Saturday, November 17, 2007

Men's Hockey 2, UMass-Lowell 2

The increasingly evident parity in Hockey East, conspicuous by its absence most everywhere else in the conference Friday, was at its finest at Schneider Arena. The Providence College Friars, riding the smooth, pleasurable waves of a decisive sweep of Maine last weekend, were insidiously entangled by the of late masters of sister-smooching, UMass-Lowell.

As it happened, the Riverhawks, who already have both conjured up and endured compelling rallies this season, kept an inch behind the Friars and ultimately drew a 2-2 knot.
Incidentally, the most striking early season trends on both benches were to remain untouched. The sophomore-dominated Riverhawks, whose roster makes that of PC look like post-grads, kilned their third consecutive tie and have now earned all four of their conference points through 65-minute games. Then again, the Friars also have the hefty statistical, as well as spiritual leadership, of their petite upperclasses to thank for that mature comparison.
That didn’t change either. Junior Pierce Norton, the decider in last Saturday’s 1-0 pinning of the Black Bears, supplied both Providence goals Friday and received credited assistance from three classmates.
Come what may, Friar coach Tim Army’s presupposition of a “very competitive” game was validated as contesting goaltenders Tyler Sims of PC and Carter Hutton of Lowell faced their small, medium, and large workloads towards a roughly even final shot count of 35-29 in favor of the Hawks.
For all that rapid, boiling chemical activity between the boards, discipline was yet another striking feature in Friday’s contest, which was somewhat of a pity to the Friars since Army had made special teams the prime whetting post in the much more settled down preceding week of practice. Providence would only be sentenced to two minors on the whole night, Lowell one, and neither was flagged at any point beyond the second period.
Nevertheless, the Friars made meticulous, and as would be proven, pivotal use of their single man advantage late in the opening frame, breaking the ice on their one and only power play shot. The team’s of late heat gun boaster, Matt Taormina, withheld the puck at the brim of the attacking zone before sliding it to blueline associate Cody Wild by the near boards. Wild made a broad semi-circle stroll to the parallel post and lobbed a feed in front for Norton to one-time to the right of Hutton at 13:16.
In the middle frame, the Riverhawks uncorked their jolted bottles, and then some, running away with a shooting edge of 18-5 and getting just enough of their willpower’s worth to pull even and in effect solidify the final score.
Less than two minutes in, a PC turnover perked up Mark Roebothan and Mike Potacco, two-thirds of Lowell’s infinitesimal junior class. In a quick and easy, model two-on-one, Potacco set up Roebothan for a near-side sizzler through Sims.
Before tapering off for the remainder of the period, however, Norton renewed the Friar lead in another five minutes, also cashing in on a bobbled play in the other end. Linemate Kyle Laughlin, whose own hot streak had been ironically frozen to its core up in Maine, charged the disc into Riverhawk territory and tapped it to Norton on the far side. With Hutton oozing out of his crease to challenge, Norton nimbly curled the biscuit on his backhand and reeled it in behind Hutton’s back.
But not long after that did the Riverhawks reach full flight and before the halfway mark of regulation, they had made it 2-2. On a slippery swarm with most everybody tilted to the far alley, a duo of sophomores -defender Nick Schaus and forward Nick Holmstrom, managed to set up rookie Patrick Cey in the slot. Cey’s ice-kisser zipped home to the left of a scrunched-up Sims.
“They’re a year older, and a year more comfortable with playing at this level,” acknowledged Army of the opposing crop. “They certainly are a very good team, a year removed from a real learning year. I think they’ve really carried that growth into this year.”
Upon killing a carry-over charging penalty to co-captain Jon Rheault, the Friars reversed the roles of tempest for most of the third period. They also revived the trend from the younger minutes of the first period, constricting the Riverhawks to habitual icing.
During a potentially decisive fifteen-minute stretch, Providence commanded the shooting gallery 12-2, eight of those shots coming unanswered and a handful of over-the-net shanks not even making it to the board.
But Hutton had fused to spotless dynamics by then, as did Sims, who attentiveness was crucially revived in the waning moments of regulation and for two Lowell stabs in the extra five-minute window.
Quick Feeds: The PC Women faltered 2-1 to Ohio State, their third one-goal loss in four outings, in Part I of a two-night visit to Columbus…Junior netminder Danielle Ciarletta charged up a season-high 38 saves, including a whopping ten denials of Buckeyes top gun Tessa Bonhomme…The series concludes Saturday with a slated 4:07 start, likely to fall moments after OSU’s ever-so cherished gridiron tussle with Michigan.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Men's Hockey Log: On Heels Of Maine Sweep, Friars Look For Follow-Up At Home

