Saturday, October 11, 2008

St. Lawrence 3, Women's Hockey 1: Deraney Credits PK For Minimizing Damage In Loss

Within the final minute of the opening period last night, the old school Green Day hit “When I Come Around” was flowing out of the Schneider Arena loudspeakers.
Nothing inherently of interest about that, considering the virtual broken record that is the Friar hockey hitlist, but it is a fitting tune for a team that still has everyone wondering when its aspirant volcanic offense will come around.
It did appear to surface in a bite-sized spurt during the climactic stages of the third period, at which point Providence trailed St. Lawrence, 2-0. And with a mere 1:22 to spare, a six-pack attack working for the Friars, and the Saints on just their third full-length penalty kill of the night, freshman forward Laura Veharanta raked in her second career goal to cut the deficit.
That’s as far as the deathbed alms-like rally went, though. St. Lawrence rebounded to insert an empty netter via Carson Duggan –who was also credited with the game clincher- and wrested a grittily executed 3-1 decision away from the Friars.
But the rally, virtually set off when Ashley Cottrell was allotted a penalty shot with 11:42 remaining and ultimately amounting to a 14-7 shooting edge in the closing frame, was indubitably half-full in the eyes of PC head coach Bob Deraney.
“Hey, we had the penalty shot and then we scored,” acknowledged Deraney, his post-game reactionary tone improving by the night despite his club bearing a 0-3 transcript. “I thought we played pretty good tonight. Obviously, I’m not happy with the final result, but I am happy about the fight we showed tonight.”
The Friars, who thrust a night’s total of 28 shots at Saints stopper Brittony Chartier while allowing the Cyclopean St. Lawrence strike force a reasonable 29 against Genevieve Lacasse, were free to flex their fight for the better part of the first and third periods. But those more sanguine stanzas sandwiched a choppy middle frame wherein the austere officiating crew wrote them five two-minute citations versus merely one to St. Lawrence.
More toe-curling was the personnel paying regular visits to the sin bin. Senior defender Erin Normore –whose holding infraction at the 6:38 mark of the first period lent a little facility to Tara Akstull’s icebreaker goal at 7:35- went off once more at 13:32 of the middle frame.
Forward Mari Pehkonen, a common PK employee in the young stages of this season, was flagged on one occasion per period. And crafty sophomore Amber Yung took two whistles in the second, granting the Saints a 5-on-3 advantage the first time and prompting a Friars timeout the second –whereupon PC had been called five times with still 5:25 to work with in the middle period. (At that point, Katy Beach was serving a two-minute sentence for interference, as was SLU’s Karell Emard, which meant a 4-on-3 setup in favor of the Saints.)
Yet through the virtually nonstop killing, the Friars reduced the Saints to a mere four power play shots (11-2 overall SLU advantage in the period) and Lacasse, not to mention the post on an Emard bid in the seventh minute, barred any conversions.
“I don’t think it was a hindrance,” said Deraney of the PK tempest, though it may be granted it bought the Saints welcome time to preserve their brittle lead. “It could have been a hindrance, but our penalty killing units were terrific and allowed it to continue to be a one-goal game going into the third period. I felt really good about our position tonight.”
But to start the third, St. Lawrence bent the Friars to near breaking point, finally augmenting their lead at 4:15. Courtney Sawchuk’s rebound, booted commandingly out of a congesting scrum by Lacasse, magnetically found Michelle Zimmermann on the far point. Zimmermann’s return shot pinballed off the twigs of Duggan, PC center Stephanie Morris, and the near post on its way home.
Over the final twelve minutes, the persistent Friars spiked a 10-2 lead in the shooting gallery, including Cottrell’s free whirl, which Chartier stoned with a simple sprawl and kick of her left skate.
The previous disproportion in penalties, incidentally, began to balance out against the Saints with less than five minutes to spare. A Sawchuk checking infraction at 15:25 only opened the door to one PC power play bid, but shortly after Lacasse was pulled with 2:22 left, Emard slashed Jennifer Freidman’s stick clear out of her hands as they pursued an iced puck behind the Friar cage.
Twenty-three ticks later, Arianna Rigano thrust the puck onto Chartier’s porch out of the near corner and let teammates Beach, Abby Gauthier, and Veharanta hack at it. Ultimately, Veharanta slipped it into the open right slab of the net.
So, that was one. But, naturally, more bountiful output is still in order.
Al Daniel can be reached at
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Monday, October 6, 2008

