Saturday, February 16, 2008

Men's Hockey 1, New Hampshire 1

Earlier this week, in a league-wide media teleconference, Friars coach Tim Army proclaimed sharp similarities between the forthcoming New Hampshire Wildcats –currently fastened atop the Hockey East standings- and the nationally regal Michigan team PC encountered in December.
In Friday’s on-ice follow-up, Army’s pupils offered Cats’ goaltender Kevin Regan a similar fight to what they had given the Wolverines’ Billy Sauer –and a handful of other netminders since then.
And Regan, who upon his graduation this spring will be vying for membership in the never predictable Bruins Goalies’ Guild, responded similarly. With only one blemish, he compiled a career-high 52 saves, enough to mold out a 1-1 draw before 2,543 at Schneider Arena.
Meanwhile Providence, bolstered by Tyler Sims’ 28 saves and a second period equalizer by John Cavanagh, made a baby-step from their 5-4 OT slip-up to these Wildcats three months ago –one bitter pill that Army has regularly hearkened back to ever since.
Overall, the Friars are now 2-3-4 in bonus round action this season. This was only New Hampshire’s third game going beyond sixty minutes and first since their November visit to the PC campus –extraordinary given the night-to-night anarchy across Hockey East.
Anarchy? That bottle opened the moment Friday’s first puck was dropped. The Friars’ starting forward unit released the bashing beast within, flaunting three hits on its first shift. For the next few minutes, PC sculpted a 4-0 edge on the shot clock before New Hampshire leveled four bids of its own, all while contesting bodies battered without mercy.
At the 6:16 mark, though, Friar captain Jon Rheault was the first checker to go overboard and took a two-minute sit-down for cross-checking. Less than 30 seconds later, the UNH power play, curiously ninth in the league for all its flustering flare, nonetheless struck for an early lead.
Senior forward Matt Radja, withholding the biscuit around the near circle top, forwarded it to left point patroller Brad Flaishans. Flaishans’ low rider got the boot from Sims but met up with freshman Danny Dreis, who raked in the rebound from the backdoor.
After Wildcat Phil DeSimmone was flagged at 9:50 for obstruction hooking, the nightlong shooting imbalance ensued. Starting with one power play stab, the Friars ran ahead 14-4 on that front for the remainder of the period. But Regan, who was required to push away five more shots on another PK just three minutes after DeSimmone’s jailbreak, was impeccable for the moment.
The middle frame followed a somewhat similar pattern to the first, though it was New Hampshire running on the initial sugar rush with four unanswered whacks at Sims. By the eighth minute, the Friars had killed off back-to-back penalties, confining the Cats to two shots in the process, and went on to bust ahead in the shooting gallery, which they lead 39-20 at the horn.
And at 13:39, after the first 30 produced zilch, Providence finally cracked the cage. In a routine grinding session, Ian O’Connor laced a feed from behind the net to linemate John Mori in the far corner. Mori hopped out with it to forward to Cavanagh, who thrust a quick wrister under Regan’s glove.
After each team had already taken three shorthanded shifts, the final five minutes of the second period were marred by two separate incidents that warranted 4-on-4 action. And at the 1:00 mark of the third, the Friars briefly had a wide-open 4-on-3 advantage when Joe Charlebois went off for elbowing Nick Mazzolini in neutral ice.
But about that time, the puck-stabbing and skater-slamming tempest tapered off considerably. PC was restricted to ten tries at Regan, the Wildcats a game-low seven at Sims for the remainder of regulation.
The fun-size fourth period may have been the most end-to-end frame of the evening. Within the final thirty seconds alone, Radja nearly stamped a Wildcat win by collecting a fugitive puck at the Friar blue line and breaking alone down the far alley. He ended up whiffing it well over the crossbar.
On the resultant turnover, Rheault –tied with Matt Taormina with three game-winners for PC this season- saw his team’s last attempt of the night swallowed by Regan’s UNH crest with nine seconds to spare.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Monday, February 11, 2008

