Women’s hockey head coach Bob Deraney, being an archetypically civil Division I hockey coach, is hardly the smug type. But in the wake of a weekend that saw a pair of knots drawn in two other Hockey East series –namely Boston University versus Vermont and Maine versus Northeastern- he did offer a blunt, told-you-so statement in defense of the long-gone shootout.
The Black Bears and Huskies arm-wrestled one another to a 0-0 decision last Thursday and followed that up with a 2-2 final on Friday. Meanwhile, in the Hub, the Terriers deleted three one-goal deficits on the weekend to salvage 1-1 and 2-2 splits with the Catamounts.
For Deraney, that’s as good as a virtual win and a loss apiece for all parties involved, when under the abandoned system somebody could have extracted four precious conference points out of the weekend while forcing their adversaries to settle for two.
“All the coaches that voted against the shootout surely wish they had the shootout now,” he said yesterday. “You’re looking at a coach who wanted the shootout, believed in the shootout. It would alleviate a lot of the problems that are coming down the pike right now. So, hey, the coaches got what they deserved as far as I’m concerned.”
The main problem, of course, is the specter of parity-induced gridlock across the New England Eight standings. If there were still three-point games after a 65-minute stalemate, Deraney reasons, it would be slightly easier for teams to create breathing room in the pennant race. Accordingly, come February 20, when the ice chips settle on the regular season, there would potentially be less chance of a messy, off-ice tiebreaking process to determine playoff seeding.
Already, out of 21 games played so far between Hockey East cohabitants, eight have ended in a deadlock. New Hampshire is the lone tenant that has yet to hatch the goose-egg in its “T” column. Five teams have been involved in at least two draws, the Catamounts leading with four to their credit and a 0-4-4 league record coupled with a peculiar 1-4-7 overall transcript.
“It shows the parity in our league,” Deraney said. “You have BU, the (then-) No. 4 team in the country and yet Vermont ties them (twice), so it shows the first tie wasn’t a coincidence. It shows they’re a really good team, so from top to bottom I think we’re the best league in the country right now.”
In its two years of experimental operation on this coast, the Friars went an aggregate 7-4 in Hockey East and interleague shootouts, none more epic than a record-setting 13-round triumph of Northeastern on November 8 of last season.
And with the consistently composed Genevieve Lacasse, who encountered nine shootouts and stopped 28 out of 35 bids to go 6-3, they indubitably would have welcomed more one-on-one lightning rounds. Ditto the likes of NU with Florence Schelling and Boston College with the peerless Molly Schaus in their cage.
At the same time, Deraney says, there is a plus point to stress for his team, which still has a league-leading 18 conference games yet to come.
“What happened this past weekend opens a door for us,” he said. “Basically with BU tying two games, they split with Vermont, so that puts another loss in their loss column. Northeastern did the same thing. So if we can just continue to take care of business, the door has been cracked open a little bit. We have to make sure we can walk through that door and push it open a little wider. So I was really excited to see what happened.
“We’ll take anything that other teams are willing to give us. There’s an opportunity there for us, we’ve got to make sure we take advantage of it.”
Al Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press