For Providence College, a message that might have served to ease the recurring close-but-no-points angst of a few weeks ago is suddenly acting as the do-that-again kind of dare. That message is the simple fact that there is still a wholesome slate of game action, particularly Hockey East action, ahead.

The generally youthful Friars returned to campus this week having reformed their persona through a decisive sweep of the then-11th ranked Maine Black Bears, a 7-2 goal differential over two games in one of the nation’s more arduous arenas to visit. Head coach Tim Army gave partial credit to the preceding eight-day respite from game action, which had fallen serendipitously after a 5-2 home falter to Boston University November 1, by which point, despite a morally substantial October, he admitted his still-gelling team began to appear a tad musty.
Of the extra time to retool prior to the northern trek, he said, “I think we were able to get back to some basics and recognized some more areas that we needed to me more efficient at, and that was kind of the mindset.
“When we’ve got our legs, we seem to react and skate very well. It seemed as though the guys were playing off each other quite a bit more efficiently (than before).”
That might explain the unprecedented jumpstart in Part I of the Maine series, wherein they exponentially eroded iron giant netminder Ben Bishop to the point that they chased him out of the cage in the third period of a 6-2 triumph. But if that weren’t enough, they carried out the same load and Saturday and squeezed out a 1-0 decision.
If it is even possible to rank the timeliness of such a feat, the prime time would be when all of Hockey East was more or less settling into exclusive intra-conference action. While four other prominent New England ice barns were storming with strikingly balanced competition –even by conventional Hockey East standards- the Friars were busy sculpting their second and third wins of the season, all against ranked competition. They had previously tipped over and knotted #16 UMass-Amherst in a home-and-home at the tail end of October.
“Certainly, winning two games at Alfond against the #11 team in the country, I would imagine, as a coach, when those types of outcomes occur, makes you take a second look at it,” said Army concerning the league-wide reaction to what brewed in Orono. “And certainly, beating them once and beating them a second time on the road, I certainly would think that other teams would take notice. It should give them a sense that we’re a team to be careful with.”
On that note, with more considerable competition bussing into Schneider Arena this weekend: “Our next challenge is to refocus,” Army said. “We had a great practice on Monday, took the day off today, we’ll go shorter and quick on Wednesday and Thursday, work on our special teams and we’ll have to be ready to play a very difficult and aggressive Lowell team on Friday.
“As all Hockey East games are, it will be very competitive. I think this year this league, from top to bottom, is as competitive as it’s ever been. I haven’t seen the depth of competiveness, the depth of personnel, that we have this year. That’s why the games are so close, that’s why there hasn’t been so much separation amongst teams. I think it will (remain that way) as we get into the stretch drive come February and March.”
More hardware for their pockets: Apart from the emboldened self-assurance and the less rigid practice vibe, a couple of Friars were naturally rewarded by the Hockey East offices this week. Goaltender Tyler Sims usurped Bishop’s two-week-running distinction as the Pure Hockey Defensive Player of the Week, which Bishop had actually split with Sims’ steadfast partner, Chris Mannix after the UMass series. Sims earned it somewhat facilely, though, as he dealt with 39 shots while his praetorians practically razed Big Ben down to his Thames River-level crease.
The by and large standout amongst those skaters was the league’s natural Player of the Week, Matt Taormina. Taormina all but veiled his designation as a defenseman by leveling home five points in the Friday blowout and was in on Nick Mazzolini’s Saturday clincher, along with fellow hot blade Pierce Norton.
Quick Feeds: All but three Friar skaters etched at least one shot on net in both Friday’s and Saturday’ wins, senior captain Jon Rheault leading the gallery on Friday with an aggregate six stabs at Bishop and eventual successor Dave Wilson. Rheault saw his hot streak end in Saturday’s defensive duel, but likewise ran ahead on Saturday with seven chips, followed by freshman Austin Mayer’s five…Both Friday’s hosting to Lowell and Saturday’s to New Hampshire will commence at 7:00 and be televised through Cox Communications. That action will be followed by a full week’s rest over Thanksgiving…This weekend will again see a full slate of intra-conference tilts, the Riverhawks and Wildcats swapping get-togethers with the Friars and Northeastern Huskies.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dartmouth 2, Women's Hockey 1

From the outset, Providence College head coach Bob Deraney displayed a fair share of invisible challenge flags to the officiating trinity of Sunday’s contest with Dartmouth.

