Saturday, December 8, 2007

Men's Hockey 5, Union 2: Providence Power Play Thaws Out In Third

Well in advance of his early December slate, Providence College coach Tim Army had expressed conviction that playing every three nights over a one-week period would be notably taxing for his increasingly evolving corps. And after two seemingly facile triumphs of Vermont and Brown, the Friars were indeed yanked down from cloud nine to start their tangle with a scurvy-stricken Union Dutchmen team.
Union, 1-5 in their six preceding games, jumped to an early shooting edge and lassoed the revamped Friars for a 1-1 tally that stood rigidly for more than thirty minutes of play.
But an ever-dreaded penalty plague ultimately came to haunt the Dutchmen early in the third period as PC busted the knot on its eighth man advantage of the evening via Kyle Laughlin with 17:59 to spare in regulation. Moments later, fellow captain Jon Rheault kept the newfound momentum rushing and the Friars paced themselves to a four-goal frame and 5-2 triumph in their last appearance at home this calendar year.
The Friars will now make a delicate effort to securely freeze this momentum in the three game-less weeks leading up to their year-end excursion to the Detroit-based Great Lakes Invitational.
The uplifting final stanza was a rushed reversal back to what has had Providence turning heads since returning from Thanksgiving break with a collectively resurfaced feeling. But the final product of what is now their lengthiest winning streak this season was nothing short of a gradual climb away from a storyline that defined their games before the rare holiday.
The Dutchmen barely withheld a 13-11 shooting edge at the first buzzer, neither team leading by more than three on that front, and they needed but 64 seconds to respond to the Friars icebreaker around the halfway mark of that period.
First, though, PC’s Greg Collins and Austin Mayer forked in a four-man scrum in the right corner of the Union zone, Mayer eventually pulling through and lacing a feed around the net intended for center Kyle MacKinnon, but which instead reached senior blueliner Trevor Ludwig. Ludwig, without a goal since his freshman campaign, gave the Friars a 1-0 edge with a blast over southpaw goaltender Justin Mrazek’s trapper.
The Dutchmen countered on their very next visit to Tyler Sims’ territory to snap his shutout streak at 130:37 worth of playing time. Off a draw in the far circle, winger Adam Presiniuk sent the PC stopper sprawling after his long-range bid. Center Mario Valery-Trabucco pounced to swipe home the rebound.
Union’s offensive output spiraled in the second to an infinitesimal three shot count. But Mrazek stood his ground against twenty smoothly distributed Friar stabs –eight of them on power plays- to keep the game tied through two.
In the waning stages of the middle frame, there were two abbreviated 5-on-3 sequences that favored the Friars (neither lasted more than 15 seconds). A two-minute hooking sentence to Michael Beynon that carried over to the third was itself 15 ticks from expiration when fellow defender Brendan Milnarrow was whistled for tripping, giving PC’s night-long arid power play unit yet another mulligan.
This time, they clicked as Laughlin, one of the few not to brush the scoresheet against Brown, charged up his seventh of the year.
In another 1:38, defender Matt Taormina hunted down a no-icing behind his own net and laced it around the near boards to Wild. Wild lobbed a neutral zone-length Hail Mary to Rheault at the opposite blue line and watched the captain stretch his multi-point streak to three games with a breakaway, bar-down strike at 3:39.
The Friars subsisted on the resultant 3-1 advantage for the next twelve minutes. Through that stretch, they chalked up another eight shots compared to Union’s four (the Dutchmen were allotted but one shot on their own back-to-back set of power plays), and ultimately sprinkled a pair of empty netters within the final five minutes.
While Collins was off for hitting from behind, Mrazek darted to the bench surprisingly early to afford the Dutchmen a six-pack attack. However, Nick Mazzolini quelled the attack and set Wild up at the other end with 4:14 on the board.
Three minutes later, Mazzolini performed an encore in his own end and helped himself to a leisurely breakaway conversion for the Friars fifth goal, more than enough for Sims and Co. to shrug off Union defender Mike Schreiber’s last-minute power play tally.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Friday, December 7, 2007

