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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Women's Hockey 3, Boston University 3

Nick of tie
PC women blow late lead, lose in SO

BOSTON- Hankering an opportunity to reiterate the old adage concerning a third whirl-around, the Friars, this time, all but had their Saturday afternoon beans ready for feasting at Walter Brown Arena yesterday.

PC, staring down its third Boston-based adversary in as many Saturday afternoons, had cultivated a 3-2 lead over Boston University courtesy Mari Pehkonen early in the third period. They proceeded to dramatically shield that lead by means of letting the Terriers heave 18 shots at goaltender Danielle Ciarletta in the final 15 minutes, and letting Ciarletta handle them all.

That is, until there were eleven ticks to spare, with BU on the power play and their stopper Allyse Wilcox (19 saves) perched on the bench in favor of a six-pack attack. In a scarring manner fraternally reminiscent of her 1-0 letdown at Northeastern two weeks back, Ciarletta (35 saves) defaulted on the last regulation shot she faced, letting the Terriers’ top gun Gina Kearns knot things up, 3-3, and force a bonus round.

And in a fashion reaching the same spiritual effect of last week’s 3-1 drawback versus Boston College, the Friars –albeit with a single point to take home for their regulation tie efforts- ultimately faltered in a shootout, 3-2, Erin Seman whipping home the decider for BU in the fourth round.

En route to the half-full finish, Ciarletta was a no-duh cornerstone in neutralizing the Terriers’ breakout firestorm and retaining the parity where it mattered. Heading into the closing frame, in which they logged a 19-4 romp in the shooting gallery, Boston had a slimmer 18-17 edge in that category.

A predictably air hockey-paced first period featured ten saves apiece for the contesting goaltenders, four registered stabs by the Friars Finnish flare –grinding all-out through her last collegiate contest before she took immediate leave to join the Suomi Skating Sorority at the Four Nations Cup- three others by Kearns, and a balanced, generous offering of power plays.

The medium-sized bushels of shots were all but a direct attribute to the three penalties assessed to each side. Providence leveled seven of its first eleven shots over power plays, two of which were slightly cut into by infractions of their own. The Terriers similarly charged up five attempts in their first two 5-on-4 segments.

Ciarletta stood out in the latter stages of the period upon withstanding a four-shot salvo while Erin Normore served a two-minute sentence for body-checking.

Less than five minutes later, with BU’s Amanda Shaw off for hooking, the Friars converted on their lone full-length power play of the period with precisely one minute to work with till intermission. Point patrollers Normore and Brittany Simpson collaborated in setting up freshman Kate Bacon.

Even with Pehkonen flagged for tripping 23 seconds after the icebreaker, and a resultant savory 83 seconds worth of fresh-sheet power play time to commence the middle frame, the BU brigade suddenly went numb for a stretch, affording no shots on Ciarletta while PC logged six blocks.

But once Katy Beach took her second interference call of the day at 12:51, the Terriers finally popped open their long-bottled carbonation and vented two goals in a matter of 58 to usurp the lead. Unlike the taxing tempest from about the same point in the first period, Ciarletta could only withstand three out of four consecutive stabs, culminating in Jillian Kirchner batting home Sarah Russell’s rebound at 13:43.

On the following play, first-line winger Lauren Cherewyk inserted a feed from Anderson to spark a 2-1 Boston edge.

But it hardly took another three minutes for a reverse reversal. Jenelle Kohanchuk went off for hooking at 16:18, granting the Friars their fifth power play of the night. The numerical advantage was enhanced to 5-on-3 when Russell was flagged for high sticking at 17:16, and the Terriers’ scoreboard advantage disintegrated at 17:40 via radiant rookie Laura Veharanta, who now has nine points in as many career games at the Divine Campus.

Veharanta and Pehkonen –the Providence half of four two-point recitals yesterday, opposite Anderson and Kearns- traded roles to renew the lead at 5:32 of the third. But the Friars would be allotted an infinitesimal two more hacks –one later in the third and one in the bite-sized overtime period- at depositing the full two-point package.

The rest of the bittersweet ride was underlined by five individual penalties, including two 5-on-3 instances and one uninterrupted, 5:13 string of shorthanded labor.

PC, which clicked on two of six total power plays, saw its PK frequency bloat from six to 11 in the stretch drive. And twelve of BU’s last 18 whacks at Ciarletta were on one power play or another.

Remarkably, all those shots were in vain –until the cusp of the buzzer.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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