Sunday, November 23, 2008

Women's Hockey 2, Niagara 2: Friars' Hourglass Turns Half-Full In Dramatic Draw

The red light flickered a tad prematurely while the seated Niagara goaltender Jenni Bauer failed to clamp down Laura Veharanta’s initial face-to-face shot on her porch.
 
But the way the dramatist Friars were already getting away with cramming, having just sawed a 2-0 deficit via Erin Normore’s power play conversion less than three minutes prior, the goal judge’s slippery fingers merely made for a minor spillage of the refreshing comeback potion.
 
As Bauer was hastily pulling herself back upright, Alyse Ruff seized the fugitive puck along the near post and wasted no time burying it home and drawing a 2-2 knot with 1:43 to spare in regulation time.
 
Ruff, the decider in three of PC’s first six victories this season and both of their last two, can now pad on an equalizer to her rapidly budding application for the College Hockey Clutch Capstones Club.
 
As an intangible bonus, when nobody clicked in the resultant five-minute bonus round, Normore proceeded to insert the only goal out of six aggregate shootout stabs, granting the Friars their first triumph in the one-on-one derby this season.
 
“(I’m) very happy with the last seven minutes of the game,” acknowledged head coach Bob Deraney in reference to the regulation climax that saw PC cultivate three power plays, two conversions, and a 5-1 edge in the way of shots. “I think the lesson that we take out of this game is that at the beginning of the game we got a few 5-on-3 power plays and we just didn’t go after them with as much determination as we did in the end, (initially) thinking that ‘We’ve got more time, if I don’t get this one, I’ll get another opportunity, there’s so much time left.’
 
“With seven minutes to go, all of a sudden we knew time was clicking down and we went after those pucks with more of an urgency and a vengeance than we did earlier. If we went after rebounds like we did late earlier in the game it wouldn’t have been as close. So that’s a lesson we’ll be able to feed off of later on.”
 
As Deraney noted, PC initially wrung out a commanding edge in the shooting gallery -12-4 as of the first intermission- and enacted a few reckonable rubber flurries, bolstered in part by four consecutive Niagara penalties spanning between the 2:21 and 8:50 mark. The Purple Eagles’ dysfunctional fa├žade reached an emblematic pinnacle when a whistle halted the Friars’ breakout setup to slap Alison Malty with a game misconduct for verbal abuse at 8:19.
 
But the visitors’ very last column standing, that being Bauer (39 saves), withstood all five Providence power play stabs and collected immediate compensation from her skating colleagues shortly before the period expired.
 
Churning along through their third power play on the evening, the Eagles tuned the net first at 19:21. Christina Jablonski thrust a wrister out of the far circle into a blinding collage before goaltender Danielle Ciarletta (17 saves) and strikers Autumn Stuntz and Melanie Mills promptly forked for a rebound. Mills ultimately bumped the conversion home within the near post.
 
From there, Niagara snuck in an additional goal at 4:27 –ccourtesy Mary McKinnon’s one-timer off a feed from center point patroller Jocey Kleiber- and mutual sluggishness settled in to take a suffocating toll on the general flow of the game.
In one protracted stretch between the 8:08 and 13:41 mark, the action wrenched choppily from end to end without a single stoppage until a scrum before the PC bench warranted a whistle, freezing the already old fogey play dead.
 
And even as the Friars sprinkled another dozen shots at Bauer, the sustainability that defined the wee minutes of the previous stanza was conspicuously absent.
 
“What happens is, when you control the play the way we did and get nothing for it, it kind of gets demoralizing for us and gives them a lot of confidence,” Deraney said. “And then, all of a sudden, they get a power play goal and we’re kind of scrambling. All of a sudden, they believe they can and we’re starting to doubt ourselves.”
 
But in the third, Niagara’s output regressed from eleven second period bids to merely three. And initial disturbances of an epic rally materialized when McKinnon’s obstruction hooking felony at 12:37 invalidated the final 20 seconds of an Eagle power play and rekindled the buzz around Bauer’s porch.
 
Six seconds after McKinnon’s jailbreak, teammate Leah Whittaker was flagged for mugging Veharanta after a whistle before her own net.
 