Yale 2, Women's Hockey 1

Thursday’s contesting teams were rolling in inverse directions at puck-drop: the host Providence College Friars subsisting on a four-game winning streak, the Yale Bulldogs 0-5-1 in their previous six outings. Yet the Dogs proved by far to be the most effectively resistant visitor during PC’s six-game homestand, which concludes Saturday against Harvard.
Whether those circumstances factored in the heat of the play or not, PC coach Bob Deraney acted on his inclination to throw a challenge flag when Yale shone in the middle frame to scurry ahead 2-1. On the equalizer at the 5:22 mark, Friars backliner Brittany Simpson had been chasing a fugitive puck off an attacking-zone face-off, seeking a routine regrouping session in neutral ice.
Instead, Simpson was entangled by Yale’s Caroline Murphy, who dropped on top of her at the far circle top of the Providence end. While the Friar faithful cried foul, alleging interference, Murphy’s fellow winger Kristin Stupay subsequently accepted Danielle Koslowski’s quick handover and snapped it bar down.
Four-and-a-half-minutes later, the officials agreed to go to the newfangled video booth when Helen Resor’s eventual winner was seemingly set up by a high-stick. The call nonetheless stood and the Friars, unable to recompense even in a 16-shot third period saw the 2-1 deficit solidify, and their hot streak vanquished.
Aside from the ultimately decisive, call-it-what-you-will second period, the revamped Providence team had all of its winning elements whirling through Thursday’s contest. Although, the conversely starved Bulldogs kept their borders considerably tighter than, say, the Maine Black Bears or Robert Morris Colonials before them.
The Friars were confined to a game total of 35 shots, their lowest since their last road excursion to Ohio State prior Thanksgiving and were barely outshot in the second by a 10-9 differential.
Nonetheless, they ran away with the shooting gallery for the first chunk of the opening frame, pouring out seven unanswered stabs to lead that category 8-1 by 7:04. But for the next eight minutes of play, the puck took a tour about as random as the footbag that a handful of Friars kick around an hour before each game, and neither team registered another shot until PC’s master puckslinger, Kathleen Smith, unleashed a slapper with 4:19 remaining.
Yale held the Friar strikers off for another lengthy stretch of hot potato in neutral ice before surrendering a wildly executed icebreaker with 1:05 till intermission.
In a sequence rather characteristic of the contest, an array of bodies tumbled in a scrum for the puck along the far red-line boards. When it squirted out, a fresh-off-the-bench Smith swooped in, darted into the Yale zone, and found Kelli Doolin scurrying down the middle alley. Doolin, flocked by backchecking Bulldogs, took her own tumble as she still managed to absorb Smith’s feed and tap it through goaltender Shivon Zilis before pulling off a full-body rollover to the right of the cage.
The Bulldogs, who mustered an infinitesimal two attempts at Friars stopper Danielle Ciarletta, remained hushed even through a power play in the wee minutes of the second period. But not long after that expired, Murray and Stupay caught their peculiar break on the team’s third shot.
Later, at 9:55 of that period, Kristi Howser took her own whack in a heavily congested area along the near post. Ciarletta tilted it over before the vacant left frame of the cage and Resor pounced to swat in the eventual winner.
Yale –which, the win aside, has now not surpassed two goals in its last seven games- looked to have a sufficient grip on its newfound momentum until precisely 90 ticks remained in the middle frame. It was then that defender Carlee Ness was flagged for checking PC’s Pamela McDevitt, seventy seconds before she was joined by Mandi Schwartz, caught tripping in the midst of the Friars growingly familiar power play swarm.
But the Bulldogs deprived the Friars of any shots on the two carry-over advantages, and even when her defending skaters melted and gave her the sweatiest period of the night, Zilis (game total: 34 saves) answered everything.
Providence, which has yet to fall by more than one goal on home ice, ran up five shots in the waning two minutes with six attackers, but could not sustain any prolonged buzzes as Yale cleared its zone three times.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Men's Hockey 8, Brown 0: Friars Erupt To Reclaim Mayor's Cup