Women's Hockey Log: Fresh Flow Still A Work In Progress

The finishing trick, not to mention a way of stamping out the post-face-off jitters for the duration of the game, is something they still need to kindle. But the underlying data put up by the Friars’ rookie legion over their first two regulation games should inject a psychological boost as they pick up another four days of fostering before St. Lawrence busses onto campus this Friday.
All but one of nine true freshmen saw regular action over this past weekend’s two game sweep at the hands of Ohio State. And, to their credit, they pitched in a cumulative 18 shots on goal –nearly half of the team total 40- in Friday night’s engagement, then combined for 14 of the Friars’ 33 registered bids on Saturday. Feel free to dab on the one shot by Arianna Rigano –a third-line junior who upgraded her pressure upon her summer transfer from Division-III St. Anselm College.
In both outings, a freshman led team in the SOG column. Starting forward Laura Veharanta unleashed six on Friday and blueliner Jennifer Friedman charged up five on Saturday.
Still, they kilned nothing statistically substantial beyond Veharanta’s inaugural goal in Game 1 and the same milestone from Abby Gauthier the following afternoon. And the Buckeyes were a telling stride ahead of the Friars in the way of development, as partially evidenced by their radiant rookie output. Forward Natalie Spooner (series total: 11 shots) picked a goal-helper value pack on Saturday to erase her team’s 1-0 and 2-1 deficits before classmate Laura McIntosh slipped home the game winner.
Not many leading sentences
The Friars’ captaincy trinity debuted their indicative letters over the weekend –senior defender Brittany Simpson brandishing the C and Katy Beach and Erin Normore each assuming the A.
Somewhat expectably, the team-centric Deraney dodged persistent inquiries about individual leadership aptitude, but expressed trust in the voting panel that is his roster and coaching cabinet.
“I think they’re the perfect picks for our captains,” he offered. “In the ten years I’ve been here, we’ve always done it this way. Everyone gets one vote –even staff members. Each person gets one vote. It doesn’t stand for any more or any less.
“And the kids are good judges on who can lead this team. That’s why we do it at this time, so everyone can see who can be good leaders. And I think they’re doing a nice job.”
To cultivate more detail, though, it may be worth mentioning that Simpson, Beach, and Normore constitute three of only four members of their recruiting batch to have stayed the full length of their eligibility in Friartown. Out of a recruiting class of eight who arrived in 2005 at a program on the heels of four consecutive league titles, the likes of Meredith George, Mara Grainger, Brittney Lomond, and Stacey Scott took off no later than the conclusion of their sophomore year.
The half that have remained here –the votes suggest- figure to have the staunchest, most unyielding appetite to replenish what attracted them to Deraney’s program in the first place.
Clunky clocks
Evidently, the tech personnel Schneider Arena can relate to the players’ yet-to-thaw-out quandary. The scoreboard blacked out shortly after PC assumed the 1-0 lead with 18:04 still to play in Saturday’s first period, though the game obliviously rolled on for nearly another minute. When play was stopped by a natural icing call against Ohio State, the on-ice officials attended to the scorer’s box and had the crew reset the clock to 17:17.
Quick Feeds: The weekend sweep for the Buckeyes improved head coach Jackie Barto to 3-0 all-time in return visits to her roots. OSU now leads the all-time series, 5-1…Mari Pehkonen’s helper Friday and goal Saturday give the Finnish flare an early solitary lead on the PC scoring chart. Pehkonen and linemate Veharanta are tied for the team lead with 9 shots on net…For both of this past weekend’s games, Deraney dressed eleven designated forwards and seven defenders. Senior Stephanie Morris and freshman Lauren Covell took turns on Friday and Saturday respectively lining up with Pamela McDevitt and a select, double-shifting ringer from one of the top three lines…Of the 22 rostered skaters, only freshman defender Breanna Schwarz and still-healing forward Jean O’Neill have yet to see action. By Deraney’s latest account, O’Neill should be ready to crack the lineup no later than Saturday’s bout with Colgate.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ohio State 3, Women's Hockey 2: Friars Leap-frogged By Buckeyes In Third

