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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Women's Hockey 7, Maine 2

Re-Freshing running

Rookie trio pilots Friars past Maine

Bucking trends has been all the rage for the PC women’s hockey team since they settled down on campus for a between-the-breaks six game homestand. Previously looking in need of a hot dish of offense from the neighborhood shelter, they have now exponentially heightened their output in three successive games, and naturally kilned a first-time winning streak in the process.

For the latest installment, the Friars followed a trinity of young blood towards decisively imploding the seemingly unbreakable habit of taking the Maine Black Bears into overtime.

Freshmen Alyse Ruff (hat trick), Jean O’Neill (one goal, two assists) and Amber Yung (3 assists) assumed control to overhaul the equally invincible-looking netminder Genevieve Turgeon towards a 7-2 triumph. The three new heat-gun bearers accounted for 16 of 64 total shots at Turgeon, only two shy of a season-high for the Maine workhorse

Prior to the weekend visit to Schneider Arena, Turgeon was an unmistakable lone star for an abysmally struggling Black Bear team. For all intents and purposes, she remained true to form Saturday, but this time around 57 saves did not cut it for media recognition. The game’s three star honors were wholly usurped by the host team’s radiant rookie trinity.

From the tail end of the 2005-06 campaign, when current PC senior Danielle Tangredi was studying and skating in Orono, to this season’s opener at Alfond Arena, the contesting teams had required a bonus round in five consecutive get-togethers.

Most recently, in their only visit to Orono this year, Providence had kindled a hefty twenty-shot first period and a 2-0 edge before the tables slowly and smoothly turned, allowing the Bears to pull even.

Times have changed. Within the first twenty minutes of Saturday’s clash, Turgeon had already endured twenty-three stabs and, as she has all season, made it clear that the Friars would need to snag an ice pick and sturdy pair of spiky boots to tackle her peak.

Ruff took it upon herself to take that wager, though, inserting the game’s first two goals on tirelessly executed crashes to the net.

With 2:17 remaining in the opening frame, during a lengthy power play swarm, playmaker Erin Normore tapped the puck to her point partner Yung, whose subsequent shot chipped off Turgeon’s stick. Ruff, eyeing the far post, collected the fugitive rebound, after her classmate and second-line centerpiece Jackie Duncan bobbled it in front, and buried it behind Turgeon.

Less than five minutes into the second period, on yet another extra-player sequence, Yung whipped up another dead-on bid from the straightaway point. And yet again, Turgeon failed to get a grip on it and watched the stealthy Ruff slide in on her knees and tap a roller home for the 2-0 Friar lead.

Not long after, the heroic blue-clad glacier officially reached her rapid meltdown motif. Shortly before the halfway mark of the game, O’Neill, despite prolonging a shift, tracked down the puck along the far outer hash marks a shipped a smooth diagonal feed to Yung. She then darted to the cage in anticipation of a rebound, which she poked behind Turgeon before Katy Beach stepped up for an easy tip-in.

A while later, with 8:28 left in the middle stanza, O’Neill was at it again, sizzling after Ruff’s two-on-one wide attempt, collecting it at the far side, and shuffling to the face-off circle, where she whooshed a low rider into the opposite corner of the cage.

Off the subsequent draw, the impoverished Black Bears finally clicked on one of their opportunities as Jenna Ouelette neutralized a heavy traffic scrum and set up Abby Barton, sending Maine back to their dressing room down 4-1.

At 5:57 of the third, however, Ruff completed her night, monitoring another slippery rebound, this one off the stick of Colleen Martin. With a handful of attacking and defending bodies tilted to the far side, where a genuflecting Turgeon was trying to freeze the play, Ruff nimbly extracted and curled the disc into the vacant half of the net.

Less than three minutes later, PC threw out another power play conversion through Brittany Simpson, who wandered into the slot to import a zipping Mari Pehkonen’s offering and flick it high to the right of Turgeon.

Maine did manage to strike the cold mesh that Danielle Ciarletta (16 saves) had been patrolling with 4:15 to go. Jennie Gallo zipped out of a scrum along the near boards and shoveled home a face-to-face backhand conversion.

But the Black Bears were granted no further access after that, and Cherie Hendrickson solidified the 7-2 final with 1:48 on the clock, polishing off another chaotic buzz in Turgeon’s territory and tucking in the remains of a Rachel Crissy shot.

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