When five minutes remained in the first period Tuesday, Friars rookie Kyle MacKinnon and his bleacher-bound peers thought the still-acclimating forward had potted his first collegiate goal.
Hanging back in a two-on-one rush led by senior captain Jon Rheault, MacKinnon went gliding on his knees down the Broadway lane after a rebound, but only poked it through after a whistle. Providence therefore had to settle for a slim 1-0 edge through intermission.
But at the other end of that Zamboni tour, MacKinnon and Rheault re-collaborated, and this time converted at the 23-second mark. MacKinnon connected once more in another three minutes and his teammates followed up with a rampant 5-goal stanza that defined an 8-0 steamrolling of Brown University.
MacKinnon’s short story of personal redemption was a mere sideshow compared to PC’s starving-dog fight to reclaim the Mayor’s Cup. Going in, head coach Tim Army recalled last season, when the Bears had oppressed the Friars with a two-goal, 21-shot first period, and kept pace towards a 2-1 win over at Meehan Auditorium.
“They did it by overwhelming us in the first period last year,” he recalled. “We did not match their intensity, so the expectation is that we would come out with that approach tonight.”
That’s just what happened. Riding the waves of a decisive 4-0 triumph at Vermont on Saturday, and the urge to string together just their second winning streak all year, the Friars broke the ice on their first power play at 1:34.
Off first draw after Brown’s Matt Palmer was locked away, Matt Taormina absorbed a feed from Nick Mazzolini on the far side and forwarded it to point partner Cody Wild. Wild’s rebounded met up with Pierce Norton, who buried it instantly.
Providence proceeded to run up the shooting gallery, leading that category 16-4 by the first buzzer, though starting stopper Dan Rosen kept the Bears well afloat up to that point.
Not so in the second. In the first minute during a carry-over penalty kill, Rheault guided a blocked shot out of his zone and broke loose with MacKinnon, whom he lent a backhand pass for him to zip into the right shelf.
MacKinnon broke out the margin a tad more at 3:41, chasing Trevor Ludwig’s far-angle roller and stuffing it home along the near post.
The Bears, meantime, lashed out their sixth shot at Tyler Sims, who would need next to no time adding to his PC career shutout record, at 5:10 of the middle frame. Their seventh did not arrive until 16:38, and by then the Friars had pulled ahead 5-0 and sent an overcooked Rosen to the bench.
With 9:03 remaining in the period, defender Mark Fayne accepted Rheault’s close range handover and rolled out an ice-kisser through Rosen’s pads.
In another two-and-a-half minutes, Matt Germain pulled through in another mad mucking spree and forwarded the puck to a wide open Taormina, who drilled home a straightaway slapper.
Rosen’s successor, Tristan Favro, was more or less eased into his portion of the night, tilting aside two shots in his first six minutes played. But as bubbling emotions translated into a rash of penalties, the Friars converted on another power play –a 4-on-3 set-up at that- before curtaining the volcanic period.
All four PC skaters toured the puck through their box formation and left it up to John Cavanagh to finish the play off at the back door.
The Friars hardly let up in the third, though, throwing on another twenty shots (game total: 55). Wild snuck the seventh goal of the game, and third power play conversion, through a tightly guarded near post with 6:15 to go.
Rheault’s finishing tough in the final minute briefly interrupted the Friar Fanatic taunts of “Harvard rejects” and “Long walk to RIPTA” and aroused another cheering session as he unloaded a wrister that eluded Favro’s stick.
For a home crowd that was reduced to a reported 1,087 by the coinciding PC-URI hoops tilt and partially filled by the cross-town faithful, there was certainly enough buzz in the Friars’ first home win since the end of October. Does this mean the curious road cooking has come home?
“We need to,” said Army regarding home improvement, which his pupils will get another crack at Friday against Union. “We’ve been a much better team on the road this year.
“I think we play a more simple game on the road. We tend to get away from our identity at home. We get a little bit loose. It’s a tendency, when you’re in front of your own fans, you try to impress them too much and it takes you off your game a little bit, whereas on the road, you’re not trying to impress anybody.
“We need to bring all the elements (that have worked for us) and try to simplify that.”
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Men's Hockey Log: Renewed Friars Look To Strike Again

Their game comfortably resurfaced through two smooth blocks of practice sandwiching Thanksgiving break, the Providence College men’s hockey team translated the buildup well enough in their single-dip excursion to Vermont last weekend.

