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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Women's Hockey 5, New Hampshire 0

Trend re-setters
Constant Cat scratches halted by Friars

Report based on Gametracker

This most up-to-date edition of the Providence College women’s hockey team has had a way of keenly clutching poised-to-pop firecrackers. They have been dangerously drama-maniacal.

Some game days, they have snatched a quick teaspoon of tangible, visible momentum, and then appeared to step back to let it take its preferred course. If not that, then they have let their ice slim to a high-wire state of matter before proceeding to salvage a close shave or take a nasty nick to their track record –not to mention, their spirits.

And ever since the middle of 2005, when UNH Blue settled in and sturdily became the new PC Black under the Hockey East championship banner, the Friars have had a way of repeatedly succumbing to the region’s incumbent sovereign entity. Their most recent history with the Wildcats: a winless stretch of 0-11-2 dating back to January 30, 2005.

In one grand sweep of a massive accumulation of Zamboni snow, they purged all of those nagging tidbits yesterday, stamping an authoritative 5-0 victory –their broadest margin of triumph to date- at Schneider Arena.

And in eerie symbolism of their intent to reverse the WHEA’s two-way road all over again, new blood paved the way –goaltender Genevieve Lacasse charging up a 42-save shutout and four freshman skaters brushing the scoresheet over the team’s first three strikes. From there, they exploited New Hampshire’s notoriously short bench in drawing a late rash of penalties and sprinkling a few insurance goals.

The Wildcats’ excruciating deconstruction in the dusk of the third period smoothly sealed a day that began with their head-spinning use of Rockstar, which translated to a tempest that dislodged most everyone in their path but Lacasse.

Bolstered by a presto pair of Friar penalties –Katy Beach doing time for holding at 1:01 and Kate Bacon garnering a hooking citation at 2:48- the Wildcats rabidly ran up a 9-0 shot differential within the first five minutes of action. Owing in part to another Bacon infraction –cross-checking at 15:06- UNH cultivated another four power play stabs and owned the shooting gallery, 19-8, at intermission.

The early shooting imbalance aside, Lacasse was not mollified at nearly the same rate as the lapis lazuli –Kayley Herman- in the countering cage. Herman, who authorized all of two Providence strikes over four encounters in her Lacasse-like rookie campaign, squinted at 10:15 when her own PK brigade was serving its only shift of duty on the period.

Fifty-two seconds after top line centerpiece Kelly Paton sat down as penance for hooking, a pair of other Friar freshman collaborated for the pounce. Playmaker Ashley Cottrell set up point patroller Jennifer Friedman for her first collegiate goal and third point altogether.

The Friars made haste to enact a little more restraint on the unflagging UNH buzz and would ultimately take command of the shooting gallery in the tempestuous middle frame by a 16-12 difference. Lacasse kept making like herself –pushing away all of 12 registered stabs- while her mates shook off another penalty kill and dabbed another blemish on Herman’s transcript at 7:56 courtesy captain Brittany Simpson, allotting themselves a 2-0 upper hand through forty. It was their first multi-goal edge since they tipped over Connecticut here on November 16.

New Hampshire had one radiant calling to pierce their way back into the game when PC’s Christie Jensen was flagged for body-checking at 4:16 of the third. Instead, after a three-shot, go-nowhere sugar rush, a flustered Jenn Wakefield used her heat gun to hack a Friar, zapping the power play at age 26 seconds.

Bacon augmented the lead to 3-0 at 9:16, and the Wildcats discipline –already the shabbiest in the league- continued to melt. With Wakefield boxed again and precisely six minutes to spare, Mari Pehkonen converted fellow Finn Veharanta and classmate Erin Normore’s set-up.

PC may have exercised its resuscitated power play a seventh time within the final two minutes, if not for Beach slugging home the finale amidst the delayed call. Instead, it settled for exorcising its most telling demon of the current collegiate generation.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

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