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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hockey Log

Sweep and sour
Third period rally a waste as PC men submit to Merrimack

Oh, how deceitful superficial looks can be.

The Friars, arid on the scoreboard all weekend and in a hair-pulling, mad-grunting 2-0 hole, suddenly seemed to have a rally-of-the-year candidate kindling in the third. Through strikes from Pierce Norton and Greg Collins at 6:17 and 8:37 respectively, all of the ingredients for a double-reversal were in place.

But the visiting Merrimack Warriors -victors in a 2-0 epic on Friday up at their place- regrouped, tripled the load of uncanny twists in the series, and mounted the vinegar in the Friars' glass. With 3:41 to spare in regulation, Matt Jones refreshed the lead and ultimately solidified a 3-2 final.

With the loss, the Friars have extended their profuse losing skid to three games, their worst muddle since starting the season at 0-4. This time around, though, this means scratching deep into the lower middle half of the league as the Hockey East lotter balls settle after another weekend of coast-wide guessing games.

PC had bustled through the infamous snowstorm to the Valley on Friday with partial claim to third place, proceeded to dump their routine rubber blizzard, then came back to campus to do it again. But an aggregate 89 whiffed attempts and two tooth-chippers later, they are now draped around fifth place opposite Northeastern -which due to an extra win has first dibs.

Meanwhile, through their first 100-some minutes of back-to-back, head-to-head action, Merrimack appeared to have regained their playoff pulse by usurping the Friars' offensive pulse. The reality was that they were letting goaltender Andrew Braithwaite work up a nice follow-up on what was the sweat of his life three weeks ago when he pushed away 50 PC stabs to forge a 1-1 tie.

By the third period of Saturday night's tilt at Schneider Arena, Braithwaite had carried over an unblemished 42-save transcript from Friday's win and zapped 34 shots through forty minutes.

Braithwaite's praetorian guards, whose most productive period in terms of perking up Friar stopper Tyler Sims was a 10-shot second period, berry-picked their first two strikes over the first two stanzas. Friday's hero, Rob Ricci, spared his mates the drama this time, pouncing on PC's first penalty kill for the icebreaker at 3:16 of the first -a period which otherwise saw an 18-5 shooting discrepancy in favor of Providence.

JC Robitaille squeezed out the pivotal 2-0 advantage at 4:13 of the middle frame.

BU women breathing: In the wake of Saturday's 3-0 falter to the regal New Hampshire, there would be no consolation from Commonwealth Avenue for the Friars. Boston University utilized its last dollop of life for a playoff spot to bump rival Boston College, 4-1, at Conte Forum Saturday night.

With that, the Terriers (9-9-1) nimbly avenged their mortifying 4-0 home loss from Friday and realigned themselves one point ahead of the Eagles (8-9-3) and three short of the third-place Friars (10-6-2).

Providence, though, does have a game in hand on both of the hard-grinding Hub Clubs and will make use of it Sunday afternoon up in Durham. A tie or win would in effect put the Friars five or six points up on the Eagles, next weekend's adversary, thereby ruling BC out of contention.

Otherwise, the potentially decisive dirty business will have to be done face-to-face next week.

Real Wild Cats: With their win over the Friars Saturday, the New Hampshire women locked away first place in the league. Only hours later did their male counterparts mutilate the distantly second-place BC, 5-1, to achieve the same feat in the men's conference. Meanwhile the Eagles, having absorbed a decisive sweep from the Wildcats, have submitted their #2 claim to the resurgent Vermont Catamounts.

New Hampshire 3, Women's Hockey 0

Winter blues strike Friars
Report based on CSTV's Gametracker service

Freeze the current circumstances of Skating Friar luck with New Hampshire, reel the clock back about five years while you're at it, and the navy-and-white sweaters with the UNH emblem may as well be pinstriped with an old-fashioned "NY" over the heart.

That goes for both genders, too, as the Tim Army Corps sucked up last week when they posted a 0-1-1 transcript against the Cats, though with a 5-4 scoring aggregate.

Saturday's 3-0 UNH women's triumph at Schneider Arena was just the newest example of the bullish Durham franchise's unceasing ability to tip the scale their way against their Rhode Island rivals. Not much different from the Curse Era imbalance between the Yankees and Red Sox, or for a still-living, ice-based example, the way the Montreal Canadiens practically have custody rights to the Bruins.