A tray of individual hors d’oeuvres signified a 4-0 pasting of the Vermont Catamounts Saturday night that saw, among other things, a personally revamping captain Jon Rheault pot two goals –both set up by linemates Ian O’Connor and Matt Germain- and Tyler Sims pace his way to career shutout No. 6, a franchise record.
Sims’ workload dwindled by the period while his associate strikers chased Catamount starter Joe Fallon out of his crease early in a riotous three-goal second period, and then put their first bid at back-up Mike Spillane turn into the first of Rheault’s two conversions.
Coming home, though, with but a single day’s worth of preparation for Tuesday’s Brown showdown, head coach Tim Army stresses the effort not to get drunk on the pleasure of what may have been the Friars’ best all-around performance, and most momentous Hockey East victory, to date.
“It was good for Saturday night, then we got ourselves re-organized to get ready for Brown tomorrow night,” the anti-negligent skipper offered. “But it was obviously, at that stage of the year, with exams looming and Christmas break, it was certainly nice to go into the holiday season with a win in our last Hockey East game, particularly on the road against a team that’s very strong at home.
“We put ourselves in a positive position as we head into the second half of the Hockey East schedule, with a solid position in the middle of the standings, and with an opportunity, with some games in hand, to close the gap.”
With a 4-3-2 conference transcript in the cooler for the next six weeks, PC is in a three-way points deadlock with the two UMass squads. However, the Lowell Riverhawks, who will be waiting for a home-and-home set when the Hockey East slate does finally resume, have already exhausted eleven games as opposed to the Friars’ nine. The same holds true for second-place Boston College, who only lead those crammed into fourth place by two points.
As for the immediate future, a pair of ECAC rivals in Brown and Union is in store, their respective visits pried apart by a slim three nights. Such circumstances effectively mold together to produce a smattering of yet-to-be-mastered tasks by this edition of the Friars.
Lacking a win out of three previous non-conference games and with anything but the luxurious load of preparation they had prior to the Vermont trip, Army let out his distinctive one-step-at-a-time philosophy.
“What we would like is to continue the play that we maintained at Vermont and start to develop that consistency in our game overall,” he said. “These non-conference games (this week) are very important, because we haven’t won a non-conference game this season."
The first foe, Mayor’s Cup rival Brown, can make the exact same proclamation. The Bears, who will shoot to renew Divine City bragging rights after their 2-1 squeeze at Meehan Auditorium last year, as well as fortify a plebeian 1-5-3 overall record, their only win coming against ECAC rival Colgate November 9. Their latest two outings –both Hockey East matches- saw them crumple before New Hampshire 5-2 and Northeastern 4-3.
Not that that budges the outlook from the PC bench. Nor does the fact that the other heralded intrastate rivalry, that being men’s basketball versus URI, tips off at the exact same time over in Kingston this year.
“It flies under our radar,” said Army rather simply, never one to divert from the task at hand. “We’ve gotta play with whoever’s here, however many people are here. Those are things that you can’t necessarily control.
“We’re at home, we’re in familiar surroundings. We need to establish the things that we do well as a hockey team and play an assertive game.”
Quick Feeds: Four current Friars have scoring credit in past Mayor’s Cup games. Junior defenseman Cody Wild has charged up an assist in each of his first two experiences, the more recent when he collaborated with John Cavanagh to set up since graduated Colin MacDonald’s lone Friar goal last year. Rheault collected a pair of helpers in the 2005-06 edition, aiding the Friars to a sound 5-1 home victory, while Nick Mazzolini chipped in an assist of his own…Senior netminder Sims has started every Brown game possible in his career, currently withholding a 1-2 log…Perhaps the only arid aspect to PC’s game at Vermont was the fact that it came up empty on four power play opportunities. On the other hand, the Friars penalty kill was equally unyielding and has now completely starved the opposition through four consecutive games…In Tuesday’s clash, freshman defenseman Eric Baier will have his first –and, most likely, only- collegiate encounter with his older brother, Paul. The elder son of the North Kingstown family is a senior bouncer at Brown with 2-1-3 totals through nine games this season.

