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Friday, January 28, 2011

Women's Hockey Feature

Author’s note: In a nod to The Hockey News and the recent release of its annual Goalie’s Issue, the Free Press offers this list of the top ten Genevieve Lacasse highlights so far in her sparkling PC career, one that will likely see her rewrite the program’s goaltending record book and may pilot her to a steady job on the international platform.

1. January 8, 2011
Granted, her praetorian guards did their overwhelming part by issuing a 60-shot, six-goal salvo on Sweden goaltenders Sara Grahn and Valentina Lizana. But Lacasse didn’t exactly let up in the gold medal game of the MLP Cup, her first international tournament, repelling all 37 shots she faced for the shutout and the title. Lacasse would finish the tournament with a seamless 2-0 record, complete with 55 saves for two goose-eggs.

2. January 21, 2011
Purportedly poised for a storming succession of penalty kills –after all, visiting Boston College had taken each of the game’s first five whistles- Lacasse watches as three of her teammates are simultaneously stuffed in the sin bin with 9:06 remaining in regulation and a 2-1 advantage on the line.

By the time the Friars are finally back to full strength after three minutes and 49 seconds of shorthanded action, the Eagles have unloaded 11 power play shots, yet still trail. They will continue to own the shooting gallery, 10-2, in the final 7:06 of regulation, but Lacasse will match a career high with 51 saves and a head-turning 3-1 win for PC.

3. November 8, 2009
Surprise, surprise. The short-lived shootout’s grand hurrah was built around the rivalry between Lacasse and Northeastern’s Florence Schelling.

Locking masks for the third time in their respective careers at Schneider Arena, the Scarborough Save-ior and the Swiss Save-ior yield one goal apiece through 65 minutes. Likewise, they both blink in the same seventh round of the shootout –that is, after playing impeccably through six innings, the equivalent of two ordinary shootouts.

The bout continues through yet another six rounds, and after Lacasse denies the Huskies’ 13th bidder, Casie Fields, Friars’ stay-at-home defender Christie Jensen beats Schelling on a swooping roofer to give PC the walk-off.

4. November 21, 2008
A Cyclopean Mercyhurst strike force permeated with Canadian ambassadors, including 2006 Olympian Meghan Agosta, extracts a hard-earned 3-0 win at Schneider Arena. But from PC’s perspective, it is a rare losing effort that calls for not even a single ice chip of redress. The almighty Lakers run up the shooting gallery, 54-31, but cannot beat the Friars’ rookie stopper until Agosta –who scores twice on an improbable 14 SOG- smuggles the biscuit between a slim five-hole at 2:56 of the second period.

More than anything, Lacasse’s 51-save effort –a quantity matched only once so far- confirms that she is the nucleus of the Friars’ future and their heavily leaned-on class of 2012.

5. February 21, 2009
In the four games leading up to the regular season finale at Boston College, all of them regulation losses, PC’s bid for a first-round bye in the new Hockey East playoff format had rapidly devolved into a struggle just to salvage home ice for the preliminary round. With the Friars needing two points in their own right, plus a New Hampshire win over Connecticut the following day, to cement fourth place, Lacasse tussles with BC’s celestial stopper Molly Schaus to a shootout. After Ashley Cottrell converts PC’s first bid, Lacasse denies the explosive Allie Thunstrom, Kelli Stack, and Mary Restuccia to rake away the requisite two-point package.

6. January 10, 2009
Offensively speaking, New Hampshire could not say it didn’t try to extend its 14-game unbeaten streak (11-0-3) with the rival Friars. Out of 14 available skaters, 12 of them combine for a 43-shot blizzard, including 11 by two-way connoisseur Courtney Birchard and six from the searing Jenn Wakefield. But Lacasse has an answer for them all and her skating mates blind Kayley Herman with the red light en route to a 5-0 Providence victory at Schneider Arena.

7. December 5, 2009
Upon stopping the aforementioned Birchard’s bid during a second period penalty kill, Lacasse ascends to the No. 3 slot on PC’s career saves leaderboard with 1,211 in only her 47th game.

Oh, and she ultimately backstops the Friars to a 4-1 triumph, the first road win at the Whittemore Center by any WHEA team.

8. November 29, 2008
In her first Mayor’s Cup game at Meehan Auditorium, Lacasse posts the Patrick Roy Hat Trick. She stamps her second career shutout with 37 saves, assists on Katy Beach’s clincher in the 1-0 triumph, and takes her first two-minute minor for tripping at 3:54 of the first period.

Since then, she has blanked 10 other adversaries and attained six more helpers, but has avoided any citations from the zebras.

9. October 23, 2008
Egregious miscommunication by the Friars amidst a neutral zone scrum in the first minute of overtime leaves Yale forward Bray Ketchum free to break in for the winning strike. Only that winning strike never comes to fruition as Lacasse gets her blocker on the disc and redirects it over her crossbar and into the left corner. No additional shots are taken at either end and the 2-2 deadlock stands pat through the final buzzer.

10. October 29, 2010
None of her previous challengers had managed to keep Boston University’s otherworldly rookie Marie-Philip Poulin off the scoresheet. In her first seven NCAA games, the Canadian Olympic hero had already logged a 9-7-16 transcript.

But in the first Hockey East game of the season for both teams, PC and Lacasse confine Poulin to six shots on net, none in the net, and no helpers as part of a mutually satisfying 2-2 tie at Schneider Arena.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com