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Saturday, October 11, 2008

St. Lawrence 3, Women's Hockey 1

More absolvable sins
Deraney credits PK for minimal damage in loss

Within the final minute of the opening period last night, during an unusually lengthy stoppage of play, the old school Green Day hit “When I Come Around” was flowing out of the Schneider Arena loudspeakers.

Nothing inherently of interest about that, considering the virtual broken record that is the Friar hockey hitlist, but it is a particularly fitting tune for a team that still has everyone wondering when its aspirant volcanic offense will come around.

It did appear to surface in a bite-sized spurt during the climactic stages of the third period, at which point Providence trailed St. Lawrence, 2-0. And with a mere 1:22 to spare, a six-pack attack working for the Friars, and the Saints on just their third full-length penalty kill of the night, freshman forward Laura Veharanta raked in her second career goal to cut the deficit.

That’s as far as the deathbed alms-like rally went, though. St. Lawrence rebounded to insert an empty netter via Carson Duggan –who was also credited with the game clincher- and wrested a grittily executed 3-1 decision away from the Friars.

But the rally, virtually set off when Ashley Cottrell was allotted a penalty shot with 11:42 remaining and ultimately amounting to a 14-7 shooting edge in the closing frame, was indubitably half-full in the eyes of PC head coach Bob Deraney.

“Hey, we had the penalty shot and then we scored,” acknowledged Deraney, his post-game reactionary tone improving by the night despite his club bearing a 0-3 transcript. “I thought we played pretty good tonight. Obviously, I’m not happy with the final result, but I am happy about the fight we showed tonight.”

The Friars, who thrust a night’s total of 28 shots at Saints stopper Brittony Chartier while allowing the Cyclopean St. Lawrence strike force a reasonable 29 against Genevieve Lacasse, were free to flex their fight for the better part of the first and third periods. But those more sanguine stanzas sandwiched a choppy middle frame wherein the austere officiating crew wrote them five two-minute citations versus merely one to St. Lawrence.

More toe-curling was the personnel paying regular visits to the sin bin. Senior defender Erin Normore –whose holding infraction at the 6:38 mark of the first period lent a little facility to Tara Akstull’s icebreaker goal at 7:35- went off once more at 13:32 of the middle frame.

Forward Mari Pehkonen, a common PK employee in the young stages of this season, was flagged on one occasion per period. And crafty sophomore Amber Yung took two whistles in the second, granting the Saints a 5-on-3 advantage the first time and prompting a Friars timeout the second –whereupon PC had been called five times with still 5:25 to work with in the middle period. (At that point, Katy Beach was serving a two-minute sentence for interference, as was SLU’s Karell Emard, which meant a 4-on-3 setup in favor of the Saints.)

Yet through the virtually nonstop killing, the Friars reduced the Saints to a mere four power play shots (11-2 overall SLU advantage in the period) and Lacasse, not to mention the post on an Emard bid in the seventh minute, barred any conversions.

“I don’t think it was a hindrance,” said Deraney of the PK tempest, though it may be granted it bought the Saints welcome time to preserve their brittle lead. “It could have been a hindrance, but our penalty killing units were terrific and allowed it to continue to be a one-goal game going into the third period. I felt really good about our position tonight.”

But to start the third, St. Lawrence bent the Friars to near breaking point, finally augmenting their lead at 4:15. Courtney Sawchuk’s rebound, booted commandingly out of a congesting scrum by Lacasse, magnetically found Michelle Zimmermann on the far point. Zimmermann’s return shot pinballed off the twigs of Duggan, PC center Stephanie Morris, and the near post on its way home.

Over the final twelve minutes, the persistent Friars spiked a 10-2 lead in the shooting gallery, including Cottrell’s free whirl, which Chartier stoned with a simple sprawl and kick of her left skate.

The previous disproportion in penalties, incidentally, began to balance out against the Saints with less than five minutes to spare. A Sawchuk checking infraction at 15:25 only opened the door to one PC power play bid, but shortly after Lacasse was pulled with 2:22 left, Emard slashed Jennifer Freidman’s stick clear out of her hands as they pursued an iced puck behind the Friar cage.

Twenty-three ticks later, Arianna Rigano thrust the puck onto Chartier’s porch out of the near corner and let teammates Beach, Abby Gauthier, and Veharanta hack at it. Ultimately, Veharanta slipped it into the open right slab of the net.

So, that was one. But, naturally, more bountiful output is still in order.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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