This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Monday, December 3, 2007

Women's Hockey 4, Maine 0: Early Pounces Pave Win For Friars

A slim 3:40 had left the first period playing clock before the Maine Black Bears had inscribed four unfavorable entries on the scoresheet.
Precisely thirty ticks removed from slipping behind the Friars, 2-0, Maine forward Abby Barton overdid her counterattack, plowing right into goaltender Danielle Ciarletta’s face and receiving a two-minute penalty box sentence. Off the subsequent draw, Vanessa Vani blew PC’s Katy Beach to the ice, allotting the already flying Friars a whopping 1:56 of 5-on-3 play.
Though Providence did not add any layers to their lead right away, or for the rest of the period, they clamped down and ultimately squeezed out a 4-0 triumph, the team’s first shutout of the season, for a sweep of the Black Bears and a four-for-four transcript over consecutive home weekends.
The Friars have effectively boosted themselves to a 4-2-1 conference transcript, and will have another two-thirds of their Hockey East schedule still waiting in the cooler after New Year’s. The blunderstruck Black Bears, meantime, are still without a win in the last two months.
Maine did not simply succumb to their early lesions by any means. However badly shagged out she may have been from her second heaviest sweat of the season twenty-four hours previous, Genevieve Turgeon got the starting nod for the Black Bears again Sunday, and her defensive corps held the Friars off much better than on Saturday (36 total shots faced).
Furthermore, the visiting skaters unhesitatingly reached out when they had their chances against Ciarletta, including two lengthy two-player stretches of their own.
But Ciarletta, making her eighth consecutive start, stood firm to withstand a total distribution of twenty-three shots, more than half of those coming in a heated first period, and earn her second career shutout as a Friar.
Before she needed to answer any urgent calls, though, Ciarletta watched her incessantly gelling praetorians nab the immediate upper hand. At 2:07, Sarah Feldman and Kelli Doolin were forking for the Friars in the near corner of the offensive zone before Feldman assumed full control and zipped the puck out to defender Erin Normore.
Normore, with eight helpers heading into the game but no goals of her own to speak off, hatched that G-column goose egg by leveling a straightaway slapper in through a screen.
One minute later, just as the PA description of the previous conversion was wrapping up, another healthily offensive-minded blueliner, Kathleen Smith, made it 2-0 when she looped the biscuit around the near post and stuffing in her first of two goals on the day.
Maine was pushed back a little more by the aforementioned jitter-induced penalties, but Turgeon tilted away all three PC power play shots. In the latter half of the period, the Black Bears seized their own scoring chances and effectively held the puck down at the other end of the rink.
Within the final four minutes before intermission, PC’s Mari Pehkonen and Doolin had both been whistled, resulting in 1:48 worth of a 5-on-3 kill. But while Maine closed the shooting gallery gap from 13-6 to 13-12 Ciarletta withstood all of the head-spinning.
Four minutes into the second period, the Friars’ starting line, which has curiously been letting its nine striking associates take most of the credit, teamed up to make it 3-0. Pehkonen journeyed from the far alley of the zone behind the Black Bear cage and forwarded a short range feed to Feldman.
Feldman  left a drop pass for Katy Beach and then turned a counterclockwise semi-circle into the slot, waiting for Beach’s return feed, which she absorbed and wristed high to the left of Turgeon.
Maine managed four stabs at Ciarletta through the middle frame, but reloaded its desperate gun rack for the third, logging a total of nine. The Friars, meanwhile, sprinkled on another fourteen at Turgeon and used an early power play to solidify the eventual score.
Exactly one minute after Lexi Hoffmeyer went off for making contact to Pehkonen’s head on an open-ice check, Smith accepted Jean O’Neill’s shipment from the behind the net, wandered from the near circle top to the opposite post, and flicked one home top shelf.
The Black Bears earned another prolonged 5-on-3 stretch, a total of 91 seconds, within the final five minutes of regulation, but managed merely two shots and were repeatedly forced to regroup over PC clearances.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Women's Hockey 7, Maine 2: Rookie Trio Pilots Friars Past Black Bears

Bucking trends has been all the rage for the PC women’s hockey team since they settled down on campus for a between-the-breaks six game homestand. Previously looking in need of a hot dish of offense from the neighborhood shelter, they have now exponentially heightened their output in three successive games, and naturally kilned a first-time winning streak in the process.

