Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cornell 4, Women's Hockey 1: Delayed Reaction Costs Friars

Report based on ICS Live Stats
Ithaca, N.Y.- By the looks of their routine tactical game day pattern, the PC women have an exclusive insight to a mysterious element implanted in the ice with the power to hone their blades as they glide. So much so that they have purged the conventional practice of whirring up a skate sharpener before every intercollegiate outing.

That would be one urban legend behind their incessant tendency to let their efficiency accelerate as each game progresses, even if it means starting off by carving themselves a fiddly pothole.

The no-duh kicker to such an obsessive-dramatic habit is the limited reliability of a resolute comeback attempt. And yesterday, within 24 hours of twisting a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 triumph of the Cornell Big Red, the Friars stalled once more and ultimately offered up penance in the form of a mollifying 4-1 falter in Part II of their long weekend stay at Lynah Rink.

Though they unmistakably perked up after authorizing two Red goals on a dozen first period shots –proceeding to stack up a 25-15 edge in the way of registered stabs over the latter forty minutes- their determination was snuffed by that of opposing stopper Kayla Strong (31 saves). Strong’s contending supplement, Danielle Ciarletta, pulled together after a ham-handed –and effectively decisive- opening frame towards a respectable 23 save performance. But the damage was inflicted early and subsequently frozen at a reasonable pace on Cornell’s part.

The Friars adjourned to the dressing room for the first intermission lugging behind them the remaining 20 seconds of an already fairly draining PK –Kate Bacon having been flagged for bodychecking with 1:40 to spare- and, yet again, a two-goal deficit.

An initially air hockey-paced tussle unfolded before Cornell pulled ahead, indubitably seething with resolve to recreate their performance from Sunday with a starkly alternate ending. Her team exactly eighty seconds removed from its second facile penalty kill, Brianne Gilbert lashed home the icebreaker at 12:14.

From there, the Big Red discharged nine of the period’s last 12 cumulative shots, the last three over the course of Bacon’s sin bin term and another one, from less than two minutes prior, off of Ashley Duffy’s tape that enhanced their edge to 2-0.

And their anaconda’s grip only spilled over to the middle frame, winning each of the period’s first four face-offs and thrusting another four unanswered stabs –two on net- in a matter of less than ninety-five seconds.

At that point, though, a hooking infraction on the part of Stephanie Holmes served to salt Cornell’s ice and steadily revive the PC strike force. By period’s end, the Friars had morphed a 12-7 shooting deficit from the first intermission to a 20-19 upper hand and wrinkled the connectivity differential to 2-1 via Ashley Cottrell at the 14:02 mark. Reinvigorated, they would level another five unanswered hacks at Strong, though her poised responsiveness helped them spill yet two more power play opportunities.

The Red continued to disassemble at a desperate-looking pace, serving three more two-minute box sentences before the halfway mark of the third period. A pair of tripping calls to Amber Moore and Duffy offered the Friars 56 seconds worth of 5-on-3 in the ninth minute.

But Strong held up long enough to ultimately richochet the PK ray. Twenty-two seconds after Cornell regained full strength, Mari Pehkonen went off for slashing to grant the sweaty leaders their fourth power play. In another seventy seconds, the Red capped an uninterrupted cyclone through the PC zone with an insurance goal by Catherine White.

Ciarletta would vacate the cage amidst the Friars’ hasty tempest at the other end in favor of a six-pack attack. But Hayley Hughes inserted a nimble empty netter to solidify the 4-1 final –which equates PC’s worst margin of defeat this season- with 2:09 remaining.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press