For the better part of the day, albeit by tooth-mark margins, the Friars did hold the upper hand in several key stats. They outshot the Wildcats 9-8 through twenty minutes and 21-19 through forty before the contestants ultimately forged a 27-27 draw in that category.

They out-disciplined New Hampshire by a near-mile, affording themselves a game total of seven power play chances versus four for the unusually ruffian Wildcats.

And they even outsmarted the Cats over the red dots, with a final face-off record of 34-31 tilting the Providence way. But one blue body they didn't outsmart in any realm was goaltender Kayley Herman, whose 27-save dolphin show and seventh career shutout included the denial of a dozen Providence power play stabs.

And as for the final frontier on the scoreboard, the supple equity was broken in New Hampshire favor within the seventeenth minute of the opening frame when both Sadie Wright-Ward and Steph Holmes struck for a steel 2-0 edge.

UNH didn't get much of a look at Friars stopper Danielle Ciarletta (24 saves) until about the halfway mark of that period, by which point PC held a 4-1 shooting command. The Cats sprinkled on two empty shots on their first power play before PC's Mari Pehkonen (team-leading six shots on the game) swung the play around and thrust a shorthanded attempt in the eleventh minute.

But moments later, the gritty Friars turned their back long enough to surrender the eventual decider and a partial burier in a matter of 25 seconds. At the 16:17 mark, point patroller Kacey Bellamy seized the remnants of Jennifer Hitchcock's rebound and handed it off to partner Martine Garland. Ciarletta handled Garland's bid, but left the rebound out for Wright-Ward to hammer home.

Off the next draw, the Wildcats fresh unit keenly broadened the abrasion with Jenn Wakefield setting up Holmes.

After her club owned the first nine minutes of the second period, sculpting a 6-1 shot difference in that span, New Hampshire's Angela Taylor bowed before PC through a boarding minor -the first of three Wildcat infractions in that period. All of a sudden, the floor was all Friar.

But Herman swallowed all three of PC's power play shots and duplicated that act on the next kill less than two minutes after Taylor's release.

With fifteen ticks till intermission, Sam Faber was flagged for cross-checking and Friar Jean O'Neill offered up one quick shot to whet the home appetite for an awakening carry-over into the third. But PC's twigs went dry for the rest of the attack and for the next one when Raylen Dziengelewski took an interference call at 1:50, a mere four seconds after Faber's jailbreak.

Fate offered the Friars a dessert dis after a body-checking minor to Sarah Feldman at 12:08 set up New Hampshire's fourth and final advantage. Garland would drill home a conversion and an effective dagger with 7:14 to spare.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hockey Log

PC, UNH women pose mutually revised tests

To say nothing has changed in the Providence-New Hampshire matchup, set to resurface at Schneider Arena this Saturday a month after their first meeting of the year, would only be minimally inaccurate.

The Friars (10-5-2) hold the elite distinction of being the lone Hockey East tenant to have usurped a point from the Big Blue Machine, having pulled off a 1-1 draw at the oft-infamous Lake Whittemore venue on January 19. That tie has been the lone punctuation mark in the 2nd-ranked Wildcats’ otherwise impeccable 16-0-1 blitz through the conference.

In that sense, there should now be a touch more assurance that this conference-founding rivalry still has enough kick for the Friars to feel like a kept cause.

One potential kicker, though: unlike the first chapter of the season series, the Wildcats can expect to have a full bench for this weekend’s home-and-home set. They were lacking the input of fiery freshman Courtney Birchard (6 goals, 10 points on the year) and sophomore sensation Kelly Paton (9 goals and 27 points).

Other than that, the roundly braced UNH has no call for upgrades. Five more of their puckslingers –Sam Faber, Sadie Wright-Ward, Jennifer Hitchcock, Jenn Wakefield, and Leah Craig- are all fastened on the league’s Top 10 list and a good breathing distance away from top Friar gun Kathleen Smith.

PC did lay out a sharp enough rubber-grater to dim that paranormal strike force last time, authorizing less than 10 shots per period and three in overtime for a game aggregate of 28. But the Wildcats countered with a bony 19 shots against and, when necessary, clung to the services of rookie goaltender Kayley Herman –who throughout her young career has let less get by her than an Oreck vacuum.

Since a December 7, 4-3, fang-chipper by Mercyhurst, New Hampshire has run up a twelve game unbeaten tear, not authorizing more than two goals per game. Herman has whiffed on a mere nine stabs over that span and taken credit for nine wins. And only recently, backup Lucy Schodel has granted her the occasional respite –and facilely picked up two goose-eggs of her own with a 6-0 thumping of Maine February 3 and 3-0 arrest of Vermont last Sunday.

