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

Women's Hockey Log: Friars Struggle With Faceoffs In Loss

Ithaca, N.Y.- Hand-in-hand with their fraught stockpile of ice chips on shots on net in the waning minutes of their 4-1 loss at Cornell yesterday, the Friars gripped a daylong elusive element of command in the way of face-offs, winning each of the last five draws on record.

That way, they had at least wrinkled a gaping deficit in that category to 36-26. But up till that climactic point, the host Big Red was the runaway superior in of the game’s littlest specimens of readiness. They had won the first six draws on the day, two-thirds of the 21 total face-offs in the first period, and 29 out of 43 by the second intermission.

In two less active stretches, one on the heels of the initial goal at 12:14 of the first and the other immediately after they assumed a 3-1 lead in the third, Cornell swept a succession of four faceoffs between which not so much as an attempted shot was recorded at either end.

PC’s principle centerpiece, Ashley Cottrell, dropped 16 of her 24 twig-locks with a Cornell counterpart, and only Katy Beach and Jackie Duncan walked away with a supra-.500 winning percentage. Beach took eight out of 14 dot decisions, Duncan four out of five.

In the countering column of the scoresheet, Amber Overguard –who together with Kendice Ogilvie assisted on each of her team’s two first period goals- wrested 17 of her 25 attempts while Catherine White –another two-pointer with her power play conversion and empty net helper in the third- went 13-for-18.

Mea goal-pa
A pair of retroactive reversals was made to Sunday’s box score in the after hours, granting PC sophomore Jean O’Neill credit for what was initially ruled linemate Abby Gauthier’s tying goal and Alyse Ruff firsthand credit for what was previously ruled Ashley Cottrell’s go-ahead. The erroneously recorded goal-getters were still certified for assists, keeping the five individual multi-point games intact. Ruff, meantime, has now potted five deciders this season –four winners and an equalizer.

Quick Feeds: Cornell’s Amber Moore joined her three aforementioned teammates in the two-point club yesterday, assisting on both third period goals…PC’s power play went a cumulative 0-for-10 in this series, launching six vain shots Sunday and 10 yesterday. Cornell’s player-up brigade only struck once out of nine tries…Forwards Pam McDevitt and Stephanie Morris were back in the mix after sitting Sunday out. McDevitt pitched in three shots on net and won two of her four face-offs…Sophomore defender Leigh Riley was out of service yesterday, resulting in Erin Normore’s reassignment to the blue line, opposite Colleen Martin on the starting unit…Currently 5-6-1 in interleague play, Providence will take one more nonconference swing when they visit Dartmouth a week from tonight. But first, New Hampshire drops in at Schneider Arena for a 1 p.m. tangle Saturday.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Monday, January 5, 2009

Women's Hockey 4, Cornell 3: Friars Overcome Red Scare

Report based on ICS Live Stats
Ithaca, N.Y.- In the small moments of the New Year, a few old patterns still look to be lingering in the Friars’ gamely regimen. Customarily, the 2008-09 PC women have partnered with a night’s given adversary and filled most every game’s grande cup to the full 60-minute (or more) brim with scalding competitive intensity; whether that be in rally time, duck-and-cover-the-net time, or tip-the-scale-on-that-tie time.

And in the climactic phases of yesterday’s first of two late-weekend matinee drop-ins on Cornell, they were again flirting with a narrow goal differential –in this case, a 4-3 upper hand concocted back in a tempestuous second period. And within the final four-and-a-half minutes of regulation, a tripping penalty to defender Colleen Martin incited the briefly idled Big Red offense for a nearly continuous, four-shot power play swarm.

But goaltender Danielle Ciarletta, who was summoned in the second period to put out Genevieve Lacasse’s uncharacteristic fire, refused to default. And within 31 seconds of Martin’s jailbreak, Providence picked up a handy clock killer with 2:02 to spare, drawing a checking citation against Cornell defender Amber Moore. From there, they swiftly cemented an epic 4-3 triumph, wherein they abolished a 3-0 deficit in the second period, then warded off a second tide of the dogged Big Red offense in the closing frame.

The mutual allotment of goals and the eventual goaltending swaps on both benches were about the only jutting deviations from the norm. PC and the opposition had not combined for five-plus goals since the Robert Morris series over the first full weekend of November.

To start yesterday’s tussle, the excruciating numbness amongst the scoring brigade skulked and slunk down to bite the long all-but-infallible cage custodian, Lacasse.

Lacasse, who still has yet to authorize more than three goals in a 60-minute time frame over her first 14 collegiate ventures, already had a threesome of flecks on merely nine shots faced within the sixteenth minute of yesterday’s first period.

Meanwhile, the Friars’ frost-bitten offense saw eight of its first 11 shot attempts snuffed before they could come within playing distance of Cornell stopper Jenny Niesluchowski. Another bid, discharged by Alyse Ruff mere seconds after the Big Red drew first blood, wiped off the post and scampered away from a threatening position.

