Coming back together
Friars stay buckled, tame Tigers
When his pupils went into yesterday’s second intermission carrying a brittle 1-0 edge and still nearly half of a five-minute, all-you-can-score buffet courtesy of a hitting-from-behind major to Princeton defender Rose Alleva, PC head coach Bob Deraney opted to screen the Zamboni in the dressing room. Namely, the choice between the specter of squandering the juicy combination of a fresh sheet and interminable power play or cashing in for a bonus breath of momentum.
“You don’t want to talk about that because what happens is, if you don’t score, now all of a sudden, it takes on a different meaning,” Deraney said.
The urge to repel any pressure only heightened at 1:58 of the third period, when Abby Gauthier’s power play goal was placed under review to confirm it was not converted on a high-stick.
While referees Bill Doiron and Robert Tisi made the crucial call upstairs, Deraney huddled his entire team at the bench.
“I said to them, no matter what happens, if they call the goal back, it doesn’t matter, just continue to compete and that’s what I was most proud of. For 60 minutes, we were able to compete as hard as we did from start to finish. Much different than last night.”
As it happened, the goal stood, granting the Friars a 2-0 lead. And in the 18:02 of clock time that remained, they paced themselves to an assertive 4-0 triumph at Schneider Arena, rapidly redeeming Friday’s fall-from-ahead, 3-2 loss to Rensselaer.
“It was really nice because we all played together this game,” said Gauthier, credited with her second goal in as many nights. “(On Friday), we were playing really individualistic. Today we played together, and my goal came from all my teammates. It just shows you can’t do it alone.”
Some of the common themes from the Friars’ previous three weekends back on display after Friday’s hiatus: a few power play strikes, one or two double-digit shot bushels in a single period, a point for at least one member of each full forward line, and a final margin of three goals or more.
“It was really good,” said goaltender Genevieve Lacasse, who charged up a game total 35 saves for her 11th college shutout.
“We played great defense. All over the ice, we were really quick. First period, we dominated. We just started off way better than (Friday). (Friday’s) game wasn’t us at all. Today we came out and showed who we really were.”
After a relatively uneventful first period, characterized chiefly by minimal penalty calling and a digestible flurry of 16 shots at Princeton stopper Cassie Seguin (40 saves), the Tigers turned around and stirred the better half of the offense through most of the middle frame.
But the Friars, bolstered by Lacasse’s 17-save performance, constantly salted the ice for their opponents. All but one of Princeton’s four second period power plays, including a rich 1:57 carry-over from the opening frame, was terminated prematurely by an infraction of their own. That slippery slew climaxed in the five-minute sentence to Alleva, drawn by Kate Bacon as she went to retrieve the remnants of her shorthanded bid.
“I guess it was just a momentum builder,” said center Ashley Cottrell. “We always talk about keeping our feet moving, using our speed to our advantage, and if we use our speed, take them wide. That draws penalties and it always works to our advantage.”
Amidst the cunning power play chopping spree, all five skating Friars touched the puck en route to their icebreaker at 6:24 of the second. Christie Jensen made the moving breakout feed from in front of her net to fellow blueliner Jen Friedman. Venturing up the far lane, Friedman found Laura Veharanta, who carried the disc into Princeton territory and left a drop pass for Corinne Buie, whose shot was guided into the opposite corner of the cage by Cottrell’s tip.
Once Gauthier broadened the lead by swatting home Bacon’s bloop shot from the opposite post, Providence increasingly flustered the Tigers. Within 40 seconds of Gauthier’s goal, Krystyna Bellasario was whistled for a blunt checking infraction, having blown both mitts in the face of Nicole Anderson in the near corner of the Friars zone.
Less than six minutes later, successive tripping and checking minors to Sally Butler and Paula Romanchuk gave PC a 32-second 5-on-3 segment. With 19 seconds left in Romanchuk’s sentence, Anderson won a face-off back to Lauren Covell, who fed her point partner Friedman for a blast over Seguin’s trapper, making it 3-0 with 10:08 to spare.
When 3:29 remained, a fresh-out-the-box Jessie Vella finalized the 4-0 upshot when she absorbed Cottrell’s pass along the near wall and strolled in to bury an empty netter.
“Obviously, we were hoping that we had learned a lesson from (Friday’s) game and I think we did,” said Deraney. “We played well from offense to defense to where our goaltending was superb to our special teams where our power play scored two goals, which is terrific, and we obviously shut them down on the penalty kill. It was a total team effort.”
Al Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org