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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Women's Hockey 4, Maine 1

Quick fix
Friars clear early bump to pin Black Bears

Report based on Gametracker

Orono, Maine- Thriving slickly on a newfangled 3-1 edge near the dusk of the second period, the patient Friars finally afforded themselves a chance to exploit the Maine Black Bears’ feeble penalty kill.

With 5:34 remaining in the stanza, Jordan Colliton took her team’s first whistle of the night for holding and PC, which had already run up a 12-4 edge in the way of registered shots since coming onto a new sheet, peppered goaltender Genevieve Turgeon (31 saves) with four more until Colliton’s jailbreak.

Turgeon later withstood another three stabs while teammate Jenna Ouelette served a two-minute sentence for body-checking that carried over to the third. But when the Bears hiccupped once more at 3:40 –through another hitting infraction with Jennie Gallo held liable- the Friars’ strike force swiftly delivered the dagger.

Within a mere twenty seconds of the next face-off, Laura Veharanta and captain Brittany Simpson had collaborated to set up Mari Pehkonen for her first intercollegiate tally in a month, cementing a 4-1 victory at Alfond Arena that took a considerably short two hours and one minute to complete.

Nagged by a moderate bout of mononucleosis since she returned to campus from the Four Nations Cup in early November, Pehkonen had left her appearance of game time readiness up in the air during the practice week. But she would take a chance on donning the Friar attire for first time in five weeks, link up on the first line with Erin Normore and Kate Bacon, and connect on her lone shot of the evening.

Symbolically, Pehkonen seemed to zap the last of her not-too-distant illness memories whilst making the Black Bears forget a time, from about two periods prior, where they were sprinkling hints of pure command on last night’s scoresheet.

For the better part of the opening frame, the puck switched possessive teams in pigskin-length intervals. After Jean O’Neill spotted a fleeting one-shot deal for the Friars on her first shift of the game, Genevieve Lacasse (27 saves) got her gamely torture test in the form of about one-and-one-half of a near-continuous penalty kill.

Over the Friar bench’s too-many-players infraction, called at 4:09, and Kate Bacon’s tripping citation at 6:30, Maine’s power play, tops in the league to recompense their cellar-dwelling PK, a cumulative nine unanswered power play shots at Lacasse in a matter of three minutes. The crease custodian finally bent on that ninth lashing at 7:18 when Vanessa Vani, Maine’s top point-getter and solitary skating senior, converted a feed from winger Jennie Gallo.

Their wake-up call in clear and their discipline back intact, Providence proceeded to pay a lengthy return visit to the Black Bears’ estate, rapidly wrinkling the 10-1 shooting gallery deficit to 10-7 while Turgeon forced frequent whistles.

The Friars did nothing more than subtly soften Turgeon up for the moment. But when they rushed in again with just over five minutes till intermission, they punched in an equalizer courtesy Jackie Duncan and the aid of Colleen Martin –who heaved an uncharacteristic six shots of her own.

From there on in, every new entry within the scoresheet smiled upon PC. Veharanta, who has suddenly been more given to playmaking of late with assists on two of Alyse Ruff’s clutch goals and another pair of helpers last night, tallied for the first time in five outings at 0:28 of the second, granting the Friars a first time 2-1 edge.

Twelve minutes later, centerpiece Ashley Cottrell deviated her normal role of playmaking to accept Veharanta’s export and stash away her second goal of the season to enhance that lead to 3-1.

Veharanta thus charged up a breakthrough first three-point outing in her booming young college career and bulked up her team-leading scoring transcript to 11-6-17 over 16 games. And by carrying out the deciding strike singlehandedly, she knotted herself with Ruff with three game clinchers apiece on the season.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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