Swift conversions on the part of Catherine White (at the 3:45 mark), Laura Danforth (10:32), and Ashley Duffy (15:33) pole-vaulted Cornell to a gaping 3-0 advantage. Friars’ head coach Bob Deraney unhesitatingly forked out the overcooked freshman goalie, but remarkably witnessed an equally prompt reversal of momentum.

Ciarletta would push away all of 22 shots faced and her skating associates perked up to make their first incision a mere 17 ticks after Duffy’s goal. Katy Beach inserted her club’s icebreaker with 4:10 till intermission and the power play thawed well enough to charge up three registered stabs on its first of three opportunities before the first buzzer.

The Friars assertively gushed through the second period, running up a 17-10 lead in the shooting gallery after each team had afforded 11 shots in the first, utterly fettering the Red on the period’s only full-length power play, and whittling steadily into the lead. After initially shaking a carry-over penalty to Jennifer Friedman, they wrinkled the deficit to 3-2 via Ruff at 2:18.

Niesluchowski (14 saves) would last but another 3:16 of play before she gave way to Kayla Strong at the 5:34 mark. Strong ran unblemished for a little under 10 minutes, partially owing to a shortage of shooting activity, but was in turn softened by a back-and-forth tempest within the 14th minute that saw her kick out four shots, her teammates block another two, and Ciarletta swallow three on two visits by the Big Red.

On the other end of the long-time-coming draw, Abby Gauthier caught up with Beach’s face-off win and pulled PC even, 3-3. Thirty-one ticks later, Ashley Cottrell planted the eventual clincher for PC at 15:29, granting linemate Laura Veharanta her second helper on the day.

PC spilled its sugar rush over to the young minutes of the third before Cornell perked back up to distribute ten unanswered SOG. The Friars would bust that fast via Erin Normore and Ruff over their last-minute, rally-squashing power play.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press

Women's Hockey Log: Gauthier, Ruff End Slumps To Pilot Rally

Ithaca, N.Y.- The Friars’ answer to a toe-curling recession –i.e. a dire call for a stimulus package- fell in the form of a massive puckslide over the first quarter of action at Lynah Rink yesterday. All it took for the shallow offense to chafe their bonfire twigs more fervently was a rapid 3-0 deficit at the hands of host Cornell –a team roughly identical to the Yale program that had opportunistically slighted PC, 2-1, in overtime early last week.

But the exponentially pressing swing of futility served to bail a couple of Friars out of their respective slumps en route to a 4-3 victory. Freshman Abby Gauthier, who has struggled to translate her heftily saturated high school resume, entered yesterday on a nine-game scoring drought dating back to a 4-2 win at Vermont Oct. 19. She had since found herself rotating between the fourth line and the upper bowl of the arena seating chart.

Yesterday, Gauthier splashed her personal drought by assisting on Katy Beach’s connection late in the first period, then switching roles with the senior to draw a 3-3 knot at 14:58 of the second period –her first goal since Part II of the opening weekend Ohio State series.

Meanwhile, untouchable first-liner Alyse Ruff had been grudgingly gritting her teeth over a little-big break from the scoresheet. Ever since she slugged home a thrilling equalizer against Niagara Nov. 22, she went pointless over the next four games spaced between Thanksgiving and the aforementioned Yale excursion last Tuesday.

Ruff, only a day removed from her 20th birthday, thawed out her twig at 2:18 of the middle frame to treat herself to the Friars’ second strike of the game and her seventh on the year, keeping her second-best on the team in the G column behind linemate Laura Veharanta’s 13. She would later receive belated credit for an assist on Ashley Cottrell’s game winner hours after the final horn. Cottrell was similarly credited on the play that amounted to Ruff’s conversion, equaling five multi-point individual performances on the PC roster.

Through the duration of their teammates’ struggles, the winger Veharanta and centerpiece Cottrell have at least retained their productive touch. They each stretched their living point-getting streaks to four games.

No sweat
For the third time in four outings and the seventh overall this season, the first goal served nothing to its cultivator. Providence concocted its third come-from-behind win of the year and second rally from a multi-point deficit, the other being the 2-2 knot with Niagara prior Thanksgiving.

Additionally, the Friars have again defied the opposition’s home ice advantage, stamping their seventh road win in ten tries. With that, they have already surpassed their accumulation of road Ws from each of the three preceding seasons.

Quick Feeds: Forward Erin Normore and defender Colleen Martin led the Friars’ stick rack with five shots on net apiece…Senior goaltender Danielle Ciarletta improved to 2-2-2 on the year with the win. Combining her fractional relief appearance with her last start-to-finish outing, she has an active shutout streak brewing at an even 83 minutes…Part II of this series commences today at 2 p.m. It will be the Friars’ final engagement from without New England borders this regular season…Today’s game will be team captain Brittany Simpson’s 125th career appearance in a PC uniform. After today, classmate Katy Beach should be only five outings away from attaining the same milestone.

Al Daniel can be reached at hockeyscribe@hotmail.com

This article originally appeared in the Friartown Free Press