Saturday, November 15, 2008

Women's Hockey Log: Deraney Foresees Gritty PC-UConn Confrontation

Last season is last season, expect for when the present is so rigid and protracted that it clutches the past in one fist, the future in the other, and accordingly injects its consistent influence.
That’s how the puck spins in the Battle for Southern New England. When the PC and Connecticut women lock twigs, hard noses and hard feelings slosh from end to end like a choppy, monsoon-driven river.
Hence the candidate for quote of the week straight from Friars’ coach Bob Deraney, offering a general prophesy concerning tomorrow afternoon’s meeting at Schneider Arena: “It’s gonna be a very physical, hard-fought, ugly hockey game.”
Deraney didn’t refer back to any previous get-together in particular. Not even the Friars’ head-turning, shellshocking, 5-1 triumph in the 2008 Hockey East semifinals, which was carried out on UConn ice, no less, and likely pierced the Huskies’ NCAA tournament bubble.
Implicitly, the spirit of the rivalry is safe without extra zesty circumstances like that. Nevertheless, there is some cause to believe that the visiting Huskies will be vying to make an early statement whilst serving a mini-dish of eye-for-eye justice in the House That Lou Built.
“They’re definitely gonna come in hard, especially coming off the loss from last year,” said PC senior defender Erin Normore, who charged up a goal and assist in that revolutionary game. “So we’re just gonna come out, work hard, play our game, and hopefully come out with a win.”
The Friars (5-5-1 overall; 2-2-1 Hockey East) and Huskies (6-4-2 overall; 3-2-0 Hockey East) alike may indeed need to subsist, in part, on a not-so-negligible dose of hope. Time and again, the explosively molecular mix of elements have broken the surface in this matchup.
Over all four of their get-togethers last season, neither team allotted the other more than 30 shots on an individual night.
“Both teams play shutdown defense and there are some talented kids on both sides who can score goals,” Deraney observed. “Dominque Thibault and Amy Hollstein are both dangerous. Their goaltending, whether it’s (Brittany) Wilson or Alexandra Garcia, they’re both very good."
Already, through 12 total contests, Thibault has a 12-7-19 scoring transcript to top the UConn charts. She and Hollstein (8-6-14) sandwich Michelle Binning (9-7-16) to formulate a trinity of point-plus-per-game Huskies.
The more likely starter Wilson already bears a decent 4-2-1 log, 2.22 GAA (precisely the same as Garcia’s), and .904 save percentage. She will counter either a certifiably sharp rookie in Genevieve Lacasse or a not-so-problematic veteran in Danielle Ciarletta and will be personally confronted by a Providence strike force that is steadily heightening its nightly output on the scoresheet.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us to score,” Deraney observed. “But in turn I think that the way we’re playing pretty good defense, if we can get to them early, they’re a different team. If they can get a hold of us, they can win a one-goal game."
From where Deraney’s stands, part of this year’s incentive is not to let his team procrastinate in propping up its half of the parity. Over their first two meetings last season, the Huskies made Zamboni brooms of the Friars through 5-0 and 3-0 finals at Freitas Ice Forum.
It wasn’t until the third regular season encounter and the spontaneous playoff rumble that Providence tuned the back of Wilson’s cage. When they did, though, they clicked copiously and in effect cultivated two key wins.
Those discrepancies in upshots couldn’t be plainer to the Friars’ skipper.
“If we get ahead of them, they’ll have to take chances and if they do that, they’re not their best,” said Deraney. “So our goal will be to try to score early and stay on top. If we do that, we’ll have a lot of success.
“If we don’t, then it’s going to be a knock-down, dragged-out, 60-minute battle.”
Al Daniel can be reached at
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Women's Hockey Log: Friars Get A Respite Ahead Of Rigor

Reinstalled to the .500 fence at 5-5-1 overall, the Friars have accepted the first patent step to what they hope will soon escalate to renewed national relevance.

They have subsequently accepted an auspicious seven-day gap between their return ride to campus from last weekend’s two-game sweep at Robert Morris and Sunday’s home get-together with Connecticut, which will commence a more contrary, three-game-in-seven-night homestand.
All players stayed clear of the refrigerated sector of Schneider Arena so as to thaw themselves mentally both Sunday and Monday. They then kicked off a five-day game prep regimen yesterday with a less formal, split-squad sort of practice.
“It’s not so much more time to prepare as it is to really recharge our batteries,” explained head coach Bob Deraney prior to yesterday’s on-ice colloquium. “We’ve taken a couple of days off, and today we’re gonna put our defensemen on the ice for fifty minutes and then bring our forwards in for fifty minutes. So basically, they’ll all have played less than an hour of hockey over the last three days, which I think is very good for this time of year.”
Once the ice chips of next Sunday settle, the Friars will have another four days to sharpen up for the likes of visiting Niagara a week from Friday and mighty Mercyhurst the following night.
They won’t be seen again in a brightly lit edition of Schneider Arena until Jan. 10. But a night trip to Brown for the Mayor’s Cup after Thanksgiving and a two-night venture to Maine the first weekend of December is in order.
Do the math: that will mean having consumed precisely half of the 2008-09 itinerary before the standard December decelerator kicks in.
“With so much hockey left to play before the Christmas break, this is our chance to make our mark in the national rankings. I’m not hoping. I’m confident we will.”
Perpetrators and victims
Through the first 11 games of the season, both the Friars and their adversaries have garnered an aggregate 90 whistles from the duo of orange-armed zebras this season. However, the opposition, which has drawn strictly minors against PC, bloated its own penalty minute total to 199 thanks to Robert Morris winger Megan Picinic’s last-second hitting-from-behind major –warranting a DQ and conjoined 10-minute misconduct citation and one-game suspension- on Saturday.
More to PC’s concern, though, that infraction left junior Colleen Martin folded over with an unspecified, indefinite injury.

