There are teams made up of great athletes, and then there are great teams. Providence College women’s hockey head coach Bob Deraney desires the latter.
Deraney (West Roxbury, Mass.) -- who won his 265th game as a coach Nov. 30 with a 3-2 overtime win against Brown in their 19th annual Mayor’s Cup matchup -- is in the midst of an unexpectedly difficult season. His Friars sit tied for fifth in Hockey East with a 3-5-0 league mark and a 7-10-0 overall record. A two-win weekend against Maine Nov. 23-24 ended a seven-game losing streak, but they closed out their semester with a 5-1 loss against Yale last Friday.
These results are surprising for a team who boasted a high number of returners, peppered with some of the league’s best recruits. Deraney sees the adversity as creating the type of team he desires – a cohesive team, as opposed to a group of solid skating individuals.
“I have to use an example from college basketball to explain it,” said Deraney last week. “There are two types of teams in basketball who win championships. There are teams full of one and dones, athletes who will go pro after that first year. Then there are great teams that may not have the best skill, but can be the best team. We might not have the most skill, but we can be the best team.
“It was hard to go through a losing stream like that. But the losing will eventually make us a great team.”
Deraney could see his skaters making important gains despite that losing streak that lead him to believe that the Friars won’t be mired near the bottom of Hockey East for long.
“Going through that losing streak was hard, but you could see the progress happening,” said Deraney, who pointed to grad student Janine Weber (formerly of the Austrian National Team) and sophomore Brittney Thunstrom as making some of the biggest strides.
One of the season’s highlights has been the immediate contribution of freshman winger Cassidy Carels, who sits third in the team’s individual scoring with nine goals and two assists. The Canadian Under 18 team member was a big part of the Friars breaking their losing streak, scoring a hat trick in the November 23rd 8-1 win against Maine. “When you talk about goal scorers, they have that knack around the net, and Cassidy has that. She has that knack and that fight to get herself in that place. A lot of our young players do.”
Deraney looks for a “knack” like Carels when recruiting. “I don’t know if you can teach it, but you can bring it out in them. We recruit them because they have it.”
What Deraney has shown over the years is that he has “it” when it comes to coaching and recruiting. He is now Providence College’s most successful coach in terms of wins, with a record of 265-198-61 over 15 years, but he almost wasn’t aware of his record setting achievement.
“To be honest, I wasn’t aware of it until Steve Maurano (Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs and Community Relations) contacted me and said, ‘Congrats, Coach, you’re one win away from breaking the record.’ I got back to him and told him, ‘Thanks, but I had absolutely no idea!’
“At the end of the day, it’s a player and team honor. It means that I have had the honor of coaching some pretty special players over the years. I told my team that. I’ve had the best seat in the house to see some really special players, and that’s the greatest honor.”
A Word About UNH
The biggest news in women’s college hockey over the last week was the sudden dismissal of longtime UNH head coach Brian McCloskey over allegations of inappropriate physical contact with a player during a game at the Whittemore Center on Nov. 30. The team’s student-athletes and coaches were prohibited from speaking with media about the incident after their 5-0 loss against Harvard on Friday evening.
Despite the controversy and other obstacles, the Wildcats defeated Dartmouth Sunday afternoon, 2-1. In their game against Harvard, they showed a consistent effort, recording 29 shots on goal and pressuring Harvard’s forwards, despite just three forward lines and two defensive pairings. UNH will not play again until Jan. 10, which should allow several players to get healthy and reenter the lineup.
A bright spot for the Wildcats came Wednesday afternoon, when they were named as host for the 2016 Women’s Frozen Four.
Player of the Week
Phoebe Staenz, freshman forward, Yale, Zurich, Switzerland
For the first time in nearly 32 years, a Yale player scored four or more goals in one game. Staenz accomplished that feat with a four goal performance against Providence on Friday evening in the Bulldogs’ 5-1 win. Staenz only took four shots all game, converting every one. She has six goals and eight assists through 11 games, and is a national leader in rookie scoring.
Team of the Week
Last December, Boston University traveled out to Duluth, Minnesota for a weekend series against Minnesota-Duluth, tying both games (2-2, 0-0.) This year, the Terriers turned on the offense, hosting the Bulldogs and defeating them twice, 6-5 Friday and 4-2 Saturday. Minnesota-Duluth played their trademark physical game, and were vocal about a wide variety of calls (including a back and forth regarding a crease violation that took away a goal on Saturday.) But BU showed a strong top line, with Sarah Lefort and Louise Warren leading the way, and played a total team defense.
1) Harvard (9-1-2 overall, 7-1-1 ECAC) – The Crimson’s roster depth is enviable, especially in goal. Emerance Maschmeyer made 51 saves against Boston College on Saturday afternoon, just hours after freshman Brianna Laing (Marblehead, Mass.) recorded her second shutout in two career games with 29 saves in Friday night’s win against UNH.
Tie-2) Boston College (12-4-1 overall, 7-1-0 Hockey East) – In what several called the game of the season so far, the Eagles played Harvard to a 1-1 tie Saturday. The Emilys were in force for BC – Emily Pfalzer’s goal with approximately a minute and a half remaining tied the game, and fellow junior Emily Field (Littleton, Mass.) set her up with the pass.
Tie-2) Boston University (14-3-1 overall, 8-0-0 Hockey East) – Rebecca Russo (Westport, Conn.) was a solid and consistent player for the Terriers last weekend, scoring a goal and an assist Friday night and showing a good awareness on the ice in both games. She plays a solid two way game and has stepped up in her sophomore season.
4) Quinnipiac (14-2-5 overall, 5-2-4 ECAC) – Kelly Babstock earned her 100th career assist in the Bobcats’ 3-1 win against RPI on Saturday. Quinnipiac has won four straight.
5) Vermont (7-7-4 overall, 4-3-1 Hockey East) – UVM holds onto the third spot in Hockey East, and play Dartmouth on Wednesday night to close out their first semester. They have won four straight, and their five wins in November are the most ever for the program in a single month.