PC Women look to build on turnaround
The PC women entered last Sunday’s home date with Connecticut on the heels of having their canines chipped in two anguishing far-between losses to the Huskies on Saturday and a 3-1 submission to Boston University –their first loss to the Terriers in franchise history- one week previous. They walked out of it with a fresh lease on their bite.
By the third period of their Saturday visit to Storrs, after they had fervently run up a 20-9 shooting edge in the initial forty minutes, their blades went utterly numb. And, as a consequence, the season-long ranked Huskies cracked open a 3-0 lead and exiled starting goaltender Danielle Ciarletta from her crease in a matter of four-and-a-half minutes.
When that 3-0 data turned to stone, the Friars appeared in danger of doing the same –not to mention losing a distressing hunk of ground behind their Southern New England rivals in the Hockey East standings.
Fast forward to this practice week, and Providence is breathing smoothly again, and even nibbling on an honorable mention vote in the USCHO polls, as it sharpens up for the forthcoming home-and-home pair with the other Huskies –Northeastern. The Friars earned that right by converting their energy and turning it right back on UConn in an epic 5-3 home victory on Sunday.
Less than twenty-four hours after the potent Huskies confined them to a single shot in the decisive third period, the Friars simply flipped-flopped the roles to start Part II at Schneider, charging up a 16-1 shooting edge and 2-0 lead. By the time UConn woke up salivating, Providence proved ready for a balanced arm wrestling bout with the team that had outscored them 8-0 in two visits to Freitas Ice Forum this season.
And, for a change, these traditional Hockey East front-runners were kindling a balanced showdown again. The Friars –bolstered heavily by two-point baggers Alyse Ruff, Mari Pehkonen, and Brittany Simpson- held up well enough to stamp UConn –which received multi-point outputs from Brittany Murphy and Samantha Reid- with its first L since December 7 against the newly crowned Beanpot champion Harvard.
More to the point, the third-place Providence (8-5-2) is back within three points of Connecticut and is next turning its attention to the only conference cohabitant that they have yet to reap any riches from –Northeastern. These two have not met since November 6, when the Hub Huskies treated the Friars to an earthquake of a home opener. They staved off a 30-9 shot onslaught through two periods before leading the gallery 16-5 in the third and pinning a 5-4 win.
Northeastern has since rung up a 5-9-1 transcript and is placed sixth in the league –although, only almighty New Hampshire has overrun them by more than three goals at any point this season.
Roster Refills: Senior forward Jenna Keilch –who was kept out of the BU visit by a shoulder injury sustained two nights previous- was quick to return to action for the Connecticut series, though she was confined to only one shot per game.
Classmate Rachel Crissy, hampered by knee trouble for nearly a month now, has at least progressed well beyond use of crutches. It remains blurry as to whether or not she will be available come Saturday’s trek to Boston, but if she were, both she and Keilch would be on pace to play career game #125 in the home half on Sunday.
Quick Feeds: With her goal in last Sunday’s victory, #13 on the year, hot-bladed senior defender Kathleen Smith matched her freshman-through-junior aggregate…Two power play goals on Sunday ended a five-game spell wherein the Friars cultivated zilch on 29 opportunities…The new top line of Pehkonen, Ruff, and Jean O’Neill has now combined for five points as a unit twice in their last four games. O’Neill also picked up her first game-winner Sunday…All Hockey East games this weekend will be highlighted by the league’s second annual observance of “Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer.” Additionally, the Friars plan to give away 500 Skating Friar Potato Heads, just as their male counterparts did January 26, at Sunday’s 2:00 tilt on campus.