“We’ll wait to see,” said Deraney on the ailing defender’s status. “We haven’t had a final decision, but it’s possible she could be out for at least the next game on Sunday. We’re not sure yet."
Busy twigs
Senior Katy Beach unloaded six shots on goal per night on the weekend and is now second on the team in that category with 38, behind Laura Vehranta’s 44. Beach’s linemate, Kate Bacon, comes in third with 33, despite each of them having missed two of the Friars’ first 11 games.
Quick Feeds: Genevieve Lacasse’s fifth third period save in Saturday’s 5-2 win, registered in the final stanza’s 13th minute, was No. 200 in her young, seven-game-old collegiate career. By night’s end, she had slid that total up to 204… Lacasse has yet to face any fewer than 27 shots on a given night. Her Saturday workload and efficiency rate (25 saves) perfectly matched that of a 4-2 win at Vermont on October 19…Working with 13 available forwards, Deraney rotated rookies Lauren Covell and Abby Gauthier between the gametime roster and the sidelines over the RMU series…Upon claiming Rookie of the Week accolades, Veharanta is the first Friar on either side of the program to earn a fun-size weekly nod from the Hockey East offices.
Al Daniel can be reached at
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Monday, November 10, 2008

On Women's Hockey: Friars Rookies Dazzling Ahead Of Schedule

As his immediate past grows gradually less immediate, more protracted, and more cyclically scratchy, Friars head coach Bob Deraney is accordingly more inclined to embrace the present and future.
Only now, though, are there jutting signs that could verify his teeth-gritting optimism that the program he has now held charge of for a decade can renew its contender’s club membership of yesteryear.
“We’ve gone through a cycle of champions where you’re almost at the pinnacle and, what happens is, kids don’t want to come because you’re too good and they want to go where they can play right away. So, all of a sudden, you don’t get those players,” Deraney explained shortly before the commencement of this season, referring to the four-year banner sweep (2002-05) and the still-lingering hangover that has plagued him since.
“But I think now we’re back on the up-cycle,” he concluded.
Fast-forward to the Friars’ return trip to campus after sweeping the Robert Morris Colonials via 3-1 and 5-2 triumphs over the weekend. The individual high spots are their most abundant yet, especially amongst those who have yet to thrash through a final exam on the Divine Campus.
Laura Veharanta –whose goal-assist discrepancy is slightly shadowing that of sophomore Alyse Ruff- slugged home her second career clincher in Friday’s victory, then sprinkled two more in Saturday’s first period tempest to abolish initial 1-0 and 2-1 Colonial leads.
Veharanta’s statistical leadership credentials after the fact: a runaway 10 goals, 12 points, seven power play strikes, and 44 shots on net in a mere 11 games.
Ashley Cottrell, who scraped out a helper on Veharanta’s winning strike Friday, followed up with a playmaker hat trick Saturday. Her weekend outburst doubled her season total to eight points and helped her draw a tie with senior Erin Normore for a team-best seven assists.
Kate Bacon’s goal-assist value pack Friday and assist in Game 2 inflated her overall output to 2-3-5 in nine games played.
The aforementioned Normore joined her understudies in the multi-point club, pitching in a characteristic pair of assists in Game 1 and a somewhat less characteristic twosome of firsthand conversions on Saturday. Normore’s goals, both third period strikes which were assisted by captain Brittany Simpson, served to obligingly enhance a 3-2 lead spotted 35 seconds into the middle frame by Ruff –yet another two-pointer on Saturday’s scoresheet thanks to her assistance on Veharanta’s second goal.
Additionally, subtracting a pair of empty netters, records of all of the Friars’ connections on the weekend went the distance and credited two helpers, a subtle testament to enduring, methodical, proficient puck movement.
Then there was the backstop, Genevieve Lacasse, arguably the foremost surprise in this year’s frosh crop. Despite senior Danielle Ciarletta’s valiant Superglue showing that salvaged an invaluable point against Boston University the weekend prior, Lacasse was reinstated if only for continuous balance in the goalies’ guild –easily PC’s most stable entity all season as it has yet to authorize more than three opposing strikes in a single game.
As it happened, the rookie had her turn facing a wrathful rally-minded opponent in Friday’s third period. Like the Terriers before them, the Colonials heaved 18 shots at the Providence cage in the closing frame, the last eight of them unanswered.
And just like BU, the Colonials finally inflicted a dent on the final stab. Only they still had a 2-1 deficit to surmount, and the deficit would upgrade thanks to Bacon’s gravy goal a mere 42 seconds after Jacki Gibson had put the host on the board.
Lacasse took on a rare second consecutive assignment Saturday and initially hitched to grant a few early RMU leads. But upon taking a score of Veharanta (aka Friars) 2, Colonials 2 to the second sheet, Lacasse uncompromisingly fused her borders, pushed away 18 more lashes, and boosted her overall transcript to 4-3-0.
Granted, Lacasse will likely continue to more or less balance the rucksack with Ciarletta, but the fact is no rookie crease custodian has garnered this much so early in this program since Jana Bugden in 2002-03.
Nor have the Friars established popular credibility since they were given primordial accolades in the form of a #9 national ranking in the preseason polls. No telling if they will have pole-vaulted back onto the scene by the time USCHO and the like revise their opinions tonight, but Deraney can comfortably remind himself that he has a fresh certificate of momentum good enough for the immediate future.
Al Daniel can be reached at
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press