By the second intermission, everything on the scoreboard was as dead-heated as could be (score 1-1, shots 23-23). The only thing tipping the balance was the distribution of power plays, and it only swelled to PC’s dismay in the third period.

Most of the way, though, the Friar defense cloaked the stalwart power play strike force that had earned the Big Green the No. 9 slot in USCHO’s weekly poll, despite their only having played four games prior to this weekend.
But with 9:01 remaining in the third period, wherein PC’s unwanted whistles doubled their two-period total of four, a Dart finally hit the bull’s-eye. Green blueliner Julia Bronson pounced on a rebound as an iced teammate Maggie Kennedy nudged it out of a scrum to her near point position and, taking her own spill in the process, nailed it low into the opposite post. That would be the decider as Dartmouth netminder Carli Clemis withstood her own unfavorable imbalance, fourteen Friar shots compared to her club’s seven, to preserve the 2-1 final.
The Green thus remain spotless at 4-0-1, 1-0-1 against Hockey East rivals, while the Friars –who have put their conference slate in the cooler for their five remaining games in November- now own a 0-2-1 record against formidable ECAC tenants.
The nonconference arm wrestling bout pitted two teams with temporary, but no less conspicuous, depth chart cavities thanks to this week’s Four Nations Cup. The Friars’ Mari Pehknonen is sporting her Finnish colors in the renowned annual tournament while the Green were missing decorated sophomore Sarah Parsons of Team USA.
Even with Parsons returning this season, Dartmouth has had another sizzling scorer early on in Jenna Cunningham, the ECAC’s top performer two weeks running. Three minutes into Sunday’s clash, Cunningham gave her club the upper hand seven seconds after Deraney’s first query, an icing call wherein the puck had appeared to brush a few bodies en route to behind the Dartmouth goal line.
The call nonetheless stood, and off the ensuing face-off, Cunningham scooped the puck from her position along the near outer hash marks, zipped to the cage, and slipped the icebreaker into a slim opening between goaltender Danielle Ciarletta and the left post.
Seven minutes later, however, Providence pulled even via Erin Normore, another international pin-up who barely missed out on making her own mid-season voyage to Sweden with her native Canada, and the uncredited assistance of Rachel Crissy.
Big Green defender Amy Cobb had the puck in the right corner of her own end appearing ready to send her associates into routine breakout mode. But with Crissy creeping in front of her, she thrust the biscuit along the boards directly to point patroller Normore. Normore stepped a few inches to her left and let a skipping-stone snap shot find its way through a butterflying Clemis’ five-hole.
For the remaining half of the period, the Friars dealt with six unanswered shots but wholly inverted those tables to start the second. Through the first 8:45 of the middle frame, they outshot the Green 8-1, including two on a power play, before Jenna Keilch was whistled deep in the attacking end for diving. Demands for an explanation on that borderline call landed the Friars with a bench minor and a full two-minute block of 5-on-3 for Dartmouth.
But PC stood strong, Ciarletta tilting aside five stabs and her associates holding the attackers outside the rest of the way. Moments later, when Alyse Ruff was serving a two-minute hooking sentence, the Friars allowed but one shot and disrupted the swarm with a handful of clearances.
Save for those special teams moments, an air hockey-paced tussle took shape and generally remained so for the young moments of the closing frame. Early on, the Friars were afforded their own power play when Dartmouth’s Marley McMillan checked defender Brittany Simpson at 1:44, but a whopping six shots on that advantage were not sufficient for the lead.
At 6:25, PC’s Amber Yung went off for hooking, but the Big Green were allotted absolutely nothing on that 5-on-4 go-around. A return trip for Yung at 10:33, however, would set up Bronson’s clincher.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Women's Hockey 4, Vermont 2