What better baptism-by-fire for PC’s potential new hotline? On a here and now scale, the Friars are much more qualified for a share in the Wildcats’ first class car, streaking at 3-0 with a 17-6 scoring discrepancy. First line forwards Jean O’Neill, Alyse Ruff (Rookie of the Week for the third time this season), and Mari Pehkonen claim foremost responsibility for that with four, seven, and eight respective points.

Ruff (four points) and Pehkonen (five) are both fresh off career nights as part of an 8-3 overhaul of a feisty Northeastern team.

Another A-plus in discipline won’t hurt the Friars’ cause either. In their latest bout, the Cats’ only strike on Providence keeper Danielle Ciarletta –which crash-landed a Friar lead after only 2:44 of action late in the first period- was a byproduct of their first of two power plays. The Friars, meanwhile, were only a player up once about the halfway mark when UNH was flagged for too many players.

Quick Feeds: Nibbling on the single point from their last get-together, the Friars should be salivating for the full package, having lost their last four home dates with UNH. Last season, PC relinquished a 3-1 decision January 27 and absorbing a 7-0 lashing February 11. Their last win over the Wildcats was a 5-1 final on January 29, 2005…Earlier this week, PC’s season-ending trip to Boston College, initially slated for Sunday, March 2, was rescheduled for 2:00 on February 29. Men’s head coach Tim Army will be speaking at a Greater Boston Alumni Club dinner before his pupils battle the Eagles that same evening. All reports indicate that the women’s revision was sheer coincidence...Part II of the New Hampshire series will commence at Whittemore Center 2:00 Sunday.

Hockey Log

Friars keen on Merrimack do-over

Labels, schmabels, the Merrimack Warriors are tenaciously communicating through their helmet cages.

Only twenty days removed from their previous excursion to the Valley, the Friars will again lock twigs with the Warriors in a home-and-home pair this weekend, starting Friday at 7 up at Lawler Arena. In that previous fixture, the conventionally plebeian Merrimack –or, most precisely, goaltender Andrew Braithwaite- did just as the college hockey Romans have done of late.

Braithwaite swallowed 50 Providence shots –a personal best in his career, not unlike Michigan’s Billy Sauer back in December or New Hampshire’s Kevin Regan just last weekend- and in effect allowed his mates to wrest a point away from the bouncy Friars through a 1-1 tie.

Granted, the Warriors (4-15-2) are confined to the cellar of Hockey East at the moment and are without a glowing two-point package in their last seven conference games (0-6-1). Those columns alone are apt to say that after Merrimack achieved its fourth conference win back on January 11 –thereby stamping its most fulfilling bushel in a generation of players- the other skate has promptly dropped.

Not so, Friars coach Tim Army is first to admit as he takes his crew back up for another go-around at Braithwaite and Co.

“They play very hard, very well,” he acknowledged. “Look at their scores last weekend up in Vermont. They’re playing everybody tough. They work real hard. They’ve still got a chance to make the playoffs, so there’s obviously a lot at stake for them, so they’re gonna be alert.”

After all, these guys have the Hockey East emblem pasted on the upper left side of their sweaters just as much as their fellow coastal competitors. And the never-dying “anybody’s game” designation of this season means everybody.

The Warriors have no NHL draftees and only one senior in Derek Pallardy to speak of. Little more than 29 points from Rob Ricci and 13 goals from Matt Jones has cultivated substantial scoring for them. But as PC learned in bittersweet fashion, on a hefty diet of Braithwaite’s determined chin-standing and a collective eye for opposing holes, they have kept themselves in the reckonable realm.

“We had 50-plus shots against them and gave up only 18, so we did a lot of good things,” granted Army. “I think as we go into this weekend, we’ve gotta maintain discipline. They have some really talented players. We can’t give them unnecessary opportunities on their power play.”

In their three games sandwiched by Friar bouts, one a home date with Northeastern and the other two a venture to Vermont, Merrimack has only mustered four goals. But three of those were authorized on man advantages. Two weeks ago, the Huskies –eventual 4-2 victors- had sculpted a 3-0 advantage through forty minutes, only to let the Warriors shrivel that to 3-2 on two power play strikes in a span of 55 seconds.

