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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hockey Log

Deraney will let new lines mold

In the past week, doubtlessly out of the urge to bump his forwards back up from the nadir of their 2010-11 campaign and to maybe find the right formula for the last month of the ride, PC women’s coach Bob Deraney made the season’s most drastic set of shuffles to his depth chart.

Between their 1-0 falter in Vermont last weekend and their subsequent 4-2 home loss to Boston College on Sunday, the Friars’ starting line of Jean O’Neill, Ashley Cottrell, and Corinne Buie was the only unruffled row on the depth chart.

So far, Deraney has had but one game to gauge the newest configurations. And with two-way skater Lauren Covell filling a void on the blue line for the still-ailing Christie Jensen on Sunday, the paint on this easel has still not been fully applied, let alone dried.

As a result, by all accounts, the same arrangements should be kept intact for the upcoming home-and-home series with Connecticut. With Jensen expected to return, Covell should focus exclusively on her offensive post, which would give the Friars a quorum of 12 forwards for the first time in four games and only the sixth time all season.

Only then, the skipper reasoned, will he have a cause to judge his own revisions.

“We’ve got to stick with it, see what it looks like,” said Deraney.

As it happened, Covell’s presumptive linemates, sophomores Jess Cohen and Emily Groth, pitched in a combined seven shots on goal while generally latching on with ringers from the top nine. Cohen’s four stabs at BC goaltender Molly Schaus were the most she has taken in a game since Nov. 2 at Yale, while Groth –returning from an injury that sidelined her for the team’s excursion to Vermont last weekend- recorded three SOG for a season high.

Above that, there wasn’t much to judge right away, for better or worse. The natural exception to that was the third unit, comprised of Laura Veharanta, Kate Bacon, and Abby Gauthier.

Veharanta led all participants in Sunday’s contest with six shots and tuned the mesh twice to irrigate her 10-game pointless drought. Her new linemates were on the ice for both of her goals, the second of which granted Bacon an assist.

Referring to Veharanta’s line in secret agent code language –identifying them by their uniform numbers and practice jersey colors- Deraney admitted that’s a start. Especially considering PC had gone scoreless for a cumulative 126 minutes and 13 seconds of play when Veharanta struck at 14:08 of Sunday’s second period.

“Obviously, the blue line scored some goals, the new combination of (Bacon, Veharanta, and Gauthier),” he said. “Really, two good individual efforts by (Veharanta), but still, you’ve got to create some continuity, have some patience.

“And, hey, we scored two goals. We haven’t scored two goals (in a single game) in a while, so that’s not bad.”

So far as the scoresheet will project, the Friars’ newfangled second line is the one most raring to ripen. Sandwiching the hot-then-cold senior pivot Alyse Ruff, sophomores Nicole Anderson and Jessie Vella are still looking for their first points since Dec. 5 and Jan. 2, respectively.

Vella once again flaunted her lately sharpened appetite for destruction on Sunday by charging up three shots while Anderson and Ruff mustered one apiece.

Quick feeds: With an assist on Veharanta’s first goal Sunday, junior blueliner Jen Friedman’s point total of 19 surpasses the 18 she aggregated over her first two seasons…The PC women’s hockey and women’s basketball teams are both scheduled to host their Connecticut counterparts at 2 p.m. this Saturday. Although a mass influx is expected down at Alumni Hall to see the team that recently won an NCAA hoops record 90 consecutive games, there is no indication that the Skating Sorority will change its face-off time, even if it means sacrificing a little fanfare…UConn took sole possession of third place in Hockey East and clinched a playoff spot with a 2-2 tie versus Northeastern on Sunday. With no more than eight points for anyone left to gain, the Huskies clinched by virtue of winning its season series with seventh-place Maine…One more win for the Friars or one more loss for the Black Bears assures PC its own postseason passport…With this Sunday’s bout scheduled to be played outdoors at Rentschler Field, the Huskies will ultimately go at least three weeks without a game at their official home barn. Safety concerns stemming from heavy snow accumulations on the roof of Freitas Ice Forum forced last Sunday’s UConn-Northeastern game to relocate to the XL Center in Hartford.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com