Forty-nine seconds later, Normore made a trademark venture beyond her point post to the near face-off dot, where she imported Katy Beach’s feed from the high slot and leveled it top shelf to bring the Friars aboard.
 
Deraney utilized his timeout with 2:42 when McKinnon was flagged yet again, this time for an open-ice cross check to Christie Jensen in the neutral zone. There, the likes of Veharanta and Ruff dutifully butted into Bauer’s personal space and rounded out the rally with Ruff taking a triumphant spill as she raked home the equalizer.
 
“To our players’ credit, they saw time ticking down and never gave up,” said Deraney. “We got one, and all of a sudden we believed we could and they started to question themselves.
 
“It’s a game of momentum. Go back to the beginning of the game, when we had opportunities to score but we just didn’t go at them with the same urgency that we should have like we did at the end of the game. If we had done that, we wouldn’t have been in that situation.”
 
PC’s revived resolve marched on through the overtime as they drew one more power play (10 total on the night) and heaved another five shots on net.
 
Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com
 
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Women's Hockey Log: Ciarletta Redeems BU Falter In Second Shootout

Elements of statistical consensus were the prevalent theme between Danielle Ciarletta and the opposing Niagara Purple Eagles en route to last night’s 2-2 regulation draw at Schneider Arena.

First, Ciarletta relinquished her career-old shutout streak against the Eagles –after she had laid three goose eggs in as many confrontations over her sophomore and junior campaigns- at the game clock age of 199:21. Translation: 39 seconds short of 10 consecutive shutout periods.
 
But after her teammates absolved that drawback, plus another at 4:27 of the second, Ciarletta ultimately earned an invitation to whitewash the bittersweet finish to her previous outing. Three weeks prior, when she put in her last active appearance at Boston University, she submitted a 0-for-3 save rate in the shootout and spilled an extra point for the Friars in the Hockey East standings.
 
Uncannily enough, after giving way to Genevieve Lacasse for the next four outings, Ciarletta was the crease custodian on duty for PC’s next 65-minute-tie-enforced shootout. And this time, she fended off the likes of Melanie Mills, Emilie Castonguay, and Ashley Riggs, thereby pacing Erin Normore to the last-round clincher.
 
Ciarletta’s responsiveness was inessential on Mills’ attempt in the first round as it shanked wide of the left post. Castonguay gave a whirl at a Nathan Gerbe impression, turning her back to the cage halfway through her straightaway stride, only to see her thrust brush off Ciarletta’s trapper and drop over the cage.
 
Riggs, Niagara’s top gun, offered a harrowingly soapier, ice-kissing shot that initially eluded Ciarletta’s clutch and partially trickled to the top of the goal line before the goalie lashed out her right boot to clog it.
 
Both Laura Veharanta and Ashley Cottrell –who had each singed BU’s Allyse Wilcox three weeks back- fell short in their shootout strides for the Friars this time. Niagara’s Jenni Bauer tilted Veharanta’s attempt to her right and got a piece of Cottrell’s tricky floater before flopping back to wrest it from the jaws of the goal.
 
Morris’ milestone
Upon delving into her first shift last night, senior forward Stephanie Morris became the 60th female skater on record to have worn game-time Friar attire at least 100 times.
 
With that, all four members of this season’s graduating class who have stuck around for the full four-year time limit (Morris, Katy Beach, Erin Normore, Brittany Simpson) have fastened their membership in the 100-game club.
 
Juniors Colleen Martin and Pam McDevitt both have legitimate potential to hop aboard themselves before this season is up.
 
Quick Feeds: For the second consecutive night, a pair of too many players citations were distributed. Niagara was caught at 2:21 of the first, whilst laboring on their first power play no less, and the Friars at 17:31. On Friday, visiting Mercyhurst had been caught with an unauthorized six-pack of skaters at 15:16 of the first and 2:49 of the third…Both the first and second periods commenced in virtually the same fashion. Ciarletta shuffled out of her crease to play a relatively light Niagara dump-in, effectively etching them a shot on net both times…The starting line of Cottrell, Veharanta, and Alyse Ruff, combined for 18 of PC’s 41 registered shots last night…The Friars salvaged their all-time unbeaten transcript in visits from the Purple Eagles, who are now 0-5-4 in drop-ins to Schneider Arena since the birth of their program in 1998.
 
Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com
 
This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press