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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hockey Log: PC Women sweep Niagara

Goose-egging on
PC Women redressed once more via road sweep

Puckbag-loads of winter break rust; a weekend on the road, where they hadn’t ventured in seven weeks altogether and boasted a cringing 1-4-2 record anyway; an opponent that had already thawed out its holiday freeze and looked to be nosing back in the right direction.

The Friars tapped aside all of those onerous elements –and maybe a few others- to at least make a straight first impression upon cracking out of their 2008 chrysalis. Giving retooled netminder Danielle Ciarletta one of her less sweaty weekends, and not shirking their duties at the other net, they clamped down back-to-back shutouts of the Niagara Purple Eagles, 3-0 and 4-0, and replenished a .500 (8-8-2) overall transcript –which they still have yet to surpass this season.

In any case, for their immediate benefit, the Friars dissolved a few of their standout paper-based glitches. They augmented their bushel of non-conference victories from two to four and swept a series in a foreign barn –where all this season, they had grabbed nothing better than a +1-goal differential- for the first time since they wiped Vermont in February 2006.

Ciarletta’s even had a little personal trivia on her side. Her first of what are now four collegiate goose-eggs came in last year’s only Friar-Purple Eagle get-together, a 27-save log on November 26, 2006 for the then back-up’s second PC win.

This time around, Ciarletta’s workload withered as the series progressed while her praetorian skaters renewed their substantial sprinkling of points that they had offered hints of during their pre-respite homestand. She resisted a trim offering of 10 shots in each of Friday’s first two periods (the middle frame saw a 10-5 Purple Eagle shooting edge as the Friars subsisted on a 1-0 lead) before tilting five in the third.

Conversely, Niagara starter Nikki Rudy caught a surprise early exit at 5:59 of the third when Katy Beach doubled PC’s lead, giving way to Jill Zelonis.

On Saturday, for the fourth time this season, Ciarletta answered a Martin Brodeur-sized workload of 15 shots, but made the personal revolutionary difference of not breaking from the cold –as she had in a few previous outings, some more costly than others.

The offense also followed through with a little more efficiency, fluffing their keeper’s pads with a more quickly commanding lead, so much so that Eagle coach Margot Page distributed playing time amongst all three of her dressed goalies. Rudy was thrown the towel after an exact 22:30, more than enough for PC to sculpt a 2-0 lead at intermission, as was Zelonis at the 4:50 mark of the third. Niagara’s last-in-line, Amanda Rowe’s, debut was but 2:10 young when Alyse Ruff solidified the 4-0 final.

Opportunities taken
With first-line fixture Mari Pehkonen sporting her Finnish colors overseas for the second time this season –this time at the Germany-hosted European Air Canada Cup- senior Danielle Tangredi was assigned to the starting left wing opposite Sarah Feldman and Katy Beach. Tangredi, with a mere three points (all goals) to her credit up to that point, pitched in a helper on Beach’s goal in Friday’s third period.

Further down the depth chart, two-way specialist Stephanie Morris assumed full duty as the fourth line center, allotting room for freshman backliner Leigh Riley to have her first taste of game action since Pehkonen’s previous sabbatical in November. Riley, charging up career games #9 and #10 on the weekend and remarkably still with a clean slate in terms of penalty minutes, honed her craft with Erin Normore by her side Friday and Brittany Simpson on Saturday.

Forward Jackie Duncan, meantime, took a seat after appearing in eight straight games while Pamela McDevitt took her usual spot as the second-line centerpiece between Ruff and Jean O’Neill. McDevitt fed off the fiery freshmen enough to crack her season-long scoring spell in Saturday’s affair when she and O’Neill collaborated deep in the zone to set up Rachel Crissy’s late first period blast.

Quick Feeds: Kathleen Smith, still the hottest scoring Friar with 7-9-16 totals, prolonged a five-game point streak through her seventh goal Friday and a two-pack of assists Saturday, her fifth multi-point show this season. Crissy and O’Neill snagged the same two-helper pack on Friday and Saturday respectively…Niagara’s runaway scoring leader –Ashley Riggs- was swapped with second line center Marie Linander-Henriksen for Saturday’s game after the latter Eagle rang up a team-best six shots on net Friday…Niagara is now scoreless in a grand total of 190:49 against PC…Senior Jenna Keilch and Normore became the sixth and seventh different Friar to pitch in the game-clinching goal this season. Only Cherie Hendrickson has been the decider twice...On Saturday, both Normore and Ruff were the first to break 10 in their respective specialties –assists and goals- this season…One of PC’s still noticeably arid columns is its power play. The Friars blew 11 advantages on 14 aggregate shots, including 11 over six chances Friday.

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