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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Women's Hockey 5, Brown 2

First period over-Stock bolsters Friars

Mayor’s Cup game victory most decisive this season

Not so long ago, when Nextel was a signature NHL sponsor, the persuasive tagline for its innovative communication system was “Bad things happen when you don’t get through.”

More often than they please, hockey teams will have a night where they are harshly reminded as to how applicable that is to sports. You chip and chip, but don’t beat the goalie, landing yourself in a statistically empty, distressing situation.

The Providence College women’s team has endured plenty of that in some recent excursions, but on Saturday, opening a six game homestand against Brown University, they finally piled up a salvo hot enough to overwhelm opposing goaltender Nicole Stock and pilot them to a 5-2 victory.

As a coincidental token to their now-you’re-clicking performance, the Friars nabbed the Mayor’s Cup, recompensing last year’s loss across town and improving to 4-7-2 all-time in that annual event.

More to the point at hand, though, they exhibited distinctive command of the game from start to finish for the first time this season and whitewashed a bitter pill three-game skid highlighted by failure to crumble Dartmouth and Ohio State’s goaltending garrisons.

This time, Stock withstood PC’s first thirteen stabs, all amassed within the first seven minutes of action, eleven of them unanswered, nine of them spaced out over near-successive power plays. At the peak of that second Brown penalty kill, though, she finally subsided, allowing the Friars to draw first blood in a game for the first time since their October 30 visit to Boston College, when they compressed another jagged stretch.

At 6:39, right point patroller Erin Normore hauled in Rachel Crissy’s feed and whisked a shot off of Stock’s right boot. Cherie Hendrickson, monitoring the backdoor, nimbly buried home the icebreaker on the rebound.

The Bears were allotted their first power play circa the halfway mark of the opening frame, but thrust diddlysquat at PC stopper Danielle Ciarletta and relinquished their final 12 ticks when defender Samantha Stortini went off for body-checking at 11:45.

Moments later, the Friars essentially curtained their first period tempest (20 shots total) with another elaborate conversion. Forwards Katy Beach, Sarah Feldman, and Mari Pehknonen all prodded for the puck off a far-lane face-off before Pekhnonen forwarded it to blueliner Brittany Simpson. Simpson shipped it across to associate Kathleen Smith, who leveled a straightaway slapper over the southpaw Stock’s trapper mitt.

Another Brown advantage via Feldman’s tripping infraction carried over to the middle frame, but so did PC’s gunslinging bonanza. A minute removed from polishing the penalty kill, Stephanie Morris toured the puck through the near corner of the offensive zone, whereupon the stickwork of two Bears had referee Bill Doiran all prepared to write Brown yet another citation.

Instead, Morris pressed forward and managed to toss the puck out into the slot, where receiver Danielle Tangredi flicked it upstairs for a 3-0 Friar edge at 1:12.

Brown’s own strike force, which had mustered a sparse seven shots in the first twenty minutes, thawed out well enough to hit the board at 10:38. A couple of hot potato tap exchanges in the middle of Providence territory was finally settled when Brown’s Maggie Suprey found linemate Nicole Brown open in front. Brown wasted no time chipping the disc upstairs to put the Bears on the board.

But it only took the Friars 84 ticks to retort. Stock let the puck loose after handling a Feldman bid from the left circle only to see Amber Yung vacuum it up in the same vicinity. Yung handed things over to Beach, who zapped a low flying wrister in off the far post.

Yet another carry-over power play effectively invited the Bears back into the game early in the third. On an immediate dump-in, the visitors got the better part of some still soft ice as Hayley Moore managed to drop a feed back to Jenny Cedorchuk, who reeled home a slapper to the left of Ciarletta at 0:23.

Brown subsequently contributed to a dead-even closing frame, which saw ten shots per side, but it was the other Ocean State tenant’s turn to have their grinding efforts eclipsed. Providence stood its ground and finalized the score in the final minute of action.

In a prompt rush off a neutral ice draw, freshman Alyse Ruff, whose hot hand had tapered off as part of last week’s team hex, collected classmate Jackie Duncan’s feed in the slot and zapped home her sixth tally of the season and Duncan’s first collegiate point.

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