sooner or later, Riley will have to get some consideration as the heir apparent. And it would be wise to make this a gradual torch-pass a la Jana Bugden to Danielle Ciarletta circa 2006-07.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com