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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hockey Log

Reactions couldn’t go the distance

Monday afternoon was hardly a savory sequel to “Birthday Bash on Ice” for PC women’s co-captain Alyse Ruff.

Last season, on the day she turned 21, Ruff inserted both goals in a vital 2-0 arrest of St. Cloud State, a triumph that ignited a seven-game winning streak for the Friars and catapulted them to an unlikely first place finish in Hockey East.

On the day she turned 22, Ruff –the only Friar to log at least three shots on goal Monday- watched from the sin bin as she served a two-minute slashing sentence that indirectly buoyed the host Maine Black Bears to a game-winning strike with 12:57 to spare in the third period.

Instead of pulling out harmless celebratory candles, Ruff and Co. spent most of Monday’s 3-2 loss juggling with torches and sustained the scars that practice so often invites. The Friars conceded their first 2-0 deficit of the season and, for the first time since they were dislodged from the 2010 Hockey East playoffs, went through an entire contest without ever holding a lead.

But moving forward into a vital week of preparation for this Sunday’s excursion to almighty Boston University, PC can at least refer back to their efforts to amend the damages during Monday’s debacle. And they might consider applying that same kind of resolve in a proactive, as opposed to reactive, context; first move rather than first response.

Ruff herself was in on two key plays that fell as quickly as within one play, and never more than two minutes, of the Black Bears beating Friars’ goaltender Nina Riley. At 9:09 of the first period, Maine’s Kayla Kaluzny drew first blood on her team’s sixth SOG of the game. Off the subsequent draw, Ruff –who also logged her team’s first attempted shot when her power play bid went wide in the fourth minute- gave Black Bears’ stopper Brittany Ott her first test of the day.

Similarly, one face-off after Maine scoring leader Brittany Dougherty augmented the margin to 2-0 at 13:36, PC’s Amber Yung and Ashley Cottrell each pelted Ott in succession. After Ott summoned a whistle, the Friars continued to churn off the next draw and ultimately duped Melissa Gagnon into a tripping penalty 74 seconds after Dougherty’s tally.

In the closing frame, it only took the Friars 12 seconds after Jennie Gallo made it 3-1 to send another Black Bear, Jenny Kistner, to the box. On the subsequent power play, with the umbrella unit deployed, Ruff and lone point patroller Jen Friedman collaborated to set up Corinne Buie’s refreshing strike, the team’s first 5-on-4 conversion in 14 tries on the weekend.

If that type of emotional spark were in commission for longer stretches, particularly when the game was still scoreless, Providence may have padded on a point or two in the Hockey East standings.

Quick Feeds: Buie was named the WHEA’s Rookie of the Month for December yesterday. The first-line winger totaled a goal and four assists in the Friars’ lone two December games, most notably a playmaker hat trick in a 4-2 win over New Hampshire Dec. 4. She has since extended her carry-over point streak to four games with a goal in each installment of the Maine series…Freshman defender Rebecca Morse, who missed the Maine series with a mild illness, should be back in game shape well in advance of the forthcoming BU bout…When Emily Groth served the team’s second bench minor during Monday’s second period, it was the sophomore center’s first college shift in the sin bin. In 30 career games, Groth still has yet to receive a penalty in her own right…The Friars, now 14-6-1 overall, ascended from No. 9 to No. 8 in the latest USA Today/USA Hockey poll, revised yesterday for the first time out of a three-week freeze…Goaltender Genevieve Lacasse pitched an 18-save, 5-0 shutout over host Switzerland in Day One of the MLP Cup. Unless Canada coach Jim Fetter believes in sticking with the hot hand, even in a transitory tournament like this, Lacasse will likely give way to Vermont rookie Roxanne Douville for tomorrow’s showdown with Germany.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com