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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Women's Hockey 4, Maine 0

Monday December 3, 2007

Early pounces pave win for Friars

A slim 3:40 had left the first period playing clock before the Maine Black Bears had inscribed four unfavorable entries on the scoresheet.

Precisely thirty ticks removed from slipping behind the Friars, 2-0, Maine forward Abby Barton overdid her counterattack, plowing right into goaltender Danielle Ciarletta’s face and receiving a two-minute penalty box sentence. Off the subsequent draw, Vanessa Vani blew PC’s Katy Beach to the ice, allotting the already flying Friars a whopping 1:56 of 5-on-3 play.

Though Providence did not add any layers to their lead right away, or for the rest of the period, they clamped down and ultimately squeezed out a 4-0 triumph, the team’s first shutout of the season, for a sweep of the Black Bears and a four-for-four transcript over consecutive home weekends.

The Friars have effectively boosted themselves to a 4-2-1 conference transcript, and will have another two-thirds of their Hockey East schedule still waiting in the cooler after New Year’s. The blunderstruck Black Bears, meantime, are still without a win in the last two months.

Maine did not simply succumb to their early lesions by any means. However badly shagged out she may have been from her second heaviest sweat of the season twenty-four hours previous, Genevieve Turgeon got the starting nod for the Black Bears again Sunday, and her defensive corps held the Friars off much better than on Saturday (36 total shots faced). Furthermore, the visiting skaters unhesitatingly reached out when they had their chances against Ciarletta, including two lengthy two-player stretches of their own.

But Ciarletta, making her eighth consecutive start, stood firm to withstand a total distribution of twenty-three shots, more than half of those coming in a heated first period, and earn her second career shutout as a Friar.

Before she needed to answer any urgent calls, though, Ciarletta watched her incessantly gelling praetorians nab the immediate upper hand. At 2:07, Sarah Feldman and Kelli Doolin were forking for the Friars in the near corner of the offensive zone before Feldman assumed full control and zipped the puck out to defender Erin Normore.

Normore, with eight helpers heading into the game but no goals of her own to speak off, hatched that G-column goose egg by leveling a straightaway slapper in through a screen.

One minute later, just as the PA description of the previous conversion was wrapping up, another healthily offensive-minded blueliner, Kathleen Smith, made it 2-0 when she looped the biscuit around the near post and stuffing in her first of two goals on the day.

Maine was pushed back a little more by the aforementioned jitter-induced penalties, but Turgeon tilted away all three PC power play shots. In the latter half of the period, the Black Bears seized their own scoring chances and effectively held the puck down at the other end of the rink.

Within the final four minutes before intermission, PC’s Mari Pehkonen and Doolin had both been whistled, resulting in 1:48 worth of a 5-on-3 kill. But while Maine closed the shooting gallery gap from 13-6 to 13-12 Ciarletta withstood all of the head-spinning.

Four minutes into the second period, the Friars’ starting line, which has curiously been letting its nine striking associates take most of the credit, teamed up to make it 3-0. Pehkonen journeyed from the far alley of the zone behind the Black Bear cage and forwarded a short range feed to Feldman.

Feldman in turn left a drop pass for Katy Beach and then turned a counterclockwise semi-circle into the slot, waiting for Beach’s return feed, which she absorbed and wristed high to the left of Turgeon.

Maine only managed four stabs at Ciarletta through the middle frame, but reloaded its desperate gun rack for the third, logging a total of nine. The Friars, meanwhile, sprinkled on another fourteen at Turgeon and used an early power play to solidify the eventual score.

Exactly one minute after Lexi Hoffmeyer went off for making contact to Pehkonen’s head on an open-ice check, Smith accepted Jean O’Neill’s shipment from the behind the net, wandered from the near circle top to the opposite post, and flicked one home top shelf.

The Black Bears earned another prolonged 5-on-3 stretch, a total of 91 seconds, within the final five minutes of regulation, but managed merely two shots and were repeatedly forced to regroup over PC clearances.

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