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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rensselaer 3, Women's Hockey 2 (OT)

Rest-hungry Friars zapped in OT

Kate Bacon –who is garnering attention and accolades in the young weeks of her junior season as fast as she can pull off a Noremorean end-to-end rush- bought herself a surplus of chances to be the Friars’ hero last night.

She drew five of the opposing Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s seven penalties on the night, all of which could have been cashed in to grant PC another trendy multi-goal lead. She directly augmented a 1-0 edge with her team-leading seventh goal of the year in the first minute of the middle frame.

And even after RPI deleted that 2-0 difference, Bacon nearly buried the winner in the dying seconds of regulation, just failing to corral the pass in front of a gaping left slab of the net.

Ultimately, the Friars as a whole seemed too preoccupied with looking through a catalog of Halloween queen costumes to symbolize their recent five-game winning streak. As a consequence, that hot streak wilted in the form of a 3-2 overtime loss at Schneider Arena, the Engineers’ first win of their season after absorbing an acrid 0-3-2 transcript coming in.

“You can’t go by records and I think we underestimated them,” said Friars’ skipper Bob Deraney.
“We played the record instead of playing the team. I knew they were a good team, we told them they were a really good team.

“I think it was a combination of both their desperation and us undeservedly feeling good about ourselves.”

That would explain a lot. All things considered, the first period ended much closer than it could have as a thorny RPI defensive force killed four unanswered penalties, allotting PC six power play shots in that space.

By night’s end, Providence had whiffed on all seven of its advantages, taking eight vain stabs at the net in a cumulative 12:16 worth of 5-on-4 time. None of those failures jutted more than when the Engineers’ Kristen Jabukowski went off for hitting from behind at 14:19 of the first, and then was joined by Katie Daniels (cross-checking) at 16:08, spawning a 12-second 5-on-3 segment and 3:49 straight minutes of lopsided action.

Before Jabukowski’s arrest, the Friars were ahead, 1-0; ditto after Daniels’ jailbreak.

“We had some opportunities there,” said Deraney. “We could have had a bigger margin there, and we missed it. They made a nice adjustment afterwards and we made an adjustment, but I think that played a lot into the game, us not scoring on the power play early.”

The Friars did muster one even strength strike to nab the initial lead at 12:21 of the first. Defender Leigh Riley shipped a sound diagonal feed from the far point to the porch of the net, where an unbothered Abby Gauthier poked in her first goal of the season.

Gauthier promptly chipped in again to commence the second period, accepting Amber Yung’s pass out of her own end and touring down the far alley. Once parallel to the net, she sent a cross-ice pass to Bacon, who maneuvered around an unstrung, seat-sliding goaltender in Sonia van der Bliek (27 saves) with 44 seconds gone.

Through the rest of the stanza, the Engineers controlled the shooting gallery, 9-5, after being romped, 11-4, in that department in the first. Carrying their newfound energy into the first two minutes of the third, they converted twice on three hacks at PC stopper Genevieve Lacasse (24 saves).

Center Alisa Harrison got the rally going at the 0:48 mark, skulking undetected to the far post and raking in a cross-ice pass from winger Jordan Smelker.

Right off the subsequent face-off, RPI nearly buried the equalizer when Harrison swooped the puck in from the far lane and dished an assertive lateral pass to Clare Padmore. Lacasse foiled that one on a rod-hockey-goalie-like slide, but was less fortunate following the next draw.

With 1:44 gone in the period, the persistent Engineers stormed Lacasse’s estate and Jakubowski, looping behind the back of the cage, fed Toni Sanders for a one-time conversion behind the unprepared goalie.

The visitors reran that congesting, dirty-nose act in the bonus round, with Jill Vandegrift setting up Taylor Horton to roof the winner and send the Friars into mental retooling mode.

Deraney admitted that today’s do-over with Princeton dropping in for a 4:00 p.m. tangle is timely enough.

“It’s done. You can’t change it,” he said of last night’s drawback. “We need to learn from it and move forward. It’s the hardest season in the entire NCAA: Division I college hockey. It’s a grind. There’s too much parity, men or women, it doesn’t matter. Every time you show up, you have to come ready to play because anyone can beat anyone on a given night, and that’s the lesson we learned tonight.

“If we learn something from this, I’ll take it if we can win more hockey games because of it. I’ll sacrifice this loss for 10 more wins.”

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Hockey Log

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.

Promotions today
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 hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hockey Log

Friedman happily helpful
Blueliner leading with heavy gush of assists


In the PC women’s hockey team’s first six games, not a single defender has scored a goal. Given the surprise blizzard of 26 team strikes divided among 10 different contributors, that revelation is almost material for one of Lewis Black’s “I will repeat that” bits.

Still, five of the six designated blueliners has at least one assist to her credit. In all, the backline brigade has combined for 17 of the 39 helpers. That translates to 43.5 percent of the assists, 26.2 percent of the total points, and repels any pressure to unleash an old fashioned scorcher from the point.

“I think scoring is coming from everyone on the team, which is really good,” said junior Jen Friedman, whose four assists over the weekend spiked her to the team lead with nine on the year. That also ties her for tops in the nation in that category with Quinnipiac freshman forward Kelly Babstock and she leads all NCAA defenders in scoring.

She added, paraphrasing the Crash Davis Guidebook, “I think just everyone is doing their own job has been working well to help the team.”

In her first two seasons with the Friars, Friedman took at least five games to etch her first point. She had no more than three before January, which has customarily been her most productive month.

Until this year, anyway. Two more points and she will have already cemented a career year with 11 and counting.

With 27 games yet to come, and a horde of her allies on similarly revolutionary paces, it is all but assured that Friedman will pioneer a plethora of individual bar-raisers in Friartown’s Skating Sorority this winter.

“Just the experience I’ve had over the years has helped,” she granted. “And also the team is doing well overall, so that helps a lot. When the team as a whole does better, everybody gets better.”

Friedman has also pushed light-years ahead of schedule in the way of power play productivity. After finishing with back-to-back 2-2-4 transcripts on the advantage, she has already pitched in three assists, the most recent being on Nicole Anderson’s equalizer in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph at Colgate.

Over the last four games, one PC point patroller –whether it be Friedman or senior Amber Yung- has had a hand in all five of the Friars power play conversions. Knowing that –along with the fact that the Friars have yet to surrender a shortie- it is all the more likely that the new umbrella formation, with four attackers digging deep and leaving one lone ranger on the straightaway point, is here to stay.

Which is all good by the likes of Friedman.

“I really like it, and I trust my forwards to get back if there’s a breakdown,” she said. “I know that they’ll backcheck and be able to help me. But I really like the formation. It puts us in a good position to score goals.”

Quick feeds: Despite the elongated winning streak, the Friars failed to reenter USCHO’s top 10 leaderboard yesterday. With 20 points, they were one notch behind No. 10 Ohio State, which is one of five WCHA teams formally ranked this week…Goaltender Genevieve Lacasse, who pushed away 61 of 63 shots faced during the two-day New York excursion, was named the league’s defensive player of the week yesterday…Starting center Alyse Ruff is one of only three Hockey Easterners to already have two game-winning goals on the year, joined by Boston University flamethrower Jenn Wakefield and New Hampshire sophomore Kristina Lavoie.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com