PC (10-7-4) limited the Warriors to two fragmented power plays, both incidents occurring in the second period, in their previous meeting. Merrimack’s Matt Moulakeis had zapped the first opportunity when he took an interference flag while Matt Taormina shortened the Friars’ fourth and final power play of the night with a holding infraction.

Which brings up another matter that Army hopes to see sharpened on his side.

“I would expect more of the same from what we saw a couple of weeks ago,” he said of the matchup, “but we could be more efficient on our power play.

“Our power play’s gotta cash in against them. We did not capitalize on our power play last time. We had the 1-0 lead and we had an opportunity to extend the lead on a power play and we didn’t get it done, so our power play has gotta be alert.”

In the first period of the February 2 draw, Merrimack’s discipline bowed only 32 seconds after Kyle MacKinnon broke the ice for the Friars. But that opportunity, as well as a luscious carry-over into the middle frame dissolved.

And even on a general scale, Army added, the Friars could slow down their habitual sugar rushing in the attacking zone. The Category 5 shot count last time, he suggested, may have been slightly padded by some empty calories when more rebounds and settled puck movement could have been useful.

“We could do a better job of getting some traffic to the net and looking for those secondary opportunities that we maybe didn’t get in quite the same volume that we should have the first time around.”

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hockey Log

PC Men in a fit of congestion

“Staying on task” is Army’s simple regimen

Those darn Cats scratched them yet again. But upon stepping away from their latest venture to the oft-treacherous Whittemore Center and resuming their weekly fostering, the Friars took more consolation than from, say, the infamous two-game 10-0 aggregate that zapped their season last year.

When all the ink dried from last weekend’s home-and-home series, Providence had outshot New Hampshire by counts of 53-29 and 40-37. They charged up a 1-1 draw on their own campus and followed through by keeping pace with the Wildcats until 5:30 remained in Saturday’s clash. Only then did heat gun bearer Pierce Norton –who had already posted two goals- take an untimely five-minute hitting from behind call, allowing the host to stamp a 4-3 win.

“When you outshoot a team like New Hampshire, 53-29, you’re doing a lot of good things,” granted head coach Tim Army, adding that even after Wildcat Mike Radja’s all but definite decider with exactly three minutes to spare, his own strike force kept poking at chin-standing goaltender Kevin Regan.

“We certainly played our best game in New Hampshire since we’ve been a coaching staff and we came up one goal short and that five-minute major was the difference. But up to that point, the body of our game was good. So I don’t look at how many points we garnered on the weekend. It’s more important how we played.”

As far as data is concerned, though, the Friars made enough use of the one point from Friday’s fixture to at least withhold their partial claim to the uppermost frame of the Hockey East standings. At 10-7-4, they are in a knot with the pushy Northeastern Huskies for third place.

And, to its credit, PC’s performance was enough to remain unmoved from its #14 slot in the national polls –though, coincidentally, they now share that slot with the same Northeastern team.

More to the point concerning pressing league affairs, the Friars are officially admitted to post-season action next month given that up to 12 more points are allotted and there is a 13-knob discrepancy between them and 9th-place Maine. On the flip side, the league-wide boa constrictor coil has swelled a tad more. Both Boston University –which abolished the Black Bears in two OT contests over the weekend- and Vermont are but one point behind.

“It’s that time of the year when it’s really tight. There’s so much at stake right now,” said Army, his tone and expression reflecting a sense of shake-your-head, near-speechless amazement. “The competitive element between any two teams is very tight and everybody’s jockeying for a position.

“Two points are so valuable and that’s what changes in February from October. Everybody’s awareness is so intense and the teams are so closely matched.”

If possible, Army and his students are currently more aware of the parity (what a marathon that word’s been through along the Hockey East coast this season) than any of their conference cohabitants. Of PC’s last six games (2-2-2) two have been a draw, the other four have been one-goal differentials. Three –the two ties and a 4-3 overhaul of the Catamounts February 9- have required a bonus round.

All this even with a routinely decisive imbalance in the shooting gallery –a category now proven to be sometimes trivial- which the Friars have won in all of their last 18 games dating back to the weekend prior Thanksgiving.

“Certainly, getting a lead and trying to extend that lead to two, maybe three goals is critical –if you can do it,” said Army. “We did it against Vermont the second night,” referring to that eventual 4-3 triumph. “But what happened to us that night? We got another major penalty and that opened the door to get it to 3-2. So if you can build that lead, you’ve gotta stay on task.”