Women's Hockey 5, Connecticut 3: Friars Subsist On Early Stash Against Huskies

To start Sunday’s contest, the Friars made indebted use of the UConn Huskies startling dormancy, which they had failed to do in Part I of this home-and-home series, sculpting a commanding 4-1 edge before the halfway mark.
But after Connecticut fused its defensive borders –just as it did in the decisive third period of
Saturday’s 3-0 Friar falter- and wrinkled the score to 4-3 at intermission, Providence was forced to play a scrappier letters game. That is, the PK brought its A-game for the W, finalized as 5-3 courtesy Alyse Ruff’s empty netter in the final minute.
Including a carry-over cross-checking sentence to Erin Normore, the Friars hampered four Husky power play sessions, reducing their radiant adversaries to a cumulative four shots at goaltender Danielle Ciarletta (14 saves) and no equalizer.
Minus the unremitting whistle activity, Sunday’s third period was the least tempestuous with only a 6-5 shot on net differential in favor of UConn. To start in the opening frame, the seething Friars sprinkled a gradual flurry at goaltender Brittany Wilson and would lead the shooting gallery 16-0 within eighteen minutes of action.
Wilson (25 saves) –fresh off another successful act of Friar Restraint on Saturday, which included an impeccable fourteen-save second period- snapped and surrendered her first goal to PC in all three meetings this season at 12:59. Forward Jean O’Neill, withholding the puck in the near corner for a lengthy stretch, finally thrust it out to Mari Pehkonen on the porch of the crease.
Wilson pushed away Pehkonen’s initial bid, only to see the feisty Finn vacuum the rebound and flick it home from a crouching position.
Less than five minutes later, PC made it 2-0 by converting their second power play of the day. Kathleen Smith absorbed a feed from point partner Brittany Simpson, circumvented a kneeling
penalty killer Michelle Binning, and roofed a wrister through a screen from the right circle top.
It would still be another 29 ticks before the Huskies finally registered a stab at Ciarletta, though it was little more than a well-aimed dump-in by Jaclyn Hawkins that the goaltender inched out to play and clear.
But when PC’s Jenna Keilch was flagged with a two-minute sentence that carried over into the middle frame, UConn chipped out of its offensive chrysalis. Catching up to a near-side clearing attempt, point patroller Samantha Reid looped a feed to Amy Hollstein, who batted home the conversion at 0:23.
The Huskies took their own turn in the box just a minute later, however, and the Friars sustained the momentum in attacking territory long enough to broaden their lead at the 3:50 mark. Pamela McDevitt nudged her face-off win back to Cherie Hendrickson at the right circle-top. Hendrickson missed on her first attempt, but shuffled a few steps forward to reunite with the puck and snipe a bar-down rebound.
Within another five minutes, Connecticut’s Cristin Allen earned her third citation of the game for elbowing Simpson. And for the second time, she would helplessly watch the Providence strike force capitalize.
Simpson wasted no time shipping a lateral feed from Smith down to Ruff along the right post. Ruff settled the play for a moment before handing it off in front to O’Neill, who nimbly buried the eventual game-clincher.
By that point, when there was still 11:31 to spare in the period, the Friars were up 22-5 in terms of shots. But as was the case 24 hours previous on the UConn campus, the Huskies reduced their limited time offer at a glacial rate while booting up their efforts on Ciarletta’s property. In doing so, they drew power play after power play and converted twice to close the gap to 4-3.
In the thirteenth minute, top gun Dominique Thibault took charge of a regrouping session, touring the puck from end-to-end on her own and dishing a backhand pass for Reid to tap in on a one-timer.
With 2:12 till intermission, Brittany Murphy dropped a rebound from the slot for Nicole Tritter to slip in.
When those ice chips had settled, Connecticut had outshot the Friars, 10-9, for that tempestuous stanza. But on the fresh and final sheet, even through a favorable 4-on-3 stretch of 1:36 and a total of 6:43 work of power play time, the Huskies were reduced primarily to chasing PC poke checks, pick-offs, and clearances.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Men's Hockey 4, Vermont 3 (OT): Friars Pull Through In Tempestuous Marathon

