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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hockey Log

Rare breed of redemption
Jensen, PC women fixed own wound to top BC


Junior defender Christie Jensen yielded the grandmother of all giveaways –at least in terms of competing against the stingy Boston College- during the second period of Friday night’s bout at Schneider Arena. But much to her gratitude, she would repeal the consequences on an identical set-up within six minutes of action.

Patrolling the near point amidst the Friars’ third of five unanswered power plays, Jensen fumbled the puck as she attempted a routine lateral feed to defensive partner Amber Yung. With a Jaws-like sense of opportunism, Eagles’ scoring nucleus Kelli Stack vacuumed the biscuit and bolted uncontested down Broadway to cash in a shorthanded strike, giving her team a 1-0 edge at the 12:24 mark.

Up to that point, PC had attempted a total of seven shots over two-plus power plays. Three of those were repelled by goaltender Molly Schaus, one went wide, and another three were blocked –including, as it happened, one by Jensen that Stack stepped up to squelch moments before her goal.

“For some reason, we were worse when we were up a player than we were when we were down a player and we’ve really got to pay attention,” said Friars’ head coach Bob Deraney. “We know they try to score shorthanded and they did (on Friday) and we’ve just got to make stronger plays on the power play. Other than that, I thought we played a pretty strong game.”

On its fifth and final 5-on-4 segment of the night, Providence did flaunt a little more purpose, pelting Schaus seven times in merely two swirls with one whistle. And when the remnants of the seventh shot, which came off of Yung’s blade, made their way back to the brim of the BC zone, Jensen would have her reprieve.

Stationed on the far point this time, Jensen handed things over to Yung, who’s straight-lined, low-riding snapper found Abby Gauthier open along the near post. With three ticks to spare on Eagle forward Ashley Motherwell’s sentence for high-sticking, Gauthier tipped the equalizer behind a patently unprepared and likely shagged-out Schaus.

The goal amounted to the stay-at-home Jensen’s fifth assist of the season, a new career high, and her third point in the last four games. More critically, it put a reverse 180-degree spin on the course of the game, an eventual 3-1 triumph, merely five minutes and 38 seconds after her blunder had given the visitors the upper hand.

Second chances of the sort are, at best, an anomaly against BC. Friday was the first time this season that the No. 7-ranked Eagles lost after initially drawing first blood and their first falter out of 14 games when Stack tunes the mesh.

“It definitely felt good,” Jensen said. “I was able to learn from my mistakes, not moving the puck fast enough on the power play, and I was definitely told that on the bench after the first goal and was just working on moving it faster on the second goal. It was awesome.”

Another key clash
Friday’s result doubtlessly had something to do with the Friars ascending two spots to No. 9 in the telltale PairWise rankings, along with BC’s minor slippage to the No. 8 seed. Translation: those two parties are all but one interchange shy of earning and spilling their respective chances for an at-large NCAA passport.

In a three-way knot for 10th place is PC’s next adversary from Northeastern, which will host today’s 4 p.m. face-off at the Kingston Bog. In a perfect parallel to their national posture, the Huntington Hounds are also one rung and two points behind the Friars in the conference standings.

Translation: the Friars can claim a prize pack of virtually quadruple value with a win today. The stakes consist of more credit in the Hockey East and national postseason races as well as a few ice chips kicked directly in the Huskies’ faces.

Or, as Deraney would rather put it, just more ground gained. Period.

“They’re all important, and it’s not a line,” he said. “We’re at 16 wins overall and we’re trying to build a resume. Stumbling last week against New Hampshire and (two weekends) before against Maine, those are games that you have to try to make up some way down the road.

“When you come back from (Christmas) break, every game’s important. They’re all relevant and they all have meaning. It doesn’t matter where (the opponents) are in the standings. You’re just trying to get a resume to get into the national tournament and have two options to get there.”

The Huskies are bound to come out with a similar appetite for redress as they vie to halt a two-game losing streak. Yesterday, at Matthews Arena, they deleted 2-0 and 3-2 deficits, only to lose in overtime, 4-3, to the slowly recovering Wildcats.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com