Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Women's Hockey Log: Rookie Laura Veharanta Producing Early

It’s early, to be sure, but freshman first-liner Laura Veharanta is so far producing at a spot-on Sonny Watrous pace: precisely one point in as many career games.
What was once the fiery PRO Line of Mari Pehkonen, Alyse Ruff, and Jean O’Neill –broken up by a lower body injury that confined O’Neill to the sidelines until Saturday’s 6-2 pasting of Colgate- now appears to have been rechristened the PRV line.
Incidentally, that’s still a fairly common abbreviation for PC’s home city. And, statistically speaking, the line’s new additive has fittingly plugged the void, currently matching Pehkonen atop the team scoring chart and leading the PC shooting gallery with 18 registered stabs.
One of only four Friars to brush the two scoresheets of the team’s opening series with Ohio State, Veharanta kept her initial gush rolling this past weekend, raking in the lone goal against St. Lawrence and composing a goal-assist package against Colgate.
All three weekend points were subtly aided by a power play and all were cultivated in the dirty-nose zone. In the waning moments of Friday’s 3-1 loss to the Saints, Veharanta was enrolled to join a last-ditch six-pack attack and –together with Katy Beach and Abby Gauthier- lay in salivating wait for Arianna Rigano’s feed out of the near corner. All four attacking twigs had a hold of the puck before Veharanta, stationed along the near post, swept it into a vacant frame of the net, temporarily rejuvenating hope of a rally.
In Saturday’s opening frame, with a glowing 1:49 5-on-3 sequence on the verge of wasteful expiration, Veharanta instinctively perched herself in the sightline of Colgate stopper Ekayna Hamashuk and merely had to deflect point patroller Erin Normore’s screamer over Hamashuk’s mitt, pulling the Friars ahead, 2-0, at the time.

Then midway through the third, Veharanta and her on-duty associates demonstrated the same never-mind-the-score persistence as they had the previous night, even with a rigid 5-2 lead at hand. Again laboring with the likes of Beach during a 4-on-3 advantage, and with Normore carrying out her trademark end-to-end carry down the near alley, Veharanta hustled straight ahead accept the two-way connoisseur’s centering feed on the Colgate porch and ultimately left a rebound for Beach to tuck home from the far post.
Century chase
Senior forward Stephanie Morris is now another nine outings away from joining current teammates Beach, Normore, and Brittany Simpson in the program’s 100-career game club. At this rate, junior defender Colleen Martin is next with a cumulative 75 games to her credit, followed by classmate Pam McDevitt (66) and Pehkonen (69).
All have the mathematic potential to hit the three-digit plateau before this season is shelved, though McDevitt and Pehkonen are a bit of an outside shot. With 30 guaranteed regular season games yet to work with, their chances involve the naturally yet-to-be-determined duration of PC’s post-season activity. And for Pehkonen in particular, one ought to factor in however much of her time might be rented out by Team Finland for any given international tournament.
Quick Feeds: Granted, they had an overflowing bushel of opportunities to work with, but the Friars have seen all of their first three forward lines and all defenders in regular action on the power play lately. Most of the way, coach Bob Deraney has simply deployed the same offensive unit as he would in even strength along with at least one of his reliably offensive-minded defenders…Pehkonen, Ruff, and freshman defender Christie Jensen all climbed into the black in terms of plus/minus on Saturday. Veharanta, O’Neill, Ashley Cottrell, Martin, and goaltender Genevieve Lacasse have all pulled themselves even in that column…With her two third period goals Saturday, Beach bulked her career scoring totals to 3-3-6 in five career games against Colgate…The forthcoming weekend’s itinerary has back-to-back brushes with former Friars lined up. Goaltender Stacey Scott (PC 2005-06) will likely be taking a seat behind the so-far effective tandem of Florence Schelling and Leah Sulyma at Northeastern Saturday. But on Sunday, forward Brittany Nelson (2006-07) will be one of three sporting a captain’s C for the host Vermont Catamounts.
Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press