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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Northeastern 5, Women's Hockey 4

Dog bites

PC pinned in draining, tumbling battle

The Northeastern Huskies popped in at Schneider Arena Tuesday night in a condition remarkably parallel to that of the host Friars at Boston College one week previous: winless and flustered.

And just like it was in PC’s 3-2 icebreaking thriller of the Eagles, the contesting clubs assumed eerily similar roles from start-to-finish, Northeastern sculpting a commanding 3-0 edge in the opening frame and then holding on for dear life, ultimately pulling through 5-4.

Not only did the Huskies thereby snap a prolonged, dehydrating spell of shortcomings. They also exorcised a mind-boggling blight in terms of combating the Friars. It was their first win over Providence since January 25, 2004, and first in the House That Lamoriello Built since the 2002 inception of the Hockey East Women’s conference.

The Friars’ long-time-coming home opener was characterized by riotously scruffy two-way play that spawned motifs of falling bodies, endless whistles, and momentum-swaying goal spurts. Each side came up empty on their first of many power plays before Northeastern clicked on their second go-around at 13:08 of the opening frame.

Juggling the puck on her far point station, defender Lindsay Berman made a diagonal shipment to freshman beacon Kristi Kehoe, who snuck in a back-door conversion for her fifth goal of the season.

Off the immediate draw, Alyssa Wohlfeiler handed things over linemate Annie Hogan, who sliced through tumbling traffic and slipped one home whilst sliding with a handful of other skaters, making it 2-0 Northeastern.

The outburst was sealed two minutes later when Hogan intervened on a Friars breakout attempt behind their net, looped it around the near post, and watched Lori Antflick one-time it through in front.

But in less than another minute, Northeastern effectively re-opened their doors when Missy Elumba was flagged for cross-checking PC backchecker Coleen Martin. Up to that point, the Friars had already chipped nine failed shots at goaltender Leah Sulyma. After holding up for about the first minute of PC’s patient, cyclonic attack, though, Sulyma slipped with 2:58 till intermission.

Defender Brittany Simpson fed Kathleen Smith, curiously patrolling the right post rather than her typical blueline designation, who in turn set up Sarah Feldman for a back door burial.

From the Huskies standpoint, it didn’t help to have Nikki Petrich, the runaway candidate for face of their franchise, take a hooking call right at the buzzer, resulting in a full carry-over power play for the Friars. In addition, coach Bob Deraney switched out the night’s goaltender starter Jennifer Smith, in favor of Danielle Ciarletta upon returning to the fresh sheet.

The middle frame saw an imbalance of ice shavings between the zones, and it favored the volcanic Friars. Out of their game total of 35 shots, 16 were recorded in the second period with the conspicuous aid, seven of them distributed amongst three player advantages.

All that notwithstanding, for eighteen solid minutes, the shagged out Sulyma and her frontrunners left the home crowd hanging. In the waning moments, the Friars, incommoded by the Four Nations Cup obligations of scoring asset Mari Pehkonen, ultimately clicked.

With PC trying to carry on their power play-aided invasion, a fresh-out-the-box Wohfeiler charged full force behind the back of a puck-carrying Amber Yung, who nonetheless nudged it to her partner Rachel Crissy. Crissy’s snapper from the near point landed in yet another rolling scrum, out of which Feldman extracted it and handed things over to Alyse Ruff for a genuflecting roof-top connection.

Only a minute later did the Friars pick off a would-be neutral zone rush, allowing Kelli Doolin to set up Danielle Tangredi, who strolled down the right alley and slipped an equalizer into the opposite post.

But a virtual 360-degree reversal in dynamics highlighted the third period. Outshot 16-4 in the preceding frame, the Huskies this time owned that category 16-5. Near the halfway mark, shortly after Captain Petrich returned from a ten-minute misconduct, they pounced on a five-minute power play, a portion of which was accompanied by an interference minor to Feldman, to insert the decisive goals.

At 9:52, Berman unleashed a centering feed from the left side for a slot-bound Chelsey Jones, who let a one-timer flutter through Ciarletta.

In another fifty-six ticks, still with considerable time on the major sentence, Kehoe brushed down a long airborne puck in the dirty-nose area and nudged it to Jones for a nimble tip-in.

The Friars kept the game well within reach, cutting the deficit just 39 seconds after Jones’ turn on stage. In shorthanded odd-man break, Katy Beach traveled down the far side and lobbed a quick feed to freshman Jean O’Neill, who dinged her first collegiate goal home off the opposite post.

After that, though, Sulyma’s associates denied them further access.

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