Quick Feeds: PC’s 20th shot on net at the end of Friday’s first period was the team’s 1,000th overall this season. The only other Hockey East team to have broken that plateau so far is Boston University –which did it Saturday. Top gun Jon Rheault alone is responsible for 145 of those Friar stabs…The Friars blew out the Wildcats in terms of face-offs, 46-25, in Friday’s tie, led by John Cavanagh’s 20-6 record at the red dots…17 of the Friars 18 skaters had at least one shot on net Friday…Freshman forward Jordan Kremyr etched his first collegiate goal Saturday…A home-and-home set with Merrimack begins in North Andover on Friday and turns back to Schneider Arena on Saturday. Both games are slated for 7:00 face-offs.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Hockey Log

A fab four points for PC Women

Going into the third period Sunday against Northeastern, there was at least mild cause for fret amongst Friar fans. The visiting Huskies flaunted a rabid flare not unlike what they had employed in their previous visit to campus in November when they turned their frustration from a 0-6-1 start on PC in the form of a rocky 5-4 knockout.

This time around, Northeastern was in a 1-7-1 spin lowlighted by a 4th place finish in the Beanpot and freshly augmented by a decisive 4-0 Providence win on Saturday. The Huskies proceeded to close in and shrivel a 3-1 PC lead to 3-3 after forty minutes.

But the Friars, who just a week earlier had survived a similar scare against Connecticut in a not-so-funny dramatized fashion, this time popped open one of their most carbonated racks of ammo this season. A five-goal outburst paced them to an 8-3 final –their best single-game output of the season- and augmented their winning streak to three games.

Not unlike their male counterparts, PC’s Skating Sorority has a habit of hefty shot counts in the works. But this sweep of the Huskies was the first time that they reaped substantial rewards, namely twelve connections on an aggregate 89 stabs at goaltender Leah Sulyma.

Even while still working around a depth chart cavity left by a still-healing Rachel Crissy, Providence saw a season-best nine out of seventeen skaters brush the scoresheet Saturday and ten on Sunday.

And minus the few Northeastern outbursts, Friar stopper Danielle Ciarletta, who rang up her fourth shutout of the season Saturday, had more manageable workloads –not so heavy that the force blew her over and not so light that she would be caught hibernating at the worst possible moment.

It didn’t hurt Ciarletta, either, that in the clutch stages of the game, her skaters were fending off the opposition by way of stick-on-puck, not vicious stick-on-body, defense.

The Friars took a comparatively slim four minor penalties per game while pouncing on two key Husky hiccups in Sunday’s eruption.

They did all that towards their first two-game sweep since victimizing Maine in early December and after two cringe-inducing failures to do the same to Vermont and Boston University.

And just for a dollop of Hershey’s syrup, PC –breathing plentifully at third in the conference with a 10-5-2 record- has amassed three votes in the latest national polls and is the top unranked team staring up at #10 Dartmouth.

Ruff getting more helpful: Freshman center Alyse Ruff indubitably reiterated her radiant goal-scoring establishment in Sunday’s third period eruption. But with an assist on Kathleen Smith’s strike, she has now penned herself on the scoresheet as a playmaker in three consecutive outings and four of her last six.

Previously, leading up to a 4-3 tip-over of Boston University on January 31, Ruff was on a pure diet of 10 goals in her first 24 games on the Divine Campus. Swinging into the New Year, her blade went numb for a stretch as she and classmate Jean O’Neill adjusted with new linemate Mari Pehkonen.

But ever since that BU bout, the unit has made a habit of spinning heads deep in the attacking zone and combined for 24 points over six games.

Additionally, Ruff’s hat trick pole-vaulted her into a tie with Smith for the team lead with 14 strikes this season.

Reflective Reach: One period after the traditional “Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer” check presentation, PC rolled out its carpet for another ceremony –this one pertaining to the coincidental Athletic Hall of Fame Weekend.

Seven players and two coaches –none other than fresh Hall honoree John Marchetti and timeless goaltending professor Bob Bellemore- of the 1992-93 ECAC champion squad were presented with commemorative plaques to mark the 15th anniversary of their four-year title reign.

