PC Hockey Week 2 Recap

This past weekend the men's hockey team earned a split topping Merrimack 5-1 before falling to Boston College 3-2. This left the team with a .500 record at 3-3 but 3-1 in league play. The women's side had a very successful weekend, sweeping Northeastern by 5-1 and 6-1 scores. They raise their record to 3-1-1 and are now 2-1-0 in the league.

There were many similarities on how the teams played. Both received strong performances in net, scoring revolved around the top guns on both teams, and both teams still were bitten by the penalty bug. In the end when looking at this weekend as part of the learning process it will most likely be considered a very successful weekend for both teams.

Tyler Sims played both games in net for the men. Against Merrimack he stopped 24 of 25 shots and added another 30 minutes to his shutout string before Merrimack snapped it midway through the 2nd period. On Saturday Sims faced the stiffest challenge so far this season. In the Boston College contest he faced 38 shots on net including 24 in the 2nd period when PC played a substantial portion of the period shorthanded. By stopping all but one of those shots Sims kept PC in the game and gave them a chance to make a contest of it right till the final horn.

His counterpart on the women side is Jana Bugden. While Northeastern was not the biggest challenge Bugden will face this season it appears that she is quickly regaining the form that helped lead PC to Hockey East titles in her first two seasons. This year she is returning to action after missing all of last season due to injury. In each of her weekend outings she stopped 19 of 20 shots. More important then that though was the ease with which she handles the puck and gives the defense a chance to make quick strikes out of the defensive zone. She is also looked very solid at not leaving tempting rebounds on the doorstep. Finally as evidenced by the 10 points the PC defensemen collected while playing offense, the defenders have been freed this year to play a larger role in the offense.

Offensively all three wins were sparked by the top guns doing their job. For the women the top star was Karen Thatcher as she accumulated six points on 3 goals and 3 assists. She was also named the #1 star of both games. In particular two of her goals stuck out, each was both spectacular and important. On Saturday she scored the eventual game winner. Sonny Watrous feed Thatcher a pass off the boards, at that point Thatcher went to work and stick handled around three Northeastern defenders then a quick deke on the goalie, and the puck was in the net. Sunday with PC killing a penalty she took a pass from freshman defender Brittany Simpson, streaked down the left wing board cut into the net around a couple of NU defenders and then using one as a screen fired home the shorthanded tally. Over the weekend her line mates also had big games as Watrous was credited with 3 assists and Ashley Payton had 4 points including a pair of goals. Also coming up big were a pair of defensemen. Kathleen Smith fired home a pair of rocket shots on Sunday as Kristin Gigliotti had done on Saturday.

For the men's team the game with Merrimack saw a similar situation. The top line of Jamie Carroll, Jon Rheault, and Chase Watson scored 3 goals and accounted for 10 points. As a result the trio were named the 3 stars of the game (1. Rheault 2. Watson 3. Carroll). Rheault was the biggest hero as his two first period goals put Merrimack in a hole they never could get out of. On the first goal Carroll and Rheault got out on an odd man rush with Carroll feeding the setup for a one timer by Rheault. The second goal came with Rheault fighting a crowd in the slot for a rebound of a Watson shot. The other Friar top gun got into the act in the 3rd period as the Friars iced the game. On the power play Rheault led Colin McDonald with quick pass letting McDonald skate in alone on the right side. McDonald blasted a shot by the Merrimack goalie to account for his third goal of the year.

Saturday night the offense struggled a bit hurt by the penalties the team took. Still PC was able to get off to an early lead about halfway through the first period Tony Zancanaro's initial shot was left on the doorstep. Kyle Laughlin pounced on the rebound and went topside with his wrist shot. Another good sign was when PC fell behind quickly at the start of the third period as BC scored a short handed goal; they struck back quickly to tie the game up again. This time senior winger Nate Meyers hopped on the loose puck and put it into the net. .

This was also the weekend for a couple of firsts. Laughlin's goal was his first career goal as a Friar. On Saturday PC women's defender Erin Normore notched her first career tally also. She added an assist as well. For the men Chase Watson, Jon Rheault and Colin McDonald all have 3 goals to lead the team on the season. Karen Thatcher raised her team leading total to 4.

Both teams also continue to be confronted with the fact they still take too many penalties. The women were penalized a total of 59 minutes and the men 51. Each team also had a player assessed a 5 minute major and a game misconduct.

The difference in the two team's weekend though was the special team play. The women killed 18 of 19 penalties, scored a short handed goal, and converted 6 power play chances of their own. The men gave up an important short handed goal, killed 12 of 14 penalties and converted two opportunities on their own power play against Merrimack. The women seemed to have an edge in this department. In Thatcher they possess one of the most dynamic players in the country who seems to thrive with the extra open ice. Against Northeastern it also gave Coach Deraney an opportunity to give most of his players a chance to kill penalties thus not tiring his team out. Coach Army has 4 or 5 dependable penalty killers and when his team must kill several in a row it seems to disrupt the team's flow. They were also hurt by the fact their top penalty killer took the 5 minute major and received the game misconduct.

This coming week the teams again face important challenges. The women face off against #1 in the nation St Lawrence. St Lawrence is 5-0-0 just completing a sweep of top ten Mercyhurst. They also own a victory over defending national champ Minnesota. The game is Saturday in Canton New York. The next day they continue the Northern New York journey by playing Clarkson. Clarkson also has a fine record, 5-2-1, losing a pair to Mercyhurst.

The men will resume their Hockey East wars. They have a home and home series against UMass. The series kicks off with a Friday night encounter at Schneider. This game is also part of the Cox 3 package. Saturday night they play the return game at the Mullin Center. To date Massachusetts has struggled. This past weekend they dropped home games to UNH and Maine. The previous week they dropped a game to Holy Cross, a member of the ACHA. They did make the same northern New York trek that PC made a couple of weeks ago and unlike PC did come away with a win. They defeated Clarkson.

For her effort last week Karen Thatcher was named the Hockey East player of the week. Her teammates Jana Bugden and Kristin Gigliotti made the league's weekly honor roll for their performances. On the men's side Tyler Sims, Chase Watson and Jon Rheault were named to the honor roll. Thatcher will also headed up the Hockey East All Star team which will play the women's Olympic team in December. She was named captain of the team. Joining her will be Sonny Watrous and Jana Bugden, with Kristin Gigliotti named as an alternate.

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