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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mercyhurst 3, Women's Hockey 0

Rude awakening slams Friars
Scribe's Note: This report is based on CSTV's Gametracker service

A wake-up call well taken on one bench, despite taking its time to translate materially, cut off the stirring surge on the other.

One day after slapping the revered Mercyhurst Lakers with a 7-3 upshot –the visitors’ most egregious defensive drawback this season- the Friars were blanked for the first time on home ice this season, 3-0, in Part II of their last non-conference series in 2007-08. With two-thirds of their Hockey East slate still to come, they will settle for a 5-7-1 transcript in interleague action.

Laker goaltender Laura Hosier neutralized 32 shots from a Friar strike force whose skates were hardly touching the ice to start the New Year (14 goals in 3 prior games) while Danielle Ciarletta warded off her first 40 shots faced before Natalie Payne struck at 8:19 of the third period, effectively sparking a glacial meltdown for Providence.

Uncannily, Ciarletta would finish with 44 saves, one knob shy of a personal record set against these same Lakers in another bittersweet falter last season. Meanwhile, power play paralysis -14 empty shots over 9 opportunities, including two 5-on-3 stretches- stalled the Friars before Mercyhurst finally found Ciarletta’s passage code.

To start Sunday’s affair, the caged, malnourished beast that was Mercyhurst’s stratospheric scoring force reeled right out in an effort to rinse out the vinegar they tasted on Saturday. Partially bolstered by two early PC penalties, the Lakers ran up a 6-0 shot advantage within the first 2:28 of play and unleashed another two stabs before the 5-minute mark, only to see Ciarletta swallow it all.

When the Providence skaters finally pulled together and clamped down some action of their own, Mercyhurst’s discipline detonated. Within seconds of Cherie Hendrickson’s opening test of Hosier, Kristen Erickson was flagged for body-checking at 8:01, the first of four consecutive Laker infractions before the first intermission. Mercyhurst was whistled thrice more between the 14:27 and 17:12 marks.

The Friars kindled power play firestorms of three shots on their first whirl, another four on their second, and an additional two during a late ninety-four second five-on-three sequence, eventually forging a more even shooting gallery of 14-12, Mercyhurst favor, at the first buzzer. But Hosier and Ciarletta, both more than verified in their previous experience against one another’s clubs, stuck to their roots to keep things scoreless.

The middle frame took on an identical pattern to its immediate predecessor with Mercyhurst thrusting five power play shots within the first eight minutes. Later, around the halfway mark of the game, the incendiary unit of Meghan Agosta, Valerie Chouinard (game total 10 shots apiece), and Stephanie Jones, took four registered whacks at Ciarletta in one uninterrupted sequence.

But the Lakers’ restraint ran wild once more in the latter portion of the period, committing another four successive fouls in a span of 5:09. With 4:07 on the clock, only three seconds after she was released from a holding minor, Danielle Ayearst went right back off for tripping and was joined by teammate Cassea Schols (hooking) 31 seconds later.

Providence mustered three cyclonic stabs on their second two-player advantage of the game, but adjourned to the dressing still 0-0.

In the closing frame, Mercyhurst began to break away more in the shooting gallery (18-9 advantage) and hit the board when Sherilyn Fraser retrieved Erickson’s face-off win and handed it off to Payne up front, who buried the eventual winner with a suddenly slim 11:41 to spare.

Adding to the Friars’ extra-man futility, the Lakers padded on their first dollop of insurance 12 seconds into their ninth penalty kill. Swiping the disc from Sarah Feldman off the draw, the first-line centerpiece Chouinard left a rebound for Jones to tuck through.

Schols whooshed home an empty netter with 1:07 remaining to finalize the 3-0 knockout.

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