BOSTON- For the University of Maine women’s hockey team, few developments are more indicative of improvement than a couple of early wins against opponents not called Sacred Heart.
The Black Bears and first-year coach Maria Lewis visit the Friars at Schneider Arena this afternoon at 4-5-0, their best nine-game start since they sprinted out to 5-2-2 in 2005-06, which was three coaches ago (Guy Perron, followed by one year under Lauren Streble, then three years of Dan Lichterman).
Although 18 of their 32 goals were scored over a two-game throttling of the independent Pioneers, the Mainers are still flaunting faint signs of long-term life on offense. Save for a 3-1 win at Niagara on October 22, they have capitalized on at least one power play every night for a respectable 22.8 percent success rate. And that includes three conversions a pair of growing-pain losses to almighty Mercyhurst.
Sophomore forward Brittany Dougherty, the Black Bears’ top point-getter with a 6-7-13 transcript through nine games, has already surpassed her rookie log of 3-6-9 in 28 games and only been barred from the scoresheet twice. Her classmate Chloe Tinkler already has two goals and three assists to her credit after mustering nothing but two helpers as a frosh.
Senior Jennie Gallo (8-3-11), along with juniors Myriam Croussette, Danielle Ward, and Dominique Goustis are likewise all on pace to cement quick and easy career years. It’s a notion with enough credibility, seeing as none of them have notched any fewer than three points in their first seven post-Sacred Heart games.
Finally, the potential to supplement the work of a sympathetic stable of goaltenders long relegated to 40-, 50-, or 60-plus shot nights from opponents who pace themselves to close victories.
“I’ve watched some tape on them. They work extremely hard, they make you earn everything,” said Friars head coach Bob Deraney. “We’re going to have our hands full. One of the best goalies in the league is coming in Brittany Ott. And we’ve got to play a lot better than we did (in yesterday’s 4-1 loss to Boston University), that’s for sure.”
Deraney tested his first major voluntary (i.e. not forced by injury) line chart tweaks yesterday, having centers Ashley Cottrell and Alyse Ruff swap lines. Cottrell started with Kate Bacon and Abby Gauthier on the wings while Ruff ran with Laura Veharanta and Corinne Buie after the two pivots had played the reverse roles for eight games.
“Just trying to create a little bit more offense for us,” Deraney said. “And I thought there were some good results that came out of it. But we’re trying to jumpstart our offense to go to another level. We haven’t scored a lot of goals lately.”
Sizzling Bacon cools
Bacon, still the top gun and now the only Friar currently boasting a point-per-game average higher than one, went scoreless yesterday for the first time since October 1, halting a nine-game production streak that saw her roll up nine goals –including one power play, one shorthanded, and one game-winner- and three assists. The opposing BU Terriers also confined Bacon to a mere three shots on net for the second time in as many meetings.
Quick feeds: Bacon drew a five-minute major on an opponent for the second time in four games yesterday, when she absorbed a strident bodycheck from Kaleigh Fratkin during a footrace into the right corner of the BU zone. She previously endured a hit from behind via Princeton’s Rose Alleva back on October 23…The Friars scored the first goal for the ninth time in 11 games and are 5-3-1 in that scenario…Terriers goalie Alissa Fromkin, putting in her first appearance in a month after overcoming a lower body injury, earned her first win since she beat Maine in last year’s regular season finale…Providence was confined to one goal for the first time in 14 meaningful games, the last time being an identical 4-1 road loss to Connecticut on February 13 of last season…Veharanta led all Friars with five shots on goal while Jill Cardella, Lauren Cherewyk, and Catherine Ward registered seven apiece for BU…Gauthier was the only Friar to earn a plus-1 rating on yesterday’s scoresheet…Today’s opponent from Maine is the only team in Hockey East still yet to play overtime, to lose after scoring the first goal, or to win after shedding first blood.
Al Daniel can be reached at email@example.com
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press