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Monday, January 5, 2009

Women's Hockey 4, Cornell 3

Friars resolve Red scare
Report based on ICS Live Stats

Ithaca, N.Y.- In the small moments of the New Year, a few old patterns still look to be lingering in the Friars’ gamely regimen. Customarily, the 2008-09 PC women have partnered with a night’s given adversary and filled most every game’s grande cup to the full 60-minute (or more) brim with scalding competitive intensity; whether that be in rally time, duck-and-cover-the-net time, or tip-the-scale-on-that-tie time.

And in the climactic phases of yesterday’s first of two late-weekend matinee drop-ins on Cornell, they were again flirting with a narrow goal differential –in this case, a 4-3 upper hand concocted back in a tempestuous second period. And within the final four-and-a-half minutes of regulation, a tripping penalty to defender Colleen Martin incited the briefly idled Big Red offense for a nearly continuous, four-shot power play swarm.

But goaltender Danielle Ciarletta, who was summoned in the second period to put out Genevieve Lacasse’s uncharacteristic fire, refused to default. And within 31 seconds of Martin’s jailbreak, Providence picked up a handy clock killer with 2:02 to spare, drawing a checking citation against Cornell defender Amber Moore. From there, they swiftly cemented an epic 4-3 triumph, wherein they abolished a 3-0 deficit in the second period, then warded off a second tide of the dogged Big Red offense in the closing frame.

The mutual allotment of goals and the eventual goaltending swaps on both benches were about the only jutting deviations from the norm. PC and the opposition had not combined for five-plus goals since the Robert Morris series over the first full weekend of November.

To start yesterday’s tussle, the excruciating numbness amongst the scoring brigade skulked and slunk down to bite the long all-but-infallible cage custodian, Lacasse.

Lacasse, who still has yet to authorize more than three goals in a 60-minute time frame over her first 14 collegiate ventures, already had a threesome of flecks on merely nine shots faced within the sixteenth minute of yesterday’s first period.

Meanwhile, the Friars’ frost-bitten offense saw eight of its first 11 shot attempts snuffed before they could come within playing distance of Cornell stopper Jenny Niesluchowski. Another bid, discharged by Alyse Ruff mere seconds after the Big Red drew first blood, wiped off the post and scampered away from a threatening position.

Swift conversions on the part of Catherine White (at the 3:45 mark), Laura Danforth (10:32), and Ashley Duffy (15:33) pole-vaulted Cornell to a gaping 3-0 advantage. Friars’ head coach Bob Deraney unhesitatingly forked out the overcooked freshman goalie, but remarkably witnessed an equally prompt reversal of momentum.

Ciarletta would push away all of 22 shots faced and her skating associates perked up to make their first incision a mere 17 ticks after Duffy’s goal. Katy Beach inserted her club’s icebreaker with 4:10 till intermission and the power play thawed well enough to charge up three registered stabs on its first of three opportunities before the first buzzer.

The Friars assertively gushed through the second period, running up a 17-10 lead in the shooting gallery after each team had afforded 11 shots in the first, utterly fettering the Red on the period’s only full-length power play, and whittling steadily into the lead. After initially shaking a carry-over penalty to Jennifer Friedman, they wrinkled the deficit to 3-2 via Ruff at 2:18.

Niesluchowski (14 saves) would last but another 3:16 of play before she gave way to Kayla Strong at the 5:34 mark. Strong ran unblemished for a little under 10 minutes, partially owing to a shortage of shooting activity, but was in turn softened by a back-and-forth tempest within the 14th minute that saw her kick out four shots, her teammates block another two, and Ciarletta swallow three on two visits by the Big Red.

On the other end of the long-time-coming draw, Abby Gauthier caught up with Beach’s face-off win and pulled PC even, 3-3. Thirty-one ticks later, Ashley Cottrell planted the eventual clincher for PC at 15:29, granting linemate Laura Veharanta her second helper on the day.

PC spilled its sugar rush over to the young minutes of the third before Cornell perked back up to distribute ten unanswered SOG. The Friars would bust that fast via Erin Normore and Ruff over their last-minute, rally-squashing power play.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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