With 1:15 left in regulation, a 3-3 deadlock, and a draw looming in Vermont territory, the oft-carnivorous student cheering section of Schneider Arena rose to its feet.
By the time the game was finalized, defenseman Matt Taormina led a rampant cavalry charge straight towards a jubilant Friar Fanatic mass upon inserting the winning strike with 14 ticks to spare in the bonus round.
After Providence had failed on three other whacks during the five-minute overtime, John Cavanagh skipped a face-off win from the near circle back to Hockey East’s master blueline puckslinger. Taormina settled the play and let an oily wrister drip to the porch.
There, senior captain Jon Rheault tipped it home behind goaltender Joe Fallon (season-best 39 saves), granting the Friars the 4-3 win and a split of their weekend hosting to the Catamounts.
Capping off an altogether dreary day as far as PC sports go –both basketball squads and women’s hockey all endured chin-knocking losses Saturday afternoon- and trying to rinse away their personal vinegar from Friday’s inept 2-1 falter, the Friars served up a comparatively gourmet dish for the rink-going evening mass of 2,121.
Rheault’s decider averted any spoilage of a milestone night –he had charged up career points No. 99 and 100and pole-vaulted the Friars back into third place in the Hockey East standings. At 10-6-3, they are cozily squished between Boston College and Northeastern, who were both resting up for their Beanpot affairs on Monday.
The Providence offense, blanketed by Fallon and Co. in Friday’s inept fixture, made haste to get cracking in Saturday’s opening frame. At 10:20, Rheault lit the initial match on a shorthanded rush, picking off the puck and darting end-to-end whilst shadowed by two Vermont attackers-turned-backcheckers, and roofed a snapper for a 1-0 edge.
Less than six minutes later, the Friars power play would also cut off its recent hibernation. For a full fifty-two seconds after Catamount Bradey Irwin went off for cross-checking, Cavanagh snatched linemate Pierce Norton’s whiffed attempt behind the cage and thrust it out in front. An incoming Nick Mazzolini was there to flick it in.
But Vermont was anything but submissive to the fast-thawing Friars, who had just kilned their first multi-goal period in a somewhat long eight opportunities. Furious forking behind the PC cage ultimately set up defenseman Slavomir Tomko for a Mark Johnson type of booster –a goal coinciding with the clock expiring for intermission.
No protest from PC, though; just a nimble redeemer at 1:02 of the second period. Rheault clamped down defender Trevor Ludwig’s rebound along the near post and handed it off to Greg Collins, who batted it into a gaping left half of the cage.
Compared with what had preceded throughout the weekend, Saturday’s final 40-plus minutes had no boundaries in terms of shot allotment. A heated, back-and-forth second period alone saw the Catamounts sculpt a 16-14 edge in the shooting gallery. And at the 11:19 mark, they made like the Friars in splashing a dehydrated power play force to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Far point patroller Viktor Stalberg forwarded a straight-line feed to Brian Roloff, who let a curving bid travel to Jack Downing, who tapped it home from goaltender Tyler Sims’ (30 saves) porch.
Downing was right back at it in the middle of the third, pouncing on a neutral zone giveaway by Taormina and improvising an odd-man rush. Journeying into attacking territory, Downing lured Sims far to his left and out of his crease and in effect laced in the equalizer with 12:38 remaining.
But Providence, which had made point-docking squanders of leads in its two previous outings, shook it off and tipped the shooting scale at 17-8 for the period. In the more climactic stages of regulation and carrying over to the extra session, they generally confined the play to Vermont territory and set the redemption stage for Taormina.
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press