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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hockey Log

Test of their spirit
BU stands between PC women and trendy resilience


Rapid redress has been a jutting motif in the Friars’ 2010-11 season. But the trend faces its utmost threat today in Boston University, which will have the likes of Marie-Philip Poulin, Jenn Wakefield, Jillian Kircher, Holly Lorms, and Catherine Ward all raring to storm an unripe PC goaltender.

In each of five chances so far this season, PC has promptly followed a loss with a win. The last two times, they had at least three or four days to mull over the reasons for and then bury the memories of the previous effort. This time, they have had a full five days between last Monday’s 3-2 falter at Maine and today’s excursion to Walter Brown Arena.

A keen, long-suffering breed of hunger will be a doubtlessly precious additive to the Friars’ game plan. Whether it is Christina England or Nina Riley –both with one intercollegiate game’s worth of experience- trying her luck in the BU visitors’ Crease of Fright, it will be primarily on the strike force to pursue self-redemption. Monday was arguably their most thorough letdown yet, seeing as it was their first game out of 21 this season in which they never led and that they mustered a season-low 16 shots on goal.

BU is tops in the league on both sides of the puck –scoring 3.8 goals and allowing 1.75 on a nightly basis- and on both sides of the special teams’ spectrum –converting 22.1 percent of their power plays and boasting a 94.7 percent success rate on the penalty kill. And even with formidable juniors Jenelle Kohanchuk and Tara Watchorn still overseas at the MLP Cup, they still flaunt enviable depth with five five-plus goal-getters and five skaters in or beyond the 10-point range.

Further complicating the search for seams, the Terriers are riding a program-best seven-game winning streak that dates back to the weekend prior Thanksgiving, when they split a home-and-home set with Boston College. They have laid four goose-eggs and outscored the opposition by a cumulative count of 27-6 in that span.

If the Terriers are to sport any plausible weak spots that the Friars will not need to unveil all on their own, it would likely be either a surprise case of complacency or a frostbitten goalie in Kerrin Sperry. BU’s routine starter deferred to Alissa Fromkin for last week’s 4-0 road win plebeian over Brown, meaning she has not seen extramural action in 30 days, dating back to a 5-3 win over Harvard Dec. 10. Assuming the radiant rookie Sperry has today’s nod, getting re-acclimated right away could be hit-or-miss for her.

Regardless, PC projects to face a laborious dig as it tries to rinse out the vinegar from both its latest dud in Orono and a glowering missed opportunity in the Hub three months ago.

In their last encounter with the reigning Hockey East champions Nov. 6, the Friars spilled a radiant invitation to pinch two points, taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission only to let it devolve into a 4-1 loss. More harrowingly, though, they were outshot in the latter 40 minutes, 41-14, after they had initially led the shooting gallery, 14-4.

Furthermore, the Terriers were lacking the goal-per-game connoisseurs Poulin and Wakefield, as well as Watchorn, as they all served Team Canada in the Four Nations Cup. And they had their backup goalie, Fromkin, on duty. Conversely, the Friars had their go-to goalie available in Genevieve Lacasse, unlike today.

Swede-tasting trip for Lacasse
Lacasse should be arriving back in North America today with her fellow Canadian U22ers on the heels of yesterday’s 6-0 win over Sweden that sealed the MLP Cup championship in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. Lacasse withstood a 37-shot firestorm for the shutout, including 18 bids in the third, although her teammates dwarfed that by charging up 60 registered stabs at Swedish stoppers Sara Grahn and Valentina Lizana.

Lacasse, along with Vermont freshman Roxanne Douville, were perfect throughout the tournament, stopping a cumulative 79 shots over four tournament games. Lacasse took credit for 55 of those saves, having also repelled 18 Swiss shots in the opening contest on Tuesday.

Quick feeds: The Terriers are 9-0-0 when scoring first, making them one of two teams in the nation (Harvard is 3-0-0) to have neither lost nor tied after nabbing a 1-0 lead…The Friars have yet to go winless in a single season series against the Terriers. They are 0-1-1 this season heading into today’s finale…No foretelling today’s goaltending card, but a match between PC’s Riley and BU’s Sperry would mean pitting old U19 allies. Riley was Sperry’s backup last spring, when they partook in a USA Hockey national championship with Assabet Valley…Wakefield, the league’s most active puckslinger, is one shot on net away from cracking 100 on the year.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com