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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Women's Hockey 4, Vermont 2

Friars are Ruff enough

Freshman stirs epic comeback over Vermont

Within 2:19 of the third period, the Vermont Catamounts, who had strikingly gotten away with etching a 2-0 lead on an infinitesimal seven shots in the first forty minutes, suddenly needed a timeout.

And from a home perspective, during that timeout, the Schneider Arena music system was rather appropriately tweeting the Bee Gees’ immortal tune “Stayin’ Alive.” After all, Friar freshman Alyse Ruff had just singlehandedly broken the surface with her fourth and fifth collegiate goals to knot the game in a two-minute span after the Friars had come up empty on 22 stabs in the first forty minutes.

Returning to action, Providence effectively followed up on the arena DJ’s whimsical message. They proceeded to tack on two more layers via seniors Cherie Hendrickson and Jenna Keilch and arrest the stealthy Catamounts, 4-2, pulling themselves even in Part II of a three-game homestand, which they will complete Sunday against Dartmouth.

Bussing onto campus for the Saturday matinee, Vermont had already penned a nine-game transcript divided into polar opposites. After first breaking out for two-game sweeps of Sacred Heart and Union, already bettering their 2006-07 season total of 3 wins, they crashed back to their old form, logging a five-game skid, the two most recent being their breakout conference matches with Boston College and New Hampshire.

The Friars were also thirsting for redemption after Tuesday’s depleting 5-4 falter to Northeastern, but their attempts to express that were initially blanketed by a buckled-down Vermont defense and goaltender Kristen Olychuk. Olychuk only needed to deal with eight sparsely distributed shots in the opening frame and then put on a bit more of a dolphin show in the second period, responding impeccably to fourteen Friar bids.

The Catamounts themselves had noticeable trouble circumventing the Providence skaters and getting to netminder Danielle Ciarletta, thrusting only four shots at the PC starter in the first and three in the second.

But on exactly one play per stanza, Ciarletta was caught off guard by a green body whooshing out of the blue. About the halfway mark of the first, after a parched power play effort, Vermont’s Celeste Doucet picked off Friar Pamela McDevitt, who was trying to gather up a feed from Sarah Feldman at the right circle top. Doucet shuffled from zone to zone down the near alley and poked her first collegiate goal through Ciarletta’s legs.

Later, at the 13:07 mark of the middle frame, at which point PC led the shooting gallery 16-5, Kristi Anderson scooped a fugitive disc on her own high slot behind a mirage of attacking Friars and zipped down the far side. Reaching the circle Anderson snapped a long ranged high-flyer in off the upper left post for the 2-0 edge.

Come the third period, though, the fresh ice barely took a blink to work for the host club. Off a draw outside the Vermont end, two-way freshman Amber Yung strolled the puck in and handed it over to Ruff. Ruff’s nimble shot fluttered past Olychuk before the gritty, speedy striker went sliding all the way into the cage.

Nearly one hundred ticks after that, the freakily named Catamount Karen Sentoff was flagged (or…sent off) for impeding another overwhelmingly crafty Friar, Erin Normore, with an open-ice hit. By law of the women’s game, what earns riches for a Zdeno Chara or an Andrew Alberts deepened a fatal crater for the upset-minded Vermont, lacking any Providence-based wins in their young Hockey East membership.

On the power play, Ruff, who was shown an early door in Tuesday’s debacle for an overly caffeinated hit, was manning the play again. She withheld and practically self-cycled the puck for a moment before forwarding it to Rachel Crissy on the parallel point. Crissy made back-and-forth exchange with Feldman before thrusting the puck on net, at which point Ruff tipped it home.

Five minutes later, Normore, who had gone from starting the game at center between Ruff and Feldman to patrolling the far point, vacuumed a Vermont clearing attempt along the boards. With most every skater involved tilted at the far end, Normore’s only option was to throw it into the abandoned area in front. The only player there was Hendrickson, who after a delayed extraction from Olychuk and a delayed confirmation from the referee, roofed home the eventual clincher.

Later, with 8:15 remaining, Keilch eyed the puck as it went off of defender Brittany Simpson’s tape, into a forest of players and behind the cage. Keilch would stamp the play –and the game- by sneaking in the insurance marker through a wrap-around.

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