The College Sports Notebook is compiled by veteran sports writer and columnist Marc Maturo, a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). The notebook will be published every Thursday. Please send items of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pucci “iced” by concussion, plans return
This might have been the winter of discontent for Josephine Pucci of Pearl River, a world-class women’s ice hockey defenseman, but the Harvard University stalwart is staying positive during a concussion-related layoff.
“I’m taking it one day at a time,” said Pucci, who has been sidelined and out of college since August 19 after being injured while playing for a U-22 team against Canada in Calgary. “Concussions are scary, for sure, and they are getting more attention now, which is good. It’s one of those injuries you can’t tough out, but I’ve been seeing some amazing doctors. One of them is Dr. Carrick, a neurologist who is working with (NHL Penguins star) Sydney Crosby. I’ve seen him two times in Atlanta the last few months.”
Pucci has two semesters left at Harvard, but is hopeful of recovering in time to participate in the U.S. Olympic Trials in June.
“If I make the Olympic team I’ll take another semester off but still retain (collegiate) eligibility,” Pucci continued.
One benefit of not playing organized hockey for the first time in more than 16 years, notes Pucci — other than the time she broke her tibia as an eighth-grader – is the obvious change of pace, and the chance to see her sisters playing competitive hockey in college (Victoria is a freshman at Connecticut College in New London; Samantha is a sophomore at Utica).
The three sisters are, you might have guessed it, defensemen but Pucci the Senior kindly dodges the question of which one mans the position best, saying, “We all have fun playing.”
As for the path to recovery and getting back on the ice, Pucci said she is pushing the pace and exercising more, at Vision Sports Club in Pearl River.
“It feels good to feel normal, but I’m trying to get to 100 percent, spending my time focusing on getting healthy,” the former Ramapo Saints youth hockey player said. “I want to be able to work out again, and each week I’ve been able to do more. This is a huge change for me, but I have to be patient with the process. I don’t want to rush it; I want to make smart decisions. My plan is to head to Boston at the end of (this month), take a class and see how I do, get back to my old environment.”
Pucci has seen Harvard, and her sisters play a few times, but not as often as she would prefer due to a restricted travel schedule.
For anyone so inclined, Harvard puts its 11-1-1 record on the line against Princeton at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11, and then Quinnipiac at 4 p.m. on Jan. 12. Both games are at Harvard’s Alexander H. Bright Hockey Center in Boston.
Connecticut College (4-5-1) host Colby for a two-game series on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. and Jan. 12 at 3 p.m., while Utica (5-6) meets SUNY Potsdam in a home-and-home set on Jan. 12 at Utica Memorial Auditorium and Jan. 13 in Potsdam.
· Distance specialists Evan Ward of Suffern, a freshman, and Russell Vignali of Congers, a senior, are expected to be in action on Jan. 12 when the Lehigh University track and field team visits West Point for a Quad Meet against host Army, Monmouth and Rider. On Jan. 19, Lehigh hosts the Angry Birds Invitational at the Rauch Fieldhouse in Bethlehem, Pa. Competition starts at 10 a.m. Vignali, a 2010 graduate of Clarkstwon North HS, is coming off an outstanding cross-country season in which he helped lead the Mountain Hawks to the program’s first Patriot League title. Vignali, a member of the dean’s list and the Patriot League’s academic honor roll, has competed in cross country and track since his freshman year.
· Senior defenseman Matt Dyer of Suffern has played in 10 games for the hockey team at St. Lawrence University, which hosts Yale University on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. at Appleton Arena in Canton. St. Lawrence stays home on Jan. 12, meeting Brown at 7 p.m., and then visits Clarkson in Potsdam at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19.
· Sophomore Greg Hazell of Airmont is a multiple threat in jumps, hurdles and decathlon for the Sacred Heart University track and field team. The Big Red, based in Fairfield, Conn., will compete at the 31st. Yale University Intercollegiate Classic at 9 a.m. on Jan. 12 in New Haven, Conn. Sacred Heart then visits Boston University on Jan. 17 at 5 p.m. for a Quad Meet that also includes Boston College and UMass.
· Rider University visits West Point on Jan. 12 to compete in a Quad Track and Field Meet with host Army, Monmouth and Lehigh. Nick Weiss of Nanuet and Nicole Tassello of Suffern compete for the Broncs. Weiss, a junior, is a thrower while Tassello, a senior, is a distance specialist.
· Sophomore guard Tavon Sledge of Spring Valley dished off a game-high eight assists, and scored six points as the Iona College men’s basketball team defeated visiting Manhattan College, 78-70. The Gaels (9-6, 3-1 MAAC) visit Marist College in Poughkeepsie at 7 p.m. on Jan. 10, and then return home to New Rochelle at 2 p.m. on Jan. 13 to host Canisius
· The Nyack College men’s and women’s basketball teams hope to bounce back from losses when they visit Concordia College in Bronxville on Jan. 12 for a doubleheader that opens with the women’s game at 1 p.m. The Warriors again take part in a twinbill on Jan. 15 at Felician College in Lodi, N.J., with the opening game set for 6 p.m.
· Luke Houstonof Pearl River, a sophomore guard, is leading the University of Southern Connecticut basketball team with 19 steals, while scoring eight points a game and handing out 20 assists. The Owls (7-4) visit UMass in Lowell at 4 p.m. on Jan. 12, and then travel to Colchester, Vt., on Jan. 15 to challenge Saint Michael’s College.
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