For the latest installment, the Friars followed a trinity of young blood towards decisively imploding the seemingly unbreakable habit of taking the Maine Black Bears into overtime.
Freshmen Alyse Ruff (hat trick), Jean O’Neill (one goal, two assists) and Amber Yung (three assists) assumed control to overhaul the equally invincible-looking netminder Genevieve Turgeon towards a 7-2 triumph. The three new heat-gun bearers accounted for 16 of 64 total shots at Turgeon, only two shy of a season-high for the Maine workhorse
Prior to the weekend visit to Schneider Arena, Turgeon was an unmistakable lone star for an abysmally struggling Black Bear team. For all intents and purposes, she remained true to form Saturday, but this time around 57 saves did not cut it for media recognition. The game’s three star honors were wholly usurped by the host team’s radiant rookie trinity.
From the tail end of the 2005-06 campaign, when current PC senior Danielle Tangredi was studying and skating in Orono, to this season’s opener at Alfond Arena, the contesting teams had required a bonus round in five consecutive get-togethers.
Most recently, in their only visit to Orono this year, Providence had kindled a hefty twenty-shot first period and a 2-0 edge before the tables slowly and smoothly turned, allowing the Bears to pull even.
Times have changed. Within the first twenty minutes of Saturday’s clash, Turgeon had already endured 23 stabs and, as she has all season, made it clear that the Friars would need to snag an ice pick and sturdy pair of spiky boots to tackle her peak.
Ruff took it upon herself to take that wager, though, inserting the game’s first two goals on tirelessly executed crashes to the net.
With 2:17 remaining in the opening frame, during a lengthy power play swarm, playmaker Erin Normore tapped the puck to her point partner Yung, whose subsequent shot chipped off Turgeon’s stick. Ruff, eyeing the far post, collected the fugitive rebound, after her classmate and second-line centerpiece Jackie Duncan bobbled it in front, and buried it behind Turgeon.
Less than five minutes into the second period, on yet another extra-player sequence, Yung whipped up another dead-on bid from the straightaway point. And yet again, Turgeon failed to get a grip on it and watched the stealthy Ruff slide in on her knees and tap a roller home for the 2-0 Friar lead.
Not long after, the heroic blue-clad glacier officially reached her rapid meltdown motif. Shortly before the halfway mark of the game, O’Neill, despite prolonging a shift, tracked down the puck along the far outer hash marks a shipped a smooth diagonal feed to Yung. She then darted to the cage in anticipation of a rebound, which she poked behind Turgeon before Katy Beach stepped up for an easy tip-in.
A while later, with 8:28 left in the middle stanza, O’Neill was at it again, sizzling after Ruff’s two-on-one wide attempt, collecting it at the far side, and shuffling to the face-off circle, where she whooshed a low rider into the opposite corner of the cage.
Off the subsequent draw, the impoverished Black Bears finally clicked on one of their opportunities as Jenna Ouelette neutralized a heavy traffic scrum and set up Abby Barton, sending Maine back to their dressing room down 4-1.
At 5:57 of the third, however, Ruff completed her night, monitoring another slippery rebound, this one off the stick of Colleen Martin. With a handful of attacking and defending bodies tilted to the far side, where a genuflecting Turgeon was trying to freeze the play, Ruff nimbly extracted and curled the disc into the vacant half of the net.
Less than three minutes later, PC threw out another power play conversion through Brittany Simpson, who wandered into the slot to import a zipping Mari Pehkonen’s offering and flick it high to the right of Turgeon.
Maine did manage to strike the cold mesh that Danielle Ciarletta (16 saves) had been patrolling with 4:15 to go. Jennie Gallo zipped out of a scrum along the near boards and shoveled home a face-to-face backhand conversion.
But the Black Bears were granted no further access after that, and Cherie Hendrickson solidified the 7-2 final with 1:48 on the clock, polishing off another chaotic buzz in Turgeon’s territory and tucking in the remains of a Rachel Crissy shot.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press