Within 2:19 of the third period, the Vermont Catamounts, who had gotten away with etching a 2-0 lead on an infinitesimal seven shots in the first 40 minutes, suddenly needed a timeout.
And from a home perspective, during that timeout, the Schneider Arena music system was appropriately tweeting the Bee Gees’ immortal tune “Stayin’ Alive.” After all, Friar freshman Alyse Ruff had just singlehandedly broken the surface with her fourth and fifth collegiate goals to knot the game in a two-minute span after the Friars had come up empty on 22 stabs in the first forty minutes.
Returning to action, Providence effectively followed up on the arena DJ’s whimsical message. They proceeded to tack on two more layers via seniors Cherie Hendrickson and Jenna Keilch and arrest the stealthy Catamounts, 4-2, pulling themselves even in Part II of a three-game homestand, which they will complete Sunday against Dartmouth.
Bussing onto campus for the Saturday matinee, Vermont had already penned a nine-game transcript divided into polar opposites. After first breaking out for two-game sweeps of Sacred Heart and Union, already bettering their 2006-07 season total of three wins, they crashed back to their old form, logging a five-game skid, the two most recent being their breakout conference matches with Boston College and New Hampshire.
The Friars were also thirsting for redemption after Tuesday’s depleting 5-4 falter to Northeastern, but their attempts to express that were initially blanketed by a buckled-down Vermont defense and goaltender Kristen Olychuk. Olychuk only needed to deal with eight sparsely distributed shots in the opening frame and then put on a bit more of a dolphin show in the second period, responding impeccably to fourteen Friar bids.
The Catamounts themselves had noticeable trouble circumventing the Providence skaters and getting to netminder Danielle Ciarletta, thrusting only four shots at the PC starter in the first and three in the second.
But on exactly one play per stanza, Ciarletta was caught off guard by a green body whooshing out of the blue. About the halfway mark of the first, after a parched power play effort, Vermont’s Celeste Doucet picked off Friar Pamela McDevitt, who was trying to gather up a feed from Sarah Feldman at the right circle top. Doucet shuffled from zone to zone down the near alley and poked her first collegiate goal through Ciarletta’s legs.
Later, at the 13:07 mark of the middle frame, at which point PC led the shooting gallery 16-5, Kristi Anderson scooped a fugitive disc on her own high slot behind a mirage of attacking Friars and zipped down the far side. Reaching the circle, Anderson snapped a long ranged high-flyer in off the upper left post for the 2-0 edge.
Come the third period, though, the fresh ice barely took a blink to work for the host club. Off a draw outside the Vermont end, two-way freshman Amber Yung strolled the puck in and handed it over to Ruff. Ruff’s nimble shot fluttered past Olychuk before the gritty, speedy striker went sliding all the way into the cage.
Nearly one hundred ticks after that, the freakily named Catamount Karen Sentoff was flagged (or…sent off) for impeding another overwhelmingly crafty Friar, Erin Normore, with an open-ice hit. By law of the women’s game, what earns riches for a Zdeno Chara or an Andrew Alberts deepened a fatal crater for the upset-minded Vermont, lacking any Providence-based wins in their young Hockey East membership.
On the power play, Ruff, who was shown an early door in Tuesday’s debacle for an overly caffeinated hit, was manning the play again. She withheld and practically self-cycled the puck for a moment before forwarding it to Rachel Crissy on the parallel point. Crissy made back-and-forth exchange with Feldman before thrusting the puck on net, at which point Ruff tipped it home.
Five minutes later, Normore, who had gone from starting the game at center between Ruff and Feldman to patrolling the far point, vacuumed a Vermont clearing attempt along the boards. With most every skater involved tilted at the far end, Normore’s only option was to throw it into the abandoned area in front. The only player there was Hendrickson, who after a delayed extraction from Olychuk and a delayed confirmation from the referee, roofed home the eventual clincher.
With 8:15 remaining, Keilch eyed the puck as it went off of defender Brittany Simpson’s tape, into a forest of players and behind the cage. Keilch would stamp the play –and the game- by sneaking in the insurance marker through a wrap-around.

This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press