Reaping for a quick statistical and emotional redress before the curtains dropped on opening weekend, the Providence College bench was unmistakably jumpy at the 1:56 mark of yesterday’s first period when Abby Gauthier poked home the icebreaker. It made for a no-time-wasted lead and the team’s second consecutive rookie to break in her membership on the stats sheet.
On the whole, it was mission accomplished –if you’re abiding by the Commander-in-Chief’s Dictionary.
Only able to nudge back ahead in the second after Ohio State retorted, PC watched a bushel of missed opportunities bolster the Buckeyes to two tautly executed third period goals, amounting to a 3-2 loss and the short end of a weekend sweep.
Thriving only in spurts, and spilling eight of nine power play opportunities –as they did in Friday night’s 2-1 shortcoming, the Friars came away from the series still feeling a stinging need for 60-minute energy.
“I thought that we didn’t play with as much jump and tenacity as we did in the third period (of Game 1) and I just think that has to do with playing six periods in less than 24 hours,” mused head coach Bob Deraney. “It might be a conditioning thing. There’s a lot of young kids in our lineup who aren’t used to playing that type of hockey, so I credit a little bit of that to the end result.”
Yesterday’s puck took protracted, football-paced shifts through the two zones for the better part of the game. No stoppages of any sort were warranted on the Friars’ opening onslaught, wherein the Buckeyes twice cleared the zone only to promptly regress to backcheck mode. And a few ticks shy of the two-minute mark, attacker Jackie Duncan unleashed a centering feed from the far corner for Gauthier to stuff in on the first shot of the game.
But the road to reversal was idled by a hooking penalty to Kate Bacon at 3:45, which opened the door to a Buckeye buzz. It only took OSU two shots in 20 man-up seconds to beat freshman stopper Genevieve Lacasse (32 saves). A seated Lacasse couldn’t clamp down the fugitive puck in a too-crowded-for-comfort crease and forward Natalie Spooner whipped it home, knotting the score with still a mere 4:05 off the clock.
That type of fruitful ineptitude on the Buckeyes’ part would ultimately define Lacasse’s 101 lesson on tending an NCAA net.
“Every goal that was scored on her was just a play where we lost some one-on-one battles where we really didn’t help her out,” Deraney observed. “She didn’t let in any shots, she let in three scrums. And our defensive responsibility is not to let those scrums happen.”
Indeed, minus the scrums, Lacasse resolutely thwarted everything even as the one-way biscuit blizzard carried over into the second period. The Buckeyes augmented their 13-5 shooting edge from the close of the first to 20-5 well before the five-minute mark. But Lacasse kept the Friars afloat leading up another tide-turner –this one a holding penalty to OSU defender Teal Bishop at 5:15.
PC’s perked-again offense proceeded to draw another call –a tripping infraction on Spooner- to allot them a savory 94 seconds of 5-on-3 play. And in another 51 seconds of patient, shotless puck rotation, near point patroller Brittany Simpson shipped a diagonal feed to Mari Pehkonen along the far post. Pehkonen’s lightly delivered bid, slowly but surely, dripped past goaltender Liana Bonanno (31 saves) with still another 1:09 to work with on Spooner’s sentence.
Much like Lacasse, though, Bonanno fused afterward, even as the Friars racked up another 12 registered stabs, four of those spread over another protracted 5-on-3 sequence.
At day’s end, Bonanno had pushed away 16 power play shots, and, Deraney suggested, could have confronted more.
“On the power play, there’s no doubt that they want to do the right thing,” said Deraney of his strike force. “(But) so much so that they put themselves in a disadvantaged position around the net. They’re so intent on going to the cage when a shot in taken that if the puck shoots right by them, they’re too close (to the net to retrieve it). You can’t fault them for wanting to do the right thing but they do need to put themselves in better situations with the puck.”
The productive famine came back to bite the Friars in the third. In the seventh minute, Spooner strode down the far lane and lobbed a backhand feed into another congesting collage of bodies in the crease. Morgan Marziali ultimately assumed control and nudged it in.
Then, with a mere 6:32 to spare, Buckeye Laura McIntosh picked off a PC breakout in neutral ice, snaked through a small maze to the slot, and let a trickler squirt past Lacasse for the eventual decider.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press