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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yale 2, Women's Hockey 1 (OT)

Friars feel Yale-ment again
Report based on Gametracker

New Haven, Conn.- Howser giveth and Howser taketh away.

They like their hosts taking a tantalizing pace to thaw out after three-plus weeks free of game action, the Friars yesterday initially nursed a brittle 1-0 lead, planted at 3:26 of the second period while Yale’s top gun Crysti Howser was incarcerated for hooking.

But upon failing to stock up any additional support while goaltender Genevieve Lacasse stared down on a snowballing frequency of stabs in her area, they ultimately paid in the form of watching Howser & Friends jet off in a torrent of triumph. Merely fourteen seconds into a bonus round made possible by a third period power play conversion, Howser deposited her team-best 11th goal of the season on her team-leading seventh registered stab on the day, granting the Bulldogs a 2-1 triumph at Ingalls Rink.

The structural and sequential parallels between yesterday’s fall-from-ahead misadventure and the previous convergence of these programs at Schneider Arena were unnerving and unwelcoming from a Friartown viewpoint. Providence had, just as they did on December 6 of last year, slit a not-so-catastrophic wound on a team perennially eclipsed by their ECAC superiors (Dartmouth, Harvard, St. Lawrence) and subsequently authorized a Yale comeback, effectively spilling another pair of invisible, but vital, nonconference points.

A substantially shorthanded Yale bench –restricted yesterday to merely 10 strikers and 5 blueliners- did nothing to fetter the home team in an arm wrestling match between Lacasse (34 saves) and Jackee Snikeris (26 saves). The Bulldogs rate of scoring chances only accelerated as time pressed on.

Although, through the opening frame, a previously laser-beamed defense that had allotted the opposition no more than 21 shots in each of its last four games prior the break gave out to let the Friars discharged 13 SOG in the first period. But Snikeris, who would improve herself to 4-3-0 and has now allowed a shallow 15 goals in seven starts, didn’t budge and her praetorian guards made a jutting contribution by confining the PC power play to one shot over its first two unanswered opportunities.

But at 3:01 of the middle frame, not long after Lacasse had neutralized a five-shot sugar rush on the Bulldogs’ part, Howser’s infraction granted the Friars a third 5-on-4 sequence. Within precisely 25 seconds, the acetylene Laura Veharanta recovered her reliable touch to convert a setup by Ashley Cottrell and Erin Normore –who each earned their 10th helper on the year.

So the most radiant Friars from Part I of the season were back, if only for a one-shot splash. And the radiant rookie Lacasse kept firm at her post even while Yale pulled ahead in the shooting gallery, upgrading their bushel of stabs from eight in the first period to a cumulative 23 after forty minutes.

But PC’s pleasantly unblemished discipline fizzled in the wee minutes of the third, granting the Bulldogs its first power play at 0:43 (Christie Jensen going off for obstruction hooking) and second at 5:12 (Stephanie Morris flagged for roughing).

Lacasse’s skating quartet of penalty killers, not unlike the one before Snikeris in a previous stretch, stifled the bulk of Yale’s power play onslaught, blocking two shots and turning three wide in each PK sequence. The stopper herself needed to deal with but three bids.

But that third swing fell with a table-turning vengeance, senior forward Maggie Westfal thrusting home teammate point patroller Heather Grant’s soapy rebound to draw a 1-1 knot with 13:02 to spare in regulation.

The Friars, whose offensive output slimmed from 13 opening frame shots to an aggregate 13 over the latter two periods, went numb over one last power play of their own. Veharanta saw her solitary PP bid blocked while the Bulldogs spotted a pair of far-between shorthanded hacks at Lacasse.

Those ominous implications over the momentum translated smoothly into a blink-long overtime, where Howser –who last season assisted on classmate Carry Resor’s tiebreaker in Yale’s first program victory on the Divine Campus- polished this one off firsthand.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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