Quick Feeds: In her 100th collegiate game Saturday, defender Erin Normore charged up a personal career outing by way of a playmaker hat trick. The seasoned two-way connoisseur now boasts a team-leading 15 helpers on the year and a career total of 60 points –three quarters of those in the form of effective set-ups…Sunday was the fifth time this season that the Friars have mustered a win after allowing the first goal…the Friars won 48 out of 70 face-offs Sunday…On a weekend that already featured the use of pink sticks and skate laces for “Skating Strides,” four Friars –Colleen Martin, Leigh Riley, Mari Pehkonen, and Brittany Simpson- went all out by swirling a strip of pink athletic tape around their shins.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Women's Hockey 8, Northeastern 3

Persistent Friars too Ruff for Huskies

Pretty in pink? The wall decorations and warm-up jerseys signifying the annual “Skating Strides” fundraiser sure were. Between the boards, especially from a Friars’ standpoint, that description took time to materialize.

The Northeastern Huskies’ productive grit, which went into hiding deep beneath the Matthews Arena ice in Saturday’s half of this home-and-home series –a 4-0 PC victory- resurfaced Sunday at Schneider Arena. After spotting the initial lead in the third minute of play, the Huskies offered up an aftershock late in the second, erasing a 3-1 deficit to send things into intermission knotted 3-3.

But in that closing period, the Friars’ starting line of Alyse Ruff, Mari Pehkonen, and Jean O’Neill suddenly spiked to a degree hotter than any hot pink, Husky red, or Friar white. Ruff –who earlier had endured two penalty calls and recompensed by drawing a power play that morphed into a second period goal- kindled a hat trick, the second of her young PC career, all within the final fifteen minutes.

When the ice chips had settled, Ruff had four points, O’Neill two, and Pehkonen five. And the Friars had stamped a sound 8-3 victory.

Much like Saturday’s visit to the Hub, Providence steadily sculpted a telling shot differential (final count 45-19), but needed a while before it mollified rookie goaltender Leah Sulyma. Sulyma’s skaters, meantime, cashed in on slivers of scoring opportunities to start up a back-and-forth game.

At 2:05 of the opening frame, defender Katy Applin spooned a long-range feed from her own end to forward Colleen Sanborn. Sanborn broke loose down the near alley and lobbed the Huskies’ first shot of the game top shelf.

Not long after came a stretch of mutually sluggish, hot potato exchanges of the puck and tireless whistle activity on referee Jim McKenna’s part. McKenna would issue three penalties to each side in the first period alone, wherein only 10:54 of playing time saw 5-on-5 action.

In the fourteenth minute, the PC bench was itching to wave a challenge flag when Ruff became entangled with Northeastern’s Lindsay Berman off a draw, yet was the only party with a ticket to the box. Nonetheless, the Friars converted their energy in a matter of twenty seconds, tying things up in a 4-on-4 sequence as Sarah Feldman dropped a slippery rebound on the porch for Katy Beach to bury home.

Only one power play was distributed in the middle frame when Erin Real slashed a puck-carrying Ruff in neutral ice.

By the 6:02 mark, Pehkonen had slithered a breakout feed from Brittany Simpson from end-to-end and nailed a backhander from the slot for a go-ahead conversion.

Later, with less than six minutes to spare, Danielle Tangredi picked off Northeastern’s Nikki Petrich behind her own cage and thrust a quick bid at Sulyma. Feldman, getting up from a freak collision with Beach, appeared at the opposite post to jam home the rebound for a 3-1 edge.

But the Huskies perked right back up, slicing that lead within 17 seconds on another nimble rush polished off by Ali Bielawski.

Four minutes later, a would-be Northeastern icing ran out of gas as it approached the Friar goal line. Kristi Kehoe pounced on it in the far corner and shipped it across to linemate Chelsey Jones, who swiped it into a gaping right frame of the cage.

Come the third period, though, it would be the Huskies losing stock in their tanks. Once again, they took an early penalty (tripping call on Petrich at 3:03), and once again the Friars utilized. In the dying seconds of their power play, Pehkonen assumed control of the biscuit and shuffled to the net out of the near corner. Ruff was there along the left post to tip in the eventual clincher and commence the definitive landslide.

At 8:12, the line of the hour was at it again, this time Ruff looping around the cage and offering a bid to defender Kathleen Smith. Smith went out of her way to Sulyma’s porch and clipped home an effective one-timer.

Between the 15:15 and 17:14 marks, Ruff sealed her icebreaking day on two nimble nailers. The first took only two seconds as she roofed a feed from O’Neill right off a draw in the near circle. Then, on a neutral zone face-off, her linemates toured the puck into attacking territory and set her up in the slot.

Enough? Maybe for the new fiery trinity. But in the final minute, fellow rookie Amber Yung solidified the 8-3 final, accepting a diagonal feed from Stephanie Morris and drilling a low rider in from the center point.