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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Women's Hockey 5, Connecticut 3

PC subsists on early stash
Jumpstart offense, pushy PK sets up close shave win

To start Sunday’s contest, the Friars made indebted use of the UConn Huskies startling dormancy, which they had failed to do in Part I of this home-and-home series, sculpting a commanding 4-1 edge before the halfway mark.

But after Connecticut fused its defensive borders –just as it did in the decisive third period of Saturday’s 3-0 Friar falter- and wrinkled the score to 4-3 at intermission, Providence was forced to play a scrappier letters game. That is, the PK brought its A-game for the W, finalized as 5-3 courtesy Alyse Ruff’s empty netter in the final minute.

Including a carry-over cross-checking sentence to Erin Normore, the Friars hampered four Husky power play sessions, reducing their radiant adversaries to a cumulative four shots at goaltender Danielle Ciarletta (14 saves) and no equalizer.

Minus the unremitting whistle activity, Sunday’s third period was the least tempestuous with only a 6-5 shot on net differential in favor of UConn. To start in the opening frame, the seething Friars sprinkled a gradual flurry at goaltender Brittany Wilson and would lead the shooting gallery 16-0 within eighteen minutes of action.

Wilson (25 saves) –fresh off another successful act of Friar Restraint on Saturday, which included an impeccable fourteen-save second period- snapped and surrendered her first goal to PC in all three meetings this season at 12:59. Forward Jean O’Neill, withholding the puck in the near corner for a lengthy stretch, finally thrust it out to Mari Pehkonen on the porch of the crease.

Wilson pushed away Pehkonen’s initial bid, only to see the feisty Finn vacuum the rebound and flick it home from a gritty crouching position.

Less than five minutes later, PC made it 2-0 by converting their second power play of the day. Kathleen Smith absorbed a feed from point partner Brittany Simpson, circumvented a kneeling penalty killer Michelle Binning, and roofed a wrister through a screen from the right circle top.

It would still be another 29 ticks before the Huskies finally registered a stab at Ciarletta, though it was little more than a well-aimed dump-in by Jaclyn Hawkins that the goaltender inched out to play and clear.

But when PC’s Jenna Keilch was flagged with a two-minute sentence that carried over into the middle frame, UConn chipped out of its offensive chrysalis. Catching up to a near-side clearing attempt, point patroller Samantha Reid looped a feed to Amy Hollstein, who batted home the conversion at 0:23.

The Huskies took their own turn in the box just a minute later, however, and the Friars sustained the momentum in attacking territory long enough to broaden their lead at the 3:50 mark. Pamela McDevitt nudged her face-off win back to Cherie Hendrickson at the right circle-top. Hendrickson missed on her first attempt, but shuffled a few steps forward to reunite with the puck and snipe a bar-down rebound.

Within another five minutes, Connecticut’s Cristin Allen earned her third citation of the game for elbowing Simpson. And for the second time, she would helplessly watch the Providence strike force capitalize.

Simpson wasted no time shipping a lateral feed from Smith down to Ruff along the right post. Ruff settled the play for a moment before handing it off in front to O’Neill, who nimbly buried the eventual game-clincher.

By that point, when there was still 11:31 to spare in the period, the Friars were up 22-5 in terms of shots. But as was the case 24 hours previous on the UConn campus, the Huskies reduced their limited time offer at a glacial rate while booting up their efforts on Ciarletta’s property. In doing so, they drew power play after power play and converted twice to close the gap to 4-3.

In the thirteenth minute, top gun Dominique Thibault took charge of a regrouping session, touring the puck from end-to-end on her own and dishing a backhand pass for Reid to tap in on a one-timer.

With 2:12 till intermission, Brittany Murphy dropped a rebound from the slot for Nicole Tritter to slip in.

When those ice chips had settled, Connecticut had outshot the Friars, 10-9, for that tempestuous stanza. But on the fresh and final sheet, even through a favorable 4-on-3 stretch of 1:36 and a total of 6:43 work of power play time, the Huskies were reduced primarily to chasing PC poke checks, pick-offs, and clearances.


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