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Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Hampshire 3, Women's Hockey 0

Winter blues strike Friars
Report based on CSTV's Gametracker service

Freeze the current circumstances of Skating Friar luck with New Hampshire, reel the clock back about five years while you're at it, and the navy-and-white sweaters with the UNH emblem may as well be pinstriped with an old-fashioned "NY" over the heart.

That goes for both genders, too, as the Tim Army Corps sucked up last week when they posted a 0-1-1 transcript against the Cats, though with a 5-4 scoring aggregate.

Saturday's 3-0 UNH women's triumph at Schneider Arena was just the newest example of the bullish Durham franchise's unceasing ability to tip the scale their way against their Rhode Island rivals. Not much different from the Curse Era imbalance between the Yankees and Red Sox, or for a still-living, ice-based example, the way the Montreal Canadiens practically have custody rights to the Bruins.

For the better part of the day, albeit by tooth-mark margins, the Friars did hold the upper hand in several key stats. They outshot the Wildcats 9-8 through twenty minutes and 21-19 through forty before the contestants ultimately forged a 27-27 draw in that category.

They out-disciplined New Hampshire by a near-mile, affording themselves a game total of seven power play chances versus four for the unusually ruffian Wildcats.

And they even outsmarted the Cats over the red dots, with a final face-off record of 34-31 tilting the Providence way. But one blue body they didn't outsmart in any realm was goaltender Kayley Herman, whose 27-save dolphin show and seventh career shutout included the denial of a dozen Providence power play stabs.

And as for the final frontier on the scoreboard, the supple equity was broken in New Hampshire favor within the seventeenth minute of the opening frame when both Sadie Wright-Ward and Steph Holmes struck for a steel 2-0 edge.

UNH didn't get much of a look at Friars stopper Danielle Ciarletta (24 saves) until about the halfway mark of that period, by which point PC held a 4-1 shooting command. The Cats sprinkled on two empty shots on their first power play before PC's Mari Pehkonen (team-leading six shots on the game) swung the play around and thrust a shorthanded attempt in the eleventh minute.

But moments later, the gritty Friars turned their back long enough to surrender the eventual decider and a partial burier in a matter of 25 seconds. At the 16:17 mark, point patroller Kacey Bellamy seized the remnants of Jennifer Hitchcock's rebound and handed it off to partner Martine Garland. Ciarletta handled Garland's bid, but left the rebound out for Wright-Ward to hammer home.

Off the next draw, the Wildcats fresh unit keenly broadened the abrasion with Jenn Wakefield setting up Holmes.

After her club owned the first nine minutes of the second period, sculpting a 6-1 shot difference in that span, New Hampshire's Angela Taylor bowed before PC through a boarding minor -the first of three Wildcat infractions in that period. All of a sudden, the floor was all Friar.

But Herman swallowed all three of PC's power play shots and duplicated that act on the next kill less than two minutes after Taylor's release.

With fifteen ticks till intermission, Sam Faber was flagged for cross-checking and Friar Jean O'Neill offered up one quick shot to whet the home appetite for an awakening carry-over into the third. But PC's twigs went dry for the rest of the attack and for the next one when Raylen Dziengelewski took an interference call at 1:50, a mere four seconds after Faber's jailbreak.

Fate offered the Friars a dessert dis after a body-checking minor to Sarah Feldman at 12:08 set up New Hampshire's fourth and final advantage. Garland would drill home a conversion and an effective dagger with 7:14 to spare.

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